Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me “My Husband,” and no longer will you call me “My Baal.” For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord. – Hosea 2:14-20 ESV
The unfaithfulness of Israel was deserving of the punishment that God had prophesied against it. Their failure to love and obey Him would not be overlooked. And yet, God promised restoration. It is amazing how often we can read the Old Testament prophesies against Israel and Judah and concentrate only on the anger and wrath of God. If we are not careful, we can paint a one-dimensional image of God that makes Him out to be vengeful and prone to destruction. But as God shared with Hosea, He had something more in store for the nation of Israel than their devastating defeat to the Assyrians and their subsequent captivity. God offers them a word of good news, telling them of what would eventually follow their self-inflicted fall from God’s good graces. He announces through the prophet, Hosea, “in that day.” A day was coming when God would restore His wayward people to their original position as His chosen possession. “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal’” (Hosea 2:16 ESV).
It is important to remember that God had told Hosea that his wife, Gomer, would bear him three children and then prove unfaithful to him as she turned to a life of prostitution. And Hosea was going to learn that his God-given responsibility would be to buy his wife back from a life of prostitution, forgiving and restoring her to her original place as his wife. All of this was going to visibly illustrate what was going to happen between God and the people of Israel “in that day.” When the time came, according to God’s divine plan, the people of Israel would once again call God “my husband.” In other words, the once broken relationship would be restored. Not because of anything Israel would do, but all because of the grace and mercy of God Himself. And instead of calling on Baal as their god, they would begin to recognize and honor God as their sole source of sustenance and the object of their worship and adoration.
God says, “I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth” (Hosea 2:17 ESV), and “I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground” (Hosea 2:18 ESV). He tells them, “I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land and I will make you lie down in safety” (Hosea 2:19 ESV). But there was more: “I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness” (Hosea 2:19-20 ESV). In spite of all that Israel had done to dishonor and disobey God, He would one day restore them and renew their relationship with Him.
But the most amazing promise God makes to the people of Israel is at the end of verse 20: “And you shall know the Lord.” There is a tone of intimacy in those words. This is not referring to mere intellectual knowledge, but to a close and personal relationship. The prophet, Jeremiah, told of this same great day.
Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. – Jeremiah 31:31-34 ESV
All of this will be based on the initiative of God. It will have nothing to do with Israel’s earning of God’s mercy or grace. It will not be based on their future obedience or determination to repent of their sins and return to the Lord. From start to finish, this will be the work of God, done on behalf of the nations of Israel and Judah, and in spite of their years of rebellion and rejection of Him as their God and King. God’s unfailing love will one day be revealed in such a way that Israel, His unfaithful bride, will be restored by Him and given a second chance at experiencing His love, mercy and blessings.
Our God is a tender, loving, compassionate and forgiving God. He is always faithful. He never stops loving His children and He never fails to accomplish what He has started or fulfill what He has promised. God will not wait until Israel gets its act together and turns back to Him. He will be the instigator and originator of the restoration process, proving yet again His unfailing faithfulness.