Hosea 14 − Commentary

God Calls to Israel to Return to Him

1 Return to the Lord your God, people of Israel.

Your sin has made you fall.

2 Think about the things that you will say.

And return to the Lord.

Say to him, 'Take away our sin.

Accept the good things that we are doing.

Then we can offer you our worship with our lips.

3 Assyria cannot save us.

We will not look for horses to ride.

We will never again say to our idols that they are our God.

Because you are someone who shows mercy to children who have no parents'.

The ideas of the last chapter of Hosea are like the ideas we have seen already. Hosea tells the people to repent (verse 1). Perhaps he is thinking of the people when they will be in exile. There they will have more time to think about their sins. Israel has fallen and the time of exile has begun. Israel needs to find the right words to say (verse 2). In the past, an Israelite had to bring a sacrifice to God for sin. This was part of the system of sacrifices. But sacrifices have no value if someone does not repent. Instead, they must mean what they say. They must say and do the right things. God will forgive their sin. Then he can forget it.

The prayer where the people repent continues in verse 3. The people understand that there is no hope in Assyria, horses or idols. Instead, they will want to put their hope in God's covenant. They used to get their horses from Egypt. They needed horses to fight. They made their idols themselves. Israel will want to repent in a true way. They will want to stop these sins. We remember the story of Hosea's children in the last line of this verse (see 1:6).

Promise of New Life

4 The Lord says, 'I will heal them. I will forget that they left me.

I will give them much love.

I am not angry with them any more.

5 I will be like the dew to the people of Israel.

They will become like flowers.

They will be like the tall trees of Lebanon.

These trees will have long roots.

6 They will become alive with new branches.

They will be beautiful like olive trees.

They will smell like the tall trees of Lebanon.

7 The people of Israel will live again in the shade.

They will grow well like grain.

They will grow well like a vine.

They will be famous like the wine of Lebanon.

8 ' Ephraim, I do not want to see any more idols.

I will answer their prayers. I will care for them.

I am like a tree that is always green.

Your fruit comes from me'.

9 A wise person understands these things.

A clever person learns about these things.

The ways of the Lord are right.

Good people will live by these ways.

But people who sin will fall.

God himself speaks in verse 4. He makes promises to Israel. They will not need to be afraid of God. They will not need to think about God's anger. Isaiah 54:6-8 gives another picture that is like this. Israel is like a wife coming back to her husband. Israel cannot buy God's love. Instead of anger, God will bring Israel many more blessings. These blessings will come with water and plants (verse 5). God told Joseph that this dew would come from the sky (Deuteronomy 33:13). Water is a picture of new life in much of the OT. The new Israel will be pretty, like the flowers (see Matthew 6:28, 29). There was always enough water on Lebanon's hills. The trees were able to grow well. Israel, too, will be able to be strong in the Lord. The olive tree was a good place for shade (verse 6). It was also good for fruit. Lebanon was a good place to smell trees. Ezekiel, too, uses the picture of new growth on a tree to mean a new start for Israel (Ezekiel 17:22). God will bless Israel through the land. In the future, it will be God who protects Israel (verse 7). God will provide shade for Israel. Then Israel can be safe. Many of the psalms use the same picture of shade (Psalms 17:8; 91:1). Israel herself is like a tree. Other people will find shelter in her shade. Hosea uses the picture of Lebanon again. Its wine was good. In the past, Israel tried very hard to get these blessings. He will give them even greater blessings instead.

Again, God asks Israel to throw away her idols (verse 8). Perhaps if she does not, God will not bless them. All good things come from God. He is like a tree − a tree of life. The people of Israel can be free through him. He always has enough to give.

Hosea finishes his book by writing about a wise person (verse 9). The ways of God are right. A silly person would not listen. There will be trouble for people who do not obey. But a clever person will keep the laws of the Lord (Psalm 18:22). He will choose the right way. Israel's true return will only happen in Christ. We see this return in four different ways:

  • When Cyrus let the Jews return to Israel.
  • In the birth of Christ.
  • In the growth of the church.
  • In the Second Coming of Christ.

This will be the final time that all these things will happen. This is what 'in Christ' means.