HOSEA CHAPTER 2.
The Idolatrous People Punished and Converted.
A THREAT OF PUNISHMENT. — V. 2. Plead with your mother, the members of Israel, as the children of an adulterous wife, being addressed, plead; for she is not My wife, she was no longer Jehovah's bride, neither am I her Husband, for He had been obliged to reject her on account of her adultery; let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, namely, the shameless idolatry which was practiced throughout Israel at the time, and her adulteries from between her breasts, for Israel, in her shamelessness, was like a public harlot, who displays her profession in her bared breasts, v. 3. lest I strip her naked, as a punishment for her shameless exposure of herself in the practice of her spiritual wantonness, and set her as in the day that she was born, cp. Ex. 16, 4, when she was without covering, and make her as a wilderness and set her like a dry land, altogether desert in every way, and slay her with thirst, thus depriving her of all the wonderful blessings which He had given her in the past, for the Lord had had mercy on His people in Egypt, He had led them out of the house of bondage, and He had made a covenant with them. The desert is a picture of the various tribulations and sufferings of the exile. V. 4. And I will not have mercy upon her children, all the members of the nation being included in His punishment; for they be the children of whoredoms, all of them being guilty of the same shameless idolatry. V. 5. For their mother hath played the harlot, the whole nation, as the various prophets show, being guilty of the same idolatrous behavior; she that conceived them hath done shamefully, openly committing her shameless acts, making no attempt to hide her bold practices; 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, food, clothing, and the enjoyments of life; for Israel's commercial enterprise was stimulated by the riches and power of the nations round about, and it was with the idea of getting and holding their friendship that the Israelites began to practice idolatry. V. 6. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, setting insurmountable obstacles to keep Israel away from the heathen nations with their allurements and temptations, and make a wall that she shall not find her paths, namely, to the temples and altars of the idols. The Lord undoubtedly refers to the oppression and affliction of the exile, which opened the eyes of the children of Israel to the vanity and helplessness of the idols. V. 7. And she shall follow after her lovers, determined, at first, to cling to the false gods whom she had accepted, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them, for she would be reduced to such straits as would show her how vain was her hope in these idols and their assistance. Then shall she say, I will go and return to my first Husband, having learned, by bitter experience, that He is the only true God, for then, at the time when Israel followed Him alone, was it better with me than now. V. 8. For she did not know, she did not realize at that time, that I gave her corn and wine and oil and multiplied her silver and gold, giving her all these temporal blessings in rich measure, which they prepared for Baal, using it for his cult and worship, in open idolatry. Many a person serves a false god, not knowing that the very gifts which he brings are the blessings of God's goodness upon him. V. 9. Therefore will I return and take away My corn in the time thereof, namely, at the very time of the harvest, when men would expect a full supply, and My wine in the season thereof and will recover My wool and My flax, all these being gifts of His bounty, and therefore rightly belonging to Him, given to cover her nakedness. If God takes the gifts suddenly and at the very time of the harvest, the punishment would be more severe than if He had taken them after the outlook already was poor. V. 10. And now will I discover her lewdness, uncover her nakedness and shame to her disgrace, in the sight of her lovers, cp. Ezek. 16, 37, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand. Cp. Jer. 13, 26; Nah. 3, 5. While the nations round about were looking on, partly in helpless idleness and partly in malicious joy, Israel was delivered to her punishment. V. 11. I will also cause all her mirth to cease, the hypocritical evidence of a joy which was no longer real among the people, her feast-days, especially the three highest festivals, Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles, her new moons, and her Sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts, whatever days were observed in the course of the year. V. 12. And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, representative of the wealth of the country in farm products. whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me, thus blasphemously taking the honor from the Lord; and I will make them, the fine orchards and vineyards, a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. Cp. Is. 7, 23 ff.; Micah 3, 12. V. 13. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, punishing her for devoting the great festival days of the Jewish church-year to the service of heathen idols, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, decorating herself for the purpose of making an impression upon those whom she had permitted to seduce her, and she went after her lovers and forgat Me, saith the Lord. That is the outstanding, reprehensible feature of unbelief and idolatry: the rejection of the true God, for He wants no other gods beside Himself.
THE RENEWAL OF THE LORD’S MARRIAGE CONTRACT. — V. 14. Therefore, behold, I will allure her, deliberately leading the idolatrous Israel astray and visiting His punishment upon her, but with a wonderful object in mind, and bring her into the wilderness, where there was nothing to detract her attention any more, and speak comfortably unto her, in a friendly, heart-to-heart talk, with the intention of once more manifesting His love, now that Israel was ready to acknowledge her transgression. V. 15. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, the very wilderness again blossoming as the rose, that is, the Gospel-teaching once more bringing forth glorious fruits, and the Valley of Achor, southwest of Jericho, here used only in a figurative way, for a door of hope, so that the crime of Achan would not be repeated, Josh. 7, 26; and she shall sing there, once more with the true happiness of a believing people, as in the days of her youth, when the Lord first led His people into the Land of Promise, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt, when the Lord first made His covenant with His people. V. 16. And it shall be at that day, at the time of this wonderful deliverance of the Messianic period, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call Me Ishi, that is, "My Husband," and shalt call Me no more Baali, in the form of idolatry by which Israel had transferred the worship of the one true God to the Phoenician idol. V. 17. For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, so that the people would no longer mention them in prayer, and they shall no more be remembered by their name, so that idolatry would completely be forgotten in the midst of the Lord's people. V. 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, with all those things which might prove harmful and dangerous to them, under the picture of ravenous beasts, birds of prey, and poisonous reptiles, and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, so that the instruments of war would be destroyed and war itself cease, and will make them to lie down safely. All this, of course, is figurative description of the time when there would be peace on earth through Him who is our Peace. V. 19. And I will betroth thee, so the Lord says to His bride, the Church of the New Testament, unto Me forever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, namely, that earned by Christ when He cleansed His Church from all unrighteousness through the blood of His cross, and in judgment, by which He interferes in behalf of His people on the basis of Christ's perfect atonement, and in loving-kindness, in His free and merciful favor, and in mercies. Every idea of merit on the part of man is thus entirely excluded; God accepts every member of the Church on the basis of His own mercy in Christ Jesus alone. V. 20. I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness, with a pledge of the eternal duration of the covenant on His side; and thou shalt know the Lord, the saving knowledge of Jehovah being imparted through this Gospel-message. V. 21. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the Lord, His ears, as it were, being attuned to the slightest stirring on the part of those who know Him as their Savior, I will hear the heavens, who here appear as interceding in behalf of the believers, and they shall hear the earth, which likewise is represented as pleading for mercy; v. 22. and the earth shall hear the corn and the wine and the oil, so that its blessings would once more richly be given; and they shall hear Jezreel, the people of the true Israel, of the Church of God, becoming partakers of the rich blessings of the Lord in the Messianic era. V. 23. And I will sow her unto Me in the earth, planting His Church anew by the operation of His divine grace; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy, the congregation of Israel; and I will say to them which were not My people, men and women from every part of the world, chosen by the Lord to be included in His communion of saints, Thou art My people; and they shall say, accepting their salvation at the hand of the Father through the redemption of Christ, Thou art my God. That is the confession of the Church and of all its members. Wherever the Gospel of Christ is preached, members are won for the Church, and the sum total of these believers are the bride of Christ and partake of all the blessings which He has gained for all men by His redemption.