Sin challenges love. Repentance offers the way of recovery. And then the restoration of love becomes our hope. This is the third thing we need to learn from this book. Hosea is filled not only with warnings of judgment and calls to repentance; somehow, piercing all these divine forebodings of doom, we find prophecies of hope!
In the very first chapter, the Lord promises, “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.’ The people …will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel” (vv.10-11).
Some will pull v.11 out of context and ask, “Now, has your pastor ever talked to you about this verse?” Then they will say that the appointed leader here is so-and-so (their founder/leader). Given every other verse in the Bible, however, it is better to understand this one leader as Jesus Christ. As Jesus Himself tells us in the Gospels, He is the leader of His people and He will bring them together. Hosea is not prophesying about a restoration that will come through some cult leader, but the restoration we find only in the Messiah and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In ch.2, after God clearly pronounces a coming judgment upon Israel because of her unfaithfulness, He also promises her restoration! I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ‘I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’
Notice, God promises to lead His people…He tenderly allures them. He takes them to Himself. They calls Him “my God.”
In ch.3, God calls the prophet Hosea not only to speak these words of restoring love but also to exemplify them. So He instructs Hosea concerning his wife Gomer, “Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods.” In the same way that Gomer will return, God’s people will return: “Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD… They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.”
In ch.6, God promises restoration if the people repent: “let us return to the LORD…. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”
In ch.7, God wonderfully reveals His heart to us. Have you ever noticed the little phrase that God inserts right in the middle of a list of His people’s sins? “I long to redeem them,” He says. That is God’s will, His wish, His desire, His heart!
In ch.8, He promises, “Though they have sold themselves among the nations, I will soon gather them together.”
And then there is ch.11. This magnificent picture of restoration must be one of the best chapters in the Bible: “Even if they call to the Most High, he will by no means exalt them. How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel?…treat you like Admah? …make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man—the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath. They will follow the LORD; he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west. They will come trembling like birds from Egypt, like doves from Assyria. I will settle them in their homes,” declares the LORD.
Then in ch.13, the Lord promises, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?”
Finally, in ch.14, God assures those who are listening, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely…He will flourish like the grain. He will blossom like a vine, and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.”
Do you see what all these promises of restoration are based on? They are based entirely on God’s own love, and the fact that His compassion has been aroused. They are not based on what the people deserve.
Now, how could God make such promises? There was no nationwide revival of prayer and fasting that prompted His blessing. In fact, the Assyrians came and destroyed Israel.
The Old Covenant kingdom of Israel was destroyed, but God’s true people were not. In Ro.9, Paul quotes from Hosea’s passages of restoration twice.
Friend, God offers restoration for you too! If you will turn to God and see the truth about Him and the great hope He holds out to you, you can take that hope as your own. What is that great hope? It is Christ, who paid sin’s penalty for all those who would ever repent and believe in Him. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (II Co.5.21). If you will only repent of your sins and trust in the one whom God made sin for us, you can know this new life. Repent of your sins and trust in Christ.
What do these promises of restoration mean for the rest of us? They mean hope for the backslider (that’s you, if you had thought you were a Christian but now realize that you are lost in sin like the Israelites). These promises also mean rest for the weary and confidence for the timid. Praise God for His persevering love!
Pastor Steve can be reached at PastorSteve@MaranathaBibleChurch.org