Continuing in Hosea 6, the people proclaim their desire for restoration (for relief from judgment), “After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.” Deuteronomy 32:39 says, “‘Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.” We know, and the people here confess, that if there is to be healing and restoration then it must be by God’s doing. Their hope is that after a set time, they refer to it as two or three days, meaning they hope it is soon, after a set time they believe that God will respond to their returning to Him and will restore them.

These verses are talking about resurrection. The nation was dying, and would be dead in that they would be assumed by the Assyrian Empire. Israel would cease to exist as a political or geographical entity. Their hope then was in a future Messiah whose coming they believed would bring a time of resurrection. They would not be dead forever they are saying. And of course, as it is God’s Word, we cannot miss the obvious. Ultimately who was it that was raised on the third day after bearing the full wrath and judgment of God upon Himself for His people? It was the Messiah. It was Jesus.

Knowing the heart of the gospel here, that God will restore and repair, heal and bind up the wounded, and knowing His covenantal promises of blessing if they would return, they still insist on returning on their terms and refuse to repent. This is a perception of forgiveness based on an apology and not repentance. “I said I was sorry. Isn’t that enough?” No! It is not enough to be sorry for your sin, or to desire reconciliation, or to work to bring restoration. Forgiveness requires repentance. We must reject that which we once embraced. We must turn.

How often do we hear this in the world of evangelicalism today? If you just ask God to forgive you, then He will. If you just tell God you are sorry, He will make it better. We water down the gospel and preach forgiveness without repentance because we know that repentance is hard! Repentance is difficult. Repentance and the first word of the gospel is a rejection of all that I am without Jesus, and we don’t want to reject self, we want to add Jesus to what we’ve already got so that we have Jesus and self and can live as we please.

It is this program – and this really exists – this program where you are encouraged to come to church and try Jesus for 30 days. Try Jesus for 30 days. Come just as you are, don’t worry about changing anything. Just add Jesus to your life and if things are not better in 30 days, then you are free to go on with your life without Him. What kind of a gospel is that? What kind of message is that? Try Jesus and keep Jesus only if He works for you. The gospel is not about accepting Jesus. The gospel is about bowing the knee to Him so that as the people do say here, “that we may live in His sight,” but to live in His sight we must die to ourselves. The gospel from conversion to completion is a story of living to Christ and dying to self every single day!

The pragmatism of the people here has caused them to overlook the fact that there are conditions for forgiveness.

We miss this even still today. What is the first thing that must be present in our lives for us to recognize our sin and our need for a Savior? Conviction. And what do most easy-believism cheap grace preachers leave out of their preaching today? Anything that would bring conviction, because we want to make people feel glad not bad. And yet this is the role, the job of the Holy Spirit in drawing us to Christ He convinces and convicts us of our sin. Conviction is just that, by the way, to be convinced. We can be convicted of sin – convinced that what we did was wrong – or we can have a conviction about something being right and we can stand on that conviction. The Spirit leads us into truth by convincing us of right and wrong.

The Spirit by means of conviction draws us to confession. We are convinced that what we did was wrong and are them motivated to confess it. Or we are convinced that we should have done something that was right and we didn’t, and we know that James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” So conviction opens the door to confession.

In confession we are agreeing with God that what He says about this thing we are being convicted about is true and we agree with Him about it. Repentance then is not being sorry that you got caught in your sin. Repentance is not regretting that there are consequences for our decisions. It is a change of mind that produces godly sorrow and a turning away from sin in agreement with God that this was wrong and we reject it. Repentance is the result of the convicting work of the Spirit as He brings us to a place of confession. It is the Holy Spirit bringing us into agreement with God about our sin.

When we confess then, what happens immediately? It doesn’t take 2 or 3 days. 1 John 1:9 is clear, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We confess, He cleanses us. God stands ready to forgive and restore after He has disciplined and brings conviction to bear, but there are conditions. We must respond to that conviction with repentance and confession.

Look for a moment at that day in the Temple when the publican and the Pharisee went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed, “‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ 13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14). The first prayer here is a boast, the second is brokenness. The first is congratulatory, the second is a confession of faith.

So we find the people planning – Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but 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 in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

They longed for the good times, the times of blessing, the times of provision. They had been accused of not knowing God so they declare a new pursuit – they will “pursue the knowledge of the Lord.” Then their hope is that the rain will come back, the crops will grow, there will be abundance and ease and comfort. They will be filled again. And again we see here the idea that there is a formula, to get what they want they must work to get to know God. We are back at a works based salvation, aren’t we? How do we keep ending up here? Because the people were not sorry for their sin, they were sorry they were suffering.

Their attempt to return to the Lord without any conviction or confession, without repentance, led them to believe that it was their works that earned or garnered the blessing of God. There is no sense in their plea of submission, of repentance, or even a desire to truly know Him. Knowing Him is a means to the end, the end of everything being better. They are here planning to use God to get what they want.