Hosea 2:18-23 ESV
And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. 21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”
The prophets had a very difficult job. They had to say what God wanted them to say. It was tempting just to say what the people wanted to hear. There were plenty of “prophets” who did that. The Bible calls them false prophets. Jesus said that this age in which we are living now would have a lot of false prophets. The false prophets are big on good news, but never get around to the bad news.
True prophets, like Hosea, said both. It was usually bad news first. For Hosea, the message was that God’s people were going to divorce themselves from them. The good news is that God was going to bring them back to himself.
Hosea prophesied during the reigns of several of the southern kings (from Uzziah to Hezekiah) and Jeroboam II of Israel, so that puts him in the 8th century BC. His message fits within the first period, before Israel fell to the Assyrians.
Hosea was instructed to marry a lady named Gomer, who bore him three children. The marriage was a testimony from God to his people. Gomer was a prostitute, and remained unfaithful after her marriage to Hosea. Hosea loved her anyway, and that dysfunctional relationship mirrored the one of the people (who went after other gods) and the LORD.
Hosea was the last to prophesy to Israel in the north. They were a prosperous and arrogant people who were certain that God wouyld never judge them. They were happy to claim the name of the LORD as their God, but they also wanted to fool around with the gods of the other nations as well.
Hosea’s message was that things were about to get really bad, and then they would get better. The names of his three children serve as a testimony from God about both the bad news and the good news.
Hosea 1:4-5 And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
The name Jezreel means “God will sow.” God was going to sow his judgment upon Israel for its former violence. The result will be that the northern kingdom will come to an end.
Now, skip into the future and look at God’s good news:
Hosea 2:21-23 21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land.”
The blessing matches the judgment. God’s plan is that judgment will bring repentance, which will bring restoration.
Hosea 1:6-7 6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”
God’s patience with unfaithful Israel had given out. That’s the bad news.
Hosea 2:23 “And I will have mercy on No Mercy.”
God will restore his patience with the people of the north after a period of punishment.
Hosea 1:9 And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
The bad news is that the people had forsaken God, so he forsook them.
Hosea 2:23 and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”
The good news is that after the punishment God has a plan to not only bring his people back to the land, but also to restore their relationship with him.
Hosea 1:10-11 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.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head.
God’s plan includes reuniting all his people again under one head, and that is Christ.
Now let’s hear the apostle Paul on this text:
“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory- 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.'” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.'”
God’s message to both Jew and Gentile is the same: Repent, and I will restore the realtionship!
Today’s text is God’s covenant vows to us – as if he is marrying us as his bride. Notice the “I will’s” in the text:
1.In vs. 18, God promises to restore our dominion over the animals. In an agrarian society, that is the same as restoring our dominion over our bank accounts. The same idea is reflected in vs. 22, where the earth will restore the grain, wine and oil.
2.In vs. 18, God promises to abolish war from the land and make us safe. This safety will allow us to return to the promised land (vs. 23a).
3.In vs. 19-20, God promises to restore a right relationship with us. The same for vs. 23.
LORD, give us a heart like the heart of Hosea. Help us to call people to repent of their sins, and be faithful to God, so he can restore them.