The Man Who Never Stopped Loving

The *Lord’s love for his people

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The *Lord’s love for his people

v14 So I (the *Lord) will say words of love to her. I will lead her into the desert and speak kind words to her. v15 There I will give her back the *grapes that she had. I will give her Trouble Valley as a door of hope. Then she will return to me. It will be like the time that she came out of the land of Egypt. v16 Then, in the future, she will call me her husband. She will not call me her Baal any more. v17 I will never let her speak the name of Baal again. Then people will not use the Baal’s names again. v18 At that time, I and the people of Israel will make a new *covenant. I will also do this with the animals of the field and the birds of the sky. I will do it with the animals that move along the ground. I will also break Israel’s *bows and swords. There will be no more war. I will remove the things that men use to make war. My people will be able to live in safety.

v19 I (the *Lord) will make you my wife for all time. I will be true and fair. I will always love you and show *mercy. I will make you mine until the end of time. v20 I will make you into a wife that does not leave me. Then you will know the *Lord in a true way.

v21 At that time I will answer the *prayers of my people Israel. I will speak to the sky. Then rain will fall on the earth. v22 The ground will give back grain, wine and *oil. They will have an answer for Jezreel. v23 I will plant many seeds on her land. To Lo-Ruhamah, I will show *mercy. To Lo-Ammi, I will say, ‘You are my people’. And they will say to me, ‘You are my God’.

Again, Hosea says what the judge is going to do. But this time it is a message of love. The desert was the place where God and Israel ‘married’. This was where Israel needed God. God will use kind words. These are the words that a husband uses before he marries a wife. Perhaps Hosea is thinking of a time far in the future. It will be after the time that God has punished Israel. Trouble Valley (the Valley of Achor) was a place where Israel did not obey God (Joshua 7:24). It was a place where a man broke God’s *covenant. But, in the future, Israel will not need Baal any more. Israel will not *worship Baal because Israel will not know anything about him. Nobody will hear about Baal. Nobody will remember him (verse 17). People will only remember the name of God. In this future time, Israel will have two *blessings:

· Animals will not be able to hurt the people of Israel.

· There will be no more war.

There will be a *covenant between God and Israel. Animals will not eat crops. There will be no more *exiles. God will make Israel a good place to live in again. This is not because God will change his mind. Nor will it be because Israel will deserve this. It is because God is being true to his *covenant.

The word ‘love’ (verse 19) does not explain this idea completely. Hosea uses the special *Hebrew word ‘hesed’. This word means being true to a *covenant. Sometimes a Bible will translate this word as ‘*covenant of love’ or ‘great love’. It does not mean ‘*mercy’. This is how some other translations have it. Hosea is perhaps thinking of a time when Israel will be very different. Perhaps there will be many more people in this new Israel. God will finish the old marriage but he will bring back a new marriage. The new marriage will be fair and true. God will have *mercy on Israel. It will be for all time. In Israel, a man paid money to the father of his future wife (see 2 Samuel 3:14). In the future, God himself will pay the money for his wife (Israel). He will be the husband and father. God himself will bring the rain. Baal will not bring it. The rain will give Israel everything that the people of Israel need. Jezreel means ‘God plants’. Hosea’s children are part of this future. In the past, they did not belong to Hosea. In the future, they will belong to him.

The word ‘speak’ in verse 21 can also mean ‘sing’. Maybe God will sing a new song at this time. God promises three things:

· Israel will be true to God alone (verse 17).

· God will be true to Israel (verse 20).

· The land will have much fruit (verses 18, 21, 22).

Chapter 3

Hosea returns to his wife

v1 Then the *Lord said to me again, ‘Go and show your love to your wife again. You must love her although another man loves her. You must love her although she is a woman of *adultery. And you must continue to love her. You must love her in the same way that the *Lord loves the people of Israel. But they continue to *worship other gods. And they like to offer special fruit cakes to these gods’. v2 So I bought the woman with 15 pieces of silver and nine amounts of *barley. v3 Then I told her, ‘You must stay at home with me for a long time. You must not be like a *prostitute. You must not be too friendly with another man. And I will live with you’. v4 In the same way, the people of Israel will continue for a long time without a king or leader. They will not have *sacrifices, or special stones to help them to remember God. They will not have any *ephods or gods in their homes. v5 In the time to come the people of Israel will come back. Then they will look up to the *Lord their God and David their king. They will come with great respect to the *Lord and will receive his *blessings.

The word ‘love’ can mean different things in the *Hebrew (verse 1). It includes a love from God. It also means a love between a man and a woman. This love will mean that a man will want to look after his wife. He will want to do good things for her. God does not think about himself when he loves Israel. The things that Israel needs are important. These things must come first. The ‘fruit’ was given to Baal as a *sacrifice. This was when the people took their crops in. Hosea did not return to Gomer because he loved her. He returned to her because God sent him. Hosea began to love her again in the same way that he loved her before. It was a *parable. God was always going to love Israel.

Gomer was probably a slave and Hosea was buying her back (verse 2). But God does not buy back the same old Israel. He wants a new Israel. Hosea does not give much money for Gomer. But he now owns her. Hosea tells her that she must stay with him for a long time. She must not become a *prostitute again. Hosea also says that he will not have sex with her. It is possible that this is what verse 3 means. Hosea wants to keep his wife safe. But he also wants to change her into something that is better.

In verse 4 Hosea starts to speak to Israel. Israel will have no king. Another country, perhaps Assyria, will rule Israel. The ‘stone’ was a place where Israel made *sacrifices. These *sacrifices were made to another god. *Ephods were special clothes that a *priest wore. This was part of a *sacrifice that God liked. But, in the future, God will take away both kinds of *sacrifices. Israel will return to God. This perhaps means that they will return after the *exile. But it also means they will return to *worship God in a true way. They will do this after they have learned much. The name ‘David’ means that there will be only one leader in the future. He will be like the future king. So there are three important ideas in this chapter:

· Gomer does not deserve Hosea’s love. In the same way, Israel does not deserve God’s love. (This is the true Bible meaning of the word ‘love’.)

· Israel would have a period when they were true to God in a special way (they would not be able to offer *sacrifices).

· Then they would look for God. This would be a sign that they wanted to *repent in a true way.

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