“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (vv. 1–2).
Hosea 5 pronounces great judgment on God’s people for their idolatry and inclination to trust foreign powers over His Word. Yet the chapter closes with a word of hope—though the Lord would abandon the faithless nation, He would return when it repented (v. 15). This echoes the promise of Leviticus 26:40–42: even after the most severe covenant curse of exile, repentant Israel would enjoy a grand restoration. The prophet stood on this promise as he called Israel to return to the Lord. God wanted to discipline, not eradicate, His people and separate wheat from chaff (Hos. 6:1). The wounds God would inflict with the rods of Assyria and Babylon were ultimately for healing, for binding up Israel by His grace to “live before him” in purity (v. 2). Today’s passage includes the fascinating promise that the Creator would revive His people after two days and raise them up on day three (v. 2). Immediately, we think of our Lord’s resurrection on the third day (Luke 24:1–12), but is this appropriate? In other words, did Hosea intend to predict a specific time frame for the Messiah’s resurrection? First, we must note that the New Testament does not directly cite Hosea 6:2. Moreover, Hosea 6:1–3 says nothing about the Davidic king—the Messiah—which seems to argue against a direct prediction of the Messiah’s resurrection on the third day. On the other hand, conceptual ties exist between today’s passage and other texts in Hosea that speak of the Messiah. Hosea 3:1–5, for example, foresees Israel’s restoration after the exile, and “David their king” has a key role. So, the fact that Hosea does not mention the Messiah in the restoration of 6:1–3 does not mean the Messiah is absent from his view. Furthermore, Paul’s teaching that the believing covenant community is united to Christ in His death and resurrection illumines this passage (Rom. 6:5). We do not know how much Hosea understood about the Messiah, who was yet to come when he prophesied. Nevertheless, on this side of Jesus’ resurrection, we know the prediction of Israel being raised to life in Hosea 6:2 points finally to the Messiah’s resurrection, for our union with Christ means that, to a degree, what is true of Him is true of His people. After the death of exile, in the latter days (3:4–5), the Father would send Christ—His Son and David’s—to endure a greater death—God’s full wrath—in behalf of His people, that we might enjoy a greater post-exilic restoration to life through His resurrection.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Some commentators believe there is an allusion to Hosea 6:2 in passages such as Mark 8:31 and Acts 10:40, but it seems unlikely that the prophet had a specific time frame for the resurrection in mind when he wrote. Still, this passage must ultimately look forward to the Messiah’s resurrection given the promise of a restoration in the last days under David’s greatest son. Ultimately, our bodies will be resurrected, and we will experience all of God’s blessings in a new heaven and earth (Rev. 20–21).