Hosea 14:4 (HCSB)
4 I will heal their apostasy; I will freely love them, for My anger will have turned from him.
This is the final pericope in Hosea, and it’s a great one. After so much of the description of failures on the part of Israel, and the coming punishment, here we have a whole passage that concerning the restoration that God promises.
Note that there is no discounting of Israel’s sin, their “apostasy” is certain and real. But the beauty here is that God has taken it upon Himself to heal it. This is most certainly an act of genuine and true love. And this sets the stage for the rest of Hosea 14:5-7. After all the many similes used to describe the short-comings, the rebellion, the apostasy of Israel, here we have the opposite: word pictures of a blossoming, growing, and strong Israel. And this is all God’s work, not man’s. The difference should be striking: in their own power and sin, Israel falls and destroys themselves, with God they survive and thrive.
Hosea 14:8 seems to be a final charge for Israel to turn from their sin and return to God. And Hosea 14:9 seems to be a summary statement, and sounds like something out of Proverbs. Combined, these last two verses are an exhortation of sorts for Israel to repent and return to God.
One other thing that strikes me as I read through this passage is the references to “he”, “him”, and “his”. I suppose it is possible that these are references to Israel, or Ephraim, but the choice of the singular pronoun doesn’t seem to fit how the passage starts out talking about “their” and “them”. Also, in Hosea 14:7 we read, “The people will return and live beneath his shade.” Again, it seems this could be the to-be-exiled people and the land of Israel being referred to, but it seems odd wording to me.
Anyway, I at least like the idea of a sort of double entendre here, whether it truly is one or not. If we read these verses and assume the “he”, “his”, and “him” are referring to Jesus, the picture is quite powerful and prophetic as well. And ultimately is that not what God succeeds in doing: turning physical Israel, with national borders, into a spiritual Israel with no borders, and expanding His kingdom all over the world? This is a powerful passage, and a wonderful ending to a powerful book.
Lord, thank You for the beautiful promise of restoration at the end of Hosea. What a joy it is to know that You do not abandon Your people! I pray that we take this as a great hope, but not an excuse, or license, to continue to sin. I pray we take it as just one more reason to turn from our sin and run to You! Thank You for the gift of eternal life with You! Amen.