July 30, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

1 [2] The threat and descriptions of divine judgment conclude with the previous verse. This verse contains the final call for genuine repentance. Israel has “stumbled” (kāšal; 4:4; 5:5) in its sin—that is, it has experienced sin’s consequences. They must come to “the Lord your God,” a name combination used twice before in passages extolling his sovereignty (12:9; 13:4). The verb “return” is vital to the theological purposes of the book and appears four times in this chapter (vv. 1–2, 4, 7). Iniquity (ʿāwōn) had kept the nation from approaching Yahweh as it should have done (2:7; 5:4; 7:10, 16); the people must come on God’s terms.[1]

1 (2) Israel is called to return to YHWH in v. 1, and it is repeated in v. 2, although with slight variations. It is a jarring call, but also a relief, to set beside the somber account of destruction with which ch. 13 ended. The call to Return (šûb) is the language of repentance, with YHWH as the object. It is extended by the prophet to the people. There is likely a cultic context in mind as well, with rites of repentance and corresponding actions to be carried out. This is at least the implication of v. 2. As the context makes clear, YHWH expects some things of Israel in its return, but the goal is not a list of things but finally a return to YHWH himself.

The language of return to YHWH is employed similarly in 6:1, where it is spoken by (or attributed to) the people whom YHWH had struck. There the context was YHWH’s death-dealing attack as a lion (5:14), and the proposed “return to YHWH” was expressed in light of his “healing” (rāpāʾ), reviving, and raising abilities. A cultic context for the language of healing and reviving is plausible for 6:1–3. With 14:1, ch. 13 is the immediate backdrop, with its description of YHWH’s death-dealing attack as a lion (v. 7) and the fall of Samaria to the sword (v. 16). In 13:10 the Israelite king was unable to “deliver” (yāšaʿ); in 14:3 Assyria will not “deliver” (yāšaʿ) either. YHWH’s work of healing (rāpāʾ) is also noted in 14:4. The repentance set forth in 6:1 did not happen, or it was not accepted. That the call in 14:1 comes from the prophet and is backed in 14:4 by YHWH’s declaration of healing and love offers yet another opportunity for the people after the historical death sentences expressed elsewhere in the book.

Much of the criticism of Israel in the book can be summed up in v. 1b. The terminology is vintage Hosea. Stumbling is attributed to priests and people (4:5), as well as to Israel, Ephraim, and Judah (5:5). Moreover, the term iniquity, which is also used on a number of occasions, occurs with the verb stumbling in 5:5. The phrase stumble in iniquity (kšl b + ʿwn) appears to encapsulate an act-consequence relationship in which the iniquities have within them the cause of stumbling. We might, therefore, translate the phrase as “stumble by means of iniquity,” and v. 1b more expansively as “you have stumbled through the agency of your iniquity.”[2]

Ver. 1.—The foregoing part of this book abounds with denunciations of punishment; this closing chapter superabounds with promises of pardon. Wave after wave of threatened wrath had rolled over Israel and come in unto their soul; now offer after offer of grace is made to them. O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God. The invitation to return implies previous departure, or distance, or wandering from God. The return to which they are invited is expressed, not by אֶֽל, to or towards, but by ער, quite up to, or as far as right home; the penitent, therefore, is not merely to turn his mind or his face toward God, but to turn his face and his feet home to God; he is not to go half the way and then turn aside, or part of the way and then turn hack, but the whole way; in other words, his repentance is to be complete and entire, wanting nothing, according to the statement of the psalmist, “It is good for me to draw near to God.” As punishment was threatened in case of obstinate impenitence, so mercy is promised on condition of thorough repentance. For thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. A reason is here assigned for the preceding invitation; kashalta is properly “thou hast stumbled,” “made a false step,” fallen, yet so that recovery was among future possibilities. The same thought may be included in the fact that Jehovah continues to call his erring people by the honoured and honourable name of Israel, and to acknowledge himself their God. Further, many and grievous were the calamities into which by their fall they had been precipitated; neither were any to blame but themselves—their iniquity or their folly was the cause, nor was there any one to lift them up, now that they lay prostrate, save Jehovah. After referring to the desolation of Samaria and the ruthless destruction of its inhabitants, as portrayed in the last verse of the previous chapter, Jerome adds, “All Israel is invited to repentance, that he who has been debilitated, or has fallen headlong in his iniquities, may return to the physician and recover health, or that he who had fallen headlong may begin to stand.” The penitent is to direct his thoughts to Jehovah; to him as Centre he is attracted, and in him he finds his place of rest; nor is there other means of recovery or source of help. Thus Kimchi says, “For thou seest that through thine iniquity thou hast fallen, therefore it behoves thee to return to Jehovah, as nothing besides can raise thee from thy fall but thy return to him.” “There is none,” says Aben Ezra, “can raise thee from thy fall but the Eternal alone.”[3]

14:1 The command to repent anticipates the command to repent in the gospel (Acts 2:38).[4]

14:1 Return. This thematic exhortation to return (2:7; 3:5; 6:1; 7:10; 12:6) is now addressed to those who have already fallen because of their sins.[5]

[1] Carroll R., M. D. (2008). Hosea. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, p. 301). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Dearman, J. A. (2010). The Book of Hosea (pp. 336–337). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[3] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Hosea (pp. 430–431). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1641). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1255). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

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