Hosea 14:2-4 (1-3)

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Delivered 17 November 2018


Stop the Sinning

2 Return O Israel, to ADONAI your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. 3 Take words with you and return to ADONAI. Say to Him: "Remove all iniquity, and take the good and let us repay with bulls of our lips: 4 'Assyria will not deliver us. We will not ride on horses, nor anymore will we say, "Our gods," to the work of our hands, for in You an orphan finds compassion.'" (Hosea 14:2-3 BR)


Hosea conducted his prophetic ministry in the middle part of the 8th century before Yeshua. He warned Israel that abandoning God for Canaanite idols would bring destruction, and called the leaders and people to repentance and offered the future hope of reunion of the twelve tribes, restoration to the Land and establishment of the Davidic kingdom.

God gave Hosea the shocking instruction to marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him. His wife, Gomer, bore him three children [1:3-8], and afterward she left him, but Hosea brought her back [3:1-5]. In the personal example of Hosea we see that God's relationship with His covenant people is likened to marriage. In fact, in Chapter Two we read, "And it will be in that day," says ADONAI, "You will call me husband" [Hos 2:16 BR]. Through his marital trouble Hosea experienced the pain in God's heart because of the waywardness of His covenant people. Sin had caused the leaders to stumble away from the protection of God and into the power of the enemy. So, Hosea called the nation to return to ADONAI.

Unfaithfulness in marriage is one of the most serious wounds a spouse can experience. Most marriages don't survive the breaking of the bonds of trust. Yet, reconciliation is still God's will. When I began full time peacemaking ministry thirty-three years ago my very first case was a couple in divorce crisis because of adultery. The wife of a church deacon was involved with another deacon. After weeks of hard work involving self-examination, mutual confession, along with instruction in biblical marriage and support by prayer partners, the couple achieved complete reconciliation and restoration. They even held a second wedding in their church to renew their vows.

Hosea exhorted the Israelites to "take words with you." This is based on the principle that you are never to appear before the Lord empty-handed [Ex 23:15; 34:20]. The instruction is also an expression of initiating a conversation with the goal of reconciliation, but you have to know what you're going to say when you go. Hosea took words with him when he went to bring Gomer home. He made a promise of lifetime devotion in spite of her unfaithfulness.

The words to take to God are words of repentance, confessing the sinful practices, and committing to be obedient to God's commandments. The appeal "remove all iniquities" asks God to cleanse hearts, expunge guilt and prevent punishment. The phrase "take the good" could mean "accept the only good thing we can offer, the sacrifice of our lips." The truth is that until God removes the guilt of sin we have nothing good to offer Him. The phrase could mean the opposite: "take the good action toward us," or "when you have emptied us of evil, fill us with goodness."

The verb in the appeal "let us repay with bulls" is a special term for a sacrifice offered in fulfillment of a vow [Deut 23:22], and young oxen were the preferred animals for thank-offerings [Ex 24:5]. The LXX translates "bulls" with "fruit" and thus Sha'ul alludes to this clause when he says, "let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name" [Heb 13:15 ESV].

In the place of the best animal sacrifices the Israelites were to offer their prayers and pledges to God. What should come out of the mouth is a commitment to God to renounce the world's philosophy of "just do it" and "have it your way." How about, "just stop the sinning." Yeshua told the man he healed at the pool of Bethesda and the woman caught in adultery to stop sinning [John 5:14; 8:11]. For any follower of Yeshua to say "we must sin everyday" is fundamentally in error. It not only dilutes the meaning of "sin," but it is a theology of unfaithfulness.

In another case of divorce crisis I confronted a husband who was not worried about the spiritual consequences of his adultery because of his belief in eternal security. So I warned him with the words of Sha'ul in Chapter Ten of Hebrews, "if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 The Lord will judge his people" [Heb 10:26-30 ESV]. Unfortunately, the man refused to repent and there was no restoration of his marriage. Worse still his soul was in danger and he was blind to it.

Persistence in sin will make you a spiritual orphan. The Israelites had cut themselves off from their heavenly Father, so Hosea begs Israel to accept God's offer of mercy. But, to do so means to admit that they were accountable to ADONAI and the gods of this world have no healing power nor can they provide deliverance from God's wrath. To gain the mercy of God requires renouncing idolatry in all its forms. ADONAI promises compassion and in the next verse He says, "I will heal their backsliding; I will love them freely." Such amazing grace. We serve a great God!

Barukh Hashem

Copyright 2018 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.