Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Hosea 2: 19-23

19"I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,
20And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the LORD.
21"It will come about in that day that I will respond," declares the LORD.
"I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth,
22And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil,
And they will respond to Jezreel.
23"I will sow her for Myself in the land
I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion,
And I will say to those who were not My people,
'You are My people!'
And they will say, 'You are my God!'"

Feel the love, friends! Better yet, KNOW the love in this beautiful passage from Hosea--the closing of Chapter 2--that reads as wedding vows. As much as I would like to say that these could be used for a renewal of vows ceremony, truly, only One could say these words.

Found some wonderful notes in my study Bible today that have made this passage more than just the poetry of grace: "These verses are recited by every orthodox Jew as he places the phylacteries [small cubes containing Scriptures, which the Jews used and use in their prayers] on his hand and forehead." The words of God's grace upon Israel were to be taught and remembered, as if written on the forehead, from generation to generation. God made tremendous promises to His people through these words. Yet, only a remnant will remember and know the truth.

Note that 'betroth' is used three times as the passage begins. God issued the promise to marry, to espouse, to be united with His people, eternally, in perfect harmony, as something to come. If you take the word apart, you can almost see 'truth' instead of 'troth' and you would be understanding correctly. How many Jews have not, do not and will not see Jesus Christ as their Messiah? Yet, the truth is before them, right here in Hosea, for one example.

I said at the top that only One could make such a wedding vow. In His betrothal, God promises a relationship in righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, compassion (vs 19), and faithfulness (vs 20). He is the only one who could make such a promise to Israel. To "know" the Lord, is that deep kind of knowing--the Hebrew word meaning "to recognize." [Strong's] In "that day" (vs 21), meaning, the last Day, with the return of Jesus to the Earth, all will recognize that He is the Lord.

Let us not hiccup on verse 21 with the phrasing. "I will respond to the heavens...heavens to the earth" does not put God or Heaven in subservient positions as if He and it are required to answer to His creation. Israel has brought nothing into this relationship but its unfaithful self. The word for respond, answer, hear (in the King James') can be expanded upon to mean "to sing, shout, testify, announce." [Strong's] God, in His promise of espousal, is testifying of His love and grace upon Israel, announcing the marriage, singing and shouting with the blessings of life in new covenant relationship. This is a proactive response of God's overflowing love, not a reactive response to an offering of Israel's, of which there was none.

One more word trip for you today. When you start digging into English word origins for 'respond', you find roots tying back to the word sponsor. Beyond the commonly thought of definition referring to somebody who gives money on behalf of a cause, a sponsor, more generally, is "one who makes a promise on behalf of another. Gives assurance. Promises solemnly." There's even a root related to 'sponsor' that means "to make a drink offering." [All] God's response, sponsoring, espousing Israel is sacrificial and is pledged under the highest authority of truth.

Moving on, verse 22 reverses the course of what God had brought Israel in the beginning of Chapter 2 ("slay her with thirst," vs 3). With the establishment of the renewed relationship with Israel, God will bless the land with abundance. Recall Joel 2:19 as well as this verse from Zechariah:

"'For there will be peace for the seed: the vine will yield its fruit, the land will yield its produce and the heavens will give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things.'"
--Zechariah 8:12

Not only is this a literal reference, but it is a figurative one as well, as alluded to in the Zechariah passage above. Note the end of Hosea 2:22: "And they will respond to Jezreel." In Chapter 1, we learned that Gomer's first son was named Jezreel, meaning "God will scatter." In our Chapter 2 passage, the meaning is more positive, especially when looking at it in light of verse 23. God will scatter seed, sowing Israel "for Myself" in that He would bless her with eternal sustenance and peace (again, see Zechariah, above).

The chapter ends with God completely restating, now in the affirmative, that which He spoke in Chapter 1, through Gomer's other two children:

"'Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them....' And the LORD said, 'Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.'"
--Hosea 1:6 & 9

God's plan is to completely restore Israel unto Himself. It is as if He has given Gomer's children new names! More importantly for Israel, it reestablishes, once and for all, that God is with them.

"It will no longer be said to you, 'Forsaken,'
Nor to your land will it any longer be said, 'Desolate';
But you will be called, 'My delight is in her,'
And your land, 'Married';
For the LORD delights in you,
And to Him your land will be married."
--Isaiah 62:4

One last point before we leave Chapter 2. The Apostle Paul quotes verse 23 of Hosea in Romans 9:25, as he wrote of how the Jew and the Gentile attain God's righteousness. Of course, in the day, there was confusion. The Jews had such a long history with the Law, and now the Gentiles were on the scene being presented with the Gospel of grace by Jesus' gift of salvation through the cross. Having not accepted Christ's role as Messiah, the Jews were left with the Law and with the "stumbling block" of Christ crucified. Paul's words would not be in the Jews' understanding. But, one day, Hosea's words will be understood by the remnant who comes to truly know the Lord. And then, Paul's words in II Corinthians will be understood by them as well:

"Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
--II Corinthians 5:17

Blessed are those who stand upon the promises of God!

Hosea, Chapter 3--(the whole thing!)--"Hosea's Second Symbolic Marriage".... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 3

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).