“Take Words With You”

Hosea 14


Did you expect this chapter at the end of this book?

Grace abounds!

God never gives up!

The book of Hosea consists of a collection of preaching and poetry that Hosea shared with the Israelites over a twenty-five year period. It concludes with a hopeful poem that describes how God will respond when one day His people return to Him. Listen to how Charles Spurgeon, an English Baptist Preacher, describes this chapter. 

“This is a wonderful chapter to be at the end of such a book. I had never expected from such a prickly shrub to gather so fair a flower, so sweet a fruit; but so it is: where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. 

No chapter in the Bible can be more rich in mercy than this last of Hosea; and yet no chapter in the Bible might, in the natural order of things, have been more terrible in judgment. Where we looked for the blackness of darkness, behold a noontide of light!” (Charles Spurgeon)

Hosea begins this poem with instructions on how Israel should repent. He instructs them to “take words with you.” God requires a verbal understanding of the mistakes that have been done, not just a feeling. God created humans with the ability to communicate ideas and feelings with words. It is not enough to return to the Lord and feel sorry or feel love. God wants to hear that you love Him. God wants to hear what you have to say for yourself and to articulate your repentance. 

It is easy to say, “I’m sorry,” and think that’s all that needs to be done. 

It is more significant to claim what you are sorry for and how it has broken the trust and relationship you have. I see this quite often in my classroom. A student will do something wrong and I will ask them about it. 

They will immediately say, “I’m sorry,” hoping that will get them off the hook. 

I always ask, “Sorry for what?” Seeking an understanding of what was done and how it has affected those around them. 

Paul expressed this same idea in Romans 10:8-10,

“But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”

God commands us to communicate with Him using words. There may be times when we don’t have the right words, God understands. That is why He gave us His Word, the Bible. We can turn to His Word and take the words and ideas of Scripture and pray them back to God.

Notice in verse 2, right after telling us we need to use our words with God, Hosea writes that we must do so with humility, recognizing our sin and our total dependence on God’s grace. In the direct translation of this verse, the Hebrew reads, “for we will offer the calves of our lips.” This is a reference to the bull calves that were often brought as a sacrifice. 

This more literal rendering demonstrates how our words of praise, worship, confession and petition are meant to be like a sacrifice before God. 

In verse 3, Hosea directs us to return to God, taking our words and renouncing our dependence on all other things. Our words should declare the Lord as Lord of our life and that He alone can make the difference in our life. As we return to the Lord, using our words, we also need to remember to use words that declare His greatness and recognize that He is a God of mercy and compassion. 

Notice how this compassion is expressed. The next verse, verse 4 tells us, 

“I will heal their waywardness

    and love them freely,

    for my anger has turned away from them.”

God knew the people of Israel, they had been wayward since they crossed the Red Sea. Yet, God’s compassion allows for healing of a repentant Israel. He doesn’t do this because they deserve it, He does it because it is in His nature to “love them freely.” 

In using the word “heal” rather than “pardon” it shows how God sees their backsliding like a disease rather than a crime. It is also important to recognize that Hosea wrote, “I will heal.” not “I might heal,” or “I can try to heal.” God will do it! God is the mighty physician who does not let His patients leave His presence without being healed should they ask Him for it. However, you have to personally go to God, no teladoc stuff, in order to be healed. You also have to claim the waywardness, to get the healing. You have to own the disease in order to get rid of it. 

Check point. 

Are you wayward somewhere in your life? Others around you may not see the signs but from the inside you can tell. When you see a broken tree after a windstorm, it’s easy to think that it was the force of the wind that damaged the tree. However, if you take a closer look, you may see that insects had been at work a long time inside the tree, making it weaker and weaker. It really wasn’t the wind that did it, the other trees around it withstood the wind. It was the slow decline of strength, as insects nibbled away month after month. 

If we own our waywardness, repent before the Lord, our insides will be restored. Verse 6 tells us what is restored. 

  • Beauty is restored (he will blossom like a lily);
  • Strength is restored (he will send down his roots);
  • Value is restored (his splendor will be like an olive tree);
  • Delight is restored (fragrance like a cedar);
  • Abundance is restored (flourish like grain, blossom like a vine, fame like wine of Lebanon)

Verse 7 tells us that not only will the repentant be restored, but they will also become a blessing to others. The epitome of “grace abounds.”

When the disease of waywardness is healed, verse 8 tells us that Israel becomes free from their idols. Instead of being tethered to the idol, they will be like a green pine tree and their fruit will come from God. Israel spent a great deal of time working on getting their fruit from themselves, and the idols of the nations. They may have prospered but their fruit was not the same kind God provides. Having God’s fruit found in them has two benefits. 

First, their own soul will be nourished by God and second, they will bear fruit in the world, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

Here comes Hosea’s conclusion, the questions all humans must eventually answer,

“Who is wise? Let them realize these things.”

 First we must realize these things exist, that is wisdom. 

“Who is discerning? Let them understand.”

When we understand them, we have judged these things correctly. 

God, in His mercy, offers us a wonderful opportunity for repentance and restoration. When we neglect or reject the invitation to receive His mercy, we are foolish. 

May we choose wisdom. 

I close this message with the concluding note of this book.

“The ways of the Lord are right;

    the righteous walk in them,

    but the rebellious stumble in them.”

Let’s pray.