“O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; 2 Take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips. 3 Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’ For in You the fatherless finds mercy.”
4 “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel; He shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. 6 His branches shall spread; His beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. 7 Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”
We have all been confronted this past weekend with the invasion of Israel by Hamas. These attacks will get worse and worse as we approach the end. The warring will drive the whole world to seek a solution, and this will be the dawning of the Anti-Christ, as we are told in Daniel in the first part of Daniel 9:27. Daniel is in the OT testament writing about the end times for the nation of Israel. I have heard so many people talk about God’s abandonment of Israel, and no manner of explanation, no number of verses seems to sway them. They are convinced that the New Testament church has replaced Israel, and this is absolute heresy. In Hosea 11:8-9, we see these several verses of love from God to Israel:
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.”
God says that His heart ‘churns’ within Him with the love that He has for Israel, and because of this, He will ‘not come with terror’ on Israel. God cannot and will not completely annihilate Israel. God has made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to David and others that need to be fulfilled. Jesus made it clear that these men are still alive since God is not the God of the dead but the living; He cannot betray these men whom He calls His friends.
In our text in Hosea 14 (and I encourage you to read the whole book), Israel returns to God and asks for forgiveness, confessing their sins (verse 2). God will always graciously forgive those who humbly acknowledge their sins and ask for forgiveness (1 John 1:8-9). They acknowledge three areas where they have forsaken God:
- They sought salvation and deliverance in someone other than God (vs 3, the Assyrian).
- They sought help in horses; most of the time, Jewish leaders and armies rode donkeys or mules. They went to places like Egypt to get fast horses, hoping they would help rather than trusting God’s power and help.
- They will stop trusting idols, the work of their hands. They really learned their lesson in the two captivities in Assyria and Babylon, and once they returned, we do not see the rampant idolatry that was there before. They will know that the Anti-Christ is their enemy when he sets up an idol in the Temple (see Revelation 13).
In verse 4, God says, “I will heal their backsliding” and “I will love them freely.” These are awesome promises that God makes to the nation, and these kinds of promises are found all through the Old and New Testaments. Here is an example in Jeremiah 31:31-33:
“Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord. ‘But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will put My law within them and on their heart, I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
A new covenant, one that will not be broken. “I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” You can find similar promises in Ezekiel 28:25-26, Amos 9: 14-15, and on we can go. Paul, in the Romans chapters 9-11, spends three chapters reminding us that God is not done with Israel. In Romans 11:25-29…
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; 27 For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ 28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”
Paul reminds us that Israel’s blindness will endure until the “fullness of the Gentiles” comes. Then they will repent, and God will restore them. What is the evidence that God is not done with Israel? The Deliverer comes out of Israel. Jesus is a Jew of the tribe of Judah and the rightful King of Israel. Notice in verse 26 that the Deliverer will “turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” God promised to restore Israel and that they will one day turn to Him in repentance and be saved.
As you can surmise, there are countless verses and passages that speak of, allude to, or outright prophesy about the restoration of Israel. The promise is that God is not done with them and that one day, they and He will be reconciled one last time, and that reconciliation will last for eternity. One day, they will accept Jesus as their Messiah and love Him forever. As we approach this culmination of 4,500 years of oversight that begins in the final verses of Genesis 11 with the call of Abram, it comes to fruition in the nation seeing the Anti-Christ for who he is, a fake Messiah, and then turning to call on Jesus.
This will be the cause of great trouble in Jerusalem, the likes of which has not been seen before nor will be seen after. The Man of Sin will turn on the Jews and begin to slaughter them; great wars will be the news of that Day, then Jesus will return (Revelation 19), and the WHOLE world will see Him and fear Him.
Once again, we can find security in God’s promises to Israel. Even when they fail, God will not. When they falter, God cannot. When they are unfaithful, God is 100% faithful all the time. In this, we have our security. The pain in Israel will continue until the Man of Sin brings a false peace. But this opens the door for the real Prince of Peace to arrive. Look up; our redemption is very near.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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