God is ready to accept Israel’s true repentance and their return to Him. Therefore, the prophet Hosea says, “Return, O Israel, to Jehovah your God, for you have fallen because of your iniquity!” (14:1). God wants to hear them say, “Please take away our iniquity, and accept us back. Then we will offer You the fruit of our lips” (14:2 Septuagint), Isaiah 57:19). The fruit of the lips means acceptable confessions of sin to God, the opposite of uncircumcised lips (Exodus 6:12). “We will not trust Assyria anymore. Neither will we trust the horses and chariots of Egypt again. We will stop worshiping idols. Then we will receive mercy from God when we do not depend on Assyria, Egypt, and idols” (Hosea 14:3).
That’s when God will bless Israel and joyfully love the return of His prodigal people (14:4). If Israel were a plant, God would give it moisture like dew. Israel would bloom as the lily, and spread its roots like the cedar of Lebanon (14:5). Its branch would spread, and its beauty would be like an olive tree (14:6). Israel would be taken care of like a valuable field of grain or a special vineyard” (14:7). It would say, “I have nothing to do anymore with the idols that were made by our hands.” Then God will say, “I am responding to your confessions and you will grow like a green cypress tree. You will sing with joy, and bear much fruit which you found in Me” (14:8).
Then the prophet Hosea gives a concluding appeal to his readers and listeners: “Who is wise and understands these things with good perception that the ways of Jehovah are right? The righteous will walk in them, but the transgressors shall stumble and fall over them.” May we trust God and not disappoint Him who is longing for the return of His transgressing children!
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D.