Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Theme of Repentance in the Book of Hosea

The theme of repentance or Israel’s turning back to Yahweh is a rather prominent theme in the book of Hosea. One of Israel’s particular sins leading up to the time of the exile was a lack of repentance. The Israelites’ wickedness had kept them from repentance (Hos 5:4). Judgment had come down against Israel because of her arrogance; but despite this, Israel had refused to turn back to Yahweh (Hos 7:10, 16). The deportation at the hands of the Assyrian army took place because of Israel’s refusal to repent (Hos 11:5). Because they had turned away from God, God would not listen to their cries, or exalt them (during the period of the exile), despite their crying out to him in prayer (Hos 11:7).

Despite the inevitability of judgment, repentance was still necessary for the people of Israel. Hosea called upon the people to return to God, to show kindness, do justice, and to put their hope in God (Hos 12:6). In the light of God’s commitment to restore Israel in the future, Israel was called upon to return to God (Hos 6:1). Israel was to return to Yahweh, and ask for forgiveness (Hos 14:1–2).

Hosea prophesies that after the period of the exile (during which she would not have any king or functioning priesthood), Israel would return to Yahweh and to the Davidic king (i.e., the Messiah), and experience God’s blessing as a result (Hos 3:4–5). Recoiling at the judgment that he had brought against Israel, God promised that he would not turn back to destroy Ephraim (a synecdoche for Israel) ever again.

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