The passage in Hosea 6:3 states “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” This verse refers metaphorically to two rainy seasons in Israel – the early autumn rains and the late spring rains – and uses them to describe God’s faithful provision for His people.
The Significance of the Autumn and Spring Rains in Israel
The climate of Israel has two primary rainy seasons – the early autumn rains around October-November and the late spring rains around March-April. The autumn rains softened the hard and dry summer ground and allowed farmers to plow and sow their wheat and barley crops. The spring rains provided moisture for the maturing grain to grow into a harvest. Without the proper rain at both times, the crops would fail and famine would result (Jeremiah 5:24). The rain was thus vitally connected to the agricultural cycles and survival of the nation. These rainy seasons bookended a six-month growing period that was dependent on God’s faithful provision.
The former or early rains around autumn are mentioned in several verses, including Deuteronomy 11:14, Jeremiah 5:24, and Joel 2:23. The latter or spring rains are also referenced, as in Proverbs 16:15. The two rainy periods were critical sources of water and symbols of God’s covenant blessings on the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 11:13-14). When His people obeyed and followed Him, God would send the rains and provide abundant harvests and prosperity in the land He had given them.
The Imagery of Rain in Hosea 6:3
Hosea uses the imagery of the early and spring rains as a metaphor to describe God’s faithful covenant love towards wayward Israel. Though the northern tribes were rebelling and turning away from God, He would graciously “come to them” with His steadfast covenant loyalty and restoration, just as the autumn and spring rains could be depended on to come annually and water the land of Israel.
The “early rain” represents God “going out” to sow covenant mercy and forgiveness to soften their hard hearts and call them back to Himself. Just as the early autumn rains allowed farmers to plow and sow, so God’s renewing grace would break up the hardness of their hearts and enable them to receive His Word and ways again.
The “spring rain” signifies the maturation and harvest that results as God’s repentant people grow in knowing Him again in intimate relationship. As the spring rains caused the grain crops to mature and ripen, so God’s continuing showers of grace would cause growth and spiritual fruit in the lives of His restored people.
Together, the metaphors provide a picture of God intimately involved in wooing and restoring His people over a lengthy period of time, despite their sin and rebellion against Him. Just as rain from heaven is dependable, so God’s loyal covenant love is unwavering and persistent. The rains will come; God will graciously come to renew and restore.
Pressing on to Know the Lord Despite Sin
On the immediate historical level, the prophecy offered hope to Israel and Judah that judgment would give way to restoration. Though they had broken covenant and were about to reap the consequences, God would not abandon them altogether but would forgive, heal, and renew His people in His perfect timing.
On a wider level for believers and the Church today, Hosea 6:3 encourages us to persevere in seeking intimate knowledge of the Lord, even when we stumble into sin and spiritual dryness. Just as Hosea pleaded with Israel to persist in “pressing on” to truly know God, we too should not give up hope in times of disobedience or distance from the Lord. His loyal covenant love persists like the autumn and spring rains. He will come and shower His grace and forgiveness on the humble and contrite to restore and renew us as we turn back to Him (James 4:8).
- The former or early autumn rains and the latter or spring rains were critical growing seasons that allowed crops to mature in the agricultural cycles of ancient Israel.
- These rainy seasons bookended a six-month period and were symbolic of God’s covenant provision and blessings when His people followed Him.
- Hosea metaphorically uses the autumn and spring rains to portray God’s steadfast, restoring love toward wayward Israel.
- The early rain represents God’s sowing of covenant mercy and forgiveness to soften hard hearts and bring repentance.
- The spring rain signifies God maturing and harvesting spiritual fruit in their lives as they return to intimate relationship with Him.
- Together the metaphors paint a picture of God’s loyal, unwavering love in renewing and restoring His people despite their sin and rebellion.
- Hosea 6:3 encourages believers today to persistently press on to know the Lord even when struggling with sin, knowing His covenant love reaches out to forgive, heal, and renew us.
In Hosea 6:3, the metaphors of the early and spring rains give a vivid depiction of God’s faithful, unwavering covenant love toward His people. Though Israel’s sin required judgment, God’s restoring grace would persistently come like the autumn and spring rains to soften, sow, mature, and reap repentance and renewal in their lives. This passage offers hope to all believers to press on in seeking intimate knowledge of the Lord, even when struggling spiritually. Like the seasonal rains falling on Israel, God’s loyal love reliably comes to wash over the humble and contrite of heart.