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Hosea 2:18-23 -

The new betrothal

Jehovah, on his part, signs, as it were, a new marriage contract with Israel. The relation will this time be an enduring one. He will grant to Israel security and peace. He will restore her blessings. He will dower her with fresh gifts. He will increase her fruitfulness. The promises may be legitimately extended to all the Israel of faith.

I. SECURITY AND PEACE IN THE NEW RELATION . ( Hosea 2:18 )

1. The new covenant will be, not merely a covenant of God with man, but a covenant of God with nature on behalf of man . "I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven," etc. The idea here is that of security. The figure is common in the prophets (Le 26:6; Isaiah 11:6-9 ; Ezekiel 34:25 ). Underlying the promise is the deep truth that redemption will involve a palingenesis of nature—of the earth. So bound together are man and nature that the dissolution of the tic between him and his God leads also to the loss of his dominion over the creatures. This will be restored. The animal world will stand in awe of him, will serve him, will be tame before him.

2. The new covenant will ensure peace . "I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth," etc. A promise like this can only be fulfilled on the basis of a universal regeneration of society, and therefore points to the bringing in of a covenant not limited in its scope to the literal Israel. On the peace tendency of the gospel, see Foster's two sermons on 'The Cessation of War an Effect of the Prevalence of Christianity.'

II. THE ENDURINGNESS OF THE NEW RELATION . ( Hosea 2:19 , Hosea 2:20 ) The first covenant failed because of

The new covenant was not to be like that old one. Compare with this passage Jeremiah 31:31-34 , "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers," etc.

1. The new covenant was to be formed after a discipline in which Israel had learned to know God thoroughly . "Thou shalt know the Lord" ( Jeremiah 31:20 ). Knowing God as she had come to do, Israel would be no longer under any temptation to wander from him.

2. The new covenant would be based on fuller manifestations of the character of God. "I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies" ( Jeremiah 31:19 ). The sin of Israel was the means of God's character becoming better known. His righteousness, judgment, loving-kindness, mercy, and faithfulness come to light in her history in many awful and affecting ways. It is with this fuller knowledge of the character of God that she now unites herself to him in love. The union is not one of impulse, of haste, of indiscretion. It is a true, sincere, heartfelt, and intelligent union, certain never to be repented of. Yet fuller knowledge of the character of God is derived from the manifestation of his attributes in the saving work of Christ. It is there, most of all, that we see displayed his hatred of sin, his determination to punish it, his exalted righteousness, his unspeakable goodness and love.

3. God engages his own attributes to secure the perpetuation of this new covenant . ( Jeremiah 31:19 , Jeremiah 31:20 ) He had prepared the way for it; had laid the foundations of it deep; and he would now take the perpetuation of it into his own hands. He engages his righteousness, mercy, and faithfulness to accomplish this. "We are not under the Law, but under grace" ( Romans 6:14 ). The new covenant has powers at its disposal which the old covenant had not. It is based on renewal, on regeneration. God sees to it that his people, once spiritually quickened, do not utterly tall away again. He preserves his Church by judgment and mercy.

III. THE REVERSAL OF THE CURSE IS THE NEW RELATION . ( Jeremiah 31:21 , Jeremiah 31:22 ) For Israel's sake the land had been cursed, and made barren ( Deuteronomy 29:22-28 ). That curse was now to be recalled. So one effect of redemption will be the recall of the primal curse on the earth for man's sin ( Genesis 3:17 , Genesis 3:18 ).

1. Israel pleads for the removal of the curse . The end of the chain of prayer is Jezreel. "They shall hear Jezreel" ( Jeremiah 31:22 ). Till Israel became penitent, removal of the curse was impossible. The success of the earth's prayer depended on hers.

2. Nature pleads for the removal of the curse . All her departments hang together. Each depends on the other. The suffering of one is the suffering of all. The corn, wine, and oil entreat the earth; the earth entreats the heavens; the heavens entreat God (cf. Romans 8:19-22 ).

3. God hears . He answers Nature's prayer. Nature becomes friendly. She showers her blessings on the restored people. The natural blessings are typical of the spiritual.

IV. FAITHFULNESS IN THE NEW RELATION . ( Jeremiah 31:23 ) Jezreel, in the sense of "I will scatter," is changed into Jezreel, in the sense of "I will sow." Lo-ruhamah becomes Ruhamah; and Lo-ammi becomes Ammi ( Jeremiah 31:1 ). God "sows" Israel in the earth, so that she becomes greatly multiplied. The spiritual seed is here included with the natural. The widening of the covenant to embrace the Gentiles gives the words, "I will have mercy on her that had not obtained mercy," etc; a greatly extended application ( Romans 9:25 ; 1 Peter 2:9 ).—J.O.

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