Hosea 1:7, 10-2:1 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”
10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
Hosea 2:1 Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”
Last Sunday you may have noticed that I didn’t say anything about v.7. This week’s sermon is the reason for that. Last week we saw that Hosea is a book of dire warnings. “The land [Israel] commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” “I will put an end to the house of Israel.” “I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all.” “You are not my people, and I am not your God.” It doesn’t get much more dire than that.
And yet, as we’ll see this morning, all hope was not lost. God would wipe out Israel—both the Northern and (eventually) Southern Kingdoms—for their unfaithfulness, but he still had a plan for them as well. “I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God.” “The number of children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea.” “It shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God.'” “They shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” “You are my people…You have received mercy.”
The main point of this sermon is that while God’s jealousy would no longer tolerate Israel’s persistent idolatry, his love would not allow him to permanently destroy them. In Hosea, God’s promises of punishment are all for the present, while his promises for restoration—like the ones in this morning’s passage—are all for the future.
Let’s pray that God’s jealousy and love, his severity and his grace, his holiness and his imminence, would all be real and transformative to us.
JUDAH’S BRIEF STAY (1:7)
As I mentioned in the introduction, in Hosea 1:2-9 we find harsh words and deadly proclamations aimed at Israel. In the midst of this harshness and deadliness we find v.7.
“But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”
It is generally agreed that this verse was added by the compiler of Hosea’s prophecies after Israel had been destroyed and the survivors had fled to Judah. That is, it was written to highlight the fact that although Israel had been destroyed, Judah remained (temporarily) protected from God’s wrath. And yet, around 150 years later Judah (the Southern Kingdom) also fell, according to God’s judgment at the hand of the Babylonians.
The main points to understand here are: 1) God is jealous and will not long-tolerate unfaithfulness. Eventually he will always put it to an end. 2) Hosea’s promises of mercy are all, ultimately eschatological. That is, even the brief stay of execution that Judah received (you can read about it in 2 Kings 18-19 and Isaiah 36-37) was not the ultimate deliverance she needed. And 3) God is sovereign over all things and bound by nothing outside of himself. In 1:5 we read that God would break the bow of Israel so that she would no longer be able to fight off her enemies. Here, in 1:7, we read that God would deliver Judah, not “by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen,” but “by the LORD their God.” A lack of weapons would never be God’s people’s main problem. God’s grace, power, and presence are always the only hope for God’s people.
I included 1:7 in this sermon rather than the last because it serves as a perfect transition between these two sermons. Again, last week was all about God’s promise of destruction. In v.7 we see that there’s more to the story than that though. While v.7 describes a temporary expression of God’s mercy, 1:10-2:1 tell of the kind of mercy and grace that God’s people truly needed. It describes, as we will see shortly, a complete and everlasting reversal of every one of his curses. It describes the glorious place that God is taking history.
In practical terms, if you find out you have cancer, news of a one week or one month reprieve is fine. In fact, if you’ve been suffering for a while, it might sound like amazing news. Nevertheless, what you really want—what you really need—is for the disease to be entirely stricken from your body. 1:7 was good news for Judah, but again, it is not what they really wanted or needed. 1:10-2:1 contain that.
Before we turn our attention to God’s ultimate rescue, let’s pause here and consider something vitally important. God’s judgment and destruction are only temporary for those who place their hope in him. That is, the everlasting reversal of God’s judgment is exclusively for those who trust in God alone for life and purpose and direction and satisfaction and protection and rescue. Today, we know that means placing our faith in Jesus Christ, the One God sent to deliver us from our sins. For all who do, any suffering or difficulty or even death are temporary—followed by everlasting joy, peace, and life. But for all who remain in their faithlessness, earthly suffering, difficulty, and death are only the door to everlasting torment.
In other words, we’re about to encounter truly good news in Hosea—the best news there could possibly be. But it is only good news for those who acknowledge God as God and their utter dependence on him. If, by God’s grace you are already hoping in God alone, soak this in and find great joy—your trials, as real and painful as they may be, will soon come to an end. If you are not, however, know that you can do so today. Turn from your sin, believe in Jesus, and be saved. He will receive you.
With that, let’s turn to God’s great reversal.
GOD’S GREAT REVERSAL (1:10-2:1)
As harsh and overwhelming and certain as God’s promises of punishment were, the Israelites had to wonder if there was any real hope? Was all lost? Should God follow through on his threats, did Hosea’s message mark their ultimate end? As I’ve said, 1:10-2:1 makes clear that all hope was not lost, and their end was not forever. In fact, for every promise of destruction made in 1:2-9, there is a promise of a complete and eternal reversal in 10-2:1.
God’s Promise to Abraham Will Be Fulfilled (10a)
In order to drive this point home as deeply as possible, Hosea first backed up to the basis of all God’s promises to the decedents of Abraham.
In Genesis 13:16 we read, “I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted.”
No one hearing Hosea’s words would have missed that in v. 10.
10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered.
God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendents. Abraham’s descendents did not keep the terms of the covenant and so God promised to punish them so severely that it seemed as if all hope might be lost. And yet, we see glimpses here that God’s promises were bigger than the land and the centuries. We see glimpses here of the fact that covenant faithfulness always rested ultimately on God.
Again, then, before addressing how the Israelites as a people might survive God’s specific promises of their destruction, Hosea reaffirmed the very foundation of all their hope: God’s promises to make them as numerous as the dust of the earth. With that in front of them, consider now how God promised through Hosea to (one day) reverse each promise of destruction.
The Reversal of the Jezreel Curse (10b, 11b)
In 1:5 God promised Israel that her destruction would be in a place called the Valley of Jezreel on what is known as the Day of Jezreel. “I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Hosea was clear. Destruction is certain. And because some of Israel’s past sin took place in Jezreel, so would her ruin. But their God, our God, is a God who can bring the dead to life. In a bit of divine irony, we read in the second half of v.10 that God promised a future restoration to Israel and that it would take place in the very place of their destruction.
And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”
Hosea declared that there would be a day of utter destruction in Jezreel, followed by a day of utter restoration in the same place. Indeed, there will be a second Day of Jezreel where the events of the first will be entirely reversed.
11 And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the [second] day of Jezreel.
Grace, know that this is our God. For all who hope in Christ no difficult day and no difficult event will ever mark the end of your story. Your story, God’s story for you, always ends in rejoicing. But that’s not all…
The Reversal of The Divided Kingdom (1:11)
Hosea’s prophecies, as you may remember, were given to the tribes of the Northern Kingdom. The reason there was a Northern Kingdom (and a Southern Kingdom) was an expression of God’s judgment on the children of King Solomon, David’s son. That is, the very fact that there were two kingdoms was the result of the sins of Abraham’s descendents.
What was meant to be a sign of God’s favor (the unity and prosperity of Abraham’s offspring), had turned into a sign of his judgment (their division and destruction). This too, Hosea prophesied, God would reversed. One day the kingdoms would be reunited by God and accomplish God’s original purpose.
In 1:11 we read, “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land…”
The divided kingdoms will be reunited under one Head (Jesus Christ), with one purpose (to display the sovereignty and goodness and mercy and grace of God), and in one place (Jezreel, the Promised Land, the second Garden, the New Heavens and the New Earth).
God will reverse all that Abraham’s children divided and forsook and destroyed. Again, Grace, this still is our God. Broken relationships and lost loved ones will never be the ultimate end for God’s faithful people. No one whose hope is in God will be long-marked by loneliness or regret or sorrow or loss. God will reverse all of that. Find hope here, Christian. But there’s more…
The Reversal of the Names of Hosea’s Children (1:10-2:1)
Finally, Hosea prophesied the reversal of the names of each of Hosea’s children (representing God’s punishments on Israel). In v.3-5 we read that Hosea’s first child was named “Jezreel” as an expression of God’s judgment on Israel for her sinful bloodshed. As we already saw, in vs.10, 11 the person and place of destruction (Jezreel) will be entirely reversed to a person of blessing and a place of rejoicing.
Those who God destroyed for spilling blood would one day be restored through the spilling of the blood of the one and only Son of God. “Bloodshed” will become known as “Saved by Bloodshed”.
In vs.6-7 we saw that Hosea’s second child was a girl to whom God gave the name “No Mercy”. In 2:1 this is reversed by God such that her new name will be “You Have Received Mercy.”
And finally, in 1:8-9 God names Hosea’s third child, and second son, “Not My People.” But in 1:10 and 2:1 we read, “And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God” (Hosea 1:10). And “Say to your brothers, “You are my people” (Hosea 2:1).
What an amazing reality. As dire and certain as God’s pronouncements of punishment were, so hopeful and certain were his pronouncements of restoration. As tragic and severe as his names for Hosea’s children were in the present, so blessed and wonderful will they be in the future.
And so it is for us. Every stinging name you’ve been called and every horrible name you’ve called yourself are nothing. No one but God has the right to name you and if you are in Christ you are called the people of God, a child of God, loved, accepted, welcomed, forgiven, free, chosen, righteous, washed clean, adopted, cleansed, precious, and on and on. This all you are and it is all you will ever be. At Christ’s return you will never again doubt this or live as if it were not true.
God will reverse the place of destruction to be a place of restoration. He will reverse the day of destruction to a day of new life. Through the bloodiness of his Son, he will reverse the consequences of the guilt of Israel for sinfully spilling blood. He will call “Not My People” “My People.” And he will call “No Mercy” “You Have Received Mercy”. For his people God will reverse all of these things.
But Grace, as good of news as this is, it gets better still. Not only will God reverse the effects of these sins, he will reverse, for his people, every effect of every sin, everywhere.
Hosea’s promise of restoration will take place at the same time John’s prophecy in Revelation will come true.
Revelation 21:3-5 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” 5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
Grace, consider your sin and its effects. Consider every ounce of hurt that your careless words have caused. Consider the ways you’ve used your body for sinful purposes and the destruction that came from it. Consider every internal act of rebellion you’ve committed against God and the guilt and destruction it’s produced. Consider your temper, your selfishness, your greediness, your callousness, your greediness, and your pride.
Consider these things and know that God will reverse them all.
Now consider how much damage you’ve experienced and witnessed through the sins of others. Consider every time you were cheated out of something that belonged to you. Consider every instance of physical or emotional pain that someone sinfully inflicted upon you. Consider every unkind word and evil action taken against you.
Consider these things and know that God will reverse them all.
And consider the decaying effects of sin that are entirely out of your control. Consider the devastation caused by tornados and hurricanes, disease and famine, and natural evil of every kind.
Consider these things and know that God will reverse them all as well.
That is the promise of Hosea to the people of Israel and Judah. And that is the promise of God to all who call on the name of his Son, Jesus. This means that we are free to love our enemies and leave justice for ourselves to God. It means that we are free to forgive when others don’t deserve it. It means that we are free to bless those who persecute us. It means that we are free to turn our left cheek to those who have slapped our right. It means that we are free to give our shirts to those who would steal our coats. It means that we are free to serve our brothers and sisters even when they are being mean or selfish. It means that we are free to be sacrificially generous to those in need. It means that we are free to offer ourselves for the service of those who would do us harm. It means that we are free to forsake everything and everyone else that competes with God for our affection and protection and trust and satisfaction.
But it only means those things to those who hold fast to Jesus. Run to Jesus, therefore, Grace, and call the whole world to come with you…you’re free to do so, even if it costs you your life. For those who would save their life will lose it (Hosea proclaimed), but those who would lose it will save it. Amen.