The Road back Home
The Road Back Home (Hosea 14)
Most of us enjoy stories of reunion. We like to hear that people got back together. In our hearts there is a desire for reconciliation. This is the timeless appeal of the most unusual Old Testament prophet, Hosea. Hosea watched his wife Gomer leave him and publicly humiliate him. He exhausted all of his resources in the successful attempt to reclaim her. Through his own experience, Hosea learned that there is no length to which God will not go to recover relationship with His people.
A loving God receives you unconditionally when you return on His terms.
God Actively Longs for You to Return
Hosea 14 is one of the great passages in the Word concerning return to God. Hosea used the word return fifteen times in his prophecy. It is the major call of the book. The word simply means a radical reorientation of life back toward God. The whole of Hosea is the call of love that simply wants a chance. God cries throughout the book: "The door is opened from my side; come back."
Understand that this call comes after God's people had already experienced disastrous disobedience: "Your sins have been your downfall!" (v. 1). Hosea is not a warning to somebody about to slip. Hosea speaks to those who had already stumbled. Everything was already lost, broken, and devastated. Yet God said, "Come back and we will begin again." All of the time you are running away from Him, He is running after you.
God Specifically Instructs You How to Return
God wants a real conversation with you: "Take words with you" (v. 2). In today's language, Hosea tells us to have a real conversation with God again. In fact, he gives us the very words to say. It is as if Hosea said, "Now repeat after me." They had been away from God so long that they did not know what to say.
We stop conversation with God when we substitute ritual for reality, the mechanics of a dead religion for the meaning of a living faith. This is a major theme of Hosea: "For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings" (6:6). They had even substituted contribution to God for conversation with God. God wants the "fruit of our lips," a sacrifice of real conversation with Him. We can lose the reality of conversation with God in the midst of religious rituals.
Out of that real talk with God ought to come some renunciations. We cannot own what we ought to be until we disown what we must not be. We must renounce ultimate dependence upon every external resource except God: "Assyria cannot save us." We cannot give to anyone else the dependence that belongs to God alone. We must renounce dependence upon every internal resource except God: "We will not mount war-horses." Israel had become confident in her own internal resources, even when they were pitifully weak in the face of her pressures. We must renounce every idol: "We will never again say, Our gods' to what our own hands have made" (v. 3). In every life there is a ruling passion, a mainspring to the personality. That must be God alone.
God Abundantly Restores You When You Return
He restores you graciously. He can heal the spiritual disease, not merely treat the symptoms. God promises to heal waywardness. We have a tendency toward rebellion that is self-destructive. God promises to touch us at the deepest point of our will and make us radically different. God receives you spontaneously without any further demands or conditions: "I will love them freely."
God restores you to wholeness. He does this by giving back vitality where there is no life: "I will be like the dew to Israel." The dew in Israel was mysterious yet trustworthy. During the long, rainless summers only the dew watered the vegetation God can renew vitality in the spiritual life in the same way.
He gives back beauty where there was ugliness: "He will blossom like the lily" (v. 5).
The word refers to the miracle of new life in unlikely places. This was a flower that grew in the desert valley among thornbushes. In an unlikely place God can give life.
He gives back stability where there is instability: "Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots" (v. 6). Your life needs not only the beauty God can give, but the stability that only He can give.
He refreshes you in all the seasons of life. "I am like [an evergreen]" (v. 8). With the changing seasons, the evergreen always shows the presence of life. God is like that. When you come back, His love is always in season, always fresh. Gomer found that the love of Hosea was like that. So is the love of God for those who take the road back home.