Through His prophet, the Lord is still inculcating the same subject upon His careless people; and still in the same manner as before – that is, by the picture of the dealings of a husband with an adulterous wife. “Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.” This was the essence of these words from the Lord: “See, Hosea? Is there such affection in human kindness, that a man will still go on loving a wife who is requiting his affection with continual adulteries? Will he still love her? Yet such has been My love to Israel! No change has taken place in Me toward them, but they have left Me days without number.” Let us not fail to observe this grace of God, for surely it is most precious!
So Hosea redeemed his wife back to himself for 15 pieces of silver, and for 1½ homers (about 12 cups or 2.7 kg) of barley. And surely this purchase can be nothing other than an allusion to our Savior! He was betrayed for a sum that was spoken of as a good price (Zech. 11:12), and that was only double the amount that the prophet here paid. O precious Jesus! Was Your work of redemption so little valued by the ones whom You came to redeem? How can any sum of gold or silver stack up to the worth of Your infinitely precious blood – even if we could pile up heaps upon heaps of all the priceless metals and gems that could be extracted from the depths of the earth!
In the prophet’s exhortation to his wife to remain with himself alone, we see a picture of how graciously the Lord Jesus pleads for His Church to be faithful. He cannot allow any rival. If His Bride’s heart is not given to Him, there is nothing else He can accept. “Thou shalt abide for me many days,” said Hosea to his wife; “thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.” There is great beauty in this verse, as well as a great and blessed doctrine veiled underneath its surface. Jesus might very justly have put away His Israel forever, because of their idolatry and spiritual adultery; but in the riches of His grace, He did not do so. And He never will. O the depths of beauty and grace that are embedded in this sweet passage of Scripture!
“The children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days” (verses 4-5). These last two verses had a direct application to the Jews. Despite Jehovah’s repeated lovingkindnesses and mercies that He bestowed upon them, they did not wish to have the Lord Jesus as their Husband and King. We remember how, at the crucifixion of Christ, they publicly declared that they had no king but Caesar. And since that time, they have had no king; the whole nation is scattered, and they have no Temple. Nevertheless, there is a sweet and gracious promise in the latter part of this passage! There shall be a time when the Jews shall collectively return and seek the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom they once despised! They will then recognize Him to be their true Messiah and King – the root and offspring of David! Who can hear or read this gracious promise without feeling constrained to cry out, “When will the Redeemer arise out of Zion, to turn away ungodliness from Jacob?” (Isa. 59:20)
Before closing our study of this chapter, let us take a moment to consider the amazing love that the Lord has for His people. Let us look back through all the experience of our own personal lives, and think of the ways whereby the Lord has led us through the wilderness, how He has fed and clothed us every day, and how He has endured all our murmurings. Think of how His grace has been sufficient for you in all your troubles, how His blood has been a pardon for you in all your sins, and how His rod and His staff have comforted you. When you have thus looked back upon the love of the Lord, then let Faith survey His love in the future; for remember that Christ’s covenant and blood have something more in them than the past! He who has loved you and pardoned you up to this point shall never cease to love and pardon you. He is Alpha, and He shall be Omega also; He is first, and He shall also be last. Therefore, remember that when you pass through the valley of the shadow of death, you need not fear any evil; for He is with you! When you shall stand in the cold floods of Jordan, you will not need to fear; for death cannot separate you from His love. Truly, “I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Rom. 8:38-39) Does this not make you love Jesus? Is not your heart inflamed with love, and compelled to delight in Him? Surely as we meditate on “the love of the Lord,” our hearts burn within us; and we long to love Him even more!
Lord Jesus, as we look back on Your past dealings with us, we give thanks that You Who have already loved us and pardoned us shall never cease to do so! Amen.
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