All Things New

Hosea 2:14-23 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

INTRODUCTION

Welcome, good morning, and happy Easter. This is the day on which Christians around the world, for centuries, have celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and all that it means for those who hope in him. In his jealous love, God sent his one and only Son to die for those who had rejected his love. But not even death could hold him; for, on the third day after his crucifixion he rose from the dead, defeating death and winning life for all who would follow him. What an amazing story. What an amazing reality.

Our passage for this morning, Hosea 2:14-23, points to all of this without fully understanding it. Hosea knew that God would one day rescue his people. But he didn’t know when or how or through whom. The Apostle Peter worded it this way, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

I didn’t anticipate continuing on in Hosea to convey this message, this morning. I imagined that some NT passage would be more suited for Easter. However, as I read over it, I couldn’t think of a better passage to stir us toward joy and praise at the means by which God would fulfill his Hosea promises—Jesus’s suffering, death, and resurrection. The simple message of this passage (and Easter) is this: God makes all things new in Christ. This morning, then, we’ll consider the new courtship, promise, covenant, relationship, and blessing that God promises, Jesus secured, and we now celebrate. Let’s pray that God would open our eyes to behold these and the still subsequent glories in Jesus—those things into which angels long to look.

ALL THINGS NEW

Last week, from Hosea 2:2-13, we saw another round of divine promises of punishment delivered to Israel for her unrepentant faithlessness. This morning we will see another round of God’s promise of resurrection and restoration of Israel after she receives her due punishment. That is, God would destroy Israel because she refused to turn from her sins and back to God. But God promised, nevertheless, to one day make all things new. This renewal begins with a new courtship of his people in verses 14-15.

New Courtship (2:14-15)
If you’ve been here at all over the past few weeks you know that God’s primary charge against Israel was her spiritual adultery. Israel as a nation had been chasing after protection and blessings from other nations and other gods. God likened this to harlotry. Consequently most of Hosea announces God’s plans to put her out. She had broken the terms of the covenant and had, therefore, separated herself from God.

The “therefore” at the beginning of v.14 might seem out of place in light of this. Let’s back up a bit so I can show you what I mean. A description of Israel’s treachery is found in 2:2-5. V.6, then, begins with the same word as 2:14, therefore. “Therefore, I will hedge up her way with thorns and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.” Similarly, in 2:7-8 Israel’s spiritual adultery is described and then we find another “therefore” in v.9. “Therefore, I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness.” In other words, to this point, following Hosea’s description of Israel’s various sins, we find a “therefore” she will be punished.

A similar pattern seems to be starting in 2:10-13. Hosea again describes Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s perspective on it. And in 2:14, sure enough, we find another “therefore.” What we expect is another round of promised punishment. What we get, however, is much different. This time, instead of promised punishment, we find promised blessing. Israel has been unfaithful and God’s jealousy is rightly kindled, “therefore”, God will be merciful and gracious and make all things new. This is a different kind of logic. This is gospel logic. This is a kind of logic only made possible by Easter.

Grace, you must know that you can only come to God on his terms, but you must also know that his terms are infinitely greater than anything you could ever imagine. Just listen to the promises of these two verses in light of Israel’s sin and know that the same promises are for you and me and for anyone who will turn to God in faith—no matter how broken and wretched we are, no matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “

In 14 and 15 Hosea declares that God would one day pursue Israel again. That is, one day in the future, Hosea wrote, God would begin a new courtship of Israel. At that time he would seek to woo or allure her back to himself. To “allure” or “entice” meant “persuade irresistibly, to overwhelm the resistance and will of another” (Mays, 44). In other words, God would remind Israel of why she first chose to honor him as God and enter into covenant with him.

What a promise! After centuries of repeated rejection of God, after centuries of failing to heed God’s warnings, after centuries of spiritual whoring of the most vile kind, God would not merely allow Israel to come back back, he would woo her back with kindness. God would lovingly and tenderly seek her to win back her affection and faithfulness.

Interestingly, Hosea mentions two locations in which God would renew his pursuit of Israel. Both of which would have been unmistakable to Hosea’s audience. The first is the wilderness outside of Egypt. God would bring her back, as it were, to the place of greatest victory, to the wilderness outside of Egypt where he had miraculously rescued them from slavery and bondage. God’s reasoning behind this one isn’t hard to understand. It’s almost like a husband taking his wife back to the place where they first said “I love you” to one another.

The reason behind the second location mentioned by Hosea is a bit less obvious. It is the Valley of Achor. You can read the entire story in Joshua 6 and 7, but the upshot is this. God was in the process of giving the promised land over to Israel by giving them victory over the current inhabitants of the land. One of the primary rules of war given to them by God was that they were not allowed to take any spoils of war. One man, Achan, however, “took some of the devoted things” and therefore “the anger of the LORD burned…”. Once he was caught he was taken to the Valley of Achor stoned, burned, and then buried with stones. In other words, the Valley of Achor was a place of sin and trouble and judgment. And yet, it is there that God will pursue Israel again. It’s almost like a husband taking a wayward wife back to the place of her worst transgression and saying “even for this I forgive.”

God would repeat the blessings of the Exodus and reverse the curse of Achor as he drew Israel back to himself. In the wilderness and in the Valley of Achor God would speak tenderly to Israel (to her heart) and remind her of his glory and love and blessings.

Of all of this one commentator (Tim Chester) writes, “[After the time of Hosea’s prophecy] God’s people would limp on until we reach the time of Christ. Christ is the true faithful people of God. He is our representative. But what happens to him, the true people of God? ‘Achor’. ‘Trouble.’ He is made sin for us, and He experiences defeat and judgment. On the cross, the people of God are utterly defeated and destroyed. But the Valley of Achor becomes a door of hope. On the third day, Jesus will rise again. His death is our death, the death we deserve. His resurrection is our life, the reward He deserves” (Chester, 71).

What an amazing picture of God’s plan to make all things new…beginning with a new courtship made possible by Easter. But it doesn’t end there. Within the new courtship, there are new promises. Let’s turn to vs.16-17 to see them.

New Promise (2:16-17)
16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.

As we’ve seen a couple of times already, Israel had forsaken God as her God and husband. She had instead taken on an adulterous relationship with the fake god of the Canaanites, Baal. This was bad enough, but as we’ve also seen, not only did Israel abandon God for Baal, but she also attributed God’s blessings to this new “lover” (2:5). In essence, she called Baal, “God” and God, “Baal.” One day, however, God will open her eyes to see that he is God; he and no one else. He will so overwhelm his people with his glory and blessing and love that Israel will not even remember the names of her sinful lovers.

The new promise was that God would eventually reveal himself in such a way that his people would be able to see him as he truly is and all things in light of that. It is not that heaven will be absent the things we’ve made idols out of; it’s that we will finally see God such that all things are necessarily put in their proper place. We won’t even remember that or how or why we used to worship them instead of God; the notion will be utterly absurd (as it should be now).

Have you ever lamented with the Apostle Paul, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate…I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. ” (Romans 7:15, 19)? We do so because even as Christians we still have blurry spiritual vision. Things often don’t appear to us as they truly are. But God promised to change the fully and finally!

What a gift, Grace! God has made a new promise to his people; a promise that we will one day see beautiful things as beautiful and ugly things as ugly. We need that so desperately and God will grant it to us. What God knew but Hosea didn’t, was that all of this was secured at Easter. It was in Christ—his death and resurrection—that God would be able to keep his promises to destroy unfaithfulness and save his unfaithful people. But that’s not all. There will be new courtship, new promises, and a new covenant as well.

New Covenant (2:18)
Look at v.18.

18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.

Having a renewed courtship and promises, God promises Israel a new covenant with new blessings. Reminiscent of the Garden of Eden before the fall, God promises to give his people all things to keep and be nourished by. What’s more, as was the case prior to Adam and Eve eating from the forbidden fruit, God promises an everlasting time without war or even weapons of war (for there will be no need) since all his people will know is rest and safety.

Again, consider how remarkable of a proposition this must have been for a nation in such turmoil—having continually struggled with famine and miscarriages, having churned through king after king in bloody internal revolts, and having constantly felt the external pressure of nations who wanted to wipe Israel out. In many ways that’s why Israel had forsaken God in the first place—to get all of these things. How ironic it is that they left God to get things that could only be found in God; and that only on the other side of being deprived of all of them would they truly receive them on account of God’s mercy.

Let us learn from their mistake, Grace. Let us stop leaving God to get the things that can only be found in God. The resurrection—the very thing we’re celebrating today—proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is trustworthy and that his promises will come to pass.

What is it that you want, Grace? Safety? Health? Security? Provision? Love? Life? Joy? Peace? Rest? Advertisers may promise these things in products, we may experience them temporarily in things, and other philosophies and religions may teach alternative paths, but they are only ever truly found in God. And God offers all of them in himself eternally for all who will hope in him alone; to those who believe that Jesus’ secured them for us in his life, death, and resurrection from the dead.

New Relationship (2:19-20)
New courtship, new promises, new covenant, and a new relationship. Look again at 2:19-20.

19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

Three times in two verses Hosea uses the words “I will betroth.” God will betroth his people forever, to himself in righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness. Betrothal in this sense is not like a proposal or the beginning of a courtship or wedding. On the contrary, it marked the end of the process, the final step. It included “the payment by the man of the bride-price which binds the arrangement…it is the public legal act upon which the validity of the marriage rests…nothing remains but the actual cohabitation” (Mays, 50).

Through Abraham and Moses, God had offered himself to Israel as a faithful husband. Israel accepted the proposal but almost immediately acted in faithlessness. God promised to punish her for her treachery. But God also promised to remain faithful to her throughout. What’s more, on the other side of her discipline, God promised to win back her affection and offer himself to her again.

Here, in 2:19-20, we see that God will again take Israel as his wife. This time it will be forever. This time it will be in complete righteousness, justice, love, and faithfulness, all as a result of God’s mercy. Indeed, God would make all things new to the extent that he offered the greatest gift possible: himself. “And you shall know the LORD.” In Hebrew, this is one of the most intimate statements that can be made. Of course God is not offering to be physically intimate with Israel, but it is the same language as the bible regularly uses to describe that kind of intimacy.

God promises his people that they will not only be able to have a relationship with him again, but that it will be an entirely new kind of relationship. One free from the effects of sin. One full of everything necessary for eternal faithfulness and satisfaction. One entirely dependent on God to keep all the terms of the covenant. One that results from the greatest bride-price ever paid, the death of the God-man, Jesus Christ. That is, for this to happen, for God to keep his word, Easter had to happen. His people needed not only to be held accountable for their sins, they needed One to truly rescue and restore them. That is what Jesus did on the cross as proven by his resurrection from the dead.

But that’s not all still. A new courtship, new promise, new covenant, new relationship, and finally, new blessing.

New Blessing (2:21-23)
Finally, then, consider 2:21-23.

21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.'”

Much like v.18, we see God promise new blessings for Israel. Sit back and consider the nature of these blessings. God will cry out to the heavens and they will answer. He will cry out to the earth and it will answer. He will cry out to Jezreel and he will answer. What will God cry and what will the answer be? God will call the heavens and earth and Jezreel to explode with blessing for his newly betrothed. And they will answer with grain and wine and oil–meeting all her needs and filling her with excess as well. And God will add to all of that that mercy and fellowship. And all of this will be without limit and without end.

In this new marriage, all things will be made new. All the effects of sin will be gone. Every act of faithlessness will be atoned for and forgotten. Every experience of want will be a distant memory. Every tremor of pain will be gone. Every mere act of obedience will be entirely replaced with eagerness and loving-devotion.

Truly, all things will be made new.

Grace, marvel at this; wonder at this; be amazed at this; praise God for this. When you sit down to eat this afternoon or otherwise gather around family and friends, be thankful for the food and fellowship; be thankful for your needs being met and excess to share; be grateful for all you have; but do so in the full knowledge that we deserve 2:2-13 but we get 2:14-23 only because of Easter, only because of Jesus. As you remember that, turn your greatest gratitude and greatest hope and greatest satisfaction to the cross and the empty tomb. Don’t let your affection end in earthly things—that’s what got Israel into so much trouble. Let it continue through God’s blessings to the One who gives all good things.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, you may have noticed the phrase “on that day” (16, 18, 21). All things will be made new “on that day.” It seems pretty important to ask, then, when exactly is “that day”? As I’ve noted several times already, “that day” was made certain when Jesus came to suffer, die, and rise from the dead. Truly, “that day” was secured 2000 years ago at the coming of the Son of God. But that day, the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises in our passage this morning and all of God’s promises in Christ will be finally realized when Jesus, the God-man comes again. “That day” will make every other day pale in comparison and on it we will have our own Easter, we will rise with Christ, body and soul into all new things.

In that knowledge, let us celebrate what God has accomplished for us in Jesus and all that is yet to come for those who long for his coming.