Restoring the Repentant by
Granting the Repentance that Restores
Hosea 13:4-6; 14:1-9
Tom J. Nettles
that Hosea began with the striking instruction of God for Hosea to marry a
woman of whoredom, by whom he had three children. These three children were
given names symbolic of God’s judicial abandonment of Ephraim. Hosea,
nevertheless, not only married her but then went after her to secure her safety
and fidelity on her subsequent lapse into unfaithfulness and immorality. So did
God initially redeem
I. Chapter 12 – This chapter alternates between the blessing of God’s presence, guidance, and revelation given through specific cases of human instrumentality, and the failure of Israel to establish itself on that advantage and advance in the knowledge of God, increase in devotion to God, and convert its energies into an ongoing witness to the nations showing them the pleasures of being the people of God.
A. Verse 11:12 –
12:1 – The present condition of
B. Verses 2-6 -
C. Verses 7-8 –
D. Verse 9 – As
in the days of discipline in the wilderness, when
E. Verses 10-14 – Though God has given prophets, kept covenant with Jacob even when he was in exile, delivered the nation by Moses when it was in bondage in Egypt, the consistency of rebellion and deceit and murderous treachery that has permeated the history of the nation has fixed a guilt, a blood-guilt, for which satisfaction must be exacted.
II. Having had great possibility for strength and exaltation among the nations, Ephraim has forfeited any posture of power or leadership because of its unfaithfulness to the one true, God, the God that had engaged their fathers in covenant and had redeemed them from bondage. The God who is savior also is the consummate avenger,
A. verses 1, 2 – Any respect that may have been due to Ephraim, now is gone because of its giving itself to the Baal. These man-made gods, no matter how skillfully crafted, are only reconfigured material elements created by Yahweh. Ephraim’s affection, however, for these crafted calves is more captivating even than the natural affection due to the sons. They have, therefore sacrificed the latter to sow their devotion to the former.
B. Verses 3-8 –
· Verse 3 uses four images—mist, dew, chaff, and smoke—to show how insignificant will be their strength when once God moves upon them in judgment.
Verse 4 and 5 shows that true safety is found
only in the favor of the God who saves. He can save; He can destroy. Nothing
can stop him from saving according to his own purpose and grace. The mighty
· So, verses 6 shows that the most favored of all people, when left to themselves, will forget God and pursue the world. They do indeed, when pursuing their “free will,” walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience, and are by nature children of wrath [cf. Ephesians 2 1-3]. Even Ephraim, left to himself, to his own musings, became filled with worldly comfort, credited himself for the good standing, and forgot God.
· Verses 7, 8 – God now uses images of wild beasts, hungry for prey, and set on vengeance for invasion of property; A lion, a leopard, a she-bear robbed of her cubs. While Ephraim is like mist or dew, chaff or smoke, God is like a lion. Hosea used the image of the lion as a figure of sovereign saving power in 11:10; now he uses it of his fearsomeness in an action of just retaliation for a long history of wrongs toward both man and God.
C. Verses 9, 10 – Hosea makes reference to
D. Verses 12-16 –
· He has been summoned to return with the strength of a child being summoned into the world in the labor pains of its mother, but even that could not draw him forth to repentance (13).
· Now the wages of sin will be poured out. The insatiable appetite of Death and Sheol has been unleashed over them and God finds no compassion to ransom them from its plague and its sting (14) Worthy of remark is the obvious fact that Paul employs this image in 1 Corinthians 15:55 when speaking of the infinite fullness of the redemptive work of Christ in rescuing his people from the quenchless thirst of death and the grave as fueled by sin. This shows that greatness and necessity of Christ in that his work, and his only, could in fact satisfy the grave and give it no victory over those for whom Christ has died. It also shows the severity of what he suffered as he shouldered the penalty for his people.
Now all hope of staying the rough wind of this
vengeance is gone (15, 16). Assyria will be the destructive wind and by its
thorough policy of refined cruelty will strip away every vestige of hope and
III. Chapter 14 – This chapter contains vital ideas concerning repentance
A. verse 1 - A call
to the duty of repentance has been both
explicit and implicit throughout this series of prophecies. Judging from the
number of kings both in
B. verses 2-3 - Instruction concerning the content involved in repentance;
· Words are important for they reflect one’s perception of important truths and the way in which they should be regarded. (“For with the mouth confession is made . . .Romans 10:10)
· Sin must be confessed as well as the determination to follow God’s commands; sincere words of turning from evil and toward good now render the required sacrifice for sin an acceptable offering.
· Past reliance on political alliance, military preparedness, and the supposed benefits of false gods will be cast aside.
· They recognize the tender mercies of God and desire to receive that outflow of compassionate love (“In you the orphan finds mercy.”)
· Compare this to the suggested repentance of 6:1-3
C. verses 4-7 - God’s promise to perform his work in his people
Note that if any repentance toward God is to
come, God must take it upon himself to produce it. God said, “I will heal their
apostasy; I will love them freely; . . . I will be like the dew to
When the triune Yahweh acts effectually, then Ephraim
becomes beautiful and productive and reflects the excellence of human
personality in union with God. Note the refreshing nature of the images
employed by Hosea. These images indicate the intrinsic beauty of a thing
uninterrupted by an invasive perversity aggravated by the rational and
voluntary capitulation to the god of this world. “Blossom like the lily . . .take root like the trees of
These beauties, similes pointing to the
spiritual revolution prompted and then carried to success by regeneration, are
covenantal certainties stated about the group that would be known in the New
Testament as the Samaritans. Note the inclusion of the Samaritans in the
blessings of the gospel. Jesus took himself to the Samaritans and manifest his
Messianic status to them
(John 4:4-42). When the Jewish leaders wanted to insult Jesus
with a harsh and provocative epithet in John 8:48, they accused him of being a
Samaritan. Note the emphasis on Samaritans in other places: Luke 9:51-56 (Jesus’
refusal to destroy a Samaritan village when they refused to let him pass
through) 10:25-37 (the Good Samaritan); 17:16-18 (The grateful Samaritan); Is it possible that the story of the Prodigal Son is about
the acceptance of Samaritans as true sons of the Father (Luke 15:11-32)? In
Acts the gospel coming to Samaria is a prominent facet of the command to move
from Jerusalem throughout the world (Acts 1:8); the fulfillment of this is
recorded in Acts 8:1 ff when the gospel came to Samaria by Philip; Peter and
John went to observe and pray for the reception of visible manifestation of the
presence of the Spirit. Note that the gospel released them from the
superstitious idolatry involved in their adherence to the person Simon, the
Magician. Also note that, returning to
These promises to
D. verses 8, 9 - A reminder that life is found only in Yahweh
· Idols are lifeless, false, and utterly absurd as objects of worship or dependence. Only Yahweh has life in Himself (John 5:26) and is the source of all life.
· True wisdom comes in knowing and loving this God and following his ways. All the threats and eventual execution of judgment written of here by Hosea are right and reflect a truly symmetrical and purely just response from the thrice-holy Lord, “for the ways of the Lord are right.” The only life that is life indeed is to walk in the purity, holiness, and justice of the ways of God for “the upright walk in them.” To do otherwise is to destroy oneself for “transgressors stumble in them.”
This prophecy of Hosea is a constant call to part with sin and find life, blessing, beauty, and joy in knowing and loving God. Our fallenness means that only one way can be provided for such a restoration of life. There will be no parting with sin unless the love of the pleasures of the world becomes nauseating in being replaced with a love for more excellent and abiding things. Only a spiritual perception of the beauty of Christ in his Person and Work is sufficient to bring us to repentance toward God from sin and faith in the absolute perfection of the character and righteousness of Christ. When the Father by the Spirit opens blind eyes to see why He Himself spoke from above to say, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” then we desire to be found before the Father’s eyes in such a way, and know that such a standing can be reached only if we are united with Christ. This is true initially of being brought from darkness into light at the time of the new birth and the first motions of faith. It is also true in every subsequent stage of developing holiness in the believer. In a sermon on The Excellency of Christ based on Psalm 45, John Owen gave this personal testimony concerning this:
I have had more advantage by private thoughts of Christ, than by any thing in this world; and I think, when a soul hath satisfying and exalting thoughts of Christ himself, his person, and his glory, it is the way whereby Christ dwells in such a soul. If I have observed any thing by experience, it is this, a man may take the measure of his growth, and decay in grace, according to his thoughts and meditations upon the person of Christ, and the glory of Christ’s kingdom, and of his love. A heart that is inclined to converse with Christ, as he is represented in the gospel, is a thriving heart; and if estranged from it, and backward to it, it is under deadness and decays. ( John Owen, The Works of John Owen, 1826, 17:88)