on Hosea 5 :6
They shall go with their flocks - They shall offer many sacrifices, professing to seek and be reconciled to the Lord; but they shall not find him. As they still retain the spirit of their idolatry, he has withdrawn himself from them.
on Hosea 5 :6
They shall go with their flocks - "They had let slip the day of grace, wherein God had called them to repentance, and promised to be found of them and to accept them. When then the decree was gone forth and judgment determined against them, all their outward shew of worship and late repentance shall not prevail to gain admittance for them to Him. He will not be found of them, hear them, nor accept them. They stopped their ears obstinately against Him calling on them, and proffering mercy in the day of mercy: He will now stop His ear against them, crying for it in the Day of Judgment." Repenting thus late, (as is the case with most who repent, or think that they repent, at the close of life) they did not repent out of the love of God, but out of slavish fear, on account of the calamity which was coming upon them. But the main truth, contained in this and other passages of Holy Scripture which speak of a time when it is too late to turn to God, is this: that "it shall be too late to knock when the door shall be shut, and too late to cry for mercy when it is the time of justice."
God waits long for sinners; He threatens long before He strikes; He strikes and pierces in lesser degrees, and with increasing severity, before the final blow comes. In this life, He places man in a new state of trial, even after His first judgments have fallen on the sinner. But the general rule of His dealings is this; that, when the time of each judgment is actually come, then, as to "that" judgment, it is too late to pray. It is "not" too late for other mercy, or for final forgiveness, so long as man's state of probation lasts; but it is too late as to this one. And thus, each judgment in time is a picture of the eternal judgment, when the day of mercy is past forever, to those who have finally, in this life, hardened themselves against it. But temporal mercies correspond with temporal judgments; eternal mercy with eternal judgment. In time, it may be too late to turn away temporal judgments; it is not too late, while God continues grace, to flee from eternal; and the desire not to lose God, is a proof to the soul that it is not forsaken by God, by whom alone the longing for Himself is kept alive or re-awakened in His creature.
They shall not find Him - This befell the Jews in the time of Josiah. Josiah himself "turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses" 2 Kings 23:25-27. He put away idolatry thoroughly; and the people so tier followed his example. He held such a Passover, as had not been held since the time of the judges. "Notwithstanding the Lord turned not from the fierceness of this great wrath, wherewith His anger was kindled against Judah because of all the provocations that Manasseh had provoked Him withal. And the Lord said, I will remove Judah out of My sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem, which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there."
The prophet describes the people, as complying with God's commands; "they shall go," i. e., to the place which God had chosen and commanded, "with their flocks and their herds," i. e., with the most costly sacrifices, "the flocks" supplying the sheep and goats prescribed by the law; the "herds" supplying the bullocks, calves and heifers offered. They seem to have come, so far, sincerely. Yet perhaps it is not without further meaning, that the prophet speaks of those outward sacrifices only, not of the heart; and the reformation under Josiah may therefore have failed, because the people were too ingrained with sin under Manasseh, and returned outwardly only under Josiah, as they fell back again after his death. And so God speaketh here, as He does by David, "I will take no bullock out of thine house, nor he-goat out of thy fold. Thinkest thou, that I will eat bulls' flesh, or drink the blood of goats?" Psalm 50:9, Psalm 50:13, and by Isaiah, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto Me? I am full of the burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts" Isaiah 1:11.
He hath withdrawn Himself from them - Perhaps he would say, that God, as it were "freed Himself" from them, as He saith in Isaiah, "I am weary to bear them" Isaiah 1:14, the union of sacrifices and of sin.
on Hosea 5 :6
5:6 To seek the Lord - The Jewish doctors tell us, that under Hosea, Israel had liberty of bringing their sacrifices to Jerusalem. Shall not find him - God will not be found of them. Hath withdrawn himself - For their impenitency.