Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 13 2019 - Hosea 2:2-22 – Israel judged and restored

The Israelites have forsaken the Lord and have turned to worship the idol-gods of the nations they had dispossessed. God declares his judgment upon the nation for its adultery.

The Lord their God had been gracious to them providing them with abundant harvests from the land that he had given them. But instead of thanking God for his goodness they had turned to the fertility god Baal whom they were crediting for their grain, wine and oil (2:8). If they cannot see that the Lord God is the source of all they enjoy then he will take it all away from them. Their harvests will fail and they will have no harvest celebrations (2:9-13). Perhaps they will then come to their senses and see that the Lord whom they have despised is the source of all they could desire.

But judgment does not have the last word; God cannot utterly cast off a people whom he has loved and made his own. The judgments he is about to send upon them are intended to turn them back to him. This is beautifully expressed in verse 14:

Therefore I am now going to allure her;
    I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.

Long ago, God had rescued this people from slavery in Egypt. When they had failed to trust him to give them the land he had promised them, God made them wander for forty years in the wilderness. The wilderness was a place of discipline where a new generation learned to trust in their all-powerful God who could provide them with bread from heaven and water from a rock. Then at last they were ready to trust God and to take possession of the land he had promised to give them.

So God plans another wilderness experience for his people, not to destroy them but to win them back. He will speak tenderly to them until they turn again to him in repentance and heartfelt love:

There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

Achor, meaning "trouble", was the name that Joshua and the Israelites had given to the valley where Achan and his family had been stoned to death for taking treasure from Jericho when it was captured. Their greed had brought defeat to Israel. Achor was a reminder that the land could only be possessed if the people were obedient to the Lord their God. Achor, the valley of trouble, is here called "a door of hope." Through the harsh lesson of Achan, Israel had learned to trust God and to obey him and so had gone on to possess the land of Canaan. Hosea's word of prophecy calls the nation to re-learn this lesson, so that present judgment will become a doorway into future blessing.

The final verses of today's reading (vv. 16-22), speak of the abundant blessings that God will pour out on his people when they turn again to him. At the heart of these verses is this beautiful promise:

I will betroth you to me for ever;
    I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
    in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness,
    and you will acknowledge the LORD.

Lord, we sometimes face all sorts of troubles and difficulties and are tempted to complain against you. Teach us rather to trust you and to know that your love for us in the Lord Jesus will ensure that blessing and not trouble will always have the last word.

Peter Misselbrook