Restored to Favor

Hosea 2:14-23

Most of the time, news is not good – “they’re separated, you know”. Assume that before long, will be followed by rest of the story including divorce. Every once in a while, doesn’t work out that way – what seemed headed for sad end turns out positively. God is pleased to restore a marriage that were sure would fail. What are necessary ingredients for that kind of happy ending?

Must be change of direction by at least one of parties, also needs to be change of affection. The one(s) moving away need to move toward the other. And the one(s) whose affection was directed away must purpose to set affection on the other… and receive their affection in return. In human relationships, change is often needed on both parts, at the same time, toward the same goal: reconciliation and restoration. And so frequently, both he and she refuse to make the first move.

Not so with God, and his emissary Hosea. They each rightly could have said “not my fault, I’m not moving; she’s gotta come back.” Yet neither did that. God is center stage in our text this evening, Hosea in chapter 3 next week. Is God who makes the moves, takes the initiative, Gomer/Israel who responds. As drama unfolds, we see love restored, marriage put back together, covenant once again in force, and return to place/time of blessing.

Is important to keep in mind: just because “therefore” written in sequence of three, does not necessarily mean first, then second, then third. In fact, rather than sequential actions, all three probably simultaneous – as God of necessity bringing discipline to bear on his people, at same time seeking to persuade them to return to him. As soon as they will respond in repentance, corrective action will end while restoration continues. For Israel’s restoration to even be possible, God must make first move. For Gomer to come back home, Hosea must go and woo her back, redeeming her from slavery if necessary (see ch. 3!)

A. restored love v.14-15

surprise! were expecting more consequences/corrective discipline, weren’t you?? instead, turns into display of God’s irresistible affection

 I will allure her

 begins with language of courtship – using variety of means to persuade “her” that I want her to be exclusively mine and I will be exclusively hers

 had already said – Ex. 6:7I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

 notice: God does this after Israel had broken his heart by breaking trust, rejecting him, going back to previous lovers

 I will bring into the wilderness

 no distractions, no alternatives – her false lovers take her away from what is good so can take away what is good from her

 true lover takes away from what is destructive, puts in safe temporary surroundings – makes possible to have undivided attention, bring about change of mind / priorities / loyalties

 human nature such that individual often unable to see situation clearly while still in it – need change of circumstances to be able to reorient and move in right direction

 is this also God’s way of announcing an upcoming renewal of vows? was there in wilderness where covenant w/Israel instituted

 I will speak tenderly (comfort) – literally “speak to her heart”

 God’s intention to win her back – nothing in what he says or tone of voice that shows displeasure; not bringing up her past to shame into change of behavior

 not the setting for condemnation; instead, words of tender compassion and encouragement seeking to bring about repentance

 is the kind of conversation, may be mostly one-sided, includes lots of unspoken language; results in change of thinking, feeling, believing

 I will give (return) vineyards

 hopeless situation turned into future and hope – promise of return to productivity as soon as corrective discipline has achieved goal

 is significant that was God who took away vines and fig trees, is God who returns them; did not expect her to find her own

 true for us also: if we pursue goals instead of God and he withdraws his blessing, only God can restore; our best efforts will come up short

 here’s part we don’t like… but should be immense comfort: “I will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope”

 there is way out of the valley, and it leads to hope – you in valley of trouble? if you are following God, a door of hope ahead

 know someone who is in valley of trouble? perhaps of similar making as Gomer’s? encourage them to seek God and his door of hope

 she will sing

 joyful response – brought about by God speaking to her heart, convincing that there is genuine hope of forgiveness and reconciliation

 are some who wear “I’m too far gone for God to save” as medal to pride; are others Satan has convinced with that lie – need to hear deliverance is possible to one who repents

 backslidden believer or new convert, both rejoice when no longer enemies of God, no longer under weight of his displeasure

 B. restored marriage v.16-17

 call me husband

 given past behavior, might think it enough to bring the unfaithful wife back home, in the back door, let her sleep on the couch

 not good enough for God – not his intent to transfer her from one form of servitude to another; he intended full reconciliation

 restores her to position of full favor; doesn’t put her on probation, expecting her to work her way back into his good graces

 no pre-conditions for renewed fellowship: come back and earn trust again, reestablish a track record, then I will…

 no longer master

 yes, Paul writes in Rom. 6 about slaves of sin vs. slaves of righteousness, slaves of God – don’t for moment think is same kind of slavery in both relationships

 we are slaves of God because he is the one we obey; however, the full scope of our relationship with God not that of slaves

 slavery Gomer/Israel experienced was that of hopeless bondage from which only One could redeem – has been God’s intent all along to redeem his people from bondage to sin, from ruined condition

 no more remembered

 sometimes memories of previous lifestyle / treatment can be paralyzing, debilitating; when God delivers, he also sanctifies memories

 remember lessons, use them to help others and praise God; no longer remember fondly, wistfully, with desire to return

 once God has done that, those memories/relationships/choices don’t need to be obstacles in the marriage any longer

 C. restored covenant v.18-20

 relationship broken by sinful behavior restored

 covenant back in force – obviously more in view here than simply marriage covenant, yet includes that: once she calls him Husband again, no reason for covenant conditions to be withheld

 has broader application – includes nature and government

 God not looking only at present conditions, has future firmly in view – what is pictured here is restoration to fuller blessing than what they enjoyed earlier

 promise of peace

 certainly within context of covenant family there should be peace – foreshadowing and foretaste of what still lies in the future

 permanent restoration based on God’s benevolence

 not based on Gomer coming to her senses, choosing to come back home; Gomer not the one taking the initiative, God is

 given behavior, God would have been justified in permanent rejection; instead he chooses permanent reconciliation – why??

 I will commit myself to you forever; I will commit myself to you in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and tender compassion.I will commit myself to you in faithfulness.”

 has greater fulfillment in New Covenant (v.20b); remember Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi, more in a minute

 one of conditions promised in New Covenant period: Jer. 31:33-34I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD.”

 changes seen and experienced now foreshadow full restoration in new heavens and earth

 rollback of effects of curse on relationship between man and nature something foreseen by Paul: Rom. 8:21creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”

 D. restored blessing v.21-23

 following renewal of vows, God gives “wedding gifts” to his bride again

 conversation between God and heaven and earth to begin their “normal” activities again under his sovereign direction

 earth and sky cooperate and produce

 all that was taken away as part of corrective discipline now restored and more – new level of cooperation and production… these are “special” gifts after all

 God’s blessing accompanies renewed productivity

 God’s people fruitful also – he will plant them as his own, and what God plants also produces according to his wise design

 as profitable and productive as their trip into worldly lifestyle, can’t hold a candle to what takes place under God’s blessing

 includes gracious renaming

 looks forward 750 years to Gentile inclusion – Rom. 9:23-26 Paul declares including Gentiles in the church what God refers to

 Throughout whole scene, is clear God had specific purpose in mind as he engaged his people Israel. That purpose included Jewish people of OT but was by no means limited to them. His covenant with Abram foretold blessing for Jew and Gentile alike, reinforced here in Hosea. If we are to receive God’s blessing, experience his favor, must be exclusively devoted to him – seeking to have him satisfy our needs and desires. When we do, can expect him to keep his word, pour out abundant blessing on us.

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