God hears his people’s pleas for forgiveness, turns from his anger, and heals the wounds of his repentant people.
I will heal their apostasy and faithlessness; I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from Israel.
Hosea 14:4 (AMP)
God restores the penitent to spiritual health and heals their backsliding (Jer. 14:7). When a person collapses with sickness, it’s usually the result of a process that’s been working in the body for weeks or months.
First an infection gets into the system and begins to grow. The person experiences weariness and loss of appetite, then weakness, and then the collapse occurs. When sin gets into the inner person and isn’t dealt with, it acts like an insidious infection:
- it grows quietly;
- it brings loss of spiritual appetite;
- it creates weariness and weakness;
- then comes the collapse.
For example, when Peter denied his Lord three times, that sin didn’t suddenly appear; it was the result of gradual spiritual deterioration. The denial began with Peter’s pride, when he told the Lord he would never forsake Him and would even die for Him.
The next stage was sleeping when he should have been praying, and then fighting when he should have put away his sword. Peter should have left the scene (“I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” [Matt. 26:31; Zech. 13:7]); but instead, he followed to see what would happen and walked right into temptation.
When we confess our sins to the Lord, He forgives us and the “germs of sin” are cleansed away (1 John 1:9) but, as with physical sickness, often there’s a period of recuperation when we get back our strength and our appetite for spiritual food. “I will love them freely”, describes that period, when we’re back in fellowship with the Lord and enjoying His presence. We see the smile of His face, for His anger is turned away.
I shall be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon. Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon.
Hosea 14:5-7 (AMP)
God will be as dew to Israel. That is, he will appear mysteriously and regularly to provide their most basic needs just as the dew appears to water the arid land. Israel will sprout like a beautiful flower from the dry ground.
The phrases his roots and like a cedar of Lebanon indicate that Israel will become as famous as Lebanon for mighty trees putting down roots. His new growth (or shoots) will walk (or appear) so that his splendor will be like the olive tree, which his smell will be like Lebanon.
Israel has stumbled and is dead in sin. God will bring healing that creates a new plant with new vigor. Roots will give him a strong foundation. New growth will indicate new life for a nation thought long dead. That new growth will not produce just an ordinary tree. It will produce a tree that captures everyone’s attention with its splendor and aroma.
The people dwelling in his shadow will return. The continuing metaphor requires that Israel be the tree giving shade.
Like the grain fields that die and then grow again in the New Year, so Israel has died and been revived through the Lord’s healing.
Israel will provide new life for those returning to God and thus returning to Israel for help. This is reinforced with “they will blossom like the vine.” Grain and wine were the food and drink staples of the land. A revived Israel would provide the staples the nations needed rather than having to go to the surrounding nations for life’s most basic resources.
Finally, Hosea promised that his memorial would be like the wine from Lebanon. Apparently Lebanon produced such high-quality wine that people savored its taste and aroma long after drinking it. Up to this point, Hosea has had little good to say of the memories Israel evoked. They were faithless in religion, despicable in morality, and fickle in politics.
A prostitute served as the chief image for remembering Israel. God’s healing would change all that. Israel’s memory would be savored by God and by the peoples of the world coming to partake of Israel’s material and spiritual resources.
Up to this time, the memorial Israel had left was closely connected to Lebanon. Lebanon could represent both Syria and Phoenicia. From Syria Israel gained political alliances. From Phoenicia Israel gained Baal worship. Baal was supposed to provide all the resources Israel needed. Instead, Lebanon’s Baal had provided only a stinking memory of idol worship and political disaster. God would now heal Israel from Baal worship and provide everything Israel had thought they could get from the Baal of Lebanon.
O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? It is I who have answered and will care for you and watch over you. I am like a luxuriant cypress tree; with Me your fruit is found [which is to nourish you].
Hosea 14:8 (AMP)
God concludes with direct address to Israel, using the familiar name of Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom’s major tribe. Picking up the term for idols from Hosea 8:4 and 13:2, God says once and for all that he is through with the topic of idols. Israel must turn from them. They must respond positively to the prophet’s exhortation to repent. They must seek forgiveness. They must give up idols and their dependence on foreign nations once and for all. God cares for Israel as he waits to see their answer.
God’s description of himself surprises us. He is a cypress tree in whom Israel’s fruitfulness is found. The cypress tree symbolized divinity, kingship, and fertility in Israel’s world. God set himself up as the only true reality behind such symbolism. Now Israel had to decide.
Did she believe the Lord?
Did she want healing?
Would she return and repent and seek forgiveness?
DECLARATION OF FAITH
My Father has given me direction and freedom. He has healed all of my waywardness and has set His unconditional, everlasting love upon me for all of eternity. His anger will never be turned my way again. His renewing grace is like morning dew watering my ground and I blossom like a lily in the spring (fast growing and full of fragrance and beauty), but with roots like the cedars of Lebanon (so deep that I can never be plucked up).
I declare this declaration of faith in the name of Jesus Christ!
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Amazed
Holman Old Testament Commentary
The Complete Personalized Promise Bible