We started this study five months ago and as we draw to a close, I can’t help but look back and be awed at what an amazing journey and adventure it has been! God’s Word is alive and active, and this priceless love story between Hosea and Gomer and parallel story between the LORD and Israel hold so many truths and lessons for us, modern day, 21st century readers.
We’ve come to the last chapter and the last verse of the book of Hosea. We’ve covered a lot of ground, learned many lessons, and seen so many aspects of God’s character and the lengths He goes to win back a wayward heart. Now as the book draws to a close along with our time in it, we are left with a final exhortation, a last warning, and a closing challenge.
“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.”
Despite the darkness, terror, violence, holy anger, and just judgment in the last two chapters and despite the fact that God turned His face away from wicked Israel, He still remained faithful. He never totally abandoned them even in their darkest and bleakest moments. How appropriate then that in the last chapter of this powerful book, the LORD gives Israel a prophecy of hope.
“Though he may flourish among his brothers, the east wind, the wind of the LORD, shall come, rising form the wilderness and his fountains shall dry up; his spring shall be parched; it shall strip his treasury of every precious thing.”
The evil and rebellious may flourish in the land. They may enjoy prosperity and abundance. But at the end of the day, God will have the final word. His judgment against them will not be thwarted. And this was true of wayward Israel.
Sometimes danger comes with large, flashing neon warning signs that grab our attention and effectively get their message across: danger ahead. But other times danger can creep upon us subtly and imperceptibly to the point where we don’t realize that we’re in a treacherous place until it’s almost too late. This is the subtle danger of prosperity.
No one likes to wait. Our culture and society is driven by instant gratification. We have the internet, instant messaging, on demand TV, fast food, online shopping, and the list goes on. Almost everything we could ever want or need is at the tip of our fingers, just a click away. But God’s kingdom doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t operate on our timetable or expectations. In fact, He often asks us to wait.
God’s love is unending. His faithfulness is never failing. He will not leave us or abandon us forever, because of His great and boundless love. What, therefore, is the correct response to such unique love?
A heart of repentance. A genuine desire to return to the LORD.
Doom and gloom. Impending judgment, prophesies of captivity, and verdicts of rejection. It’s all kind of starting to sound depressing, isn’t it?! As you read these posts and parts of Hosea, you may be wondering, “Where’s the God of mercy and love found in the New Testament? Or what happened to grace?” Don’t worry! The God of the New Testament is the same God of the Old. His love has not changed; His mercy and grace are still abundant and evident during this dark period of Israel’s history. For, mixed in with God’s messages of rejection, contention, and holy anger are these seemingly conflicting word of tenderness, compassion, and unending love.
In the midst of His warnings of impending doom and judgment, God takes a moment to remind Israel of His love. He reminds them of His faithfulness and tender mercies of the past and brings to their attention how gently and lovingly He brought them out of Egypt and built them into a nation. He viewed Israel as a toddler-age son who needed help with everything from learning to walk to finding food. But what was Israel’s response to all that God did? Blatant ungratefulness.
In the 700’s BC., agriculture was an important part of daily life. Vegetables were not available for purchase at the local supermarket; everyone had to grow their own food to survive. Farming wasn’t delegated to only a handful of citizens; almost the entire populace of Israel grew crops. Therefore, the idea of sowing and reaping would have been a well-known and widely understood concept in Hosea’s day. So the LORD used an image that Israel was familiar with, He gave them an allegory and simile with which they could relate to and one which everyone would have understood—He told them that it was time for some spiritual farming.