The LORD is Longsuffering and Waiting to Forgive

September 1, 2017

Scripture Reading – Hosea 8-14

Only fourteen chapters long, we began our reading of the prophecies of Hosea last week and conclude the book today.  Hosea, the first of the minor prophets of the Old Testament, was called by God to preach to the northern ten tribes of Israel and call the people to turn from their sins and repent.

Desiring to give Israel not only an admonition of His judgment, but also an illustration of His love for the people in spite of their waywardness; the LORD commanded Hosea to take Gomer, a prostitute, and love her as his wife (Hosea 1:2).  Gomer gave birth to three children of Hosea (Hosea 1:4-9); however, she left their marriage and returned to prostitution (Hosea 3:1).  To illustrate His unending love for Israel, the LORD commanded Hosea to purchase his unfaithful wife out of the bonds of prostitution (Hosea 3:2), restore her to himself and love her.

Such was the love of God for Israel when the people committed spiritual whoredom, worshipped idols and practiced all manner of immorality and wickedness.  Hosea warned Israel the clouds of God’s judgment were forming and Assyria would soon wage war against her and take the people captive (Hosea 7); however, the nation refused to hear and heed the prophet’s dire warning.

Hosea 8-10 records God’s announcements of judgment against the nation “because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against my law” (Hosea 8:1).  The progression of God’s judgment against the sinning nation is pictured as an “eagle against the house of the LORD” (8:1), a “sowing and reaping” (8:7), pottery that is broken (8:8) and a “wild ass” (8:9).

One of the better known descriptions of sin and its consequences in Hosea is, they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (8:7a; 10:12-13).  Like religious hypocrites of our day, Israel continued a pretense of religion… offering sacrifices; however, God rejected their sacrifices stating, “Israel hath forgotten his Maker” (8:14) and “gone a whoring from thy God” (Hosea 9:1).

Hosea 9 continues God’s condemnation of “Ephraim” (another name for Israel), warning the people the nation will fall to Assyria and they will be led away as slaves out of their land.  Reflecting on Israel’s enslavement to Egypt centuries earlier, Hosea warned the nation will suffer the same bondage to Assyria and the nation’s “glory shall fly away like a bird” (9:11) and He “will drive them out of mine house” (9:15).

Israel had rejected God’s mercy, refused His grace and the LORD rejected them saying, “I hated them: for their wickedness…I will love them no more…their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit” (9:15-16).  The imminent judgment of God against the nation and its spiritual state is summed up, “Israel is an empty vine” (10:1a).

Hosea 11 reflects on God’s love and blessings on Israel in the past.  When Israel was humbled by Egyptian slavery and cried out to the LORD, the LORD states, “I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt (11:1)… I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love” (11:4).  The balance of Hosea 11 offers proof the LORD was longsuffering toward Israel and, in spite of her wickedness and idolatry, He tempered His wrath (11:8-12).

Like a parent loves a son or daughter and chastens them to teach and instruct them (Hebrews 12:6), the LORD disciplined Israel (12:2-12).  “Ephraim” (Israel) continued in sin…worshipping and sacrificing to idols (13:1-2).  Reminding the people how He had preserved and blessed them, but their heart was filled with pride (13:5-6), the LORD warned He would “devour them like a lion” (13:8).

Hosea 14 closes with God’s invitation to His rebellious people, “O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity” (14:1).   What an encouragement it is to read the LORD’s love had not failed for His people and He longed to forgive them of their sins.  Indeed, we read:

Hosea 14:4-5 – “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.  5  I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.”

I close with a reminder and invitation to you dear friend.  Regardless of how far you have strayed from the LORD or the shame you have heaped upon His name, He longs to heal and restore you to Himself as He longed to restore Israel.

1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith