A. Israel’s sin.
1. (2-3) Charges against Israel.
“Bring charges against your mother, bring charges;
For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!
Let her put away her harlotries from her sight,
And her adulteries from between her breasts;
Lest I strip her naked
And expose her, as in the day she was born,
And make her like a wilderness,
And set her like a dry land,
And slay her with thirst.”
a. For she is not My wife: God paints Israel as an adulterous wife, who is no longer worthy to be compared to a wife. This shows that relationship was dramatically broken.
i. Israel lewdly offered herself to other gods, in the way that a woman lewdly offers herself to lovers. This is communicated by the phrase her adulteries from between her breasts. “The reference to her ‘breasts’ may imply that she had laid bare her bosom to entice her lovers… If she did not change, she would be stripped naked” (Hubbard).
b. Lest I strip her naked and expose her… and make her like a wilderness: God warns Israel that if she would not put away her harlot-like ways, she would be judged. Though relationship was broken, blessing continued – but would be taken away if Israel did not turn.
2. (4-5) Israel tries to justify her harlotry.
“I will not have mercy on her children,
For they are the children of harlotry.
For their mother has played the harlot;
She who conceived them has behaved shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
Who give me my bread and my water,
My wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’“
a. I will not have mercy on her children: If Israel as a whole is represented as an unfaithful wife, then her children represent the individual people of Israel. If they do not turn back to the LORD, they will personally experience His judgment.
b. I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my linen: Israel justified her harlotry because she received things from her “lovers.” She looked at all the good she seemed to get from her sin, and it seemed like a good deal. Israel didn’t understand the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25).
B. God’s judgment.
1. (6-8) How God will draw Israel back.
I will hedge up your way with thorns,
And wall her in,
So that she cannot find her paths.
She will chase her lovers,
But not overtake them;
Yes, she will seek them, but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go and return to my first husband,
For then it was better for me than now.’
For she did not know
That I gave her grain, new wine, and oil,
And multiplied her silver and gold;
Which they prepared for Baal.”
a. I will hedge up your way with thorns: To bring Israel to repentance, God promised to set a hedge of thorns on the sides of her path, so that it would hurt whenever Israel went off the correct path, and so the wrong paths would be hard to find.
i. When God hedges our way with thorns, we usually don’t like it. We sometimes think God is against us when the thorns hurt and we can’t find the wrong paths. But it is really one of the sweetest expressions of God’s love to hedge up your way with thorns and to wall us in.
b. I will go and return to my first husband: When the passing pleasures of sin are finished, we often then see how good it was to follow the LORD. In a marriage sometimes the grass can seem greener even with the best spouse; in our walk with the LORD our idols seem attractive until God exposes them. Then we are ready to return to our first husband, the LORD.
c. For she did not know that I gave her grain: Even when Israel went after other gods, the Lord still provided for her. This showed His great, unselfish love to Israel. Even though Israel took what God provided and prepared it for Baal, He still loved them.
i. When Hosea provided for Gomer, she spent it on her adulterous lovers. It’s as if Hosea went to the house of Gomer’s lover, where she lived apart from her husband and in adultery. He knew that this scoundrel of a man couldn’t provide for Gomer, and that she lived in poverty and rags. Hosea knocked at the door. He spoke to the man who answered, “Are you the man living with Gomer?” The man wondered what business it was of Hosea’s; then he revealed: “I’m Hosea, her husband. I’ve brought these groceries and money so she can be provided for.” When Hosea left, Gomer and her lover must have thought he was a fool. What a great dinner they had together with the food Hosea brought! But this is how the LORD loves us, lavishing blessing on us even when we are worshipping idols, providing us with blessings we waste on other gods.
d. Which they prepared for Baal: This principle shows how offensive idolatry really is to God. Whatever we give to an idol, we have received from God.
i. God gives to man the trees of the forest and the iron in the ground. He gives man the brains to make an axe and nails from the iron, and the energy to cut down the tree, the skill to fashion the wood into beams. God gives man the cleverness to make a handle from the wood, and head from the iron, and combine it into an effective hammer. Then man takes the beams, the nails, and the hammer and he nails God to the cross – where God willingly stretched out His arms, dying on the cross to take the guilt and penalty man’s sin deserved – and to make a new, restored relationship between God and man possible.
2. (9-13) How God will punish Israel.
“Therefore I will return and take away
My grain in its time
And My new wine in its season,
And will take back My wool and My linen,
Given to cover her nakedness.
Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers,
And no one shall deliver her from My hand.
I will also cause all her mirth to cease,
Her feast days,
Her New Moons,
All her appointed feasts.
And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees,
Of which she has said,
‘These are my wages that my lovers have given me.’
So I will make them a forest,
And the beasts of the field shall eat them.
I will punish her
For the days of the Baals to which she burned incense.
She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry,
And went after her lovers;
But Me she forgot,” says the LORD.
a. I will return and take away My grain: God gave grain to Israel, and she gave what He provided in sacrifices to Baal. So God would take away this provision, and as Israel felt her need and deprivation – perhaps she would then turn back to the LORD.
b. But Me she forgot: Israel enjoyed great prosperity during the time of Jeroboam II. But she used her prosperity for idolatry and the pursuit of ungodly pleasures, so God would take away her prosperity.
C. The restoration of Israel.
1. (14-15) Abundance and joy restored.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.”
a. I will allure her… speak comfort to her: Once Israel has felt the discomfort of her deprivation, then she will listen to the voice of God once again, and He will allure her back to Himself.
i. Spurgeon on I will allure her: “This is a singular kind of power: ‘I will allure her;’ not, ‘I will drive her’ not even, ‘I will draw her,’ or, ‘I will drag her;’ or, ‘I will force her.’ No, ‘I will allure her.’ It is a very remarkable word, and it teaches us that the allurement of love surpasses in power all other forces. That is how the devil ruins us; he tempts us with honeyed words, sweet utterances, with the baits of pleasure and the like; and the Lord in mercy determines that, in all truthfulness, he will outbid the devil, and he will win us to himself by fascinations, enticements, and allurements which shall be stronger than any force of resistance we may offer. This is a wonderfully precious word: ‘I will allure her.’”
b. The Valley of Achor as a door of hope: Achor means, “trouble” so the Valley of Achor is the “Valley of Trouble.” It was a place of trouble, where Achan’s sin was discovered and judged (Joshua 7:26). God’s restoration is so great that He will transform the “Valley of Trouble” into a door of hope.
c. She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth: When Israel is restored, she will be restored to joy. The passing pleasures of sin are forgotten and the true pleasures of God are restored.
2. (16-20) Relationship restored.
“And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the LORD,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’
For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals,
And they shall be remembered by their name no more.
In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
With the birds of the air,
And with the creeping things of the ground.
Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth,
To make them lie down safely.
I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the LORD.
a. You will call Me “My Husband”: With great anticipation, God looked forward to the day when relationship would be genuinely restored with His people. He wanted an intimate love-relationship with His people, and longed for the day when His people would have a marriage-like love and commitment to their God.
b. And not longer call Me “My Master”: God was not satisfied with a fear-based, obedience-focused relationship with His people where they thought of Him primarily as Master. He wanted a relationship where they thought of Him primarily as Husband.
c. I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals: In Hebrew, the name “Baal” comes from the word “Master” and the two words sound alike. It was the Baals, the idols of the nations, which wanted this “master-slave” relationship with man. But not the LORD God; He wants a love-based, commitment-based relationship with His people.
d. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth: Ultimately, this blessing of restored relationship will result in a transformed earth, changed both ecologically (beasts of the field… birds of the air) and politically. This blessing will be fulfilled in the millennial earth, but we can come to know the transforming power of a restored relationship right now.
e. I will betroth you to Me forever: When relationship with the LORD is ultimately restored, it will never be broken again. Relationship will be restored on a solid foundation (In righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy), and will result in deeper and deeper relationship (you shall know the LORD).
3. (21-23) Blessing restored.
“It shall come to pass in that day
That I will answer,” says the LORD;
“I will answer the heavens,
And they shall answer the earth.
The earth shall answer
With new wine,
Wnd with oil;
They shall answer Jezreel.
Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth,
And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
Then I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’
And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ”
a. I will answer: This is great blessing of real, vibrant relationship with God. Our hearts beat in rhythm to His, and so we want what He wants. So when we ask God to do things, we already ask what He wants to do – so He will answer.
i. This is the same principle Jesus taught: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (John 15:7).
b. The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil: When relationship is where it is supposed to be, God abundantly provides. This is the same principle Jesus taught in Matthew 6:33: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
c. They shall answer Jezreel: The name “Jezreel” means “Scattered,” and could be used in a negative sense (as in Hosea 1:4-5). But it was also the word used to describe the good scattering of seed, “Sowing.” Here, the LORD promised a glorious redemption of the name Jezreel, which was first given as a sober reminder of scattering in judgment. It would become a prophecy of the promise, “I will sow her for Myself in the earth.” God would restore His people to abundance and blessing. Scattering would be transformed into sowing.
d. And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy: Hosea’s second child, a daughter, was named Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “No Mercy” (Hosea 1:6). That name, originally given as a marker of judgment would be transformed into a mark of restoration.
e. Then I will say to those who were not My people, “You are My people!” Hosea’s third child, a son, was named Lo-Ammi, meaning “Not My People” (Hosea 1:9). That name, originally given as a marker of judgment, is now transformed into a mark of restoration.
f. And they shall say, “You are my God!” With this, the restoration would be complete. The LORD would relate to His people as their God, and His people would relate to Him as His people. This is relationship, full of warmth and love, and what God longs for.
i. Think about it: Which one of the pagan gods of the nations ever wanted the love of their followers? Which of them ever asked, “Do you love me?” False gods don’t want our love, they want our fear, our obedience, our slave-like sacrifice and devotion. But the true God, the living God, isn’t satisfied with just our fear, our obedience, or even with our slave-like sacrifice and devotion. He wants our love, freely given and enjoyed in relationship with Him. If we miss this, we miss the heart of God’s work in us and for us.
ii. We see complete restoration. All three of Hosea’s children, named as marks of judgment, now have their names restored and made into marks of mercy, grace, and restoration. God is that good!
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission