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Therefore I have cut them to pieces
by the prophets;
I killed them by the words of my mouth,
for my judgments go forth like the light of dawn. Bible

“have cut.” This is partially true, and partially a prophetic perfect idiom, which could be translated “I will cut them in pieces” (cp. NET). By the time of Hosea, Israel had disobeyed God over and over, and had suffered for it. However, they had not yet suffered the destruction that was about to come upon them.

Since Israel had already suffered greatly for her sins, we did not feel that it was right to ignore the past tense of the context and verb and translate the verse as a future event like the NET Bible does. God is loving and patient, and when people turn from Him there are usually many warnings and chances to repent before total disaster comes. In this case, the destruction of Israel had already begun to happen, but its complete destruction was still future. [For more on the prophetic perfect idiom, see commentary on Ephesians 2:6].

“by the prophets.” The prophets did not execute God’s judgment on the Israelites, the Israelites brought disasters on themselves by their own sin. Nevertheless, what the prophets spoke by revelation played an important role in bringing God’s will to pass. When a prophet spoke by revelation, having trust and confidence in the words that he or she was speaking, the words had spiritual power and made an impact in both the spiritual and physical world. Although God can act in the world without help from human agents, the fact that God sometimes directs humans to speak into the physical world the revelation that He gives to them shows that the action that humans take is important in getting God’s work done. The majority of the time prophets speak, they speak about God and what He has done or will do. But sometimes the prophets themselves speak the words of God to bring things to pass on earth, which is a major reason why Hosea 6:5 says God cut people in pieces by the prophets. While there are times when that could just mean the prophets spoke warnings about disasters that came to pass when the people ignored the warnings, it can also mean the words of the prophets directly affected what happened on earth.

The reason that the cooperation between God and the prophet is important in accomplishing the will of God is never explicitly explained in Scripture. Nevertheless, that cooperation occurs throughout the Bible, and that explains why sometimes God commands prophets to speak things that they themselves could never accomplish in the flesh. Thus, for example, God told Jeremiah to speak what He commanded, and thus, “to pluck up and to break down and to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:7, 10), and God told Ezekiel to send Egypt to the underworld, in other words, prophesy the defeat and death of the Egyptians (Ezek. 32:18). But there are times when the prophets prophesied healing and restoration as well (cp. Ezek. 37:4-10). There are many other examples of God telling a prophet to speak against someone or something (cp. Ezek. 13:2, 17; 39:17).

It could well be that since Adam gave dominion of the earth over to Satan who now holds sway over the earth (Luke 4:6; 1 John 5:19), that for God to righteously act on the earth He often needs the willing cooperation of the people of earth. Whatever the reason, God does command His people to speak things into the physical world that God wants accomplished, and it is important that God’s people speak with confidence and boldness the things God tells them to speak. Especially today in the Administration of Grace, when every believer has the gift of holy spirit and every believer can prophesy, each Christian should realize the powerful and important role they play in the unfolding of God’s will on earth, and always be watchful for how God or the Lord Jesus might direct them to speak by the spirit and influence the spiritual and physical happenings on earth. The New Testament is clear that when believers get revelation they can speak miracles and healings into being, and we must be ready, willing, and confident to speak the revelation God gives us, whatever that revelation is, and to participate in bringing His will to pass on earth.

“my judgments.” This is the correct reading of the text, which was corrupted. The correct reading is preserved in Septuagint, Syriac Peshitta text, and Aramaic targums and is followed in a number of English versions, including the ESV; HCSB; NAB; NCV, NET, NIV, NJB, and NRSV.

“go out like the light of dawn.” The Hebrew text of Hosea 6:5 simply reads that God’s judgments “go out as light.” The ambiguity of the phrase has caused some scholars to think that the “light” that goes out is lightning and that God’s judgments are like lightning, swift and terrible (cp. HCSB; NIV84); while other scholars think that the light going out is the light of the sun at dawn; sure to come (cp. CEV; NET; NIV2011). We favor the position that this verse is referring to the morning light going forth at dawn. There are plenty of examples of the Hebrew word for “light” being used that way: Judg. 16:2; 19:26; 1 Sam. 14:36; 25:34, 36; 2 Sam. 17:22; 23:4; 2 Kings 7:9; Neh. 8:3; Job 24:14; Prov. 4:18; Mic. 2:1.

Furthermore, that God’s judgment would be compared to the light of dawn flows from the context, starting in Hosea 6:2, where the idea of reviving and being raised up is introduced. Hosea 6:3 is much clearer, with God being compared to the dawn. Hosea 6:4 is also a clear picture of the dawn light, which makes the morning clouds and dew disappear. Hosea 6:5 simply continues that flow of meaning, except now God’s judgments are compared to the dawn light: they are sure to come, because Israel is not repentant.


Commentary for: Hosea 6:5