You Shall Know the Lord

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Hosea 2

2 Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.” “Plead with your mother, plead—for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband—that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst. Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom. 5 For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’

Hosea 2:1-5

Hosea chapter 2 contains Hosea’s address to the Israelites using his own experience in the legal process of an offended husband as an image of God’s plan to deal with Israel.

God had a legal obligation, just as Hosea did, to act upon the unfaithfulness done against them. The Israelites had broken their covenant with God. They had turned to idols and called them lord. They worshipped gifts and blessings given by a false god. Now, God had every right to turn away from them and take back all that the Israelites had ungratefully forgotten. Hosea urges the people to repent, for God had made it clear that he would not sit idle on the sins of the Israelites. God is a husband not only wronged but injured by his betrothed pursuit of other lovers (gods), just like Hosea. Hosea doesn’t warn them because God is about to pour out just wrath and punishment. God’s goal is redemption. A husband who truly loves his wife will go to any measure to have his love return to him. This was a pain and pursuit that Hosea knew personally and was warning the people of what great lengths God is about to go through if they did not repent. God will do what he has to to make himself known to his people.

Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths. She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.
Hosea 2:6-8

In response to their lust, God put a hedge around his people to prevent from straying and spark return. Without being able to find her lovers, the wayward wife returns to her first love. In vs. 8 it says that the wife (Israel) did not know that all of the gifts that they had used for Baal had been given to them by their God. His intentions for breaking them off from seeking their idols is to get them to know God again as their provider. The one who truly loves them.

Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness. 10 Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. 11 And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. 12 And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. 13 And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord.
Hosea 2:9-13

In response to blind stubbornness, God will take away the blessings he once bestowed. Blessings were not a means to an end here, but a sign and measure of their relational standing. In v. 14 it says that the punishment served for the fact that the Israelites held celebrations and offered sacrifices to the Baals and forgot the Lord. When God took back all of that which he bestowed on them, then the fruitlessness of their false god lovers would be exposed. No longer could they receive God’s goodness while paying tribute to a deity because it served their fleshly desires. They would soon find that they could never be truly satisfied by idols.

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
Hosea 2:14-15

In response to Israel’s adultery, God will allure and woo his people back to him, revealing that his plan was always for redemption.

The people had begun to worship the blessings over the giver. They did not love God, they loved all that he could give them. And now what they wanted was to find a new lord (Baal) to give them the things of their flesh.

God is not just punishing them out of spite. Though he is righteously angry and jealous, he has a purpose for the consequences he sets for the Israelites. He will strip them bare of all that he gave them and block them from running to their other idols. He will bare their nakedness so they can face the shame of their sin.

The Israelites needed to remember who their God was. He was not the blessings. He was their God, their Lord, and love.

He had every right, as Hosea, to punish the Israelites for their adultery. But his goal was to win back their hearts. In the wilderness they were forced to rely on the Lord and draw close to him. The reference Hosea makes to the wilderness was one of endearment. He is saying, remember the time when I was your only God, when you looked to me for provision and deliverance and satisfaction. In the wilderness, the Israelites knew God and remembered him in worship.

God’s ultimate goal for us is to know him. And we must realize that there is nothing else that we can run to for satisfaction.

16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
Hosea 2:16-20

To know the Lord is not to simply know him, it is to belong to him. God doesn’t want nor need our acknowledgement, he wants to be with us. God wanted to bring the Israelites back to a time of wilderness because that was when they drew close to the Lord. It was easy to see the goodness and tenderness of the Lord, when their surroundings were so hostile. But now, other gods were seducing the Lord’s people with false promises and blessings. They could never fulfill the way he does and in his jealousy and anger, he revealed the idols for what they were and in the process revealed the adulteress hearts of the Israelites.

Even when the Israelites deserved it, God was merciful because his utmost desire is to be with us, for us to know the Lord.  

This is why God sent Jesus, his Son. We could never fulfill the terms of the covenant with God. That’s the point of Hosea. It gives us an up close picture of what heartache it brings God to have us reject him for idols, to sin against him. He is not just offended by our sin but injured by it. It directly affects him, just as a man like Hosea, who was cheated on by his wayward wife.

We have broken the heart of God, who has given us everything. We deserved wrath and yet, he sent us Jesus as our our mediator. In v. 19-20 Hosea points to a hopeful future of redemption. They could look forward to the day where they will be betrothed to God forever IN righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness. Jesus came to fulfill our covenant on our behalf. He is the only one who could be all those things for us. In him, we are the perfect bride for Christ. The bow of sin was broken through Jesus’ death and resurrection. For he became our sin and was broken on the cross and raised to new life in victory over it.

God desires for us to know him, to be with him. And through Jesus we can.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

John 14:6-7

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