A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
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.
“I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon.”
Even though Israel rejected God, walked away from their covenant relationship with Him, committed spiritual adultery, and practiced vile deeds, the LORD still promised to remain faithful to this faithless people. He gave them assurance that though His anger and judgment was upon them now, He would stick by their side and heal them until the day when He is able to love them freely without anger.
Imagine how encouraging this final message would have been to anyone who had actually been listening and paying attention to the other warnings. To give this powerful promise a more modern perspective, it would be like a judge declaring a criminal guilty and sentencing him to so many years in prison but then telling him that during those years he would watch over him, protect him, and be there for him until he had learned his lesson, repented, and served the just punishment gained by his indiscretion. What kind of judge does that?!
Our Judge does. But He won’t do this forever. There is a day that’s coming when He will justly judge the sin and evil of this world and in that judgment there will be no mercy, no grace, and no hope. He will not extend promises of restoration but will rid eternity of the darkness, ugliness, and filth of sin. But in the meantime, grace, mercy, and hope abounds. He’s a loving God who wants to extend healing into the brokenness caused by sin and hope into the darkest, most hopeless situations. Though He does judge and punish sin, it is not to annihilate us but to bring us to a place of repentance and restoration. This was the purpose of Israel’s destruction as a nation and time in captivity.
Just think how encouraged Hosea must have been when he heard this word from the LORD! After giving so many messages filled with judgment, doom, and gloom, this promise of God’s faithfulness through it all must have filled Hosea’s heart with hope, for he deeply loved his people and wanted then to repent and return to the LORD. However, wayward Israel was not ready yet, they still had some difficult lessons to learn. Yet through it all, God remained faithful and promised them a time when He would bring healing and His unhindered love.
Our take-away from this final word of hope given to Israel should be that no matter what we walk through or how strongly we reject and disobey God, He will remain faithful to us. Though we may be unfaithful and like Israel commit spiritual adultery, God will not abandon us. His holy anger may burn against us for our unrepentant sin and He may discipline us, but He will not give up on us. He will pursue us relentlessly with His love and allow the consequences of sin to make our lives miserable so that we can come to our senses and realize that only in Him is true happiness and contentment found. For through our acceptance and faith in Christ’s atoning sacrifice and cleansing blood we have been grafted into the family of Israel and share in their promises. So just as this was true in Hosea’s day, so also it holds true today: the LORD’s faithfulness will never end. Praise the Lord!
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself”
~II Timothy 2:13
“They [Israel] 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.”