The name Hosea means “salvation,” fitting since the Biblical book that bears his name has strong salvational themes running through it. Two weeks ago, we started studying this book by talking about how Hosea modeled God’s redemption of Israel by taking back his own unfaithful wife. Then last week, we looked at how warnings against rejecting God give us hope as well as caution, because the flip side of choosing to walk away from God is the ability to choose a relationship with Him. This week, we’ll wrap-up discussion of Hosea with more focus on this hope of salvation through relationship with our Savior.
Return To God
Last week, we said Israel’s main problem was that they rejected God and had no knowledge of Him. They also had another problem, one they share with the church of Laodicea.
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked (Rev. 3:16-17)
This is exactly what the people God was upset with said in Hosea:
And Ephraim said, ‘Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.’ (Hos 12.8)
They claimed they were wealthy and self-sufficient, but the truth of the matter was that while “Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit,” the fruit wasn’t any good — “You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies” (Hos. 10:1, 13, ESV). The solution for this problem, both in Hosea and Revelation, is essentially the same.
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (Rev. 3:18)
“So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually. (Hos. 12:6)
The message is clear — stop acting as if you don’t need God. Trust Him, come back to Him, and ask for His help. It requires the humility to recognize you are lacking something, and admit you need God to supply it. It means choosing to produce good, rather than evil, fruit. At it’s most basic, it is seeking a relationship with your Creator and letting Him save you.
Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. (Hos. 10:12)
“I Will Love Them”
In Hosea 11, God compares Israel’s early history to a beloved child who He taught “to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them” (Hos. 11:1, 3). They ignored Him and ran away from Him, which got them into all sorts of trouble.
My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror. (Hos. 11:7-9)
Israel was warned what would happen to them if they chose to walk away from God, and they were punished for their wrong decisions. Yet God still loved them so much that He continued showing mercy and calling for them to come back to a relationship with Him.
Yet I am the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no savior besides Me. I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. When they had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they forgot Me. … O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from Me. I will be your King; where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities? (Hos. 13:4-6, 9-10)
God’s insistence on cultivating a friendship with people who have destroyed themselves is remarkable. Why would He want them — and why would He want us? — after all we have done? yet His promises to save us, to know us, and to redeem us stand firm.
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him (Hos. 14:4)
These are promises we can count on. When God says, “I will ….”, He means it. He is committed to healing and loving his people. With such promises to rely on, we have no justifiable reason not to walk towards God. He wants very much to save us from sin and death, if only we’ll let Him.
O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity … Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. (Hos. 14:1, 9)