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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

God Sings a Song to a Sorrowful People (Hosea 14)

In Hosea 14 we have a final sermon from the prophet. The sermon contains a call to repentance (vv. 1-3) and a promise of restoration (vv. 4-9). In his call to repentance, Hosea, as a true shepherd of souls, spells out in simple terms the requirements of God. Their repentance should include desire for forgiveness, acknowledgement of wrong decisions and desires (such as thinking that Assyria would have helped them) and resolve to serve God. Such heartfelt repentance is present because they realise the compassionate nature of God. When that happens, gratitude for divine forgiveness leads to loyalty.

The description of divine restoration is very encouraging. By using different images the Lord describes the extent and the experience of the recovery. He describes them in the form of a song, so we here we have an example of the Lord singing over his people (Zeph. 3:17), a reminder to us that our repentance is pleasing to the Lord.

The song is in two parts. In verses 4-7 God sings about restored Israel and in verse 8 he sings to his repentant people. He promises to heal Israel of their sinful tendencies and replace those diseases with ongoing divine refreshment (the dew). The effect will be humility (Israel is likened to a lily, a flower which droops its head) and purity (the lily is white in colour). At the same time, Israel will become stable (like a cedar) and fruitful (like an olive tree). Israel will become a place where people go for protection (like a shade) – in her past she had imagined that Assyria would protect her, now God makes Israel a place where his protection is extended to others. Israel’s growth will on-going and will spread like a vine.

In verse 8, the Lord turns and sings to Israel. He reveals his heart and implores Israel not to bring idols into his presence. In the past, Israel had tried to mix the worship of God and the worship of idols, but here the God who loves his people promises that if they refuse to get involved with idols then he will answer their prayers, take care of them and give them spiritual fruits at all times.

Hosea gives his final word in verse 9 and summarises the message of his book. He has mentioned two paths and the consequences of walking along each. Those who are wise will choose the ways of the Lord; those who are foolish will find his ways to be paths of divine judgement for them. That same set of options faces us all.

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