Hosea 14 has God’s call for His people to repent and return to Him. “Return , O Israel, to the Lord your God”. God is in the restoration business. He is waiting for us to come back to Him. It was that way in Hosea’s time, and it is still that way today. Sin gets in the way of our relationship. It causes us to be separated from God. He can’t tolerate it because of His nature, but He never stops loving us and waiting for our return. “For you have stumbled because of your iniquity”. Scripture is clear we all have a sin problem that causes us to fall. But there is hope.
God is there with open arms waiting for our return. “Take words with you and return to the Lord”. In returning to the Lord, Israel must come on God’s terms, not their own. God has a requirement of how we address the sin problem in our life. He wants us to return to Him, not with a silent feeling in our heart, but with proper words of repentance and trust in Him. He isn’t taking us in if we carry the guilt of our sin with us. We have to deal with that sin and be willing to communicate our repentance and willingness to turn around and run to Him and away from our sin.
It isn’t enough to feel repentance before the Lord. Instead, we must take words with us and tell God we are sinners and repent before Him. We must completely depend on God’s mercy and grace to deal with the sin problem in our life. “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips”. As we come to God with our words, we must declare His goodness and greatness. We don’t deserve His grace. He has chosen to make it available to us because He loves us. Enough He sent His only Son to the cross to redeem us from our sin. That’s real love done God’s way.
God promises to restore His people and heal their backsliding ways. But only after they repent. God tells us how He feels about us, even as sinners. “ I will love them freely”. Remember, these are the same people He has rescued and led and loved for generations, who have turned their backs on Him and gone about their own sinful and idolatrous ways. But He never gives up. And Hosea paints a great picture of just how good restoration is when we return to the Lord: (credit to David Guzik for this list)
- Growth is restored (He shall grow)
- Beauty is restored (He shall grow like the lily)
- Strength is restored (lengthen his roots like Lebanon)
- Value is restored (His beauty shall be like an olive tree)
- Delight is restored (His fragrance like Lebanon)
- Abundance is restored (revived like grain . . . grow like the vine . . . scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon)
Hosea has shown us how faithful God is to love, even when it isn’t warranted. God is love, and He offers that love freely to you and me!
Hosea 13 has the prophet reminding God’s people that they took the wrong path. “He exalted himself in Israel, But through Baal he did wrong and died”. God never blessed Israel when they worshipped Baal, but that didn’t stop them.They kept after their idolatry more and more. And it cost them dearly. Sin always does. Idols are not ok. Worshipping other gods is not ok. God doesn’t tolerate that because it is sin – a willful choice to put something else in the place only God belongs.
When we do, there is a price to pay. Sin always comes with judgment. “Therefore they will be like the morning cloud and like dew which soon disappears, like chaff which is blown away from the threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney”. God is going to deal with the sinful choices that His people have made. He never gives up on us, that’s the good news. “Yet I have been the Lord your God since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no Savior besides Me”.
God is always looking for a way to restore us to Himself. We are all guilty of sin – maybe not idols and false gods like these folks were – right? Or maybe, if we take a look, we are a whole like like them. We sometimes sit back in our chair and wonder how God’s people could be so stupid and make the bad choices they did. After all, He led them safely from Egypt and took care of them miraculously for 40 years. God never left them. But they fall prey to themselves, and we’re just like them. “And being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me”.
That’s our problem. We get prideful and self-sufficient and decide we don’t need God any more. We push Him off the throne and make ourselves god of our own life. It’s a plan doomed to take us where we don’t want to end up. Remember that God’s people asked for a king – “I gave you a king” – God game them what they wanted and it went awry. Why? Because these kings were human and pride got in the way. Power corrupts, and absolute power really corrupts. It leads all of us to sin, and God doesn’t forget. “His sin is stored up”. We have to address our sin. It’s written on the book. It’s only through the shed blood of Christ – the grace of a loving God who sets us free when we receive His gift – that we can overcome that sin and spend eternity with the Father.
Hosea 12 has the prophet remembering how the people have rebelled against God. He tells the history of Jacob and others who have failed to stay in God’s favor. Sin always gets in the way. Jacob finally comes to the place where he understands that God has beaten him, and all he could do was hang on to God and plead for a blessing. Hosea tells God’s people they need to return in the same way. “Return to your God, observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually”. we can never even return to the Lord without His help. This shows how weak we are and how much we really depend on Him.
Hosea continues to remind the people that God is God and always has been. “I have been the Lord your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again”. Hosea prophesied during a time of great prosperity, but spiritual and moral decline was all around Israel. When things are good financially, it’s hard for people to believe that their society is in trouble. But God cannot ignore that decline which is sin – a choice we make to live against God’s laws and commands. When we do, punishment must come. Sin always carries a significant price.
“By a prophet the Lord brought Israel from Egypt, And by a prophet he was kept”. God has used prophets to speak truth to people for generations. Hosea is carrying that message now. He is dealing with idols and pagan altars and all sorts of bad behavior amongst God’s people. God uses prophets to deliver truth and provide guidance, but people must choose to follow and walk in obedience to that truth. That wasn’t the case here during Hosea’s time, nor is it in our world today.
Because sin gets in the way, God has to act. “So his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and bring back his reproach to him”. God is in the restoration business, He wants to forgive our sins and heal our land, but we have to give Him something wo work with. God sent prophets to Israel to restore them, but they refused to listen and rejected His word. When that happens, judgement comes and the guilt remains. God can’t just ignore our sin. There is a price, which Christ paid on the Cross, but for that to become ours we must confess, repent and believe. That’s how we remove the reproach of our sin and receive the blessing of a Savior!
Hosea 11 has the prophet remembering just how much God loves His people. Some 500 years before Hosea’s time, God had let them out of Egypt. He provided for them and took care of them as they wandered the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. But they were unfaithful to him. “They kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols”. Hard to understand what caused them to follow their own ways rather than staying connected to the God who set them free, but they did.
God nave gave up on them though, just as He never gives up on you or me. “I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them”. God doesn’t force us to love Him. He draws us gently with cords of love, tugging at our hearts hoping we will come to love Him. He never uses harsh manipulation or force to get us to love Him. No man comes to God until he is drawn to Him. God uses His love to draw us to Himself.
But the people then had the same issues we do today. They were self-absorbed and focused on their own will and desires rather than being pulled toward God. “My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him”. Seems strange given the history of God’s people and His powerful work in their lives. But it’s no different for us today. If we merely look around we can see God’s fingerprints all over our lives, yet we choose willfully to sin and turn our attention to self rather than Him. We too are bent on turning from Him.
God doesn’t want to chastise and punish us for our sin. But justice demands that He do it, yet in His heart He provides a way of salvation. In this, God sends Jesus Christ, and on the cross Jesus was “given up” in our place. He took the sin that we will be judged for and carries it to the grave. And when He arose, He put that sin away and behind us once for all. Jesus is the way God draws us to Himself and overcomes the sin problem that we each carry. His nature requires that He judge us for how we live. Christ covers that sin and allows us to come into right relationship with God for eternity!
Daniel 12 wraps up the prophecy of this man. Israel is destined for some trouble. There is a battle brewing between good and evil. “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people”. Michael, who is often associated with spiritual battle and is called the archangel prepares. He is Satan’s true opposite. Satan is not the opposite of Jesus; he is the opposite of Michael, this high-ranking angel. In addition to his role as a spiritual warrior, Michael has a special job in protecting Israel. God appointed Michael as a spiritual guardian over Israel.
There is a troubled time coming. “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book”. The outcome is already known – God is in control of all things. But there will be a Great Tribulation that will be a time of persecution and world calamity. The worst is yet to come. The fury of the devil will be directed against the people of God in that time.
Yet victory is secure. Deliverance will come no matter how great the attack. God is still on the throne and promises to preserve His people Israel. The promise of deliverance is not for every last person of Jewish heritage, but for these who are found written in the book. God will bring all people face to face with their eternal life. “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”. We will all face this reality – a time when we stand before God and give account. There are two outcomes – heaven and hell – and it is there we will live forever. Are you ready for that face to face? Eternity is a very long time. Don’t be caught unprepared!
The end times will be difficult, but there’s a ray of good news here in Daniel’s words. “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”. Those who live in God’s wisdom will shine. All God’s people are like stars in the sense that they radiate light and help others to see and find their way. But certainly, those who turn many to
Hosea 9 has the prophet wailing against Israel who is exiled in judgment. They are just entering the coming judgment, and haven’t quite figured out that some real change is on the way. So Hosea warns them of the facts. “Do not rejoice….For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God”. This is a serious issue and Hosea is setting the stage for what’s coming. At the time Hosea brought this prophecy, things perhaps were not so bad in Israel. Maybe there was still plenty of fun and good times among the people. But he warns that they shouldn’t rejoice like other peoples, because judgment was on the way.
Sin always carries a price. And what seems to be going well, is about to change. Hosea lists out what lies ahead:
- “They will not remain in the Lord’s land
- They will not pour out drink offerings
- Their sacrifices will not please Him
- Their bread will be like mourners ‘ bread”
They are going to be cast out of their homeland and at odds with the very God who has protected and provided for generations. Sin carries a price and God is going to require them to pay it. He doesn’t forget our sin. There is always a day of reckoning.
The destruction is coming and Hosea makes it clear it will be severe. “Weeds will take over their treasures of silver; thorns will be in their tents. The days of punishment have come”. The price is not just a little discomfort. The price of sin is significant and life changing. That’s why God sent His only Son to the Cross for us – because the cost of sin is so great. It isn’t some little thing that just goes away over time. “He will remember their iniquity, He will punish their sins”. That was true in Hosea’s time – it’s still true today. Sin carries a cost and we’ll pay it one way or another.
It’s why Jesus came – because the cost is so high. God sent His Son to bear that cost if we’ll only receive Him as our Savior and Lord. In Hosea’s time, the price was severe. “They will bear no fruit….My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him”. For us it’s no different. The cost today is eternal separation from God – a life spent in hell. It’s a strong response by a loving God, but His nature requires it. He gave us a free gift of grace through Christ that is ours for the taking. But we have to take action. We have to confess, repent and receive that gift. He never forces it on us. But without it, sin will cost us everything. We too will be cast away. It’s the reality of the price of sin!
Hosea 8 continues the chasm between God and His people. “They have transgressed My covenant And rebelled against My law”. The people are oblivious as they continue to cry out to God. They are fooling themselves. They say “My God, we of Israel know You”! when in fact they have not relationship or clue. They’ve rebelled and become idolaters who are not sincere in their words. They didn’t really know God.It will be the same way for many church-goers today. They think they know God because of their time in the pew, but that won’t cut it when judgment day comes.
Hosea paints a picture of what’s really happening as they go down their path of sin. “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; It yields no grain”. It seems to Israel that the judgement they receive is worse than the sin they committed. This isn’t true in the sense of God being worse to us than our sin deserves, but it is true in how judgment feels. This is usually because our sin is sown over a long period of time, but often reaped in a very intense period of judgment. Sin always carries a price.
God is always in the restoration business. “Now I will gather them up; and they will begin to diminish”. But restoration doesn’t happen if sin is not dealt with. In that case, God will deal with it. It won’t be ignored. God gives us many chances to get things write. He has given us the written word just like He did for His children Israel. “I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My law, They are regarded as a strange thing”. Most people treat the Bible very politely . . . When they get home, they lay it nicely on the bookshelf until next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat and goes along to church….maybe.
The hard truth is that when anyone, including God’s very own children, forget their maker, there is no place to hide. “The Lord has taken no delight in them. Now He will remember their iniquity, and punish them for their sins”. There’s no escape from the penalty of sin. It won’t be ignored or overlooked. We can sit here and wonder how God’s people could be so stupid as to fall into idolatry and let sin ruin their walk with God. But the must look in the mirror and be sure we haven’t made something an idol in our life. Anything that turns our heart from God is an idol. It can be most anything that we don’t keep off the throne and in it’s rightful place. God alone can sit on the throne of our life!