Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2 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.
3 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.”
4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
6 his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like an evergreen cypress;
from me comes your fruit.
9 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 upright walk in them,
but transgressors stumble in them. – Hosea 14:1-9
The bulk of the book of Hosea is just sad. Israel, sometimes referred to as Ephraim the largest tribe in Israel, is called a whore, one who has run after idols, instead of God, her husband. One of the famous passages from Hosea is in Hosea 8:7, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” The prophet had the unenviable calling to speak for God a message that was hard and extended over about 30 years and four kings. I surmise that Hosea was not too popular in the king’s court or anywhere else in Israel.
However, the message wasn’t all “bad.” Right after being told, “You are Not My People,” he says, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” So, even in the midst of pronouncements of judgment, there is the promise of mercy. We still see the loving heart of God. (more…)