God's Mercy Upon His People
Even though the Old Testament is not God's law for us today, the New Testament
reminds us that the Old Testament scriptures were written for our learning and
contain admonitions for us. The historical information is very helpful in
understanding the execution of God's scheme for our redemption, and the lives
of various individuals furnish wonderful examples of good and evil. The
writings provide good advice on wisdom and praise. And the prophets make
predictions by which we can identify the Messiah and also reveal things by
which we can see God's attitude towards His people and their sin.
The story of the prophet Hosea as recorded in the book bearing his name is
extremely interesting. Not only did he preach against the sins of the northern
kingdom of ten tribes, but his life also illustrated their faithlessness. His
own wife, who bore him three children (many scholars believe that at least the
last two were not his), then became unfaithful to him and left him to live a
life of degradation. This illustrated the apostasy of the Israelites and their
punishment. However, Hosea went out to search for her, and when he found her
he took her back again. This illustrated God's love for Israel and his
willingness to receive them back after they repented. Based on the prophet's
experiences, Hosea 2:14-20 talk about God’s mercy on His people.
First, we see God's effort in v. 14a. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
will bring her into the wilderness.” The word "allure" means to attract. When
a young man is trying to win the affections of a young woman, he does
everything that he can to attract her attention, perhaps even taking her off
by themselves from time to time so they can talk and get to know one another.
What has God done to attract us to His plan for our salvation? He sent His Son
to live a perfect life as an example for us (1 Pet. 2.21-23). We often sing a
song which says, "Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen in Me"
Even more importantly, God planned for His Son to die as an atonement for our
sins. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8). Then He raised His Son from the
dead to demonstrate that everything that He told us is true. “Concerning His
Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was…declared to be the Son of God with power
according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” ( Rom.
1.3-4). Through the centuries, these things have attracted literally millions
of people to God’s way.
Second, we see God's communication in vs. 14b-15. He said that He would “speak
comfort to her” and that “I will give her her vineyards from there, and the
Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her
youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.” We all know
that one of the basic needs for a strong relationship is good communication.
Young people who are thinking about getting married need to talk a lot
together. What has God done to communicate with us? The purpose of His sending
His Son was not only to be our example, die for our sins, and be raised again,
but also to reveal His will to us (Heb. 1.1-2).
The means by which Christ reveals God's word to us is through the written
word, which is known by many terms, such as the gospel or the scriptures. It
is in the gospel that the Lord makes known His plan for our salvation. Paul
says that the gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who
believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek, for in it the
righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The
just shall live by faith’” (Rom. 1.16-17). Furthermore, God's communication
with us does not stop with just revealing the plan of salvation, but He
continues to lead and guide us through the scriptures that we might be
equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).
Third, we see God's affection in vs. 16-17. “’And it shall be in that day,’
says the Lord, ‘that you will call Me “My Husband,” and no longer call Me “My
Master,” for I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall
be remembered by their name no more.’” A young man and a young woman who get
married usually show a lot of affection toward each other in various ways,
including the use of terms of endearment, such as honey, dear, and sweetheart.
Even though Israel had forsaken the Lord, He was willing to allow them once
again to call Him Husband. God's affection for us is seen in allowing us to be
married to Christ (Rom. 7.1-4).
Of course, while a married couple's calling one another husband and wife shows
affection, being husband and wife is not just an honorary position; there are
responsibilities—the wife is to submit to the husband and the husband is to
love his wife (Eph. 5.22-27). Christ has already showed His affection and love
by giving His life for us; we show our affection by submitting to Him. This
affectionate relationship between Christ and His church on earth is symbolic
of the eternal relationship that will exist between God and His people in
heaven, as the New Jerusalem is pictured as a bride adorned for her husband
(Rev. 21.1-2). The marriage that we make with the Lord now will find its
ultimate expression in the new heaven and the new earth.
Fourth, we see God's commitment in v. 18. “In that day, I will make a covenant
with them, with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with
the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from
the earth to make them lie down safely.” When two people get married, they
make a commitment or covenant with each other in saying their vows. This is
why unscriptural divorce is pictured in the Bible as something that the Lord
hates. “…Because the Lord has been witness between you and the wife of your
youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; yet she is your companion and
your wife by covenant” (Mal. 2.13-14).
God had already made a covenant with Israel. He revealed His will through
Moses at Mt. Sinai following their Exodus from Egypt, and they agreed to it,
saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exo. 19.1-8, 24.7). The
terms of the covenant were if they would keep His laws, He would bless them.
However, the Israelites did not keep this covenant. They forsook the Lord and
were punished by being sent into captivity; yet, God planned to make a new
covenant under the Messiah to provide blessings for all mankind (Jer.
31.31-34). This He did through Jesus Christ (Heb. 8.7-13). The promises of the
New Covenant show God’s commitment to us today.
Fifth, we see God's righteousness in v. 19. “I will betroth you to Me forever;
yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness
and mercy.” Righteousness means always doing what is right. One thing that a
husband and wife must always do to treat each other right is to keep
themselves pure and never join themselves to another. God, as our spiritual
Husband, is perfectly righteous. “They shall utter the memory of Your great
goodness, and shall sing of Your righteousness” (Ps. 145.17). We know that the
Lord will always do what is right and never leave nor forsake us. The problem
is that we, like the Israelites, are not always righteous in our relationship
with God--we know this is true because “all have sinned” (Rom. 3.23).
However, because He still loves us, God makes it possible through the
cleansing available in Christ for us to be made righteous or justified in His
sight. “For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was
accounted to him for righteousness’….Just as David also describes the
blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:
‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are
covered” (Rom. 4.3-7). This is possible through Christ, “who was raised
because of our justification” (Rom. 4:22-25). None of us is perfectly
righteous in and of ourselves, but we should always strive to do that which is
right before God to the very best of our ability. “Little children, let no one
deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is
righteous” (1 Jn. 3.7). The fact is that we can be married to God and remain
married to Him only through righteousness.
Sixth, we see God's faithfulness in v. 20. “I will betroth you to Me in
faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” Husbands and wives must be
faithful to one another. Faithfulness includes being righteous but it involves
much more. It demands that each partner fulfil his or her responsibilities to
the other. A husband may never become involved with another woman, but he can
be unfaithful in other ways. Over and over God has proven His faithfulness as
a Husband. For example, when God told Sarah that in spite of her old age and
physical condition she would have a child, “she judged Him faithful who had
promised” (Heb. 11.11).
Thus, we can be assured that God will be faithful to us. He is faithful not to
allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able but to make a way of escape
that we may be able to bear the temptation(n 1 Cor. 10.13). And even when we
sin, if we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us (1 Jn. 1.9). Given
His “track record,” there can be no doubt about the faithfulness of God. The
real question, then, is will we be faithful to Him? “Do not fear any of those
things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some
of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten
days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev.
No, the Old Testament is not God's law for us, but there is so much that we
can learn about God, His nature, and His love for mankind from the Old
Testament, including the prophets. Hosea reminded Israel, and he reminds us,
that no matter how far we may stray away from God, the Lord still loves us and
wants us to come back to Him so that He might save us from punishment for our
sins. And if we truly repent and turn to Him, He will forgive and accept us.
What a wonderful God who sent His only Son to seek and save the lost! What a
privilege and a pleasure it should be for us to worship and serve Him!
By Wayne S. Walker
From Expository Files 17.2; February 2010