For an introduction to this series, click here.
This is the conclusion of the prophecy of Hosea. The prophet still has a message of doom, but he has one word of hope for the future:
"I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily; he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon; his roots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon." (14:4-6)
This is obviously a reference to the future blessing of Israel, since, as far as we know, the people who populated the Northern Kingdom, to whom Hosea is referring, do not exist today. Now I happen to believe that the Lord has superintended a remnant of all the tribes, since there are so many references in prophecy to all the tribes enjoying the blessing of God in His eternal kingdom. Those alive today may not even know that they are members of the "lost tribes-" they just know they are Jews.
Hosea also offers this mysterious closing:
"Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them." (14:9)
This is similar to what Peter said about Paul's epistles:
"There are some things in them (Paul's writings) that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures." (2 Peter 3:16, ESV)
God did not lay out the Bible like a systematic theology book. He pieced together stories of history, poetry, prophecy, letters, and other very individual forms of literature when He gave us His Word. It might have been easier if God had laid out every single thing He wanted us to believe and practice in plain black and white, but He chose not to. He chose to give us a collection of very human writings that we have to read very carefully. I am by no means denying inspiration, but what I am saying is that God did not make it easy for us. It takes hard work to study out God's Word and determine His will. I am thankful for those who have studied hard and developed what we call systematic theology, but even that is a flawed science.
And for those who do not know the Lord but try to study the Bible anyway, they come up with all sorts of beliefs that make sense to them, but they are approaching the scriptures with their own intellect. I am not accusing any one person or group, but just be aware that we as believers stand on the shoulders of those who came before us (Ephesians 2 has a lot to say about this). If someone promotes a belief that is not consistent with what Christianity has taught down through the ages, then it is likely the result of man's thinking, not the leading of the Spirit.