Dr. Belcher claims that Hos 6.7 might support the existence of the Covenant of Works. On page 27 he introduces a curiously named section:
“Hosea 6:7: A Reference to a Covenant with Adam?” [ch 2, pg 27]
While his title section asks a question, his lead statement is the opposite assertion.
“It is also significant that another passage in the Old Testament refers to God’s relationship with Adam in Genesis 1-3 and used the term ‘covenant’. [ch 2, pg 27]
[If the article was published on a website rather than in print, the title would be termed "click bait"]
After quoting Hos 6.7, he then reverts to ambiguity once again:
“Much discussion centers on whether 'Adam' is a personal name, a generic use referring to humanity, or a place name.” [ch 2, pg 27, emphasis mine]
Dr. Belcher is correct when stating that Adam [H120, אָדָם, 'āḏām] has three possible understandings. He properly dismisses in this section that "Adam" as the place (eg., Jos 3.16); the context easily rules against that use. "Gilead" is in poetic balance to "there"; I don’t think that it needs to be any more erudite or complicated.
We are left with "Adam" referring to the name of the first man, or to "man" generally. There is only one other place in the OT where the proper name "Adam" appears to be meant outside the obvious uses in the early chapters of Genesis:
[Please note that the word we pronounce as "Adam" is simply the English transliteration of the Hebrew, identical to the words "Hosanna" or "Hallelujah".]
Have I covered my transgressions like Adam,
By hiding my iniquity in my bosom,
The reference in Job is natural to correlate with Adam: Adam attempted to hide the results of his rebellion from the LORD. (Job is making a negative argument, of course.) This perfectly fits the context.
Of the other ~550 uses of "Adam" [H120] in the OT, their clear meaning is the generic "man".
However, it doesn’t really matter if "Adam" (the proper name) or "man" (the generic noun) was intended, because the crux of the verse as an apologetic for the Covenant of Works rests in the word "covenant", not in the word "Adam".
It is always necessary to look at the context surrounding a verse, something that Dr. Belcher does not do here. So, what is the context? At the end of Hos 5, the LORD pronounced a judgment upon Israel and Judah:
For I will be like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
I will go away and return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.
Now let’s look at the use of "Adam" in Hosea 6. The first three verses of chapter 6 reveal a future restoration, but by verse 4 Israel/Judah of that day still faced the LORD’s judgment at that time:
1 “Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
“He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.
Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant;
There they have dealt treacherously against Me.
Gilead is a city of wrongdoers,
Tracked with bloody footprints.
And as raiders wait for a man,
So a band of priests murder on the way to Shechem;
Surely they have committed crime.
In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s harlotry is there, Israel has defiled itself.
Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for you,
When I restore the fortunes of My people.
[These verses have great eschatological significance in the Millennium (the Millennium being the 1000 year rule of the Lord Christ on earth–something yet to take place); however, CT probably does not recognize their importance given their disposition for Amillennialism. Please note that I have not studied these passages from a CT perspective; my assessment is based on my general understanding of how CT views passages with strong Millennial import and application: they are rejected out-of-hand, usually with a "spiritualized" interpretation (capable of nearly any meaning!).
It is true that Dr. Belcher does not devote much exposition to Hos 6. The bulk of it is in this section in chapter 2.]
Verses 4 to the end of the chapter are a lament of the dreadful state of the nation’s unfaithfulness. We encounter the "critical" verse 7 in this section.
As I said, Dr. Belcher appears to reject the context with this conclusion at the end of the section:
“Whether 'Adam' only refers to the first man or is a pun that refers to both a person and place, Hosea 6-7 identifies Adam as a covenant breaker to make the point that the Israelites are also covenant breakers and will experience the consequences of breaking the covenant.” [ch 2, pg 27-28, emphasis mine]
The clear inference, of course, is that there must have been a covenant to break, namely, the Covenant of Works. But let us seriously consider that Dr. Belcher would have us believe that of the (probably) hundred+ laments in the OT of national Israel’s obstinance and disobedience, here we have a most unusual confluence of three assumptions to support CT "theology" in the same verse:
- it is not referring to national Israel’s disobedience, and
- it is not referring to national Israel’s breaking of the Mosaic Covenant;
- it is referring to the never-before-mentioned-in-the-OT Covenant of Works!
There is only one understanding that honors the context of the passage, and that understanding is this:
But like Adam [transgressed against the LORD in Eden] they have transgressed the covenant [that the LORD made with the nation through Moses] …
I thoroughly reject the indefensible notion that Hos 6.7 supports the Covenant of Works because:
- it is referring to national Israel’s disobedience, and
- it is referring to national Israel’s breaking of the Mosaic Covenant;
- there is no Covenant of Works to break!