Hosea 14:1 (HCSB)
1 Israel, return to Yahweh your God, for you have stumbled in your sin.
This pericope reads to me as Hosea’s words of exhortation to Israel. The previous chapter was simply brutal in God laying out what was to come upon Israel, and it seems natural for the prophet of God to implore God’s people to return to God. This is not a simple, “Believe in God,” type plea. We shall examine just what Hosea is telling Israel they should do.
- Before we get to Hosea’s instructions, let us look at Hosea 14:1. Obviously Hosea does not think the book is closed on Israel! “Return to Yahweh,” and “you have stumbled,” are phrases that suggest all is not lost. What great hope it should bring us to know that our sin is not bigger than God’s grace!
- Repent: Hosea’s first piece of instruction is to repent. Repentance encompasses all the sin we are guilty of. If we are not repentant, meaning we truly are sorry for our sin and desire to be saved from it, then this step is pointless, as is much of the remainder of Hosea’s plea. Repentance puts our heart in the right place to be reconciled to God.
- Part of repenting is asking for, and receiving, forgiveness. Although Hosea does not explicitly say Israel should receive forgiveness, it seems implied by the following actions he suggests. Repentance without forgiveness is fruitless. Forgiveness without acceptance is as well. We must repent, God is faithful to forgive, and we must accept that forgiveness and be restored.
- Praise God: The natural response to being forgiven and restored by God should be to praise Him! What greater gift can we possibly receive than the exchange of death for life? And if that is not something to praise God about, then something within us is not right.
- Grow in righteousness: We should see tangible growth, we should become more like Jesus as we go through this process. If there is no impact, no change, in our life, then we might want to examine what our real relationship with God is. For Israel, Hosea suggests it is abandoning Assyria as the one who will save them, and no longer pursue idol worship. What is it in our own lives?
Hosea closes this passage with another message of hope: “For the fatherless receives compassion in You.” Israel had become fatherless, they had rejected and abandoned God, thus were alone. But God is merciful and loving, and His compassion and grace continually extend out to us. Are we choosing to employ the steps Hosea suggests and be restored to God, or are we continuing on our own path?
Lord, thank You for Your mercy! We must individually, and corporately, repent of our sin, and return to You. What a wonderful hope to know that You are bigger than our sin, both in conquering it and forgiving it. I pray that we would have truly repentant hearts, and grow in You. Amen.