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The Christian in the Wilderness
Little as the Israelites were permanently benefited by their sufferings in the desert, they appear never to have forgotten them. Hence 'the wilderness' became another word among them for trouble and sorrow. It bears that meaning here.
I. It points out to us, in the first instance, the Author of affliction.
II. The text shows us next why God afflicts us; at least, it discovers to us one of the most frequent causes of our sorrows.
III. We learn further in the text how God sometimes afflicts us. It describes Him as doing it gradually, compassionately, tenderly.
IV. Having followed the Christian into the wilderness, consider, in the next place, the comfort the Lord imparts to him there. 'I will speak comfortably unto her.'
V. But consolation is not all that an immortal spirit needs in sorrow. Our attention is called, therefore, to the supplies which God furnishes in tribulation.
VI. The hope that God excites in affliction. The valley of Achor was situated at the very entrance of the promised land.
VII. The effect to be produced on Israel by the mercies vouchsafed to her. 'She shall sing there as in the days of her youth.'
C. Bradley, Sermons, p. 21.
The Valley of Troubling
I. 'Achor 'means 'troubling,' and the valley got its name from a great crime, a great disaster, and a great act of judicial punishment. The crime was that of Achan, who hid in his tent spoil that ought to have been consecrated to Jehovah. The disaster was the consequent defeat of the Israelites in their assault upon one of the hill cities of Canaan. The judicial act was that, by Divine command, the culprit who had troubled Israel, bringing on it defeat, was stoned to death, his body and all his possessions burned, and a great cairn piled over his ashes. Hosea is prophesying of the captivity in Babylon under the figure of a repetition of the earlier history and the experience of the Exodus. The valley of trouble is turned into a means by which hope draws nearer to the beaten and desponding host.
II. The strength of a Christian man is in his sinlessness. And so we may learn that if we have been beaten once, and again attack, and again are foiled, the shameful disaster is a Divine warning to us to look not only to our equipment, but to our temper, and see whether the reason for failure lies, not only in something wrong in the details or accompaniments of our effort, but in something lacking in the communion which we have with God Himself. But again, Hosea's imaginative use of the old story teaches us how hope may co-exist with trouble, sorrow, trial, affliction, or the like. Such co-existence is quite possible.
III. Hosea here teaches us, not only the possible co-existence of hope and trouble, but the sure issue of rightly borne trouble in a brighter hope. Assuredly if a man has accepted the providences there will follow on the darkest of them a brightening hope. Then there is another reason why the sure child of trouble patiently, Christianly borne, is a more joyful hope. And that reason is set out in full by a man that was an expert in trouble, viz. Paul, when he says, 'tribulation worketh patience'. Thus tribulation which borne in faith works patience, and patience which brings evidence of a Divine Helper, teach us to say, 'Thou hast been my help; Thou wilt be my help'. And so hope is the last blessed result of tribulation.
A. Maclaren, The Baptist Times and Freeman, 15 August, 1902, p. 603.
References. II. 15. J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. iii. p. 337. A. Maclaren, Weekday Evening Addresses, p. 159. Bishop Lightfoot, Old Testament Outlines, p. 266. II. 21, 22. J. M. Neale, Sermons on the Prophets, vol. ii. p. 72. III. 5. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xv. No. 888.
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hosea 2". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter