Saturday

09 February 2013

"I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them." (v. 4)


Background

The final chapter begins with a pleading from Hosea for the people to return to their God. Verses 1-3 are a kind of rationale, why the people should indeed do this and how they might phrase their approach when coming back to talk to almighty God. The tone of the chapter has changed from the previous one, which was gloomy throughout and dwelt on the graphic detail of the consequences of the sin of the people, to a more optimistic feel and the chance for change.

From verse 4 God is now talking through Hosea directly to the people, offering a kind of olive branch appeal for them to come back to God. Again the harsh words of the previous chapter have been replaced with ones of love, healing and a fresh start. God being likened to "dew" (v. 5) is very powerful indeed, implying a kind of fresh covering over all the people and the land. Blossoming like a lily (also evokes a powerful image of beauty stemming from nothing in order that a new start can begin.

The fact that the cedar of Lebanon is referred to putting down roots implies that there is a period of stability coming and one of blessing because the tree is the national tree and a symbol of power, greatness and prosperity. From this new growth will come many good things the people will enjoy and benefit from such as dwelling in safety under it branches and for vegetation to flourish and grow. Again, comes a great promise from God towards the end of the chapter 'I will answer him and care for him' (verse 8) implying that God will come to the aid of the people and be the answer to their problems. The book ends with a climatic statement which says of God "the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them" (v. 9).  So the people are promised at the end that, provided they walk with God, their future is assured.


To Ponder

  • To what extent does repentance always lead to blessing?
  • Is repentance always our first reaction when we know we have done wrong?
  • What lasting thought will you take away from your reading of this book?

Bible notes author: The Revd Andrew Pottage

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