The book of Hosea is a love story of how God loves and treats his people. The first chapter of Hosea revealed that Hosea would live what God was experiencing with Israel. Hosea would marry a promiscuous woman and have children from her promiscuity to show the pain that God was experiencing with Israel’s unfaithfulness toward him. Yet God will call all who are not his people to be his people again in a new exodus under a new head, Jesus (2:10-2:1). The second chapter of Hosea presents another picture of God’s love for his people and how that is supposed to change our view of God and how we live.
End Unfaithfulness (2:2-5)
The prophecy is a pleading with Israel to stop its unfaithfulness. Their sins have caused a separation in relationship because God and the people. We saw this in chapter 1 and it is restated in chapter 2. “She is not my wife, and I am not her husband” (2:2). We have talked about how God does not share us with other loves and desires. We understand this in a marriage relationship. If we love someone in marriage, we do not share our spouse with another. God does not share us with others either. So he is calling for us to stop looking to be unfaithful to God. Stop looking to run from him. Stop looking to fulfill your desires elsewhere. Stop giving yourself over to your sinful ways.
God then warns the people that there are consequences for choosing to continue one’s unfaithfulness to the Lord. God will strip Israel naked and make her like a wilderness and parched land. God will cause the people to experience destitution. The blessings of God are going to be removed. He will not show love to them because they are unfaithful.
Now the reason is clearly pictured in verse 5. The people are determined to go after other gods and idols because they think that these gods (“lovers”) gave them their bread, water, oil, and drink. Essentially, the people go after other lovers because they think these other lovers gave them their blessings. They did not see that God gave them all their blessings. They did not think that the Lord was sustaining them and caring for them. They thought their idols were caring for them. They ran to other gods because they did not understand that God was behind their prosperity and blessings. We so easily do the same thing. We think that it is our career that gave us our wealth so we give ourselves to our career. We want more money so we work harder. Yet we fail to realize that God gave us the wealth and possessions we have. God gave us the job we have. God gave us the money we get from our job. God gave us the intellect and ability to work. God gave us working bodies so that we could make money. God is the reason you are at where you are at in life. But we often do not see it this way. God gave us our parents, our spouse, our children, our home, our cars, our jobs, our wealth, and anything else you can possibly think of in your life. But we fail to seek the one who gave us all this. We go after the stuff instead.
Emptiness Revealed (2:6-13)
So God needs to wake us up and that is what he says he will do in verses 6-13. God will show his people the futility of what they are pursuing. God will let them go that direction but it is going to be an empty pursuit. God will take back all of his blessings so that they will see the emptiness of their ways. You are going to try to find your joy and satisfaction in your desires and you are not going to get there. But notice what God says in verse 7. The emptiness of our pursuit is supposed to bring us back to God. Our failure to find lasting joy and satisfaction is to turn our eyes back to God and understand that he is the one gives us everything. Just think about this. God is doing us a favor by not letting us get to what we think will be the joy we want when we pursue the desires of this world. So God will put an end the prosperity of Israel and punish them for their sins. But I want us to see what is ultimately the big problem, which is stated in verse 13. Israel would be punished because she went after her lovers and forgot the Lord. Spiritual failure comes from forgetting God. Forgetting God leads to an empty life. The apostle Paul made the same point in Romans 1:21 which led to a spiritual demise. Forgetting God, not honoring God, and not thanking God leads to our spiritual ruin and to a life of emptiness now. So what is God going to do about this situation? He has a people that he loves who have been unfaithful to him, who do not understand that everything they have came from him, and who have forgotten him. What will God do? The rest of the chapter is all about what God will do. Fourteen times God says “I will” in verses 14-23. First, look at verses 14-15.
Alluring Love (2:14-15)
God is going to allure his people and tenderly speak to them. God is going to entice his people. Now there are two great pictures God uses for how he will allure his people. In verse 14 God says he will bring his people into the wilderness. The wilderness is the place to start over. God is saying he is going to hit the reset button. God will put Israel in the wilderness. The wilderness represents the time when they were set free from Egyptian slavery and on the brink of inheriting God’s promises. God will bring his people back to the wilderness, setting them free from their slavery and bringing them back to God’s promises.
The second picture is in verse 15. God will give Israel her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. The Valley of Achor is a direct reference to the story of Achan and his stoning in Joshua 7. The Valley of Achor was a place of death and a reminder of rebellion. But God is going to take the place of rebellion and death and make it a place of hope. God is going to cause such a staggering reversal that Israel will be reset and renewed as if when she came out of Egypt (2:15). The people are going to respond to God again, like in the beginning. God is going to allure his people back to him because death will be turned life. Judgment will be turned to hope. Who can turn the Valley of Achor into a door of hope? We cannot. Only God can take the place of death and turn it into the place of hope. Only God can take a cross, the instrument of death for Jesus, and make it the icon of hope. Only God can take Golgotha, the place of the skull, and turn it into the place of redemption. Only God can take a tomb and make it a place of life. God is going to allure and entice people to him by taking death and turning into life.
Covenantal Love (2:16-20)
But if this was not enough, there is more that God will do. God will renew the marriage covenant with his people. His people will call God, “My Husband” and will no longer be confused by the idols (2:16). God’s people will no longer look to their idols to provide but will be in a covenant marriage with God. Further, it will be a true love relationship. The word “Baal” means “my lord” or “my master.” So the Lord will no longer be “my master” but “my husband,” picture a new view of the relationship with God. The people will want God, not just our master. In fact, the worldly passions and pursuits are going to be removed from their memory (2:17). God’s people won’t want to do those things any longer. The people are going to have a greater love for God that is so strong that they will not want what the world is offering. Listen to verse 18: “I will make you lie down in safety.” This is a picture of rest. The people will depend on the Lord and the Lord will be there for them to care for them and give them safety. After our spiritual adultery against the Lord, the Lord will betroth us to himself in righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness. Did you hear this amazing covenantal promise? God will be righteous toward us even though we were unrighteous toward him. God will be just toward us though we were unjust toward him. God will show steadfast love toward us even though we have shown him wavering love. God will show us mercy though we do not deserve mercy. God will be faithful to us even though we have been unfaithful to him. So God says he will take death and reverse it to life. Then God says he will return us into his marriage covenant and he will be faithful to us even though we have been unfaithful to him. One more picture is found in the final three verses of this chapter.
Restoring Love (2:21-23)
Finally, God says he will respond by restoring his blessings to his people. God is going to turn everything radically upside down. Jezreel will no longer mean calamity but salvation and prosperity. Now seeds of hope will be scattered as seed. God had dried up his blessings toward his people but there will be a time in the future will he will pour out those blessings on his people again. God will restore the relationship with his people so that those who he called “not loved ones” will now receive God’s love. Those who were called “not my people” will be God’s people. These people will now confess and proclaim to belong to God. Before we forgot the Lord and pursued emptiness. Now we will remember the Lord and declare him to be our Lord. I do not have the time to go through this point in this lesson and hope to do some new lessons about this topic in the future. But let me just say that there is a summary idea of how the New Testament describes all of this. God alluring his people by reversing death to life, by restoring a covenant relationship with his people, and restoring his blessings on his people so that they can belong to him is called in the New Testament the “gift of the Holy Spirit.” When Peter preaches to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, this is what he was talking about. This is what the Holy Spirit had promised: life to the dead, a covenant to those who were afar off, and blessings to those who would receive his message. This is the hope for us. God is alluring us with his greater love for us. His love is to cause us to stop loving our idols, desires, and worldly pursuits. His love shows us the emptiness of this life and the fullness of life with him. His love makes us forget the world and enjoy all the blessings that God has to offer. This is what the apostle Peter means when he references this prophecy in his letter.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. (1 Peter 2:9–11 ESV)
You are now God’s people who have received mercy. Proclaim God’s praises to the world and abstain from the passions of the world.