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Hosea 2:14-20 -

Israel's restoration.

The word "therefore," with which this strophe opens, illustrates the blessed truth that God's thoughts are not our thoughts. The conclusion here is not what the premises would have led us to expect. This "therefore" is of Divine grace, not of hard cold intellect. Although Israel has foully dishonored her heavenly Husband, and must be severely chastised, he will not give her a" bill of divorcement" to put her away. Rather, her miseries shall attract his mercies. Jehovah's love uses even her shameful unfaithfulness as an argument for the bestowal of his own matchless grace. These verses describe the future restoration, both of the literal and the spiritual Israel; and they are also a parable illustrative of God's thoughts and ways towards every returning prodigal.

I. THE METHODS OF ISRAEL 'S RESTORATION . ( Hosea 2:14 ) We need not stay to speak of its Author, even although the first "I" ( Hosea 2:14 ) is emphatic. Only Jehovah himself has heart and power equal to this task. Only he who makes the summer of the year can produce that spiritual summer which is here described with such tender pathos. His methods are twofold.

1. The outward discipline of the wilderness . After Israel shall have endured the punishments denounced upon her, her national life is to begin anew. The generation that had come out of Egypt with Moses had needed the protracted discipline of the Arabian desert before God could "give them their vineyards;" and so would it be again. The nation must be taken apart, and be for a time alone with Croci. Similarly, the Lord removes the individual soul whom he designs to bless, into the wilderness of temporal loss, or sickness, or sorrow. When the aged Christian reviews his spiritual experience, he generally finds that the most marked spots in it have been connected with his times of sorrow.

2. The inward realization of the constancy and tenderness of the Divine love . The discipline must be spiritual also. Outward providences alone will not restore Israel. Neither will the truth of God presented only to her mind. In the wilderness the Divine Spirit must "speak to her heart." His purpose in carrying the nation into exile is that he may "allure" her, i . e . decoy her with tender words, persuade her by the persistent manifestation of his love. He will stoop to court her. He will outbid the Baals. His inextinguishable love will woo and win her soul. So, oftentimes, God "speaks to the heart" of the prodigal when he sits by the swine-troughs, in the time of the mighty famine. He "speaks to his heart," to soften it, comfort it, cleanse it, claim it, fill it. He has his ways of holy enticement for "alluring" sinners to receive and return his love.

II. THE BLESSED RESULTS OF THE RESTORATION . ( Hosea 2:15-20 ) These are described with exquisite beauty. The Divine promise is that in "the wilderness" Israel's national life shall begin afresh. God's nuptial covenant with her shall be renewed. She shall be enfeoffed again in the land of Canaan, the possession of which she had forfeited. The Lord "will give her her vineyards from thence." And the results shall be glorious.

1. Fresh hope . ( Hosea 2:15 ) The valley of Achor ( i . e . trouble) was the door by which Israel had at first entered into possession of the highlands of Palestine. It had been the scene of a dreadful tragedy ( Joshua 7:1-26 ): the defeat before Ai, and Achan's sacrilege, conviction, and doom. But so soon as Israel purged herself of "the accursed thing," the valley of Achor had become to her "a door of hope." Now, however, she must again pass through a still more doleful Achor. The destruction of Samaria and the desolation of Jerusalem would mark a defeat greatly more disastrous than the repulse at Ai. But through "the valley of trouble" she shall come again to peace and rest. Does not the expression before us furnish a valuable watchword for the Christian? It reminds him that he must pass through "the great tribulation" ( Revelation 7:1-2 ) before he can reach the heavenly Canaan. Every ungodly lust is an Achan in the camp of the soul, which must be convicted and stoned and burned.

2. Youthful joy . ( Hosea 2:15 ) Israel, n hen restored to the Divine favor, shall recover the sprightliness and joy of youth. "Site shall sing there, as in the days of her youth;" and in those days she could indeed sing. Is not the song of Moses a masterpiece both of poetry and praise? In conception it is sublime. In execution it must have been thrilling. That old Red Sea ads is the first song of redemption. But, in the days of her restoration, Israel shall resume it, and with a fuller appreciation of its meaning. For the song of salvation which returning penitents now sing is "the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb" ( Revelation 15:3 ).

3. Renewed conjugal love . ( Hosea 2:16 , Hosea 2:17 ) In the rapture of her recovered love, Israel shall call Jehovah " Ishi "—"my Husband." She shall no longer use the name " Baali ." In itself, of course, "Baal" is a good enough word. In Hebrew it is a common noun, meaning "master," "possessor," "owner;" and it had been used as a designation of Jehovah. But, alas! the word had at length been prostituted to base purposes, and defiled by wicked associations. Its purity was now hopelessly gone. So, in the good time coming, it shall be used no more. God will not be called Baal, lest the word should tempt Israel to think of her old idols.

4. Paradisiacal peace . ( Hosea 2:18 ) The picture here suggests a return to the garden of Eden. The forces of nature, once so hostile ( Hosea 2:9 , Hosea 2:12 ), shall be brought into harmony with Israel. Wars shall cease forever. The face of the world shall be changed. How different this picture from the state of matters that is still thought necessary in order to the preservation of the peace of Europe! The favorite maxim just now is that the best security for peace is to be well prepared for war. The Baal-spirit professes to see the basis of peace in our arsenals and ironclads; but Jehovah's plan is to "break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth."

5. An everlasting marriage union . ( Hosea 2:19 , Hosea 2:20 ) The Lord will forget all Israel's past infidelity, and treat her again as if she were innocent and pure. He will espouse her, as if she were a chaste virgin, to himself. He will bestow upon her, as bridal gifts, every Divine and spiritual blessing—"righteousness," "judgment," "loving-kindness," "mercies, faithfulness." And the new marriage-covenant shall be "for eternity" ( Hosea 2:19 ). The former one, alas! had been sadly broken; but the renewal of the conjugal relationship shall be enduring as Jehovah's invincible, unchangeable love.

CONCLUSION . How important for the sinner to "know and believe the love that God hath to him"! The eternal love of God is a fact. Every pure human attachment is but a rill from the infinite fountain of the Divine tenderness. Love, no less than holiness and justice, lies at the root of the Divine wrath against sin. Jehovah our God is "a jealous God;" but he would not trouble himself to cherish holy jealousy about the affections of our poor hearts, if he did not love us with an ardent and a quenchless love. Oh for grace to love him in return as we ought!—C.J.

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