Explore The Bible Study: The Restoration Promised

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Do you find it difficult to understand that God completely forgives those who ask for forgiveness? “You are forgiven” is one of the greatest promises in Scripture. It’s the reason we can say that the gospel is good news. The Explore the Bible Study: The Restoration Promised helps us understand that, for us to experience the forgiveness of Christ, we must realize we need forgiveness because of the eternal, debilitating, and devastating results of sin.

Forgiveness isn’t something that is automatic but requires a response from those who realize they need forgiveness. Without someone coming to the realization of how they have dishonored God by the way in which they have abused the life He has given them, can one really seek forgiveness that is only available because of Christ.

The gospel of Christ is a call to all sinners to turn from their sin and be forgiven. Because God is holy and just, He must judge and punish sin. Yet, at the same time, He lovingly offers forgiveness to those who repent. The Explore the Bible study for this week reminds us that, “given that sin leads to death and turning to Christ in repentance and faith gives life, the wise thing to do is to respond in faith to Him.”

This is the message Hosea delivers in Hosea chapter 14. Hosea 11-13 continues to describe God’s judgment that is coming to Israel because of their blatant and continued sins against God and each other. God’s judgment was described as a loving Father’s discipline on His rebellious children that He takes no pleasure in enforcing, but He must. 

Then, in Hosea 14, God reveals through Hosea, the forgiveness that He offers to those who repent and turn to Him.  Hosea begins in 14:1-3 by describing what true repentance will look like.

A Picture of True Repentance – Hosea 14:1-3

Hosea tells them to “return to the Lord your God” because they had sinned. Hosea then tells them to “take words of repentance” with them when they return. But what were those words of repentance?

Their words of repentance express things that we too should express to the Lord when we are truly repentant:

  • “Forgive all our iniquity” – They didn’t say “some” but “all” of their iniquities. It was to be complete, honest, and without any excuses or exceptions. It was admitting the sins that broke fellowship with Him. 
  • “Accept what is good” – the good is what is acceptable to God. Accept the perfect will of God by being transformed through repentance and the forgiving power of Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit – see Romans 12:2.
  • “We may repay you with praise from our lips” – This is the idea that we have been completely forgiven and we acknowledge complete dependance and surrender to Christ by worshipping Him and Him alone. If we aren’t repentant, we won’t repay God with authentic praise from our lips.

Have you ever tried to praise God when you knowingly had unconfessed sin in your life? Do you find it difficult to worship Him? Do you feel free to worship the Lord when you have blatantly sinned? Imagine how much stronger your worship would be if you knew you had been forgiven for your sins!

The last phrase in this passage focuses on renouncing everything else in which we have placed our faith, other than God. For Israel it included: 

  • “Assyria will not save us” – No longer depending on a foreign pagan country to save them.
  • “We will not ride on horses” – No longer depending on their own resources like horses.
  • “We will no longer proclaim, ‘Our gods!’” – No longer depending on the idols they created as crutches to their faith.

What outside forces do people hope will save them? What resources do people depend on more than God? What idols, superstitions, or other ideologies do people depend on to save them? Why is it difficult for people to come completely clean from these, repent, and turn to Christ for their salvation?

Finally, Hosea uses this phrase, “For the fatherless receives compassion in you.” God the Father is the only one who would truly show them compassion and help them in times of distress.

Sin separates us from holy God, leaving us feeling abandoned and alone as if we have no father. When we truly repent to God by confessing our sins, then God will come to us and show compassion to us as the fatherless would receive compassion.

We see in this passage what one must do to demonstrate a true repentance. Why do people find it so hard to come to Christ for forgiveness?

These admissions were essential to God’s people expressing true repentance. Now Hosea tells us about the true forgiveness that God will demonstrate to those who repent in Hosea 14:4-7.

A Picture of True Forgiveness – Hosea 14:4-7

Apostasy, is from the Greek word apostasia, meaning “a defiance of an established system or authority; a rebellion; an abandonment or breach of faith.” (Source: What is Apostasy and How Can I Recognize it, https://www.gotquestions.org/apostasy.html)

While we hear about apostasy in the New Testament, Hosea specifically states here that God will heal their apostasy, literally meaning He will “heal its turning.” The people of God had defied God, rebelled, abandoned their faith by turning to Assyria for protection, depended on their own resources for strength, and created their own gods to worship. This apostasy would be not just be forgiven, but it would be “healed”!

Why is healing a vital part of forgiveness? How does God heal us from sin when we are forgiven

Notice what else Hosea said God would do in verse 4 and the first phrase of verse 5: God would freely love them; His anger would be turned away; He would be like dew to Israel.

When you consider these elements of forgiveness, do you find it difficult to comprehend the completeness of God’s forgiveness? If so, why?

Notice what this complete forgiveness would do for Israel – They would blossom and take root again. This new life brought about through true repentance and God’s complete forgiveness would enable Israel to once again be a blessing and a witness to all people of God’s goodness.

How can embracing the completeness of God’s forgiveness described in these passages change the way you live, think, and treat others? 

Now Hosea provides a challenge one must consider. It is only those who are truly wise that will respond with true repentance.

Only the Truly Wise will Repent – Hosea 14:8-9

God concluded His message with a rhetorical question suggesting He had said all He wanted to say. Then the Lord revealed a final element regarding those who repent. It is only the wise who recognize that the ways of the Lord are right. They are the only ones who will respond with complete and true repentance and experience true and complete forgiveness. 

Those who are wise are those who walk in the ways of the Lord, meaning they submit to Him as Lord. In contrast, one who continues to rebel, who rejects the notion of complete repentance and utter dependance on God for forgiveness, is not wise. This person will stumble and be consumed by rebellious ways.

What About You?

We began by considering how hard it is for us to understand God’s forgiveness. Perhaps we still struggle with forgiveness because we haven’t completely turned to God. Perhaps we are acting as the unwise instead of the wise when it comes to faith in Christ. If so, consider what you must do to come to the point to which the Israelites had to come in order to experience God’s true forgiveness and experience the beauty that comes through that forgiveness. Consider what is keeping you from expressing complete and true repentance?

Consider repentance and forgiveness as expressed through the words of a song by David Crowder entitled Forgiven. May you live as one who is completely forgiven by Christ this week.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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