Hosea, prophet of mercy—Chapter 9: Restoration
Nov 28, 2016
After telling Israel about her divorce and judgment in captivity, complete with a description of life without God, Hosea then gives hope by promising divine intervention. Hosea 2:14 says,
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her.”
God’s intervention was to take place while she was in the wilderness. There He was to allure her. The Hebrew word is pathah, “to entice, allure.” The word paints a picture of God coming to her and doing something to entice her to return to Him. In other words, even in the midst of divine judgment, the love of God had not diminished. But more than that, it is a fulfillment of God’s New Covenant vow and oath to make them His people and to be their God. Therefore, God is seen taking the initiative, because Gomer’s captivity put her into a hopeless situation.
Hosea 2:15 continues,
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.”
The reference to “vineyards” is more than literal, for it is an obscure prophecy of the fruit of the Kingdom. Yet the vineyards are not located in their old land, but rather are “from there,” that is, from the wilderness. The prophet paints a picture of gladness and joy from the new wine of the vineyard, for he says “she will sing there.” Sing where? In the wilderness.
The wilderness is not the promised land. The wilderness represents a time of testing prior to entering the Kingdom. It was so in the time of Moses, when Israel first “came up from the land of Egypt.” So it is again. Assyria, the land of captivity and bondage, is the new Egypt. Israel was to leave Assyria, even as she had left Egypt under Moses. And in leaving Assyria, she would not return to the old land of Israel, but would instead go “into the wilderness,” even as Israel did under Moses.
A New Marriage Arrangement
God has a purpose for this sojourn in the wilderness. Hosea 2:16 and 17 says,
16 “And 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.”
The prophecy is leading to an open statement that God intended to remarry Gomer-Israel by a New Covenant. However, the first step toward marriage is betrothal, which the prophet tells us in verses 19 and 20. During the betrothal, the promise is sure, but she cannot yet live in God’s house. So she is betrothed during her wilderness sojourn.
The promise is that she would call God by the term Ishi and no longer by Baali. Ishi is from the Hebrew word, ish, “a man or husband.” The “i” at the end of the word means “my.” So Ishi means “my husband.” This is a plain statement that Gomer-Israel, though divorced and sent out of God’s house, would again call God “my Husband.” It is a prophecy of remarriage.
The term Ishi, “my Husband,” is contrasted to Baali, “my Lord, my Master, or my Owner.” The remarriage, then, is under a different marriage covenant. Under the Old Covenant, God maintained a master-slave relationship over His wife. The Apostle Paul pictures the Old Covenant as Hagar, the bondwoman, in contrast to the New Covenant, which is pictured as Sarah, the free woman (Galatians 4:22-24). The new relationship was to be different, because the covenant itself—that is, the terms of marriage—was to be different.
The prophet also uses the term Baali to remind us that Israel had gone after false gods (Baals) who had put her into bondage to sin. Gomer-Israel ought to have been content to be enslaved by Yahweh, who loved His slave-wife, but she was discontented and thought that other gods, who gave her license to sin, could give her freedom. She did not realize that sin itself was the great taskmaster of humanity. She did not understand that the freedom to sin would bring her into total and hopeless bondage.
It is the same even today among those who demand the right to sin and think that this is freedom. They do not realize that sin puts people into bondage. Sin entices people with promises of freedom, but in the end, it only tightens its grip until the people find themselves hopelessly bound and with no way to change apart from outside intervention.
Yet perhaps the most important prophecy in this passage is God’s promise, not only to intervene, but also to upgrade the relationship from bondwoman to free woman. Under the Old Covenant, Gomer-Israel was married to a Master or Lord, and her choice to pursue other gods (baals) involved a choice between a Lord that loved her and a lord that pretended to love her. But under the New Covenant, the marriage was to be based on agreement, rather than obedience, as it was in the beginning prior to the entrance of sin in the world.
When two are agreed, then they are one. This is true unity that marriage was intended to be from the beginning. It is not a relationship where one dominates the other. There is no need for one person to command the other to do anything. Their wills are in agreement. Under such conditions, authority becomes irrelevant, because authority in marriage was instituted only after sin had corrupted them with seeds of disagreement.
We see, then, that in the divine purpose, God never intended for the Old Covenant to succeed. God knew that salvation could not be attained by the works of men, nor even by the will of man (John 1:13). The Old Covenant gave flesh the first opportunity to succeed, but it failed. Hence, that marriage relationship ended in divorce, for only through divorce could God begin to do a new thing, based upon His promises, His intervention, and His will.
Seen from the perspective of the Alpha and Omega, God’s long-term plan was to teach men by the failure of flesh to have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3), no confidence in the ability of man’s strength to save himself, and no confidence in man’s will to follow through on his promises of obedience. The lesson is humility, the root of all grace.
Hosea 2:18 continues,
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.”
This covenant is made while Gomer-Israel was still in the wilderness. The prophet tells us that this covenant was not limited to God’s marriage with Israel or with any single nation. It was also to involve the entire creation. This is actually a reference to the first biblical use of the word covenant, which is found in Genesis 9:9, 10,
9 Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.
Later, in Genesis 9:12, he explains this covenant further, while giving the rainbow as its sign:
12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations.
In verse 16 the rainbow was said to be the sign of “the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” It is truly universal in its scope. Further, this covenant is a divine promise, and neither Noah, or his family, or any creature on earth was required to promise obedience in order to make this covenant effective. In verse 9 God says, “I Myself do establish My covenant with you.” It was an unconditional covenant of grace, and it was based solely upon the promise of God.
This was the first major expression of the New Covenant, which Jesus Christ ratified on the cross many years later. Its universal scope is confirmed by the apostles. John wrote in Revelation 5:13,
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:27, “For He has put all things in subjection under His feet.” This messianic prophecy is a quotation from Psalm 8:6-8,
6 Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
Paul puts it in another way in Colossians 1:16-20,
16 For by Him all things [ta panta, “the all”] were created, both in the heavens and on earth… all things have been created by Him and for Him... 20 and through Him to reconcile all things [ta panta, “the all”] to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Paul tells us that God intends to reconcile all of creation to Himself, and because this is based upon the promise of God, rather than men’s vows of obedience, it will surely come to pass. It is important to note that God is interested in more than just mankind, because He created other creatures as well. The term “salvation” applies only to men (1 Timothy 4:10). The term “justification” applies to all sinners (Romans 5:18). But the term “reconciliation” applies to all that God has created.
This does not mean that bugs will be resurrected from the dead. Only mankind is eligible for resurrection. But of those animals that are alive at the time of full reconciliation, they will not die, nor will they harm each other (Isaiah 11:6-8). I believe also that if anyone wishes to have a favorite pet restored to them, there is no reason to deny them that pleasure.
God loves all of His creatures, from the least of them to the greatest, because He created them out of His own Love nature. This should be of comfort to people who have low self-esteem, because if God can love the lowliest of His creatures—many of which are despised by men—then certainly He loves all of mankind from the least to the greatest.
So Hosea 2:18 includes “the beasts of the field, the birds of the sky, and the creeping things of the ground” when speaking of God’s covenant. His statement is consistent with all the prophets and apostles from Genesis to Revelation. The purpose of God is to bring harmony and unity of purpose to all of His creatures.
This is part 11 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Hosea." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones