We may divide this beautiful closing chapter of Hosea’s prophecy into three grand parts. In the first (verses 1-3), the Holy Spirit points out to His people their fall, and shows what method they must take in seeking the Lord for recovery. The second section (verses 4-7) sets forth the Lord’s gracious assurances of pardon, mercy, and peace. And the third (verses 8-9) represents the blessed effects which take place in the soul when the Lord has given it grace and faith and rich salvation, and when He is pacified towards His redeemed child for all the evil that he or she has done.
The chapter starts off, in the first three verses, with a faithful account of Israel’s fall; and then they issue a gracious call to return. And what method must they take in order to return? The same method that must be taken by any backslider, when they are brought under a state of conviction of sin. They must come to the Lord with an earnest prayer for Him to take away all their iniquity, and to receive them graciously for the Savior’s sake. And because of our fallen sinful state, we cannot come to the Lord at all until He first comes to us! We cannot say anything to Him, until He has first spoken to us. If we love Him, it is because He first loved us.
The second division of this chapter (verses 4-8) is a cluster of the richest Gospel-promises. O dear brother or sister! Contemplate the Lord Jesus in all these precious things! May He give us grace so that we may see and know our own personal interest in these blessings, for they are most pleasant indeed! How sweet it is to know that Jesus will heal the backslidings of His people! (verse 4) His blood cleanses us from all sin, and He does this for us freely. His love is not the result of our prayers, but of His own free grace. It comes from Himself, and of Himself. He has loved us from eternity past, He loves us now, and He will continue to love us forever and ever. This is the only cause for His amazing grace and His marvelous mercy to be poured out upon us.
Verses 8 and 9 contain the third great branch of this most delightful chapter – namely, the sweet and sure effects of grace, when that grace is worked in the heart by the Holy Spirit. And such will be the blessed results in all truly regenerated and penitent sinners. They shall renounce all the idols that they formerly adored and served; and they shall realize that all the good fruit which they produce is not of their own making, but is really a blessed effect of the work of Christ within them (verse 8). And then the Holy Spirit closes this prophecy with a peculiar note, which is of the most important nature. He tells us that everyone who is made wise unto salvation may ponder over all these things, and consider the blessed doctrine contained therein. And He puts His Almighty emphasis upon the truth that all God’s ways are right ways, and that every justified sinner in Christ shall walk in them. But while the ways of the Lord prove to be the savor of life to all His ransomed people, they become a stumbling-stone and a rock of offence to transgressors; they shall fall therein, and they shall not see the works of the Lord nor the operation of His hands.
Before we conclude our study of the Book of Hosea, let us take a few moments to consider one of the precious thoughts of this chapter: “I will heal their backsliding” (verse 4). In other words, Jehovah is saying, “I will cure them of their apostasy!” It is not, “I will heal the wounds resulting from their backsliding.” He does indeed do that, but it is secondary. Rather, He goes straight to the root of the problem, and says, “I will cure the malady of their apostasy!” But how can God do this? The answer is found in the next affirmation: “I will love them freely.” Freely means “of My own will and My own heart – quite independently of them or of their deservings.” He does not love us in response to our love; rather, He loves us in spite of our rebellion. We may reverently rephrase the words this way: “I will love them because I cannot help loving them!” That is our God! It is because of that deep love that He first said, “I will heal their backsliding,” and cure the malady of apostasy. And let us not forget to consider the description of the results of this blessed healing from backsliding (verses 5-7). Because God is like the life-giving dew to each one of His precious children, they shall blossom like the lily. The lily stands as an emblem for beauty and purity. Under the fertilizing power of love, which is created by the dew of the Divine presence, God’s people shall become characterized by the beauty and purity of the lily.
As we close our study of this sacred Book, we may summarize our understanding of Hosea’s teachings in one paragraph. Herein we have learned that sin separates us from God, and blinds us so that we lose the vision of Him. And idolatry results from the loss of this vision of God. Hosea’s prophecy most clearly reveals the heart and the holiness of the Lord. His love is eternal, but it is never divorced from moral requirement. Thanks be to God that we are living in fuller light than Hosea had! We see God in a way that Hosea never saw Him, for we see Him in Jesus! And by seeing Him, we know – as never before – that He can make no terms with sin; but we also know that He stops at nothing in order to heal our backslidings. To save us and redeem us, He gave up His own Son to be a Sacrifice for us! If we are guilty of idolatry, what will cure us? The vision of the Lord God, as He is seen in the face of Jesus Christ!
Lord Jesus, we praise You for the assurance which this chapter gives us concerning Your grace, which is free to us at all times – without preparation, without fitness, without money, and without price! Amen.
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