Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.CHAPTER 14
The Return and the Glorious Redemption
1. The exhortation to return (Hosea 14:1-3)
2. The glorious redemption (Hosea 14:4-9)
Hosea 14:1-3. This chapter is a wonderful finale to the messages of Hosea. What tender entreaties! What gracious assurance! What glorious promises of a future redemption! it is Jehovah beseeching His people, those who had forsaken Him, outraged His character of holiness and who had despised Him. First is the call to return. God’s hands are tied as long as His people stay away from Him and do not return to Him in true repentance. No true salvation and deliverance for His people is possible without a true heart return unto Him. It is this for which He looks and waits.
Then the Lord Himself puts His word and a prayer into their mouth. He loves to provide all. “Take with you words and turn to Jehovah and say unto Him, Forgive all iniquity, and receive us graciously, so will we render the calves of our lips.” Could their poor, darkened and mistrusting hearts ever even have imagined to ask thus of Him? Their consciences were defiled; the burden of guilt was upon them. But Jehovah does not mention their sins and their guilt, but tells them just to pray for forgiveness and for a gracious reception. And He who tells His wayward people to pray, to turn to Him, to pray for forgiveness, He who assures them that He hears, assures them of a gracious receiving, will never fail. How full of comfort these sentences are to all His people at all times! We can imagine that in Hosea’s day there were individual Israelites who took these words to heart. After them generations of Jews read them and turned individually to the Lord, found forgiveness and became the objects of His grace. And we too, as His people, when we have gone back in our spiritual life, can find our comfort here, and appropriate all this in faith as we act upon His Word. In the future the remnant of Israel will take these gracious exhortations to heart, and before the glorious redemption is given to them return to the Lord with this prayer.
“So will we render the calves of our lips.” Literally rendered it is “we will pay as young oxen our lips,” i.e., present the prayers of our lips as a thank offering; we will be worshippers. Such is the result of a real return unto the Lord with sins forgiven and restored to His fellowship. The days of singing are coming for Israel in that day when they return unto Him and He appears in His glory to be enthroned as King. It will usher in the singing times for all the world, including groaning creation, then delivered. Then follows the evidence of their genuine repentance. It is expressed in words suited to the condition of Ephraim in Hosea’s day. They repudiate Assyria; they acknowledge that no salvation is there, but only in Jehovah. No longer will they trust in their own strength and in the strength of their horses; no longer will they turn to idols and call them “Our God,” but they will acknowledge Him in whom the fatherless findeth mercy. Israel, God’s firstborn son, had been the prodigal, was fatherless, though the Father’s love never gave them up. But now the prodigal returns and knows there is One in whom the fatherless findeth abundant mercy. All this true repentance will be manifested at the close of this age, when the remnant of Israel turns to the Lord.
Hosea 14:4-9. His gracious answer to such repentance follows. Three times Jehovah speaks “I will.” This is the word of sovereign grace. (See annotations on Ezekiel.) The three “I wills” are: (1) I will heal their backslidings; (2) I will love them freely; (3) I will be a dew unto Israel. They are arranged in a most blessed order. Mercy, love and gracious refreshment resulting in fruitfulness and beauty, such is the order. The past is wiped out, the present is love and the future is glory. Like the lily, like Lebanon and like the olive-tree, Israel is to be. The lily denotes beauty; they will be clad in the beauty of holiness. Lebanon stands for strength and stability; they will become the nation of power which can never be moved. Then they shall be once more the olive tree; the broken off branches will be put back Romans 11:16, etc.). The blessings of the restored Israel in the millennium are given in the seventh verse.
Beautiful is Hosea 14:8. “Ephraim (shall say), ‘What have I to do any more with idols? I hear and I look upon Him; I am like a green fir tree. From Me is thy fruit found.’“ Ephraim, the cake half turned, Ephraim, of whom it was said, he is joined to idols, leave him alone, now repudiates the idols. And why? I hear and I look upon Him! The vision of the Lord turned the stubborn heart. It is so still; the great power is to hear Him, to look upon Him. In that day Israel will look on Him whom they pierced, the great turning point in their future history. Then the nation will yield the fruit through their fellowship with Him. Blessed ending of this prophecy. “For the ways of Jehovah are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein.”