Hosea 14:1-9

Hosea 14:1 (KJB)

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.


The fate of Israel has already been sealed in that they will soon go into captivity.  However, the LORD is making an appeal to those within Ephraim who are the elect of God and who will heed his call to repentance. Only those whom God grants repentance to will turn to him.  He reminds them that as a corporate nation they have fallen because of their iniquitous ways having adopted a system of idolatry and false religions yet there may have been some within that nation whom God will call back to repentance even though it will not affect the judgment which will come upon the entire northern kingdom.  It would be like a person who went to prison for a crime and then while serving their sentence they became saved.


Hosea 14:2 (KJB)

Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.


God did not request that they bring some sacrifice or some type of expensive gift to the altar to gain his acceptance.  Instead he wanted them to come with words and those words were to be sincere words of repentance and sorrow for their actions which caused them to go into idolatry.  They were even given the words to say which are the words of salvation.  To take away their iniquity which they had amassed over the years would be tantamount to the LORD removing the sins from the believer’s soul upon salvation.  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.  (Psalm 103:12)  Then they were to request that God take them back graciously and this shows the tender nature God has toward Israel in which he is willing to forgive them and take them back as his people.  Then not only would they offer the proper sacrifice for sin offering they would also make the true sacrifice of praise.  Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God.  (Psalm 50:23)  The calves of their lips would be the sacrifice of praise.


Hosea 14:3 (KJB)

Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.


Asshur was one of the sons of Shem who gave his name to the Assyrians.  Asshur would be the ones who would persecute them and remove them from their land so to look to them for salvation would be futile.  To ride upon horses meant that they would be trusting in the strength of a military force to save them but this they would disavow.  They would no longer trust in the work of their hands whether it would be the creation of molten images or the production of weapons to raise an army.  They would forsake all the idols which represented the gods which they worshipped believing these false gods would actually be able to help them when in essence they could not.  {15} The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men's hands.  {16} They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not;  {17} They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.  {18} They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.  (Psalm 135:15-18) 


Hosea 14:4 (KJB)

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.


Along with the invitation to Ephraim to repent and return to the LORD is the guarantee that he will forgive them and heal their backsliding.  It must be understood that the term “backsliding” never refers to the Christian because whenever the term is used in the Old Testament it is used in response to the sinning of Israel as a corporate nation.  The term “backsliding” does not occur at all in the New Testament.  It is used  a total of 11 times in the books of Jeremiah and Hosea and nowhere else in the Bible.  The Hebrew word behind “backsliding” carries with it the meaning of apostasy.  A true born again Christian will never go into apostasy, that is something only an unbeliever will do.  A born again Christian may adopt a wrong teaching or may sin but that does not equal apostasy.


God then tells Ephraim that he will love them freely because if they truly repent and turn back to him, then his anger will be turned back.  This is like the New Testament teaching found in Romans 5:1.  Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:  (Romans 5:1)  Once a person becomes saved, the war with God is over and there is peace.  The same situation would occur with Ephraim if they truly repented and returned to the LORD.


Hosea 14:5 (KJB)

I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.


The king's wrath is as the roaring of a lion; but his favour is as dew upon the grass.  (Proverbs 19:12)  The dew was a sign of the favor of God.  He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.  (Psalm 72:6)  Previously God told them that they would dried up like a desert but here they will be well watered with favor.  They will grow like the lily of the valley which is fragrant and beautiful and sometimes grows among thorns.  The cedars of Lebanon were very valuable trees and they were representative of strength, beauty and endurance because of the quality of the wood.  So God is promising great things to Ephraim if they turn back to him in sincerity.


Hosea 14:6 (KJB)

His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.


The branches even when they are new and tender will not break off and will grow to be strong and they will spread or move out as they continue to grow from the tree trunk outward.  They will be like the Olive tree which maintains its beauty all year along with its greenery.  The cedars of Lebanon perfume the very air which surrounds them.  It is akin to the sweet smell a true believer has because of Christ dwelling within them.  But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.  (Philippians 4:18) 


Hosea 14:7 (KJB)

They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.


Those that have truly repented and sought to return to the LORD shall dwell in safety under his shadow.  He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  (Psalm 91:1)   After all the life in false religions which cannot bring any rest to the soul but only turmoil, they will rest under the cooling shadow of the Almighty.  The corn which must die to bring forth more harvest is compared to those in Ephraim who died to their self-righteousness and lived in the grace of God.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.  (John 12:24)  They will reproduce and grow like the vine.  The vine which looks like it is dead in the off season yet within the vine lives the sap which gives it life and after it is pruned and cared for will yield a great crop of grapes.  The wines of Lebanon are known for being sweet and delicious.  Previously in Hosea God spoke about Ephraim as an empty vine.  Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.  (Hosea 10:1)  Now if they turn back to the LORD they will no longer be an empty vine but a vine which is filled with fruit.  For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.  (Luke 22:18)  There is going to come a day when all the true believers will be drinking the fruit of the vine in the Kingdom of God.  That time has come after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ as true believers are indwelled with the Holy Spirit.


Hosea 14:8 (KJB)

Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.


Ephraim will do a complete repentance in that they will reject all idolatry as they realize that idols cannot do anything for anyone except get them in trouble with the true God.  They have had the opportunity to hear the true words of God and to observe him in how he works and deals with idolatry.  Ephraim will want nothing to do with false religions anymore.  The green fir tree represents the fact that Ephraim went from being a dried up old tree to a green tree which flourishes and grows to beauty.  The grace of God is now seen in the people of Israel and from them the fruit of salvation goes froth from them.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  (John 7:38)  Just as Jesus stated that those who are the true believers will have the joy of bringing the gospel to others, the people of Ephraim will become witnesses to those around them of the goodness and grace of God.


Hosea 14:9 (KJB)

Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.


The question is now posed who will be wise and understand these things?  Those who have returned to the LORD and have rejected all idolatry and have mended their ways will understand the ways of God concerning the true repentance and the benefits of being obedient unto the LORD.  Those who are cautious, careful and wise which is what prudent means will come to know them.  Those who are walking according to the scriptures will know them.  The ways of the LORD are right ways and in comparison to the debauchery which is associated with the false religions and their idols, even someone walking wrongly will be able to see the ways of the LORD do not get people into eternal trouble.  The just shall walk in the ways of the LORD which are those who came back to the LORD but the ultimate meaning are those who have become saved will walk obediently in the statutes of the law of grace not the law from Sinai.  God ends the book of Hosea on a warning note to those who will transgress the law of God that they will fall, that is, they will face eternal consequences for violating the law of God.