In this chapter God compares Israel to a woman who had been unfaithful to her husband in the very worst and most wicked manner.
Hos_2:5. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
She attributed to false gods the gifts which God had given to her. This was great ingratitude to God, and a high insult to his holy majesty.
Hos_2:6. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
That is what God does to sinners whom he means to save. He will not let them take their own course. He gives them thorny trials which hedge up their way. He puts an obstacle in their path, perhaps some sickness or poverty. When men are desperate in wickedness, God has a way of stopping them. Even in their mad career, his mighty grace comes in, and says, “So far shalt thou go, but no further.”
Hos_2:7. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them:
Thus sinners go after the pleasures of the world, and the pleasures run away from them. They make one thing their god, and then another; and they put out all their strength to attain the object of their ambition; and God thwarts them. In infinite love, he baffles all their endeavors because he means to bring them to himself.
Hos_2:7. Then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.
That is what he brings us to; weary of the world, ay, weary of life itself, We get worn out in the ways of evil, and then we say, “I will go to God.” What a blessed conclusion to come to! However terrible the whip with which he scourges us, it does us good. The fierce billow that washes the mariner upon the rock of safety, is a blessing to him.
Hos_2:8-9. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.
God claims the blessings of providence as his own; and when he sees his people misuse them, he says, “I will recover them. She is giving them to Baal. She is using them for an evil purpose; I will take them away.”
Hos_2:10-11. And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of mine hand. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
When God deals with men, he uses no half measures. If they have been very happy in the ways of sin, and he intends to save them from their evil courses; he will take away all their joy. They shall henceforth have none of the merriment in which they indulged. He will give them better happiness by-and-by; but for the time being it shall be true, “I will cause all her mirth to cease.”
Hos_2:12. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.
Her most precious things shall be destroyed; or, if they are allowed to exist, they shall become a cause of fear and trouble. Oh, how often have I seen this verified in the experience of men and women whom God has saved by his almighty grace!
Hos_2:13. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.
They burnt no incense at Jerusalem; they refused to offer sacrifice there; but they went to this hill and to that, to worship the different images of Baal, and said, “These are our gods.” Therefore, God says that he will make them sick of their idolatry. They shall grow tired of thus polluting his holy name, and degrading themselves by worshipping things made of wood and stone.
Hos_2:14. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.
Oh, glorious verse! She that went so far astray, God will come, and draw her back from the path of sin. He will get her alone; he will bring her into a place of grief and sorrow, a wilderness; and then he will come near, and speak sweet words of comfort into her ear. “I will allure her,” as the bird-catchers whistle to the birds, and draw them to the net, so will I allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, the place of loneliness, the place of want; and “I will speak to her heart,” so the Hebrew has it, for God knows how to speak, not only into the ear, but into the heart.
Hos_2:15. And I will give her her vineyards from thence,
He will give back what he took away. He will seal with lovingkindness the real kindness which made him deal roughly with her at first.
Hos_2:15. And the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
Oh, backslider, God can give you back your early joy, your early love, ay, and your early purity; and he can make you sing as at the beginning! Wherefore, be of good comfort, and come to your Lord; come even now, with all your sins about you, and he will receive you.
Hos_2:16. And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.
“Baali” means “my lord” in the sense of domination; but God will not seem to us any more like a domineering governor, as we once thought him; but we shall call him “Ishi”, “my husband.” There shall be such nearness of love, such confidence of hope, between the restored soul and her God, that she shall call him no more Baali, but Ishi.
Hos_2:17. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.
Oh, the love of God! He does not want us to recollect our old ways. I do not like to hear people talk about their old habits, except they do it very tenderly, with many a tear and many a sigh, and tell the story to the praise and glory of divine grace. God takes the old names out of our lips; we forget them, we have done with them, we bury the dead past, and we live in newness of life.
Hos_2:18. And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground:
So that the insects should not devour the crops, and the foxes should not spoil the vines, and the birds should not steal the seeds, so will God take care of his people still. It does seem that, when we once get right with God, we get right with everything; when we are at peace with him, then neither beast, nor fowl, nor creeping thing can do us harm.
Hos_2:18. And I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.
They had been much troubled by war. It had killed their children, destroyed their homes, and made them poor and wretched. Now God says, “I will break the bow and the sword and the battle.” How often God gives a heavenly calm to us when we are once washed in the blood of Christ, and covered with his righteousness! I remember how the storm within my heart was hushed into a deep calm as soon as I had seen my Lord, and had yielded my heart to him. Oh, you that are in storms tonight, I pray that God may bring you to himself, and give you “peace, perfect peace!” And then what more will the Lord do?
Hos_2:19. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever;
What, this woman that had gone so far into evil? Can a man receive such an one back? No; but God can. He says there shall be a new betrothal, a new marriage: “I will betroth thee unto me for ever.” Blessed word!
Hos_2:19-20. Yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
Thou shalt know Jehovah; thou shalt know that there is none like him, passing by iniquity, transgression, and sin; and faithful to his people even when they are unfaithful to him. Is there any god like our God? Have you ever tasted his grace? Do you know his pardoning love? Have you ever been brought back to him? Have you been restored to his favor? Then I am sure you can say, “There is none like unto Jehovah.”
Hos_2:21-22. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.
God would send rain when it was wanted. He would be all ear to hear on behalf of his people. He would not only hear them, but hear the very earth they tilled, and the heavens above their heads, as if nature itself began to pray when the child of God learned that holy art.
Hos_2:23. And I will sow her unto me in the earth;
He would make the people to be like the seed which he himself would sow, and cause to spring up, and abide.
Hos_2:23. And I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy;
I would like to read that again. Somebody has, perhaps, come in here tonight, who has never obtained mercy. Perhaps you have been seeking it, and you have not found it. Hear God’s promise, and lay hold upon it: “I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy.”
Hos_2:23. And I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.
See, it is all in “shalls” and “wills.” God is speaking, God omnipotent, omnipotent over men’s hearts. He is not saying, “I will if they will,” but “I will, and they shall,” for he hath the key of free agency; and when he turns it in the lock, without violating the free will of man, he makes him willing in the day of his power to the praise of his divine supremacy, for God is God when he saves as much as when he reigns; yes, his reigning grace is the very glory of his nature, and this we love and adore. Grant us a taste of it! Amen.