“Come, let us return to the Lord. For he has torn us, and he will heal us; he has wounded us, and he will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day he will raise us up so we can live in his presence.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
If you’ve been working through Hosea with me over the past couple of weeks, think about what we have seen in the last few chapters. God has been blasting the people for their faithlessness. They had turned from Him over and over again. In spite of everything He had promised them, they still went looking for help in other places. And they were going to pay for it. After all His anger and rage, what should we expect next? Not this.
The last thing God said through Hosea (and remember that chapters and verses were added later as a way to make reading and copying the text easier) was that He was going to hide Himself until Israel was ready to look for Him. It was basically, “You’re going to miss me when I’m gone.”
And here we see Hosea calling the people to return. Why? Because even though He has punished, He will restore. That’s what he’s getting at when he talks about the Lord having torn and wounded, but healing and binding up.
This is the love and justice of God on display. He takes our sin seriously and doesn’t shield us from its consequences. Sometimes these consequences come directly from Him in the form of punishment, but sin is naturally destructive so sometimes the consequences are simply the natural result of the sin. For instance, if we sin in such a way that will harm a relationship, the broken relationship is going to be consequence enough. It will be a wound all of its own that God doesn’t have to inflict in punishment. This is all simply the result of sin. As Paul would later observe, “the wages of sin is death.”
But that is only the justice of God. And justice, though fundamental, is not the whole of His character. He is also love. And His love is what compels Him to bind up and heal. And think about how amazing this is. We have rebelled against the God of all creation with our sin. By what right should we expect anything but being judged and destroyed by Him? Someone with that much power and authority is never going to tolerate such direct affronts to their power and position as we’ve made. Yet our God binds up. He heals. He cares for our wounds and gives us grace. He reaches out even when we are still living in a place of rebellion and offers us life.
Now, that idea is remarkable enough by itself, but look at what comes next. Look at what Hosea says to the people of Israel, these wayward souls who were looking everywhere for fulfillment other than God. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day He will raise us up.
Sound familiar at all? The people very likely did not understand what Hosea was saying as we are able, but here, several hundreds of years before He came and in the face of their apparently incorrigible sin, God points forward to the life that would one day come permanently in Christ. He points to the healing that would come on the wings of the resurrection.
The life we have in Christ is not something God suddenly decided at the last minute to give us. It was not something He set in place merely as a reaction to our sin. It was something He had been planning and promising for centuries. God’s plan was always to give us life; to make us new so that we could live in His presence. It was a life that would come on the third day. Even that detail was planned out ahead of time. Indeed, as the rest of what Paul said in Romans promises, though the wages of sin are death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us praise His name!
So though our forays into sin may bring wounds and tears, though God Himself may punish and discipline when we are unfaithful and rebellious, He will bind up. He will heal. He has bound up. He has healed. He did that in Christ, and the healing came through His sacrificial death on the cross. Yet that was not the end. After two days He was revived. On the third day He was raised up—and us with Him if we are willing to place our faith in Him—so we can live in His presence. Amen and amen. Hosea may be a minor prophet, but he still proclaims the Gospel with grace and truth. Let us listen closely to hear it.