The Lord loves us. Because he loves us, he disciplines us. Because he disciplines us, he brings us into his presence. If it were not for the Lord’s disciplining love, we would not find ourselves in his presence. It is one of the ways in which he shows us grace. There are three “therefore” clauses in Hosea chapter 2: verses 6, 9, and 14. All of these show us the progression of God’s grace in response to our sinfulness.
For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’ Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.
Because of the whoredom of Israel, the Lord stops her way. He prevents her from being as wicked as she could be. He disciplines her with thorns, blocks her way with a wall, and loses her in a maze of confusion.
She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. 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.
Israel comes to her senses. She realizes that her current path is not leading to the places she once thought it would. It is a dead end. Literally. So, she decides to return to the one whom she left, realizing that it was better then than it is now. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, she came to herself. Though she still doesn’t realize she had it all before, she sees what has become of pursuing her dreams. Because of this, the Lord will take away the blessing he once poured out on her in order to expose her at a deeper level. The grain is thin, the wine is dried up, and the wool and flax are scarce, exposing her nakedness. She’s left unprotected and can now see the depths of who she has become. The confusion leads into humiliation.
Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand. And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them. And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 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.
“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 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. 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. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
The Lord takes away the feasts she once enjoyed. There is little rejoicing. It is painful. Everything she’s worked so hard for is suddenly gone. She’s returned to the Lord with the gifts from her idols and finds the Lord stripping them away. He’s destroying her life. As Hosea 6 says, he is tearing her so that he may heal her. He’s acting mercifully, though it may not feel merciful.
So far, the Lord has been ruthless with Israel. She has found herself destitute and utterly lost. She’s weakened and powerless. She’s searching for answers. Then the Lord begins his love song to his bride. The third “therefore” shows us what the other two therefores were there for. He’s using his gracious discipline to return Israel back to himself. He’s literally wooing her back. Notice the romantic language: allure, speak tenderly, etc. The Lord is kind to a people who were nothing but evil.
In what way is the Lord tearing your life apart? What walls are you running into? What thorns are sticking in your side? What paths have you lost sight of? Is your wine coming to a slow drip? Is your grain withering? What enjoyments are losing their flavor? What was once held dear that seems to be slipping away? It may be that the Lord is ruining your life so that he can save you. He may be tearing you apart so that he can heal you. There are worse things. Painful as it may be, the destination is salvation. Press on. Be torn. Be healed. Know the Lord.