This chapter is such a wonderful chapter and a blessing that God put this chapter at the end of the prophecy of Hosea.
Though His people have turned away from Him, God will not abandon them.
He has shown that He will discipline them, but He true to His covenant and His promises.
Spurgeon has his own way with words and pictures to speak of the restorative love of God.
“I had never expected from such a prickly shrub to gather so fair a flower, so sweet a fruit; but so it is: where sin abounded, grace doth more abound.
No chapter in the Bible can be more rich in mercy than this last of Hosea; and yet no chapter in the Bible, might in the natural order of things, have been more terrible in judgment.
Where we looked for blackness of darkness behold a noontide of light!”
After the present discipline of the Lord we looked at last time - now we see the plea from God and the promise from God revealing His restorative love.
Lets read together the final chapter as we close the book on the greatest love story and understand that the love of God seeks restoration.
Plea to Repent
Hosea begins with a plea for Israel to return to God.
This gives the picture of being lost.
Now a couple of things about someone who gets lost.
No one intends to become lost
No one realizes when they become lost
No one wants to remain lost
Despite that being true, many remain lost when they cannot determine the way back.
How did they become lost?
How do we become lost before God? Hosea pleads for them to return to God - because they have stumbled in their iniquity - their sin.
Sin is what causes us to become lost because in sin we turn of the road of righteous and off the path and we begin to walk in the way of darkness.
The only way back is to return to the Lord our God.
Return means to turn away from the direction we are currently walking and return.
In returning to the Lord, Israel must - as we must also - come on God’s terms, not our own.
There are several steps involved in returning to the Lord and yet they are really taken altogether.
But here they are anyway.
First - Take words of repentance with you and return to the Lord.
Repentance involves a return to God’s word and what God’s word says concerning what we are doing, thinking or believing in.
Then speak the words with your mouth - not a quiet return with silent feelings in the heart.
Take words with you - tell God you love Him, and tell God you repent before Him.
Speak the words to God communicate clearly and openly with Him.
Next - Ask forgiveness.
verse 2 Recognizing the sin as its identified, agree with God on it and ask for forgiveness depending wholly upon the grace of God.
Believe that He will receive you! God had every reason to reject Israel for being sinful people, but He chose to offer and plea for repentance through His prophet Hosea.
They needed to bring sincere words of repentance and also ask for forgiveness.
Finally - stop trusting or looking to any other for help.
There is no help but the Lord.
Understand that the humble, the poor and the destitute receives compassion in Jesus.
God through Hosea pleas for Israel to repent and return to Him, and He makes a promise to Israel as well.
Promise to Restore
God promises to heal Israel’s apostasy.
If they repent and return to God He will heal their apostasy - apostasy is turning away from relationship or authority.
God promises that He will freely love them - He will not be coerced into loving them, but in repentance and returning to Him - His anger will have turned away.
God sees that Israel was bent on backsliding (apostasy) but He promises to heal backsliding of a repentant Israel.
This He is not doing because they somehow deserve it, but God is choosing to love them freely - in fact its in His nature.
God in saying that He will heal our backsliding shows that He sees it more like a disease than a crime.
God restores spiritual health and heals backsliding for the ones who return confessing their sins
God promises to revive Israel.
He describes the act as being like the dew to Israel - cool, refreshing, healing restoring.
God continues on He will be like the lily and blossom taking root like the cedars.
His branches (new growth) will spread and his splendor (beauty) will be like the olive tree.
His fragrance (distinct pleasurable odor) will be a sweet smell like a forest.
The people will return and live beneath His shade.
They will grow grain and blossom like the vine.
His honor will be like the vine of Lebanon.
In the day of Israel’s repentance the Lord promises to relent and turn from His anger and instead show and demonstrate His love by healing her.
A complete reversal of the imagery we just looked at in chapter 13
The revival of the penitent is pictured in the emergence of new life in a dry field.
The word revive literally means to bring new life.
Requirement of a Choice
God’s plea for returning to Him and His promise to restore and revive is conditional.
It requires action on our part - an active choice of the heart.
Hosea says Ephraim why should I have anything more to do with idols, but a better rendition — Ephraim says why should I have anything more to do with idols.
Literally in view of the heart of God - Ephraim should say what need do I have of idols - they do nothing for me except provoke the wrath of God upon me, but they do not help me.
Are we learning what God is teaching?
Are we responding to what God is teaching?
Ephraim is seeing it is I the Lord God who answer and watch over him.
Do you see that it is God who answers and watches over?
Your fruit comes from me - idols and baals did not give you this - I did.
Hosea pleads and says let whoever is wise understand these things and whoever is insightful recognize them.
Understand by giving careful thought and careful consideration for these things.
Insight which is knowing and comprehending and recognizing - mentally perceiving.
The wise man hears the prophecy of Hosea and understands that God offers repentance and returning to Him.
God’s love is restorative and so He offers a wonderful opportunity for repentance and it is foolish to neglect His plea.
The ways of the Lord are right - the wise will understand and perceive this but it will be the righteous who walks in them.
It is not enough to know and perceive you must also walk in the way of righteousness.
The rebellious will stumble in them though.
They stumble because they in rebellion are walking counter to God’s word and therefore they cannot see because they walk in darkness.
As we read Hosea’s words may we walk and not stumble!
The closing verse presents us with only two alternatives.
Continue in rebellion against the Lord and continue to stumble or instead return to the Lord and walk securely in His ways.
To choose the first option is ridiculously foolish, but to choose the second is to be wise unto salvation.
Plainly this is message of Hosea.
God’s people were unfaithful and broke His heart.
However as pictured in Hosea and his marriage to Gomer - God would pursue His people in love not giving up.
His love remains consistent towards them - and this is true in His love towards you as well.
Hear the plea of your Father - return to Him.
Repent and trust in His restorative love to revive you.
Let Him love you!