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“Say you to your brothers, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.”
Note how the names of the three children have been repeated, combining Hosea 1:11, with its mention of Jezreel, and this verse with the mention of Ammi and Ruhama. The positive note brought out here would serve to confirm that ‘Jezreel’ in Hosea 1:11 is connected with restoration. And the consequence of ‘the day of Jezreel’ will be that Jezreel will be able to say to all his brothers, ‘My People’ and to all his sisters, ‘Beloved’. The names of the children of portent will be changed by dropping the negative, and the new names will be given to the whole family as representing the whole nation, because God’s attitude towards His people will have changed. They will again be His people and beloved.
Alternately the speaker may be seen as the prophet Hosea, but it makes little difference to the sense.
Hosea’s Wife And Children Are To Be A Sign Of The Unfaithfulness Of Israel (Hosea 1:2 to Hosea 2:5 a).
There is no reason in chapter 1 for seeing Gomer’s ‘whoredom’ as being anything other than spiritual whoredom, (even though some do choose to see it differently). But whatever view might be taken about that, there can be no doubt that the main thought behind the presentation is certainly that Gomer and her children are to be seen as a part of the land which commits great whoredom (Hosea 1:2), that is, has deserted YHWH and His covenant and is both following false religion and rejecting the requirements of His Law. And that was what Israel as a whole were seen as doing. Thus the whole land was ‘a land of whoredom’ (seeking other lords than YHWH). Consequently any wife whom Hosea selected could have been described as a ‘wife of whoredom’, however pure she was. With regard to this it should be noted that it was not the name of Gomer, Hosea’s wife, that was to be a sign to Israel, but the names of his children. We are therefore probably doing Gomer an injustice to suggest that she was initially a prostitute, or even a fallen woman, (whatever may have happened to her later).
But the chapter is undoubtedly intended to bring out the horror of Israel’s situation in God’s eyes. Here was the land of God’s inheritance, the land that God had given to His people, and it had become prostituted to Baalism. For although Jeroboam, following the example of Jehu, had eschewed the Phoenician Baal of the house of Ahab, he had continued the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan, together with their Canaanite accompaniments, which included features of local Baalism carried out both in the sanctuaries of Bethel and Gilgal, and on the hills of Israel. And it was based on a false priesthood, and would appear very much to have included the utilisation of cult prostitutes (Hosea 4:13-14). The consequence was that there was an open breach of God’s commandments (Hosea 4:2). God’s ‘wife’ (Israel) had become unfaithful to Him.
Of course, we today would not behave in such a way. Instead our gods are sports stars, film stars, musicians and singers, or even celebrity chefs. But they nevertheless similarly entice us or encourage us into breaches of God’s commandments. And where that is so they must be put away, otherwise we too are guilty of spiritual adultery.
The consequence of all this is brought out in the naming of Hosea’s children. The name ‘Jezreel’ indicated that the sin of Jezreel would be expurgated by judgment on both the royal house and the land, the name ‘Lo-Ruhamah’ indicated that Israel would become ‘not pitied’ and the name ‘Lo-ammi’ indicated that they would be ‘not My people’, (although it will turn out that, in the mercy of God, that will not be the end, for there is to be a final restoration). That is why the children must wrestle with their ‘mother’ (Israel) about her behaviour. It is because she is breeding sin.
Analysis of Hosea 1:2 to Hosea 2:5 a.
a When YHWH spoke at the first by Hosea, YHWH said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom (unfaithfulness) and children of whoredom (unfaithfulness), for the land does commit great whoredom (unfaithfulness), departing from YHWH (Hosea 1:2).
b So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived, and bore him a son (Hosea 1:3).
c And YHWH said to him, “Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause the kingdom of the house of Israel to cease. And it will come about at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:4-5).
d And she conceived again, and bore a daughter. And YHWH said to him, “Call her name Lo-ruhamah; for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, that I should in any way pardon them, but I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and will save them by YHWH their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen” (Hosea 1:6-7).
e Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bore a son. And YHWH said, “Call his name Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I will not be your God” (Hosea 1:8-9).
f Yet the number of the children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered (Hosea 1:10 a).
e And it will come about that, in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people”, it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God.”
d And the children of Judah and the children of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint themselves one head (Hosea 1:11 a).
c And they will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel” (Hosea 1:11 b).
b “Say you to your brothers, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah, ‘Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, nor am I her husband’ (Hosea 2:1-2 a).
a “And let her put away her whoredoms from her face, and her adulteries from between her breasts, lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. Yes, upon her children will I have no mercy, for they are children of whoredom; because their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has done shamefully” (Hosea 2:2-5 a).
Note that in ‘a’ Hosea has to take a wife of whoredom and children of whoredom, because the land is a land of whoredom, and in the parallel the wife is to cease her whoredom, and if she does not her children will suffer for her whoredom. In ‘b’ Gomer conceives and bears a son (who is to be a warning to Israel), and in the parallel that son has to advise his brothers and sisters to contend with their mother (Israel) because of what she has done. In ‘c’ the son is called Jezreel as a sign of what is to happen to the house of Jehu (and of Jeroboam) and to Israel, and in the parallel the day of Jezreel is to be the sign of restoration for Israel of the true dynasty. In ‘d’ Judah is to experience deliverance, and in the parallel it will lead to Israel and Judah being united under one head. In ‘e’ Israel are to be called ‘not My people’, and in the parallel in the place where it was said to them ‘you are not My people’ they will be called the children of the living God. In ‘f’ we have the renewal of the promise made to Jacob/Israel, that the number of the children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea (Genesis 32:12).
YHWH’S STEADFAST LOVE FOR ISRAEL AND HER UNFAITHFULNESS TO HIM IS EXPRESSED IN TERMS OF THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP WITH AN ASSURANCE THAT ONE DAY THERE WILL BE FULL RESTORATION (Hosea 1:2 to Hosea 3:5 ).
There is nothing more poignant than this beautiful picture of God in His love seeing Israel as His wife, even though she has been unfaithful to Him, and determining that once she has learned her lesson He will woo her back to Himself. But the picture comes first as a stark warning to the current Israel, by means of three children of Hosea, of what will happen to them if they do not turn back to Him.
“Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, nor am I her husband, and let her put away her whoredoms from her face, and her adulteries from between her breasts, lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.”
The context now has in mind Israel’s state rather than that of Hosea’s family. It is on the basis of the hope of once again being accepted that the people of Israel are to contend with their mother (clearly here the state of Israel as the fallen wife of YHWH) because of her proved unfaithfulness. That unfaithfulness is the reason why she is no longer His wife, and he is not her husband. The words ‘she is not my wife, nor am I her husband’ have the ring of an official pronouncement of divorce, although probably to be seen as not yet pronounced. Unless she repents, the marriage covenant between them is about to be quashed. And the contention of her children is to be that she should put away her unfaithfulness, and her idolatry, lest she be totally exposed in the sight of the nations by having her nakedness exposed, and by being desolated and turned into a semi-desert. The indication is that repentance is still open to Israel even now, if only she will turn before it is too late.
The picture of Israel which is drawn is vivid. It depicts a prostitute with painted face (compare Jeremiah 4:30), welcoming lovers to her breasts (or having provocative ornaments on her breasts), because she has rejected YHWH and chosen to entertain false religion (a Yahwism tainted with Baalism), with the consequence that she will be stripped naked and exposed in the burning sun unless she changes her ways. In the event it would be the stripping naked and exposure which would be her lot.
Stripping naked and exposure to others was probably a recognised way of dealing with unfaithful women (compare Ezekiel 16:37). There may also be here a reference to the wilderness days which followed Israel’s ‘birth’, when Israel was outside the land and subject to the problems of the semi-desert, with the thought that she will again be cast out of the land.
“Yes, upon her children will I have no mercy, for they are children of whoredom; because their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has done shamefully.”
And the consequences of Israel’s behaviour will be that her sons and daughters will suffer with her. They too will receive ‘no compassion’ because they are the result of their mother’s whoredom. The idea is ‘Like mother, like children’. She has ‘played the harlot’ (Exodus 34:15-16; Deuteronomy 31:16) and behaved shamefully and the repercussions will come on those who follow (Exodus 34:16).
“Because she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.’ ”
The picture is of Israel thirsting after false religion because they were confident that it was that which, along with cult prostitution, ensured fertility, and resulted in their plentiful supply of bread and water, wool and flax, oil and drink. They gave all the credit for YHWH’s provision to their false rituals.
‘Their lovers’ may be the fertility symbols borrowed from Baalism, or the cult prostitutes with which they engaged. For us it may be following after singers or film stars or other cultic personalities, for it refers to anything which takes the place of God in our lives.
Judgment Is To Fall On God’s Rejected People Because They Have Followed False Religion And False Gods, Not Realising Who It Was Who Was Really Their Benefactor. They Will Be Exposed And Shamed, Something Which Will Cause Them Once Again To Think Of YHWH (Hosea 2:5-13 ).
Because of His people’s unfaithfulness to Him YHWH will move ‘her’ (His people) to a place where she is unable to have contact with ‘her lovers’, that is, with the false aspects of religion which she had introduced beside Yahwism such as images of Baal and Asherah. Then she will be unable to find them, and will thus determine to return to her initial husband. But because she had failed to recognise that it was really YHWH Who had provided for her, she will lose all His provision, will be exposed in her folly, and will receive the due reward for her behaviour. The words have exile in mind.
Analysis of Hosea 2:5-13 .
a “Because 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 2:5 b).
b “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, that she shall not find her paths” (Hosea 2:6).
c “And she will follow after her lovers, but she will not overtake them, and she will seek them, but will not find them” (Hosea 2:7 a).
d “Then she will say, “I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now” (Hosea 2:7 b).
e “For she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, and the new wine, and the oil” (Hosea 2:8 a).
f “And multiplied to her silver and gold, which they used for Baal” (Hosea 2:8 b).
e “Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my new wine in its season, and will pluck away my wool and my flax which should have covered her nakedness” (Hosea 2:9).
d “And now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none will deliver her out of my hand” (Hosea 2:10).
c “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feasts, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies” (Hosea 2:11).
b “And I will lay waste her vines and her fig-trees, of which she has said, “These are my hire which my lovers have given me,” and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field will eat them” (Hosea 2:12).
a “And I will visit on her the days of the Baalim, to which she burned incense, when she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and went after her lovers, and forgot me,” says YHWH (Hosea 2:13).
Note that in ‘a’ she said, I will go after my lovers’ and in the parallel YHWH says, ‘she went after her lovers, bedecked for love, and forgot Me’. In ‘b’ YHWH warns that He will hedge up her way with thorns, and in the parallel He will make her vines and fig-trees into a forest. In ‘c’ she will follow after her lovers and not find them, and in the parallel YHWH will render useless all her means of accessing her lovers so that she cannot find them. In ‘d’ she will determine to return to her first husband, and in the parallel he will expose her in the sight of her lovers and deal inexorably with her. In ‘e’ she did not realise who gave to her her grain, new wine and oil, and in the parallel YHWH would take back her grain, and new wine. Centrally in ‘f’ YHWH had multiplied to her silver and gold, and she had used it for Baal.
“Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, that she shall not find her paths.”
And the consequence was to be that the way to her lovers would be blocked. Thorn hedges would block the way, forming a wall which would prevent her from finding her path. The high places would become a wilderness, because she would have been taken far away. The brief change from third person to second person (‘I will hedge up YOUR way with thorns’ rather than ‘HER way’) is deliberate, the sudden change reflecting God’s anger and the personal nature of His judgment.
“And she will follow after her lovers, but she will not overtake them, and she will seek them, but will not find them.’
So while she may still seek to follow after her lovers, she will not be able to catch up with them, and she will seek them and not find them. All access to them will have been lost. There would be no Baalim to worship in exile. It will always be so with earthly ‘lovers’.
“Then she will say, “I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better with me than now. For she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, and the new wine, and the oil,”
The result of this will be that she will be brought to her senses and will recognise how foolish she has been. She will recognise that she had not realised that it was YHWH who had provided her grain and new wine and oil (compare for example, Deuteronomy 7:13; Deuteronomy 11:14-15). And she will therefore determine to return to her first husband, acknowledging that things had been far better when she had been faithful to Him. (This would be one result of the Exiles that would follow).
Thus once again, after judgment is to come deliverance. But Hosea will not let Israel off the hook yet. And he leaps back from her moment of repentance to the consequences that will result before repentance. He was under no illusions. He knew very well that that repentance was a long way off.
“And multiplied to her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”
But before he does leap back he has one more thing to add. YHWH had also been the One Who had provided her with wealth (Jeroboam’s reign had seen prosperity grow and blossom). And what had she done with it? She had squandered it on Baal. The living God had been far from her thoughts. That was why judgment had to come.
“Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my new wine in its season, and will pluck away my wool and my flax which should have covered her nakedness.’
So because she had failed to recognise that it was YHWH Who had given her all her good things, and had given the silver and gold that resulted from it to Baal, He would now take them away from her. The land would become such that it no longer produced grain when it was expected, or new wine at its appointed time. Nature would be thrown out of rhythm (so much for the effectiveness of Baal, the nature god), and she would have no wool and no flax to cover her nakedness.
“And now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none will deliver her out of my hand.”
For naked she was to become. God would uncover her lewdness (nabluth = withered state) and unfaithfulness in the sight of her chosen lovers, but they would be unable to do anything to help her. Baal and Asherah would be helpless. The land would become barren and a wilderness (because the people had been exiled) and its nature gods would be powerless to do anything about it. Their futility would be proved. And the people themselves would be exposed before strangers.
“I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feasts, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies.”
And all her celebrations, and her rituals, and her feasts would cease. The round of new moon celebrations, Sabbath celebrations and solemn assemblies would be no more. Israel would become a desolate land with a failed religion which had ceased to operate.
Note the assumption that new moons and sabbaths would be in operation, together with solemn feasts. This points to the background of the Law (feasts, sabbaths and solemn assemblies are regularly mentioned in Exodus and Leviticus) and new moons in the tradition in earlier days (1 Samuel 20:18; 2 Kings 4:23). Hosea is clearly speaking from a background of well known tradition.
“And I will lay waste her vines and her fig-trees, of which she has said, “These are my hire which my lovers have given me,” and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field will eat them.”
The vines and fig-trees, concerning which she had boasted that their fruitfulness was given to her by Baal in consequence of her worship, would become a wild, untamed forest, and the wild fruit that they produced would be eaten by the beasts of the field (the wild animals roaming the empty countryside).
“And I will visit on her the days of the Baalim, to which she burned incense, when she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and went after her lovers, and forgot me,” says YHWH.’
And Israel will have visited on her (in judgment) all the times when she had decked herself up in her splendour for the Baals, on ‘the days of the Baalim’ (the days of religious celebration), and had burned incense to them and had gone after them and had forgotten YHWH. Note the contrast between ‘the days of the Baalim’ here and the ‘day of Jezreel’ in Hosea 1:11. Both were days of celebration, but in what a different context.
So the message of judgment on Israel is laid on without mercy. Because of her past behaviour Israel is doomed. She has no way of escape. Her only hope can be that once her punishment has been full meted out God may yet show compassion on her. But that would not be for a long time. Sin once it has matured brings forth death.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak reassuringly (comfortably, lovingly) to her.’
The picture now changes sharply to one where YHWH seeks again to woo Israel, as he had done in the wilderness when He had delivered them from Egypt (compare Jeremiah 2:2-3). The sudden alteration in attitude takes us by surprise, for we would have expected further words of judgment, but such a sudden alteration is typical of Hosea as we have already seen (Hosea 1:9-10). Indeed it is a feature of God’s dealings with His people that He often takes them by surprise. His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts not our thoughts.
Thus His final intention is once again to entice her into the (metaphorical) wilderness, as He had literally done when she was in Egypt. And there He would speak words of love to her. The idea of being drawn into the wilderness is that he would take them to a place where all the distractions of sophisticated life and false religion would be removed. It was those attractions which had led her to her unfaithfulness, therefore it was necessary for her to be removed by bringing her into a place where they were no longer a problem. (God often works in such a way with individuals when seeking to bring them to Himself). Once in exile they would be in a situation where they could think over their past and their folly with regard to God.
And indeed when the exiles did finally return that also would be to a place which had become a wilderness, for Jerusalem was at that time in ruins and the land around desolate. They had been enticed there by God solely on the basis of the promises of what He would do for them. They had nothing materially to gain by it at the time. It was an act of faith. All they had to go on were His words of love as worship was restored. And there He did speak reassuringly to them through such men as Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra and Nehemiah.
Similarly when Jesus came His words were to men outside the great cities. Rather did He go into the countryside and the small towns. And they regularly came to Him in the wilderness where He wooed them to His Father and to Himself (compare Mark 6:35). It is interesting also how Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:1-6 connects the time in the wilderness with the advance of the church of Jesus Christ (compare also Hebrews 3:7 to Hebrews 4:10), while in Revelation 12:6; Revelation 12:14 the people of God are seen as ‘fleeing into the wilderness’ after the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:5-6). So the wilderness is very much associated with the birth of the new Israel.
There is a reminder to us here that if we would truly know God fully we too must allow Him to entice us into the wilderness away from all the outward enticements of life. We must put aside all that tends to hinder our fellowship with Him and withdraw into a quiet place in order that He might become the centre of our thoughts and of our love.
Hope Shines Through From The Future Because One Day YHWH Will Once Again Draw His People Back To Himself And Will Restore Her Situation. Israel Will Dwell Securely, Having Become Betrothed To YHWH For Ever, And The Day Of Jezreel (God Sows) Will Come. They Will Once More Be His People And He Will Be Their God (Hosea 2:14-23 ).
But just as He had done in the deliverance from Egypt, YHWH will one day woo His people and bring them into the wilderness, and from the wilderness He will provide them with vineyards, and with a door of hope in the very place of their previous failure. There is an indication here that the treachery of the people at this time was to be seen as comparable with the treachery of Achan, suggesting also that similarly to there, there would be a price to pay before forgiveness would be possible.
But once that price was seen as paid YHWH would restore their loving relationship with Him, and Baal would be forgotten. Baal would no more be connected in any way with Yahwism but be totally set aside so that his name was no longer invoked in any way. YHWH would no more be addressed as Baali (my lord, husband), but as Ishi (my man, husband) in order to remove even the remotest possibility of connection with Baal. In that day Paradise would be restored by a covenant with all living creatures and His people would be betrothed to Him for ever. YHWH would respond to His people and it would be as though the names of Hosea’s children had been reversed. Jezreel would become ‘God sows’ instead of a symbol of vengeance; ‘no compassion’ would be replaced by ‘compassion’; and ‘not my people’ would become ‘you are My people’. Total harmony would be restored.
Analysis of Hosea 2:14-23 .
a “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak reassuringly (comfortably, lovingly) to her” (Hosea 2:14).
b “And I will give to her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and she will make answer there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:15).
c “And it will be at that day,” says YHWH, “that you will call me Ishi, and will call me no more Baali” (Hosea 2:16).
d “For I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth, and they will no more be mentioned by their name” (Hosea 2:17).
e “And in that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of the heavens, and with the creeping things of the ground, and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely” (Hosea 2:18).
d “And I will betroth you to me for ever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies” (Hosea 2:19).
c “I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you will know YHWH” (Hosea 2:20).
b “And it will come about in that day, I will answer,” says YHWH, “I will answer the heavens, and they will answer the earth, and the earth will answer the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, and they will answer Jezreel (God sows)” (Hosea 2:21-22).
a “And I will sow her to me in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy, and I will say to those who were not my people, ‘You are my people,’ and they will say, ‘You are my God’ ” (Hosea 2:23).
Note that in ‘a’ God will speak reassuringly to Israel, and in the parallel He will tell them ‘You are my people’. In ‘b’ Israel will ‘make answer’ and will be given her vineyards, and in the parallel there is a multiplicity of ‘answering’ and this will result in fruitfulness and ‘new wine’, the product of vineyards. In ‘c’ Israel will call YHWH Ishi (my husband) and in the parallel she will be betrothed to YHWH in faithfulness. In ‘d’ she will no more speak of Baal, and in the parallel she will be betrothed to YHWH. Centrally in ‘e’ she will enjoy YHWH’s total protection from all who would harm her.
“And I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope, and she will make answer there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”
And it would be out of that wilderness into which He had enticed her that He would give to her her vineyards. The point is that they would be a gift of the God of Sinai and would have their source in YHWH and not in Baal. The idea of vineyards out of the wilderness would also be a reminder of the manna and quails that He had once provided in the wilderness. Such an idea may indicate that no other than God could produce vineyards in the wilderness, or that it was only when the wilderness experience had purified them that they would again have fruitful vineyards provided by YHWH in the land. And the fruitfulness of such vineyards would be totally dependent on YHWH. In our case too it is regularly when we have been ‘in the wilderness’ that God gives us His choicest fruits, and it was equally true in the early church.
Furthermore He would give her the Valley of Achor (Joshua 7:26) as a door of hope. The Valley of Achor was the place where Achan was punished for keeping for himself that which had been devoted to YHWH when Israel had first entered the land (Joshua 7:0). The last thing that Israel would have seen it as was a door of hope. There is a suggestion in this that the Israel to whom Hosea was speaking was seen as equally as reprehensible as Achan. But it was in the Valley of Achor that the curse was removed by the death of the victim, and that hope was therefore renewed. YHWH’s words here thus indicate that the reversal of YHWH’s curse on Israel must follow the pattern followed in that valley. There would need to be deaths and a release from cursing, deaths which did occur in large numbers in Assyria’s treatment of Israel. But what had been Israel’s shame would eventually, through expiation, become a door of hope. They could thus be sure that one day God’s curse on their present behaviour would be removed. It would be as though they had never sinned. That was something which in part did happen through the Exile (consider Isaiah 40:1-2) but as we learn by comparison between Isaiah 40:3-6 and Luke 3:3-6, that was only a precursor to what would happen more fully when the Lamb of God came and would be slain for the sins of the world.
The last thing that Israel would ever have expected was that that dark valley of Achor, which spoke of unforgivable sin and gross disobedience, would become a source of hope. It was an indication to them of how God could transform the darkest situation. And that is what He promised that He would do for them once He had restored them to the land, the land which had become theirs after the incident of the Valley of Achor. For in the very place which was a memorial of gross disobedience (the land of their inheritance) He would restore their obedience, granting a certain hope for the future. And there they would respond to Him, as they had in the days of their youth as a nation when they were in the wilderness, and as they had in that time when they came up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 14:31; Exodus 24:1-11). The picture is one of future glorious deliverance by YHWH and great response from Israel as they ‘made answer’ to Him.
But that Valley of Achor has a deeper meaning for us. For we too were also under a curse (Galatians 3:10). And it was as a result of our Lord Jesus Christ bearing our curse on the cross (Galatians 3:13) that a door of hope has been opened for us.
And the result of all this is to be that His people ‘will make answer there’. They will respond to Him from their hearts, as they had done at the deliverance from Egypt. Notice the sequence: delivery from the land of Egypt, experience in the wilderness, the door of hope into Canaan. The deliverance from Egypt is thus being looked on as an example and picture of YHWH’s future deliverance, and especially therefore of the deliverance wrought through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who Himself came out of Egypt to die (Matthew 2:15). Egypt is the picture of oppression, both by men and by Satan, the wilderness is the picture of the place of refinement by YHWH, Achor is the place where the curse was dealt with, Canaan is the picture of both rest on this earth for the Christian (Hebrews 4:9-11), and of the future glorious rest in Heaven. There is an interesting parallel here with the life of Jesus. He too was oppressed. He too entered into the wilderness, first to face testing as to His vocation, and then in order to win the people to His Father, He too then went to the place where our curse was dealt with, and He too will lead us safely into Heaven (Hebrews 2:10).
Again this all found a kind of fulfilment in inter-Testamental days, when the people were restored to the land as a ‘forgiven’ people (e.g. Isaiah 40:1-2) and demonstrated their renewed faith in YHWH time and again, especially in the days of the Maccabees when they resisted unto death, even though they failed again in the end. It was also true for the New Testament church, who were rejected by the oppressing authorities in Palestine, but found in that a door of hope, enabling them to leave accursed, unbelieving Israel behind and find a new Hope in God’s Messiah. They too had found Him in the land. Thus it was doubly fulfilled. But it was more than fulfilled, for from that land would go out the Gospel to the Gentiles to open a door of hope for them (compare Isaiah 2:2-4), a door which no man could shut (Revelation 3:8), and we benefit from it to this day. We may note again the significance of the fact that it was as a result of being cursed on the cross that our Lord Jesus Christ became the door of hope to salvation (John 10:9) and the way back to the Father (John 14:6).
“And it will be at that day,” says YHWH, “that you will call me Ishi, and will call me no more Baali.”
And YHWH promises that ‘at that day’ (the day when His promises were fulfilled) they will call Him Ishi (my husband) and will no longer call Him Baali (my lord). There is an indication here of just how distorted Yahwism had become. YHWH was being hailed by the name of Baal. It was so easy to take a word that meant ‘my lord’ and apply it to YHWH. But the problem was that YHWH and Baal then became mixed up in their thinking, with the result that YHWH was being reduced to a nature god.
However, in the future all that will be reversed, and any connection with the word Baal removed, as Israel come back to YHWH and see Him as their ‘husband’, and a tender relationship is renewed between them. This again was partially fulfilled in the inter-Testamental period, for Israel did return to YHWH for a time, turning their backs on idolatry which was never again a major problem for the Jews. And they very much sought to remove the name of Baal from their history by altering the names of those who in earlier days had been connected with the word ‘baal’, at a time when it was still being used to indicate YHWH. Consider how Eshbaal (1 Chronicles 8:33) was altered to Ishbosheth (2 Samuel 2:8), and Meribbaal (1 Chronicles 8:34) was altered to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:6), ‘bosheth’ signifying ‘shame’.
And in the New Testament we see a similar picture of husband and wife applied to the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His own (Mark 2:19-20; John 3:29; Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-8), so that, through what He has done for us, those who are members of His true church (all who have truly believed in Him) can call Him ‘my husband’, while in that final Day all who are His will be presented to Christ as His bride (Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-8; Revelation 21:2), to share eternity with Him.
We should note here that in the eyes of Jesus (when He says ‘My congregation/church’ - Matthew 16:18, compare John 15:1-6; Matthew 21:43), and in the eyes of the early church (Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:17-28; Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:9-10), those who believed in Jesus Christ became the true Israel. They carried on in the train of all believers from the time of Abraham, and the Gentiles who were converted were engrafted in, while unbelieving Israel was cut off. Thus it was as true Israel (made up of believing Israel and the Gentile proselytes who united with them) that they responded to Jesus Christ as their husband, not just as spiritual Israel.
“For I will take away the names of the Baalim out of her mouth, and they will no more be mentioned by their name.”
The point behind all this is that, as a consequence, the name of Baal will be eradicated from their thinking, so that his name will, as it were, be ‘taken out of their mouths’. They will no longer want to mention him, for they will see him as a thing of shame. This was precisely what happened as a result of the Exile, and was also true for all who became Christians while under the influence of idolatry, for they ‘turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven’ (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
“And in that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the birds of the heavens, and with the creeping things of the ground, and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the land, and will make them to lie down safely.”
We can contrast here Leviticus 26:21 ff.. ‘If you walk contrary to Me ---I will also send wild beasts among you, --- I will bring a sword upon you --- and I will make your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries into desolation,’ and Deuteronomy 28:15 ff, ‘if you will not listen to the voice of YHWH your God --- YHWH shall cause you to be smitten before your enemies --- and your carcase shall be meat to all the birds of the air, and to the beast of the earth, --- your vineyards -- the worms will eat them ---all your trees and fruit of your land will the locusts consume.’ In those verses curses were invoked on Israel if they failed to respond to YHWH and His covenant. And Hosea has already warned that those curses would now be fulfilled. But ‘in that day’, the day of God’s future action, those very curses will be reversed, for God will bind the wild creatures, beasts, birds and ‘creeping things’ by a covenant to prevent their harming the land in any way, and will break the weapons of their enemies and remove warfare from the land so that His renewed people can lie down in safety knowing that they are fully secure. In other words He will put a stop to anything that could cause them harm. Compare Acts 10:12 where the indication is that through the death of Christ beasts, birds and creeping things have been rendered ‘clean’ and therefore harmless.
Again at certain times this found literal fulfilment during the inter-Testamental period when, with full possession of their land, these dangers were removed from Israel, the beasts no longer roamed, and the sword no longer struck. And it was to be true of the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, the true remnant of Israel, for He Himself said, ‘behold I give you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will by any means hurt you’ (Luke 10:19), with the result that they too travelled safely in the land, and in many lands, establishing the true remnant of Israel. In Acts 10:12 the beasts, birds and creeping things are symbolical of the Gentiles to whom God was about to offer His covenant so that they could become members of the true Israel. The Gentile ‘beasts’ were no longer to be seen as unclean, and therefore as harmful to God’s people, but were to be brought within the covenant. In Revelation also the power of the Wild Beast who assailed God’s people will be broken (Revelation 19:20) so that they can no longer be harmed. In the new Heaven and the new earth, which is its final fulfilment, all such beasts and creeping things will have been rendered harmless (Isaiah 65:25). Compare Isaiah 11:1-9 where it will be as a result of the coming of the righteous king. There too there will be war no more (Isaiah 2:4). The promise therefore has a continuing and growing fulfilment, culminating in the new Heaven and the new earth.
(Of course the Old Testament prophets always saw the fulfilment of God’s promises as coming ‘on earth’ because at that stage there was no conception of Heaven as a place to which men could go (such a concept as Heaven would all too easily have become entangled in men’s minds with idolatry and the home of the gods. It would have destroyed the uniqueness of Israel’s concepts). It was later revelation that brought home the fact of a new Heaven and a new earth, so that fulfilment would be found on a new earth. Compare Hebrews 11:10-14 where this is made clear. The promises to Abraham of ‘the land’ were to be fulfilled in a new Heaven and a new earth ‘above’).
“And I will betroth you to me for ever; yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.”
Here we move to a new picture. Hosea could not betroth to himself his old wife. That would not have been allowed by the Law (Deuteronomy 24:1-4). But God can in the future betroth Israel to Himself again, for they will be made up of totally different people. The idea of betrothal is a powerful one. In Israel betrothal was completely binding and lasted ‘for ever’, and release required divorce. It was the sealing of a covenant. Marriage was simply the means by which that betrothal was activated. Thus YHWH was binding them to His heart for ever in a new covenant (compare Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:6-13 where it will be a better covenant which will actually change the hearts, minds and wills of His people). But it could not happen to them in the state that they were then in. They had to be renovated, for it would be in righteousness, and justice, as well as in loving-kindness and mercies.
Righteousness and justice indicate YHWH’s attitude towards them in the first place, for righteousness and justice are the very foundation of His throne (Psalms 89:14). They represent what He is. He does always what is right and just. And it indicates a requirement from them of full obedience to Him and His requirements, and full concern that all their fellows should receive their full due. They are to respond from a full heart. Loving-kindness and mercies indicate both His attitude and action towards them, as He acts towards them in graciousness and compassion, and their responsive loving-kindness and mercies which will be shown to one another. It is a picture of perfect righteous bliss.
“I will even betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you will know YHWH.”
Furthermore it would be in faithfulness. They will have a new heart and a new spirit, so that they will truly know YHWH. Faithful response to One Whom they have truly and genuinely come to know in their hearts is required, and will be accomplished in them, a response which will result in full covenant obedience.
This is also what God requires of us, for He requires it of all His people. And it will find its full fulfilment in the eternal kingdom.
“And it will come about in that day, I will answer,” says YHWH, “I will answer the heavens, and they will answer the earth, and the earth will answer the grain, and the new wine, and the oil, and they will answer Jezreel.”
In that day it is God Who will act. It is He Who will commence the process. He will finally give the ‘answer’. He will provide the final solution. His answer will be given to the heavens, so that they may pour rain on the earth, and the heavens will give it to the earth so that it will be responsive to the rain, and the earth will give it to the grain, new wine and oil, so that they will spring forth from the earth, and they will give it to ‘Jezre-el’ (‘El sows’), who represents Israel. Israel will be fully blessed and provisioned. So instead of vengeance Jezre-el will signify reception of blessing as provided by God (El sows). His name will speak of God as sowing blessing. And the whole of creation will be involved (compare Romans 8:19-23).
Consider how the grain and the wine and the oil, which they had seen as provided to them by Baal, will now be known to have come from YHWH (compare Hosea 2:6; Hosea 2:8). For now they will ‘know YHWH’ and acknowledge Him in all His uniqueness.
“And I will sow her to me in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy, and I will say to those who were not my people, ‘You are my people,’ and they will say, ‘You are my God’.”
And just as grain has been sown in the earth, so God will sow Israel in the earth. They will be sowed ‘to Him’ and not to any other. They will be wholly His. They will be His people, betrothed to Him, and will be the objects of His full compassion and love. And as a result they will receive compassion and will again become His people.
Note how once again we have a recall of all three children, ‘Jezreel’ because it is God Who will sow blessing; ‘not pitied’ (Lo-ruhama) because the position will be reversed and she will now receive compassion;, and ‘not my people’ (Lo-ammi) similarly because they will now become His people. The children here clearly represent Israel.
Again this found fulfilment in part in the inter-Testamental days when Israel returned to YHWH and responded to Him, receiving His blessing, experiencing His compassion, and becoming again His people. It found even greater fulfilment through our Lord Jesus Christ as the remnant of an Israel whose religion had become formal responded to Him and became in a new way His people, and in the fact that as the prophets had forecast, the Gentiles were brought into the new Israel and became His people (Romans 9:25-26; 1 Peter 2:9-10; 2 Corinthians 6:16-18). It will find its final fulfilment when the true Israel of all ages, both Old and New Testament ‘churches’ (the totality of true believers), will experience the fullness of His blessing at His second coming, when they will fully experience His compassion, and will finally be His people for ever.
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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Hosea 2". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter