The Lord says, “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.
“O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.”
Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.
Hosea closes with an appeal to listen, learn, and benefit from God’s Word. Verses 1-3 are Hosea’s call to repent. Verses 4-8 are God’s promise of restoration. God had to punish Israel for its gross and repeated violations of his law, but he would do so with a heavy heart. What God really wanted to do was restore the nation and make it prosper.
To those receiving the Lord’s message through Hosea, this meant the difference between life and death. For you, the reader of the book of Hosea, the choice is similar: Either listen to the book’s message and follow God’s ways, or refuse to walk along the Lord’s path. But people who insist on following their own direction without God’s guidance “have no idea what they are stumbling over” (Proverbs 4:19). Their way lies in darkness.
We can err by forgetting God’s love and feeling that our sins are hopeless, but we can also err by forgetting his wrath against our sins and thinking he will continue to accept us no matter how we act. Forgiveness is a key word: When God forgives us, he judges the sin but shows mercy to the sinner. We should never be afraid to come to God for a clean slate and a renewed life. In need of a clean slate? Go boldly to God.