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PART ONE: v.1-3: Requirements of Israel
PART TWO: v.4-7: God's Response of Blessing
PART THREE: v.8,9: Final Appeal


[Preliminary Comment: This final chapter comes like One holding out an olive branch of hope.

Part 1: Requirements of Israel: If you come back [v.1], if you repent [v.2], if you recognise other nations cannot help you [v.3],

Part 2: Then you will know God's love [v.4], and His blessing on you [v.5-7]

Part 3: All it needs is to turn from idols [v.8], the wisdom to see the truth in these things [v.9].

It is a beautiful chapter of potential reconciliation – if only Israel will heed it!]



PART ONE: v.1-3: Requirements of Israel


v.1 A call to return


v.1  Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
    Your sins have been your downfall!

v.2 Speak words of repentance to the Lord


v.2  Take words with you
    and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
    ‘Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
    that we may offer the fruit of our lips.

v.3 Accept that Assyria cannot help you


v.3  Assyria cannot save us;
    we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say “Our gods”
    to what our own hands have made,
    for in you the fatherless find compassion.'



PART TWO: v.4-7: God's Response of Blessing


v.4 If you repent [implied] God will love and heal them


v.4  ‘I will heal their waywardness
    and love them freely,
    for my anger has turned away from them.

v.5-7 If they do this, the Lord will bless them and they will grow and flourish


v.5  I will be like the dew to Israel;
    he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
    he will send down his roots;

v.6   his young shoots will grow.
His splendour will be like an olive tree,
    his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.

v.7  People will dwell again in his shade;
    they will flourish like the corn,
they will blossom like the vine –
    Israel's fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.


PART THREE: v.8,9: Final Appeal


v.8 If you do this, we'll forget the idols and you will flourish


v.8  Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
    I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
    your fruitfulness comes from me.'


v.9 Can you see the wisdom in this – a hand of hope being held out to you


v.9  Who is wise? Let them realise these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them.