February 22, 2011

Minor Prophets XX: A Conditional Promise and Wisdom

God makes a promise to Israel...

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine— Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.” Hosea 14:4-8

If Israel repents, God will heal His people’s faithlessness (apostasy) and love them freely since He will turn away His anger. The Lord’s blessing will return to Israel and it will blossom like a lily and like a cedar of Lebanon. These cedars are massive compared to surrounding foliage and shrubbery. In a semi-arid environment there root systems would’ve needed to have been extensive and extremely deep to sustain such a massive tree. Trees normally will not grow in a survival state but will stay the same and survive. These verses speak of a cedar that will have growing “shoots”. Israel will be healthy, prosperous and attractive. They will be olive tree that give sustenance and there will be the aroma of the cedar which is appealing. There will be security in the shade of his branches. The people will flourish so much that they will actually blossom like the vine and be famed even to surrounding areas. What they need to realize though is that their prosperity and flourishing is of the Lord and is dependent on their obedience.

The book of Hosea ends with a wisdom statement.

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. Hosea 14:9

If you are wise or discerning you will learn multiple lessons from this prophet/prophecy. Verse 9 is the underlying theme of Hosea and an exhortation to do what the prophet says.

1. The ways of the Lord (covenant/statutes) are always right. I would go as far as to say they are perfect. If you have discerned this much then…
2. You will have enough sense to obey them or “walk in them”
3. Conversely, if you rebel against God and His ways His ways will “trip you up”.
4. The actual broken commandments/covenants become the reason for the downfall
5. So those that read Hosea should obey the words contained therein.

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