1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
On verses 1-3: Like a mediator between God and Israel, here Hosea suggests words that Israel can speak to return to God. He urges Israel to plead with God for forgiveness (v2). He also tells the Israelites to acknowledge that all those idols they had previously worshiped cannot save them (v3).
What can we learn from this? If we want our relationship with God to be restored, we must repent and ask God for forgiveness. We must recognize that those idols that we had worshiped cannot save us and only God can save and satisfy us.
Hosea 14:4-5 (NIV) 4 “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots;
On verses 4-8: At the same time that Hosea encourages the people of Israel to repent and return to God (v1-3), God offers healing and love to Israel (v4). He confirms that His anger has been turned away (v4). He promises that Israel will be blessed once again (v5-7). He confirms that, unlike the idols that Israel had worshiped, God is the only one who will answer Israel’s prayers, care for Israel’s well-being and be the source of their fruitfulness (v8).
What can we learn from this? Long before we reached for God in repentance, God was already reaching for us in love and compassion. Long before you or I were even conscious of God, God sent Jesus Christ to pay for our sins, to satisfy and take away God’s wrath against us, so that no longer would we be separated from God but have a relationship with Him. God is the One, and not any idol, who hears and answers our prayers, who cares for our well being and who makes us fruitful in what we do.
Hosea 14:9 (NIV) 9 Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
On verse 9: The ultimate proof of a person’s wisdom or foolishness is in how they respond to God’s Word. Those who are wise will realize the truth of God’s Word and the rightness of God’s ways and decide to walk accordingly. Those who are foolish, who have as verse 4 suggests a propensity to stray from God, will reject or ignore God’s Word and stumble all over it. May God give us a wise and discerning heart to recognize the truth of His Word and to walk in His ways.
Heavenly Father, thank You that at the end of the book of Hosea, Your mercy triumphs over judgment. When You had every right to disown Your wayward people, You still found, and to this day still keeping finding, ways to bring Your people, including me, back to You. Thank You for Your unfailing, ever persevering love for us. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!
A Final Note on the Book of Hosea
That brings our look at the book of Hosea to a close. What were the most important lessons you learned from the book of Hosea? E-mail me at [email protected] and let me know. I’d love to hear how the book impacted you.
For me, when I read the book of Hosea chapter by chapter, at first it seems like God can’t make up His mind about Israel — “Should I punish Israel or should I forgive Israel? Should I disown Israel or bring Israel back?” It almost seems as if with each new chapter, God is changing His mind about what to do with Israel.
What’s going on? Is God playing a game of “He loves me – He loves me not” with Israel? No.
The book of Hosea gives us an inside look at the internal struggle God went through when His people sinned against Him. Like a husband who is betrayed by a cheating spouse, or like a parent who is deeply hurt by a fully grown but immature and selfish child, God’s heart is deeply and personally tormented when His beloved children persist in sin against Him. On one hand, in the heart of God there is the desire to punish sin and reject sinners. On the other hand, there is also in God’s heart the desire to show compassion and forgiveness toward us, the creations He loves the most. It’s the closest thing to tension and torment that God knows.
Thankfully, that tension and torment in God’s heart was resolved not just in Hosea 14, but even more, at the cross where Jesus died. For it is at the cross where God’s wrath against our sin was satisfied, and where God’s mercy and forgiveness were poured out for us all. (So don’t ever assume that it was easy for God to resolve the tension between His justice and His mercy. After all, it cost Him the highest price: His own Son Jesus.)
Praise God that in the book of Hosea, and even more at the cross where Jesus died, mercy triumphs over judgment.