Study of Hosea - Chapter 6

Chapter 6

Hosea 6 is often titled, "A Call to Repentance". In this Chapter, the Lord speaks through the prophet Hosea to call the people of Israel and Judah to return to the Lord and repent. Through these verses He speaks of what He would do to heal His people but laments over their unfaithfulness and lack of reciprocation of love.


Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now he will heal us.
He has injured us; now he will bandage our wounds. 2 In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence. 3 Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” 4 “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. 5 I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces— to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light. 6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. 7 But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust. 8 “Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood. 9 Priests form bands of robbers, waiting in ambush for their victims. They murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin. 10 Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel: My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods! 11 “O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.”


Verse 1-3: A call to repentance and return to the Lord. Although He has punished His people, He will heal and restore them as they press on to know Him.

Verse 4-7: The Lord laments over both Israel and Judah for their fickle love for Him. He sent prophets to correct them but they would not heed the message. He desires love and a relationship, not sacrifices or offerings, but His people rejected Him and His covenant of love.

 Verse 8-11: Gilead (Modern-day Jordan) is a city filled with sin. The priests are corrupt and attack people heading to Shechem. The Lord sees the sins of the leaders of Israel and the people and how they worship other gods. God wanted to restore His people but both Israel and Judah will be punished. 

Contextual Background

Shechem is the site where God confirmed the covenant with Abraham and his descendants regarding their inheritance. Abraham then built an altar to commemorate the covenant. After Exodus, Shechem was where the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua rededicated themselves to the Lord. Joshua then placed a memorial stone to commemorate this rededication. As such, Shechem was regarded as a holy place for the Israelites in their relationship with the Lord. Hosea 6:8-9 is referring to the corrupted priests who worshipped false gods and how they prevented people from seeking and worshipping the Lord at the holy place that served to memorialize the covenant and rededication of the people to the Lord.

Interpretation and Explanation

The first part of Chapter 6 is a call, both to the Lord and from the Lord, spoken through His prophet Hosea. Although the Lord has torn His people – like a lion, as stated in Hosea 5:14 – He will heal them and bind their wounds. He stated in Chapter 5 that no one would be able to help Israel or heal their wounds. This is because who or what God chooses to afflict, only God can heal. In the New King James Version, verse 2 says “After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight”. This is in response to what the Lord said in Hosea 5:7 “Now a New Moon shall devour them and their fields”. A New Moon signifies a time period of a month. The Lord is not giving literal timeframes of punishment and restoration in these verses. He is contrasting the length of their suffering with their restoration as they return to Him. He is saying that despite how long His people were in a season of pain, loss, suffering, and punishment, He will return life to them and restore them in a fraction of the time of which they suffered – further highlighting His desire for a relationship with them and not to punish them endlessly or needlessly. When we respond to the Lord in love, He will again shower us with both His love and blessing. Just like spring rains nourish and restore the land, so too shall the Lord nourish and restore us when we return to Him wholeheartedly. It is only in His presence that we can experience His love and restoration.

The second half of Chapter 6 is God expressing His grievances and frustrations with His people. He doesn’t deny that His people love Him but He says their love is fickle, superficial, and similar to morning dew it doesn’t last. This contrasts with His love for us as depicted in the first part of Chapter 6. The rain of spring showers is soaked up in the soil and causes plants to grow. It has a lasting impact that is visible over time by the growth of fruit. However, morning dew is superficial. It lands on the leaves but does not penetrate and nourish the soil so it does not last. It is gone as soon as the sun rises and it evaporates in the heat – i.e., when the “perfect” conditions change. God wants a relationship with His people and a relationship is supposed to have love that is reciprocated. When people are in a relationship, they are supposed to pour into each other and edify each other. If God showers us with love, sacrifice, blessings, mercy, and grace, why then do we only offer Him the dew of our love that disappears when things aren’t how we want them? If we would only shower and pour into the Lord as He does with us, then the light of His sun [Son], would cause the trees of our relationship with Him to grow and bear fruit. However, His people then and we now at times give Him dew instead of showers but in His love He sends prophets and teachers to correct us and help guide us back to Him.

God desires love that lasts, kindness, gentleness, and faithfulness – which are fruits of love of the Sprit (Galatians 5:22-23). These are results of a relationship with Him. He doesn’t care about the sacrifices or things we give up in His Name if our hearts aren’t truly for Him. He wants us to intimately know Him. He doesn’t care about our services, deeds, and things we profess to do for Him if it is out of obligation instead of love and admiration for Him. Why we do what we do or don’t do for Him matters more than What we do or give up for Him. It’s the condition of our heart that matters, not the deeds. An analogy of this is a married couple in which the husband is constantly away but may occasionally sacrifice his time for his wife and offer her gifts. However, he doesn’t spend the time to genuinely know and love his wife. He is going through the motions and rituals of marriage but cannot say they have a real relationship with love that runs to the roots. In the same way, we have a tendency to go through the rituals and motions of religion and neglect what God really wants from us – a relationship that is deeply rooted and showered in love.

Chapter 6 ends with God reminding His people and us that He sees everything and no sin is hidden – from our own to those we lead others into, whether we are an average person or a leader. He reminds us that although He loves us and desires good for us, He is still Holy and righteous. As such, we will reap the harvest of the seeds we’ve sown if we reject Him and refuse to repent and return to Him.

Key Points and Application

  • Our deeds matter and should not be neglected. However, we must not get stuck on religion and the motions and miss out on the relationship that God wants with us.
  • Relationships cannot be one-sided. God showers us with all good things so He deserves more from us than just the dew that we offer Him.
  • The Lord may afflict us at times but it is to get us to grow, return, and live in Him. Soil must be tilled before a crop can be planted and a tree must be pruned for it to grow straight and bear fruit.
  • If we yield to Him and His correction, then seek to know Him in love and be in His presence [relationship with Him], then He will again draw close to us, heal our wounds, restore us, and nourish us so that we may grow and be fruitful.
  • Though our “month” of pain and suffering may be long at times, when that time has ended, we will be revived and restored in “days” – a quick turnaround in a fraction of the time we had suffered. However, the Lord sees and knows all. He holds us accountable so let’s turn from our sins and seek Him wholeheartedly while He can be found (Isaiah 55:6). Our “month” lasts as long as it takes for God to get the desired result out of us. We can choose to complain and fight against it – which will only extend the duration – or we can choose to acknowledge and repent of our sins, yield to the Lord, and build a lasting relationship with Him in love which leads to life, nourishment, and the fruits that come from a relationship with Him.