Hosea – God’s Great Love Story – 05 (“Hope for the Future”)
- SCRIPTURE READING:
Several Scripture portions from Hosea(Hos.4-14).
Today, we will be looking at several chapters of the book of Hosea under the following main points:
- More Accusations and Warnings;
- Hope for the Future;
- The Solution.
3.1More Accusations and Warnings:The book of Hosea is divided into three main parts or sections.
In the first section (chapters 1-3) God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, called Gomer. After having children with Hosea, Gomer became unfaithful to him and left him for other men. In the process she had two children from another man or men. In spite of the fact that she left Hosea and became a prostitute (maybe again – we are not sure), God told Hosea to go and find his wife, pay off her debts that she had and bring her home again. He had to commit his life and love to his wife again.
We’ve already seen, that Hosea’s life and marriage and his unfaithful wife, as well as his reconciliation with Gomer, is all a prophetic symbol of God’s love (His intimate relationship) to Israel.
God is like a faithful Hosea who rescues His bride from slavery. God led the Israelites from Egypt to Sinai. He led them by a cloud in the day and a fire column at night (Ex.13:21). God called Moses to ascends the mountain, where he is instructed to offer a covenant to the Israelites (a covenant: Literally, a contract. In the Bible, it was an agreement between God and His people, in which God makes promises to His people and, usually, requires certain obedience and/or action on their part. In the Old Testament, God made agreements or covenants with e.g. Noah, Abraham, and Moses). This covenant that God offered to the people of Israel was a covenant that they could either accept or reject. In light of all He has already done for them, God invites the Israelites to be His treasured people forevermore, as long as they agree to obey His commands. We read in Ex.20:1-3 the following ~ “And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me….”and then the rest of the Ten Commandments follows.
After Moses gave this message to Israel, they immediately accepted the covenant, even before they heard the terms of the covenant (Ex.19:1–8). We read in Ex.20:18-21, that the people feared God and they trembled and… ~ “…stood far off and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.’ The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.”So, Moses went up the mountain to God again and he was with God for another 40 days. While God gave more laws and instructions to Moses, the people of Israel took matters in their own hands – Ex.32:1-6 ~ “When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, ‘Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.’ And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play…”
This accepting of a covenant and then rejecting the covenant and again accepting God’s gracious new covenant and again rejecting it, would be the pattern for the rest of the history of Israel in the Old Testament, because as a whole, Israel clearly failed in its calling to worship and serve the Lord. God promised in 1 Sam.12:22, that He would transform Israel into a holy nation ~ “For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself”(also see: Gen.15; Ex.32:1-14). Although God had all the reason to abandon (or cancel)the covenant, He stuck to His promise that He won’t forsake them, because of His own love, compassion and faithfulness for them.
God called Hosea to describe the continued unfaithfulness of Israel towards God. He also describes how God’s love for Israel continues and that God always stuck to His covenant until Israel broke their promise to obey the covenant. God would also keep His promise (His covenant)that He eventually, will make His people a new people, a holy nation ~ “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you”(Deut.31:6). The Lord never abandons His children, no matter how bleak our prospects in life or how frustrating and fearful our circumstances. How will God honour His promise to an unfaithful nation? We will eventually see in chapter 14, that God will bless all the nations through the family of Abraham and thus create a new Israel for Him – a new nation in Christ Jesus.
Back to the second section of Hosea (chapters 4-11). The Northern Kingdom of Israel enjoyed some success from conquering neighbouring kingdoms, but they were spiritually bankrupt on the inside. God sends Hosea to Israel during King Jeroboam II’s reign to warn (admonish)them of their wrong doings, by worshiping idols.
King Jeroboam II, one of the worst kings in Israel’s history, allowed idol worship and thus opening the doorway for Israel to cheat, steal, have unlawful sex and even murdering each other on a constant basis. The fact that they grew cold and distant from God, not knowing Him as their first love anymore, led them into disaster and they will eventually be beaten and exiled by other nations.
Later in this second section, it is clear that God does not forget Israel even in their self-destruction, and He teaches us that love is the strongest force of all, even over sin, and that is what will happen with Israel too – they will eventually come back to Him and love Him again, and God will, in return, put them under a new Messianic King from the line of David, who will bring God’s blessing. Hope would therefore, still be restored and come through God’s Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In this opening section of Hosea we have seen that all the main themes of the book have been introduced – Israel’s sin and spiritual prostitution (i.e. their rebellion against God); the consequences of their rebellion and especially their lack of knowledge of God. We also saw that the word “knowledge”means more than just an intellectual activity, in this case, the Hebrew word “Yada” means a personal, relational knowledge of someone – it is more than just knowing about someone, but actually and really knowing that person. Israel therefore, did not have a personal, relational knowledge of God anymore.
God wants Israel to know Him like that – He wants them to know Him intimately, personally and relationally, in order for them to experience God’s love for them. This kind of knowledge and relationship will change their hearts and lives, so that they will love Him in return. In short, in this section, Hosea describes God’s mercy and love which is far more powerful than Israel’s sin.
In the third section of Hosea (Hos.12-14), he carries on pointing out the sins of Israel over decades of being God’s people. He referred to Jacob’s lying and deceit in Gen.27-28. Again, he refers to Israel’s rebellion in the wilderness after they’ve left Egypt (Num.12-20). He also refers to all the sinful and corrupt kings of Israel, specifically Saul (1 Samuel 12, 15). It is almost as if Hosea wants to tell Israel, that it is the same old story over and over again. God’s heart is broken over His children – He who, according to chapter 11, loved them as His children and He called them and led them out of Egypt to a better life, but they broke His heart, because in 11:2 He says… ~ “The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols.”
3.2Hope for the Future:The question is, what is God going to do? Is He going to wipe them off the face of the earth? No, we’ve seen in chapter 3 that God is going to keep His promise of restoring His people and this brings us to chapters 11 and 14 – there is hope for Israel; there is hope for the future – similarly, there is hope for the people of our day – for you and me, because in 11:8-9 the Lord says ~ “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.”
3.3The Solution:We find the key verse of the Book of Hosea in Hos.14:4 and this is Israel’s hope for the future (and ours) ~ “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.” It is clear from this verse, that God will never abandon His people and that He will heal His children – but how?
The final words of Hosea in chapter 14 are very important, not only for the people of Israel, but also for us today. Hosea appeals to them to choose righteousness over sin, salvation (deliverance)over judgment, life over death, repentance over rejection, and godliness over wickedness ~ “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy” (Hos.14:1-3). This is the Lord’s final appeal and promise to Israel and they don’t really have a choice. And therefore, they have to do something to follow the Lord.
What must they do? The Lord tells them what to do:
- The people had to acknowledge their sinfulness (14:1). It was sin that would cause God’s judgment to fall upon them. Sinful, wicked behaviour and corrupt society was part of the nation. But before the problem could be solved, the people had to acknowledge that the problem existed. Sin was causing the downfall and collapse of the nation as well as the eternal damnation of the people who refused to repent. The only hope of escaping God’s hand of judgment was to acknowledge their sin and return to Him. Paul affirms this fact when he says in Rom.3:23 ~ “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
The only hope that we have, in order to escape God’s eternal judgment, is to acknowledge that we are sinful.
- The people had to ask for forgiveness (14:2). The people had to seek for forgiveness of their sins. In 1 John 1:9 John tells us how to do it ~ “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”They must go to the Lord and acknowledge that they have sinned and they must tell Him what their sins are and then ask Him to forgive them. Have you done this already? Are you doing this on a daily basis? Are you asking for forgiveness, the moment you are sinning?
- The people had to know that no earthly power could save them (14:3). Nothing in this world has the power, or authority to forgive anyone’s sins – not a tree trunk, no person; nor an earthly king; nor Buda or Mohammed – no one, except God the Father in and through Jesus Christ – He alone is the Saviour and the only One that can forgive our sins – Luke teaches in Luke 5:24… ~ “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.”
- The people had to confess that mercy is found only in the Lord (14:3b). There is no clearer proof for this – mercy can only be found in Jesus Christ ~ “Jesus said to him (that was Thomas), ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”(John 14:6).
The Lord gave six wonderful promises to those who would truly repent:
- God will heal them of their wicked behaviour and shower His love upon them. If the people of Israel truly repent, they will never again suffer due to sinful and evil behaviour.
- God will give new life to the person who truly repents. “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18).
- God will make His people strong (14:6-7). “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green”(Ps.92:12-14).
- God will erase all idolatrous worship among the people (14:8a). No person will put his trust and hope in false and useless gods when they trust and follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Those who truly repent will know the Lord and will never again put their trust in idols.
- God will answer the people’s prayers and meet all their needs, demonstrating His loving care for them (14:8b). “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him”(1 John 5:14-15).
- God will give all the righteous people, eternal life in heaven~ “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates”(Rev.22:14).
- CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:
We have the assurance that we as true believers in Christ Jesus, will always have the presence of God to guide and protect us, even when we go through hard times – the trials of life. He will give us the strength to endure and to be victorious. We have this assurance because God is the only sovereign God and the only omniscient (all-knowing)God and nothing will happen to us, without Him allowing it… ~ “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him. You have done foolishly in this, for from now on you will have wars”(2 Chron.16:9).
Let us be encouraged by the words of Jesus ~ “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand”(John 10:27-28). Moses also says in Deut.31:6 ~ “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”The Lord never abandons His own, no matter how bleak our prospects in life or how frustrating and fearful our circumstances.
Thus, the Lord created a new Israel for Him – a new nation in Christ Jesus.