Jesus Hidden in Hosea

Several authors argue over whether or not Hosea 6:1-3 describes genuine repentance. A few wonder if Jesus is in the passage, mainly because of the mention of a third-day resurrection in verse 2. So is he?

It has been pointed out that this verse is the only one in the Old Testament that fits in with Paul’s claim in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus rose on the third day according to the scriptures. So I would say that there is a pointer here to his resurrection, which we can see as we look back and note that all true spiritual life comes to sinners because Jesus rose from the dead. Sometimes a description of a later action by Jesus is hidden within a previous action involving others, even as Hosea says elsewhere when he mentions that God called his son out of Egypt (Hos. 11:1).

Is there more about Jesus in the passage? Ancient Jewish writers regarded the references to the dawn and spring rains in verse 3 as describing the Messiah. Were they right to do so? Thinking about the corporate restoration that Hosea longs for here, we can see how the arrival of the Saviour brought light to a spiritually blind world and refreshing life to a spiritually dry world, and so brought into existence a penitent people who rejoice in his blessings.

Or thinking about what happens in an individual’s experience when he trusts in Jesus, we can say that the period of darkness that marked the individual before he repented of his sins is now over. And we can say that the warmth of the new day that commenced when he believed in Jesus has replaced the coldness of the time of spiritual night.

The second illustration is taken from the spring rains that watered the ground. The spring rains provided refreshing water to drink and also guaranteed that there would be a harvest later in the year. We can see how Jesus provides living water in the present and guarantees a harvest of souls in the future when he returns.

If his resurrection is hidden in verse 2, why cannot the consequences of his resurrection be hidden in verse 3? We are not suggesting that Hosea and his contemporaries realised this – they would have connected the illustrations to the God of Israel. But we can read, indeed must read, the Old Testament with New Testament eyes. And when we do, we discover Jesus surprisingly hidden and yet remarkably clear in its pages.

The light and the rain come down from above, they come down freely, they come down gently, and they cause life to appear. That is what Jesus does. He is our Sun and our Satisfier.

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