“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sins have brought you down. Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord. Say to him, “Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us, so that we may offer you our praises. Assyria cannot save us, nor can our warhorses. Never again will we say to the idols we have made, ‘You are our gods.’ No, in you alone do the orphans find mercy.” The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon. “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”
Hosea 14:1-9 NLT
Hosea was a minor prophet but spoke major things to both Israel (called Ephraim often) and Judah. Israel was the northern kingdom and Judah was the southern kingdom when the nation was divided.
The prophet’s name means “salvation,” likely a reference to Hosea’s position in Israel as a beacon of hope to those who would repent and turn to God because of his message. Following the command of God, Hosea married Gomer, a bride God described as “a prostitute” (Hosea 1:2) and a woman who bore Hosea three children, two sons and a daughter (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9). Their names were:
1. Jezreel - a son (meaning - "God Plants")
2. Lo-ruhamah - a daughter (meaning - "not loved")
3. Lo-ammi - a son (meaning - not my people")
God wanted His children to be planted where He wanted them to grow and prosper. He loved them and He wanted to identify them as His people. However, their sins had separated them from Him and He used the marriage relationship of the prophet Hosea with his wife Gomer to speak to the divided nation about their spiritual prostitution. The names of the children indicate the spiritual condition of the nation. In spite of their unfaithfulness to God, He took them back and even paid the price of their enslavement to sin. He loved them!
Here's some commentary from Chuck Swindoll:
Where Are We?
"In Hosea 1:1, the prophet identified the kings that ruled during his prophetic ministry. The first four—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah—reigned over the southern kingdom of Judah from 790 BC to 686 BC, while Jeroboam II ruled the northern kingdom of Israel from 782 BC to 753 BC. This indicates that Hosea lived in the middle to late eighth century BC (755–715 BC), making him a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Micah.
Hosea directed the early portion of his prophetic warnings to Jeroboam II, a descendant of the house of Jehu whose son, Zechariah, would soon come to ruin (Hosea 1:4; 2 Kings 15:8–12). Because this prophecy against the descendants of Jeroboam involved the birth of Hosea’s children, we can conclude that he lived in the northern kingdom, where the names of his children would have had the greatest impact."
Why is Hosea So Important?
"More than any other prophet, Hosea linked his message closely with his personal life. By marrying a woman he knew would eventually betray his trust and by giving his children names that sent messages of judgment on Israel, Hosea’s prophetic word flowed out of the life of his family. The cycle of repentance, redemption, and restoration evident in Hosea’s prophecy—and even his marriage (Hosea 1:2; 3:1–3)—remains intimately connected to our lives. This sequence plays itself out in the lives of real people, reminding us that the Scriptures are far from a mere collection of abstract statements with no relation to real life. No, they work their way into our day-to-day existence, commenting on issues that impact all our actions and relationships."
What's The Big Idea?
"Structured around five cycles of judgment and restoration, the book of Hosea makes clear its repetitious theme: though God will bring judgment on sin, He will always bring His people back to Himself. God’s love for Israel, a nation of people more interested in themselves than in God’s direction for their lives, shines through clearly against the darkness of their idolatry and injustice (Hosea 14:4).
Throughout the book, Hosea pictured the people turning away from the Lord and turning toward other gods (4:12–13; 8:5–6). This propensity for idolatry meant that the Israelites lived as if they were not God’s people. And though God told them as much through the birth of Hosea’s third child, Lo-ammi, He also reminded them that He would ultimately restore their relationship with Him, using the intimate and personal language of “sons” to describe His wayward people (1:9–10; 11:1)."
How Do I Apply This?
"Do you know the saving power of God, now offered to us through His Son, Jesus? If so, as a redeemed child of God, have you offered “redemption” or forgiveness to those in your life who were once under your judgment? Not only does the book of Hosea provide an example of God’s love to a people who have left God behind, but it also shows us what forgiveness and restoration look like in a close relationship. The book of Hosea illustrates that no one is beyond the offer of our forgiveness because no one sits outside God’s offer of forgiveness. Certainly, God brings judgment on those who turn from Him, but Hosea’s powerful act of restoration within his own marriage set the bar high for those of us seeking godliness in our lives."
No matter how far you've traveled or what you may have done, God is faithfully, mercifully, and gracefully waiting for you to come home. In fact, when sin had enslaved you and placed a price on your head, He came with love and forgiveness and paid the price of your sin. All He wants is for you to come home where you belong.
Child of God, come home!
Church, come home!
America, come home!
Stop the prostitution and turn to the Lover of your soul!
The Faithful Father waits for you! Come Home! The table is set, the plate is full, the cup is brimming, and the chair is pulled out awaiting your acceptance of His grace. Stop going to the mirage of this world! Come to the oasis of God! Only then can you be filled! Come Home!!
Curtis R. Norris
Rev. Curtis Norris