Hosea, like most of the prophets, is instructed to deliver God’s message of judgment to the people of Israel. After the message has been delivered, there is a response recorded in the first three verses of chapter six. It is not clear whether this response is Israel speaking to God or one another (though the context seems to indicate one another, if it is Israel as a whole) or Hosea speaking to Israel (which is also possible). In either case, the call is to return because God will revive and restore. In light of that sure restoration and revival, verse three is a call to know the LORD.
How can we know the infinite? God is, as recorded in Isaiah, thinking thoughts so much higher than ours there really is no comparison. His ways are equally beyond us, so it is difficult, under the best of circumstances, for us to understand the fringes of God and what He is doing and thinking. But the call is not to understand God or know His thoughts. The call is to know God.
According to my concordance, the verb used (יָדַע) and the tense in which it is used can mean to know, to learn to know, to perceive, to discern, to discriminate, to distinguish, to know by experience, to recognize, to acknowledge, to admit, to confess, and to consider. The call is not to know God in the sense that I comprehend Him — that is not possible. It is, instead, a call to know Him in much the same way that I know my wife.
I do not fully understand my wife, but I recognize the patterns of her behavior and discern the repeated responses that let me know whether something will please her or not. I do not know her thoughts so much as listen to them often enough that I begin to see the drift of them and know by experience that certain stimuli will elicit certain reactions. In summary, I study my wife. Since people grow and change and mature (not precisely the same as growing), my wife will remain a subject of interesting study for the rest of my life.
Let me now turn this lens on God. I cannot fully understand Him, but I can recognize His patterns and learn how He responds to certain things. I cannot know His thoughts, but I can read His messages to me and to others in The Bible and start to see the general direction of them. He actually starts me off by saying that He thinks good things about me and plans good things for me. While God is perfect and therefore has no reason to change (Why mess with perfection?), He is infinite and thus capable of bearing infinite inquiry. I can spend the rest of my life studying Him and it will not be a wasted life or effort spent in vain. Because the call to know Him comes with a promise.
The promise is that God will come to us like the rain, / Like the spring rain watering the earth. If I seek to know God — to experience Him; to discern Him acting in my daily life; to recognize what pleases and displeases Him; to consider His ways — then He will come to me like rain. For those who have never stood in the rain on a hot spring day — I am told that the climate in Israel is much the same as it is in my native Southern California — this imagery does not make sense. Spring in Southern California and, I suppose, in Israel is hot and the rains bring a coolness and respite; a refreshing and a renewing that are more welcome than can readily be explained. I was once standing out on a hot day in Southern California with a shaved head and felt the rains come down. The scent of the world washed clean by rain and the cool comfort of it on my head was most pleasant. God’s promise is, I think, to come to me like that if I seek to know Him. He will not just answer and give me the knowledge I seek, but will come with cleansing and comfort. Perceptions will be renewed and made right again and the discomfiture of life will be washed away, if only for a moment, by the rain of His presence.
Let me seek to know the LORD today; to see Him acting in my life; to recognize what will please Him in the situations I encounter. Let me make God my constant course of study and He will come like the rains of spring.