HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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The Book of Hosea
INTRODUCTION TO HOSEA 14
This chapter ends the Book, with gracious and wonderful Promises to repenting sinners, to returning backsliders. Chapter 14 is a wonderful chapter, for it speaks of the future salvation of Israel. Israel is exhorted to return unto the Lord, their God, turn away from their sins and idols, and have faith in His abundant mercy and amazing grace through the promised Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
They were urged to diligently attend His worship and service to Him, for only then could the Lord take away iniquity, lifting it off as a burden we are ready to sink under, or as the stumbling-block we have so often fallen over. Repentance takes it all away by a free and full forgiveness (Rom.5:1,9-11), for we cannot shake any of it off on our own. We can become "righteous" only through Jesus (Isa.64:6; 1 Cor.1:30). May we be wise and go to God in prayer, asking Him to receive our prayer graciously. May we acknowledge our sin and ask for forgiveness (1 Jn.1:9-10).
Israel was to consider their sins, their wants, and the remedy; and they were to take, not sacrifices, but words stating the desires of their hearts, and with them to address the Lord (Heb.13:15). The whole of this marvelous Book, gives us a clear description of the nature and tendency of a sinner's conversion to God through Jesus Christ. As we draw near to God by faith, we should first beg Him to take away all iniquity from us.
Hosea 14:1 O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. (KJV)
O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God . . . Israel is warned and encouraged to return to the LORD their God; for they have fallen by their iniquity. He exhorts them to repentance to avoid all these plagues, exhorting them to declare by words their obedience and repentance. They had revolted and backslidden, and their worship and service they had forsaken. Repentance is a great and wonderful thing, for it brings a person to the throne of glory.
For thou hast fallen by thine iniquity . . . even though they are fallen into sin, and by it into ruin, from a state of great prosperity and happiness, yet they can return, repent and consider WHY they are fallen. IF they are sincere, they can return and be recovered and restored, even with their fall. They must return to the fear of the Lord. This goes for us today as well.
Hosea 14:2 Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. (KJV)
Take with you words, and turn to the Lord . . . NOT just mere words, but words from the heart! When you return, God does not require of you either gold or silver or burnt offerings, but instead good works, while confessing your sins with your whole hearts, and not just with your lips (Isa.29:13), and always praising Him! Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. (KJV)
Say unto him, take away all iniquity . . . some people do NOT want all their sin removed. Some sin is desirable to some people (drugs, sex, pleasure, violence), and they want to keep it. But, it is the will of God that we be sincere and desire ALL our iniquity be gone! You cannot fool God. Don't even try! He knows even your thoughts (Eze.11:5).
And receive us graciously . . . receive us into Thy protection and guidance graciously, because of Thy grace and goodness. Good things come from God, and are His gifts to us; especially the Spirit of God, and His grace, which the Lord gives to them that ask; and all supplies of grace from Christ. The righteousness of Christ imputed and applied; which goes along with pardoning grace, or the taking away of sin (Zec.3:4), and is the BEST gift of grace we can receive from Him!
So will we render the calves of our lips . . . this petition for pardon of sin must include our sincere confession of it, and sorrow because of it (Mat.5:4), and the trusting hope that God will forgive us, taking away the guilt, pass over the punishment, and abolish the power of sin. Truly sincere converts seek full justification, and full sanctification, and we must always be grateful and praise Him. Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. (KJV)
Hosea 14:3 Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. (KJV)
Ashur shall not save us . . . it had been one great sin of Israel that they did trust to an arm of flesh. Asshur is particularly named probably because of his strength (1 Chron.7:40; 12:36). God promised His special protection, and would have continued IF they had not cast Him off, and trusted in man.
We will not ride upon horses . . . another fault of theirs was, they multiplied horses (Deut.17:16), and trusted in their strength, which God forbid. "We will not ride upon horses" . . . to seek for help elsewhere; or go to Egypt for them, as they had done; or put their trust in them for safety, in a time of war; or think to make their escape by them when in danger (Ps.20:8).
Neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ye are our gods . . . they had disrespectfully thought their idols would be gods to help them. Their idolatry brought on many other sins, but now they renounce and confess them, for such renouncing is necessary, and grounded on hope of finding mercy.
For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy . . . all that are destitute of strength in themselves, and destitute of help from others; all that admit to their own helpless condition, look for it from God, who alone had power, mercy and wisdom to relieve. "Findeth" . . . obtained grace and mercy; both fountain and streams of goodness from God, free grace and rich bounty.
Hosea 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. (KJV)
I will heal their backslidings . . . this and what follows is the Lord's answer to the above prayer; and these words especially is an answer to that petition, "take away all iniquity" (Hos.14:2). Sins are diseases, natural and hereditary, nauseous and loathsome, mortal and incurable by us, curable only by the grace of God, and "precious Blood of Christ" (1 Pet.1:18-19)!
Backslidings are relapses, and are dangerous things to mortal man. Christ is the only Physician, who heals all the diseases of sin (Isa.53:5; 1 Pet.2:24), and the relapses as well. He will do it, for He has promised it, and He never turns away any that come to Him for it (Hos.6:1). "I will heal" . . . sin is our disease, and God is the Physician who heals us (Ps.103:3; Jer. 3:22). He does it through Christ, in Whom this Promise is made to returning backsliders. This Promise God makes by His prophet, to encourage them to hearken to His advice of repenting.
I will love them freely . . . this is in answer to the petition, "receive us, graciously" (verse 2). Although before God hated their sin, and could take no pleasure in them, now He will show that His mind and heart are towards them have changed to accept them, and do them good. "Freely" . . . without bounds of time. All kinds of mercies comes from God: the fruit of His love, His infinite mercy in grace and glory, His eternal mercies, His never-ending love will He give to them . . . and us!
For mine anger is turned away from him . . . from Israel, which, under former dispensations, seemed to be towards him, when under His resentment and displeasure in their sin, as is the case of that people at that time. BUT . . . both then and now, when someone shall return to the Lord, and He shall reveal and apply His pardoning grace to them, His anger will appear NO more, and they shall be in a happy and comfortable condition (Ps.85:2; Isa.12:1; Rom.11:26). God clearly shows His pardoning grace, and the Lord's turning Himself from the fierceness of His anger to mercy that comes from the free grace of God. God's anger is turned away from Israel; He is reconciled to them, and His displeasure is turned away. How wonderful that is! A feeling that cannot be expressed!
Hosea 14:5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. (KJV)
I will be as the dew unto Israel . . . to spiritual Israel, all those that return to the Lord, take with them words, and pray unto Him, their backslidings are healed, and they are dearly loved (Deut.33:13). Otherwise it is said of apostate Israel or Ephraim, that they were "smitten, and their root dried up, and bore no fruit" (Hos.9:16).
He shall grow as the lily . . . as the lily; which is fragrant, beautiful, and a delights in the valleys, and often grows among thorns; so too, the Israel of God among troubles in low state, yet comely, and fragrant to the Lord, and grows up in him quickly (Song 2:1; Mat.6:29).
And cast forth his roots as Lebanon . . . as the trees of Lebanon, which are large with many roots. Their roots lie firm in that mountain, standing strong and stable, let the winds and tempests blow. The lily has a weak root, and is easily uprooted; but the cedars in Lebanon had roots firm and strong, to which the saints are sometimes compared (Ps.92:12). Eph.3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (KJV) Col.2:7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (KJV)
Hosea 14:6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. (KJV)
His branches shall spread . . . as the well rooted cedars in Lebanon (Num.24:6). This refers to the growth of the church of God, and the interest of Christ in the world, as in the first times of the Gospel, and will be in the latter day; when the Gospel shall be spread everywhere! Churches shall be set up in all places; the Jews converted, and the "fulness of the Gentiles" brought in (Rom.11:25); and these like spreading branches, and fruitful boughs, abounding in grace and good works.
And his beauty shall be as the olive tree . . . which is laden with excellent fruit, and being always green (Ps.52:8). The olive tree does not have the good smell of the trees of Lebanon, but it makes up for it by its beauty.
And his smell as Lebanon . . . as the trees of Lebanon, the cedars, trees of frankincense, and other great smelling trees and plants, which grew there. Their smell is as the smell of the incense of spices (Song 4:10-11).
Hosea 14:7 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. (KJV)
They that dwell under his shadow shall return . . . "his shadow" could be a number of things: #1. the shadow of that mountain, #2. the shadow of the trees that grew upon it, #3. under the shadow of Israel, #4. or could it be under "the shadow of the Lord," by Whom Israel was called to return unto, and now have returned (Hos.14:1), as the Israelites will in the latter day. They shall be gathered out of the midst of their captivity, they shall dwell under the shadow of their Messiah. "Shall return" . . . revive and recover new strength and life, as do souls weary and heavy laden with sin and fears finding comfort, peace and life when coming to Christ.
They shall revive as the corn . . . the words, "They shall revive" literally means to "give life" to, or "preserve in life." Since "bread is the staff of life" (Gen.41:54; 47:15; Jer.52:6; Eze.4:16; 5:16; 14:13), our spiritual Bread, Christ Jesus (John 6:32-35,48-58), is the support of our spiritual life.
Corn first dies in its outward form, before it can be multiplied, so too our old self must die so the new self can come in (1 Cor.15:35-57).
#1. When a soul is first "drawn by the cords of love," (Hos.11:4), every thing seems to be promising.
#2. When the Spirit of God brings to the light the hidden things of iniquity within us, repentance deepens into contrition, the broken and the contrite heart groans, and thinks that all is lost; deep distress takes place.
#3. But when pardon comes, and God's love is shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost; all hope is revived and "they shall revive as the corn." Glory be to God for his "unspeakable gift" (2 Cor.9:15)!
And grow as the vine . . . in winter vines seem dead, are pruned, and they promise little to the eye, but yet life and a fruit bearing virtue is in it, and it will spring and bring forth fruit. So too are the people of Christ are a symbol. John 15:2-5 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (KJV)
Although the vine is weak, and needs support, and its wood unprofitable; yet it grows and brings forth rich fruit. So too, the saints, though they are weak in themselves, and are unprofitable servants, needing Divine support, and with the power of Divine grace, which is like the dew, they grow in every grace, and are filled with the blessings of it, bringing forth much fruit to the glory of God:
And the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon . . . the scent of the "righteous" to God and good men, shall be pleasing as the scent of the delicious wines of Lebanon, which are noted for their sweetness and deliciousness. Saints obtain a good report through faith, and have a good name, better than precious ointment; their memory is blessed; they, are in God's "everlasting remembrance" (Ps.112:6); the memory of them is not only dear to the people of God in after ages; but the memory of their persons, and of their works, and is there with God and His Christ.
All truly gracious, grateful and thankful persons sit under the shadow of Christ, because they realize God's way is the only way to have comfort and peace in this life and in the life to come. We all have backslidden from our Master at some time in our life, and perhaps more than once. But when we accept God's Word as Truth, and return to the Lord in obedience, serving Him in a loving and willing way, we do it with delight, honor and pleasure, because we realize it is a privilege, as well as our greatest safety. We find it a very refreshing and comfortable shadow to sit under, a shadow from the heat of God's avenging justice, His fiery law, the fiery darts of Satan and the fury of the world. When we sit under the shadow of Christ, it is like the "shadow of a great rock in a weary land". Isaiah 32:2 And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. (KJV) . . . This "shadow" is very pleasing and restful to weary sojourners (Song 2:3; Isa.25:4; Heb.13:14; 1 Pet.1:17; 2:11).
Hosea 14:8 Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found. (KJV)
Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols . . . this is one of the most wonderful verses in the Bible. This is a victory song. "Ephraim shall say" . . . this is yet out in the future. God is going to win. He always does! Love is going to win the victory here. God has said to Ephraim, "How shall I give you up?" (Hos.11:8). And He said, "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone" (Hos.4:17). And He said, "they sin more and more" (Hos.13:2).
But, now God says, "There is a day coming when Ephraim will see that he's made a big mistake, and he will turn back to Me. He will say, 'I won't have anything more to do with idols.'"
Ephraim . . . not the whole body of Ephraim, but converted Ephraim (Hos.14:1-2), those who were realize and admit their sin, confessed and repented of it. "What have I to do any more with idols?" . . . They will have nothing more to do with them, never will again! Those idols were their sin and their sorrow.
I have heard him, and observed him . . . the Lord heard Ephraim moaning, repenting of his sins, and confessing them. He heard his prayers for pardon and acceptance. He heard the resolutions made by him because of the strength of Divine grace (Hos.14:2; Jer.31:8). This is what his idols he once served could NOT do, the had ears, but heard NOT. The Lord not only heard, but He answered, and granted Ephraim's request. God, by His Word will receive the prayer of Israel, and will have mercy on him! Praise God! "And observed him" . . . looked at him with an eye of pity and compassion; with a favorable look, as the Lord does towards those that are poor, and of a contrite spirit. Watched the ways and steps he took in returning to Him; saw his tears and humiliations, groans and moans, and took notice of his wants in order to supply them.
I am like a green fir tree . . . some say these are the continued Words of the Lord, although others say they are the words of Ephraim, like those of David (Ps.52:8). I personally think they best agree with Christ, who may be compared to such a tree, alive, always green, always there for us, and altogether lovely to look at, in His Person and fulness. He looks in a loving manner upon His people, He is always the same, He always lives, and His people live in Him and by Him. His fulness always continues to supply them. Since the fir tree is the habitation of the stork (Ps.104:17), an unclean creature (Lev.11:13-20) by the law of God; so too, Christ is the dwelling place of sinners.
From me is thy fruit found . . . this too, is also interpreted differently. Israel confesses that the fruit of God's grace is seen from what Israel now is and does: others say, God promises the fruits of comfort Israel enjoys, and shall enjoy, from God and His grace toward Israel.
From Christ alone are ALL the spiritual blessings of grace, peace, pardon, righteousness, adoption, a right and fitness for eternal life (1 Cor.1:30), and that all the fruits and graces of the Spirit of Christ, such as "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance" (Gal.5:22-23). All good works spring from our union with Him, and are done only in His strength (Phil.4:13), and are influenced by His grace and example (Phil.1:11).
Hosea 14:9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein. (KJV)
Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? . . . though not many are wise, yet many think they are! But of the few who are wise . . . who is there that will say what sins God complains of and threatens to punish in His people? What sins does God forbid them to commit? What sins does He command them to turn from when once committed? What duties does He require? What Promises does He propose? What patience does He use toward them while there is any hope of their amending their ways? What severity does He use upon their incorrigible sins? Who is it that has any degree of wisdom to view all these things, and seriously consider them? Only these will understand, and know that the prophet has given the best advice, and that it is the best and safest course to follow.
Prudent, and he shall know them? . . . prudent is careful, cautious, wise. These words express the same as above, being doubled to confirm this Truth, as is usual in Scripture.
For the ways of the Lord are right . . . the ways that He would have us walk in towards Him, His law, His ordinances of worship, His whole doctrine which directs us, are ALL righteous and equal. And the ways in which God walks toward us, in corrections for sins we commit, in suspending His Promises of grace, in conditions of duty, in afflicting or comforting, these too are ALL righteous and very equal.
The just shall walk in them . . . the righteous will approve God's roads for them, and they all will justify the righteousness of God's ways. They know that God remembers mercy in the midst of judgment. And they know the righteousness of His precepts and strive to observe them. All those who are justified by the righteousness of Christ, and live righteously; these walk, and continue to walk, in the ways of God.
But the transgressors shall fall therein . . . transgressors are wilful, obstinate and inconsiderate sinners. These shall fall, because they stumble and are offended at His precepts and commands, but more so at His severe judgments. They cast off one judgment, and vainly hope to shake off another, until they finally fall under the weight of their own sins and God's righteous and Holy wrath. Transgressors of the law of God, are not used to His ways, and want no part of them, so they stumble in them and they will fall straight into Hell (Rev.20:15)! So many fall into ruin and destruction, because they walk not as God commands. And too, it is Christ Himself, His ways and His Word, His doctrines and His ordinances, that are the stumbling blocks to wicked men, at which they stumble, and fall, and perish (Mat.25:41,46; Lk.2:34; Jn.8:24; Rom.9:33; 1 Jn.5:10-12; Rev.20:15).
THE JUST AND THE WICKED
Who profits by the truths the prophet delivered? Only those who sincerely desire to understand and know the Truth! The ways of God's providence towards us are always right! Everything God does is always right and done well. Christ is the Foundation Stone (1 Cor.3:10-12) to some, but to others He is a "Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence" (Rom.9:33; 1 Pet.2:8). It is up to the individual to choose the road they travel to eternity (Mat.7:13-14) and which "Rock" Christ is to them!
Rejecting Christ Jesus, be you Jew or Gentile, can be death for you, the "second death" (Rev.2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8). Transgressors of God's Word, certainly have the most dangerous, fatal falls, because they fall in the ways of God. May we learn to walk in the right ways of God, as His righteous servants, and may none of us be disobedient and unbelieving, and stumble at the Word.
Wicked Contrasted With Righteous: (Ps.5:5; 11:5; 32:10; 37:17; 75:10; Pro. 28:1,28; 29:16; Isa. 65:14; Mal.3:18; Mat.25:33; Jn.5:29; Rom.2:9; 1 Pet.3:12; Rev.22:15).
Book of Hosea
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