Scripture reading – Hosea 14
Our study of Hosea will conclude today with our Scripture reading, Hosea 14. For those unfamiliar with Old Testament prophecies, this weeklong study has probably been challenging. Yet, what have we learned?
Using the life of Hosea as a parable of His love for wayward Israel, the LORD commanded His prophet to take an adulterous woman to be his wife (Hosea 1). Like Israel, estranged from the LORD, Hosea’s wife left him and their sons and daughter for other men (Hosea 2).
The LORD then commanded the prophet to seek, and entreat his wife to leave her adulterous ways (Hosea 3:1). Finding her in a slave market, Hosea redeemed her (Hosea 3:2), brought her home, and restored her as his wife (Hosea 3:3).
Hosea’s love for his wife was a living portrait of the LORD’s unfailing love for Israel. The LORD was longsuffering, and merciful toward His people. Like a father loves a prodigal, the LORD’S love for His people, in spite of their spiritual adultery, was never in doubt. Yet, sadly, and irrespective of the prophet’s warning, God’s judgment was imminent, because the people refused to repent and return to the LORD.
The Final Appeal (14:1-7)
Hosea 14 records the prophet’s last invitation to that rebellious nation: “O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity” (14:1). Though the people had broken covenant with Him, the LORD never forsook Israel, nor forgot His covenant with them.
Urging the people to repent and turn to the LORD, Hosea appealed: “Take with you words [confess], and turn [repent] to the Lord: Say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously” (14:2).
Knowing only the LORD could save Israel from the devastating judgment he had foretold, Hosea warned, “Asshur [Assyria] shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses [used in war]: Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy” (14:3).
Like Hosea restored his adulterous wife, the LORD spoke directly to Israel and invited the people to return to Him. Expressing His longing to forgive the people of their sins and restore them, we read, “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him” (14:4).
What a wonderful lesson in God’s unfailing love for sinners! Not only was He longing to restore Israel, He promised to: Heal them; Love them unconditionally; Forgive and Revive them (14:5); Restore the beauty of the nation (14:6), secure them “under His shadow” (14:7); and make the nation Fruitful again (14:7b).
A Spiritual Crossroads (14:8)
For Ephraim (and the whole of Israel), the nation was at a spiritual crossroads. If they repented of their sins, they would be restored whole, and would surely declare, “What have I to do any more with idols?” (14:8a) Knowing the LORD’S offer of forgiveness, and that His promises never fail, Hosea promised, the people would have no desire for their idols. They would be as an evergreen tree, and have need of nothing (14:8).
An Invitation (14:9)
Having presented his closing invitation to Israel, it was time for the people to make a decision, and Hosea proposed two questions: “Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? Prudent, and he shall know them?” (14:9a).
The wise would understand their spiritual dilemma, and the prudent would surely repent (14:9a). If they confessed their sins, and turned from idols, they would know “the ways [laws and commandments] of the Lord are right[just], and the just shall walk in them [laws and commandments]” (14:9b). If they continued in their sins, Hosea warned: “the transgressors shall fall [be destroyed] therein” (14:9c).
The LORD was patient, and longed not only to forgive Israel for her sins, but to heal and restore her beauty and glory. Tragically, that nation rejected the message of the prophets, refused to repent, and was destroyed.
Closing thoughts – When I reflect on history, I fear for our world and my country. God is longsuffering, gracious, and willing to forgive; however, He is also holy and just. He will not tolerate a nation’s sins forever. While the world celebrates and glamorizes sin, let us not forget “transgressors shall fall” (14:9c). I close with a proverb of Solomon:
“Good understanding [prudence; insight; discretion] giveth [earns] favour [grace; kindness]: but the way [path; course; journey] of transgressors is hard [path; course; journey]” (Proverbs 13:15).
Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith