As I write these, I realize that I pretty much make the Cliff’s Notes version of these chapters! I like to read then figure out what is being discussed and details that may not be obvious just by reading it the first time. There is so much to learn in the details of names, places, and meaning of words! It can take a confusing passage and make it meaningful. So, at the very least I can pass along some of that information to you!
The tone of this next section changes. Here the Lord restores Israel (the adulterous wife.)
Verse 14: The Lord talks of getting Israel back to Him and showing continual love instead of judgement and condemnation.
“Therefore, I am going to allure her; I will lead her back into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”
He will reassure and comfort His people. The desert refers back to Israel’s wandering in the desert.
“and will make Valley of Achor a door of hope.” (v15)
Valley of Achor was a place near Jericho but achor also means ‘trouble.’ God will take back his wife and turn trouble into hope. Achor was first mentioned in Joshua 7:24: “Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor.” When the walls of Jericho came down, the Hebrews were to take nothing, but Achan couldn’t resist. Achan confessed to Joshua: “Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The LORD will bring trouble on you today.” Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them” (v25) This happened in the valley that was then named after the family: Achor. Hence: Achor means “trouble.” Prophets later used Achor as a symbolic way of promising that God would reverse Israel’s hard times: “Sharon will become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a resting place for herds, for my people who seek me.” (Isaiah 65:10)
Verse 16 and 17 are interesting.
“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ I will remove the names of Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. Wives called their husbands ‘master’ (“For instance, Sarah obeyed her husband, Abraham, and called him her master.” 1 Peter 3:6) The hebrew word for ‘master’ was ‘Baal’ which was the name of one of the gods that the Israelites were worshipping. There was such a reaction against Baal worship that this Hebrew word for ‘master’ was no longer used when referencing The Lord.
Back to New King James Version for verse 19 and 20. The language is just so beautiful.
“I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in loveingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” Betroth is a verb which in which the grace of God is beautifully set forth. It originally means “to woo a virgin.” It is like God is forgetting all of the unfaithfulness of the Israelites. Like they haven’t been worshiping other gods and being an adulterous wife towards Him. He is coming back to them with love and forgiveness and the slate has been completely wiped clean. It is not money but the traits of righteousness, justice, lovingkindness, mercy, and faithfulness that make up the bride-price (a gift, usually substantial, given by the prospective groom to the bride’s family as payment for her.) The word faithfulness in Hebrew can also refer to sexual relations, but it also refers to active acknowledgement of a covenant partner. Either way it is an intimate word to describe a relationship.
“‘In that day I will respond,’ declares the Lord.” (v21)
The adulterous wife (Israel) responded to the Lord, now the Lord has responded to her new behavior.
He calls, but we need to answer.
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:12-13
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:7
“I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!” And they shall say, ‘You are my God!” (v23)The Lord promises that He will respond. We need only to turn away from idols and turn towards Him.