The Hope of Restoration

Hosea  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  33:18
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Last time we saw a portrait of God as the grieving father broken over His wayward son. God had brought discipline on Israel for their idolatry. This was something that was very difficult to do. As a father, he knew Israel needed punishment, but he wrestled emotionally in carrying it out. A loving parent must enact discipline, not that they enjoy doing so. Discipline is necessary if a child is going to learn boundaries and correct behaviors. Godly parenting involves making tough choices that lead a child in the direction he or she should go in the hopes that they will continue along that path when they are older. God called Israel out of slavery in Egypt to be an independent nation with Him as their head. He would be their God and they would be His people, an exclusive relationship. Israel abandoned their faithfulness and God let them succumb to the effects of a culture where God was absent. This resulted in their captivity by Assyria.
There is a tension in the book of Hosea where the Lord pronounces judgment on a nation while simultaneously calling them to return and find healing. It often leaves us asking, how can both be possible? Like the parent disciplining his child, God can both enact punishment suitable for the crime and provide restoration while still facing the consequences of their behavior. This is what we see in the book.
Chapter fourteen ends the book on a positive note of healing and restoration if Israel will return to faithful obedience to the Lord.
Hosea 14:1–3 NASB95
Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity And receive us graciously, That we may present the fruit of our lips. “Assyria will not save us, We will not ride on horses; Nor will we say again, ‘Our god,’ To the work of our hands; For in You the orphan finds mercy.”

A Call to Return to the Lord (v. 1-3)

There is a call for Israel to return to the Lord. Verse two tells them how. Take words with you. Repentance is that Christian term we use all the time, and it means a complete turn from one lifestyle to embrace another. It is a complete abandonment. In the Christian sense, repentance is a complete departure from a sinful lifestyle and an embrace of righteousness. This is a decision one does not make within himself, but one that he voices to God Himself. God is telling Israel what they need to say back to Him. Take away all sin. Receive us graciously. Presenting the fruit of their lips in verse two translates more closely to present their lips as bulls. This is a way of expressing their desire that their words would be pleasing to the Lord like that of a sacrificial bull. God is calling Israel to repentance through voicing a plea to God for the pardon of their sin and accept their worship once again. Repentance is agreeing with God, voicing your plea for acceptance, while following through with what you are saying.
Verse three continues the words Israel ought to say back to God as a sign of repentance. Returning to the Lord requires renunciation of your past life. For Israel, in this chapter, this means a total departure of reliance on a foreign nation, on military might, false gods, or their own strength. Returning to the Lord today might mean letting go of reliance on political alliances, one’s own strength, and worldviews that contradict the Bible. It is returning to reliance on the Lord our God and faithful obedience to His commands.
The final line in verse three stands out as a reminder of God’s love as the orphan finds mercy in Him. Israel had become spiritual orphans. The gods they served didn’t exist. They were inventions from the minds of men. The other gods didn’t take care of Israel. To serve any god but the God of the Bible is to serve no god at all. But God’s heart is for the spiritual orphan who is lost and alone if never connected to their heavenly Father. God is calling Israel back to faithfulness through repentance.

God’s Promise of Restoration (v. 4-7)

Hosea 14:4–7 NASB95
I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like the lily, And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. His shoots will sprout, And his beauty will be like the olive tree And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.
If Israel will listen to the Lord and return to Him with words of repentance, He promises to heal them. God’s love for Israel stems through His grace. This promise of restoration is not something Israel has earned. It is freely given through the grace of God. He is free to love Israel once again because punishment is being carried out. Here we are looking forward to the future while experiencing the current reality. Israel is gone. They are in Assyria, but even so, God is still calling them to repentance and restoration knowing that in about 70 years they will return.
I love the figures of speech used to describe the relationship between God and Israel. God will be like the dew. It presents the picture of walking out of the house in the morning to see just a little bit of wetness on the grass. One of my favorite things is walking out on the back porch early in the morning to feel the cool air, the moisture in the air, and sit back and drink a cup of coffee while I sit and contemplate life and the day ahead while praying for guidance and direction. God being the dew to Israel signifies a return of God’s favor to His people.
Israel blossoming like the lily signifies a return to beauty and taking root like the cedars of Lebanon signify a return of strength and endurance. All of this is coming from God, not Israel. The imagery continues by comparing Israel’s beauty to olive trees and again the cedars of Lebanon. Israel’s grain will grow again, vines will bloom, their renown is compared to the wine of Lebanon. The area known as Lebanon in this time period was just north of Israel and it was known for its cedars, and apparently, its wine. The message here is that Israel will again become a prosperous nation and their name will be revered across the globe.
When we return to the Lord, we don’t have to worry about what He will do. He has already promised restoration. We can see restoration again in our lifetime. I believe it. On a smaller scale we are already seeing it here as the Lord has blessed the ministry taking place here. But it has come at a price. It has come at the price of letting go of some stuff and simply allowing God to work through us to accomplish His will. I’m extremely grateful that the retirement of the former pastor combined with COVID moved you into a position of openness to new possibilities had already taken place before I came along. God has breathed and is breathing new life into the church and the community is taking notice. But we can’t stop now. We have only just begun.
On a larger scale, if America wants to see the blessings of God, America must look at the man in the mirror, acknowledge our sin, and return to the Lord expressing our desire that he would remove all sin, receive us graciously, and accept our praise once again. I believe if we do, we will see restoration. He will bring healing.

God is the source of peace and prosperity. (v. 8)

Hosea 14:8 NASB95
O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like a luxuriant cypress; From Me comes your fruit.
God is saying enough talk. Let’s move on. Let’s quit talking about your idols, the things you placed your trust in that have proven to fail. Rather, acknowledge where your good gifts come from. The reality is that all good things we have, the resources we have, are a gift from God whether they are acknowledged by us or not. Every good gift comes from God and it does not matter whether the people recognize that fact. But since these gifts do come from God, we should recognize that fact and honor the giver.

Wise people will walk in the ways of the Lord. (v. 9)

Hosea 14:9 NASB95
Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them.
Wisdom is acquired through the application of knowledge. Growing up, you learned a lot of things . Some of those things cannot be applied until you arrive at the appropriate life stage. But a wise person will acquire wisdom by listening to those who have lived through the things he hasn’t experienced yet. When I was a young adult in my early twenties, I listened closely to every sermon on marriage I ever heard, trying to glean insights that I could carry with me into the marriage I knew I would have one day. There were peers at the time who would check out thinking that sermon wasn’t for them. The wise listen to the ways of the Lord and commit to following them even if they don’t make sense at the time. There will come a time when that knowledge will be applicable. The ways of the Lord may seem strange and difficult, but they are right, for He is the definer of truth.
We continue to see the Lord is faithful to His covenant promises and that he is faithful to forgive us and restore us.
1 John 1:9 NASB95
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Since God does not abandon His covenant promises, forgiveness and restoration are found in turning to Him.

As we endure dark days, may we continue to look at the person in the mirror, rooting out our own sin so we collectively become a stronger church, a stronger community, and by God’s grace, maybe a strong nation once again. May we turn to the Lord for forgiveness and restoration since it is the only place it can be found.
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