Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Hosea 2: 14-18

Restoration of Israel
14"Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Bring her into the wilderness and speak kindly to her.
15"Then I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the valley of Achor as a door of hope
And she will sing there as in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
16"It will come about in that day," declares the LORD,
"That you will call Me Ishi
And will no longer call Me Baali.
17"For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth,
So that they will be mentioned by their names no more.
18"In that day I will also make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky
And the creeping things of the ground
And I will abolish the bow, the sword and war from the land,
And will make them lie down in safety.

One of my favorite transition words--'Therefore'--opens up our passage this week. Last week, we left the end of a long diatribe in which God lays out for Israel the deepness of her sin. The powerful text could lead one to believe that there would be no hope for reconciliation. Not until verse 14 of Chapter 2, anyway, which starts with 'Therefore' and leads us through God's plan for restoration of His relationship with Israel.

"I will allure her." (vs. 14) In the Hebrew, 'allure' means "to be open" or "to make roomy." [Strong's] Where dialogue had been closed or uncomfortable, God would reestablish openness in communicating, captivating the attention and the heart of Israel. As I read this, I have a picture of what happens when one has a fight with one's boyfriend or girlfriend, or husband or wife. There's a period of separation, as emotions are discharged and feelings sorted out. Then, there is a time, sometimes mutually felt, for reconciliation. Reuniting at a favorite place or a significant place in the relationship. God spoke enormously to the Israelites in their years of roaming the wilderness together during the time of the Exodus from Egypt. The mention of that locale is not out of place here in Hosea.

The valley of Achor (see above), or the "valley of trouble," is not as well-known, perhaps, as the wilderness, but Israel would understand the symbolism, as God writes yet another analogy. This reference relates to a story in Joshua in which Achan and his family faced judgment after having taken some items that they had been banned from being allowed to touch. "The anger of the Lord burned against the sons of Israel." (Joshua 7:1) Joshua then sent 3,000 Israelites to spy on the land of Ai. Thirty-six men were struck down, and Joshua tore his clothes, asking God why.

"Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst."
--Joshua 7: 11&12

Now, in Hosea, God says this place that had brought Israel despair will now be a "door of hope," at which Israel will "give answer" as in the days of her youth--an affirmative answer of following the Lord, wholly and truly.

Verse 16 has some vocabulary that needs a glance. 'Ishi' means "husband" while 'Baali' looks like what it is, "Baal." More generally, it means "my master." As if wooing a bride, God is showing profound grace to Israel by bringing her back to an earlier time, when He first called the nation to be His own. Again, in the quiet of the wilderness, God will speak to Israel's heart, saying that she will once again call Him husband, and they will reestablish the intimate relationship they once knew. She will not call Him "master" as if she were a slave. Indeed, as God says in verse 17, He will completely remove the names of the Baals from Israel's mouth to be remembered no more. As profoundly strong as God can be in asserting His way, He is also remarkably gentle in His handling of His people.

"In that day I will also make a covenant for them...." (vs. 18) God has certainly made His covenants with His people over time--from Moses to Jesus. But this one refers to a day yet to come:

"And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them.... They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, or the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea."
--Isaiah 11: 6 & 9

Such a dramatic peace is coming, with God directing all of creation in the laying down of arms and in knowing a time of eternal security and salvation. Israel will know this amazing time!

The conclusion of God's words in "The Restoration of Israel".... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 2: 19-23

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

1 comment:

Carmen said...

The contrast in God struck me this time. His statutes and the things He requires are good, but so hard for us to abide by at times. Yet, He is so gentle when we are willing to do His will. It's easy to forget that, and to hold back from turning to Him since we know we've messed up. Perhaps because it's hard to admit our mistakes. Perhaps it's because human rejections have made us timid, or we think He's tired of accepting us back yet again. We forget He truly loves us.