O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
We don’t know exactly how all the calves that were created by man, for worship, looked. We do know that the calf was often used in idolatry, and was an insult to God, Who said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”
In these first two verses of the last chapter of Hosea, Israel is once again urged to return to the Lord. They are urged to use their words to plead with Him for forgiveness and mercy.
I was intrigued by that last clause: So will we render the calves of our lips. It is well-translated as to make whole or good, restore, make compensation. Remember, they had been worshiping golden calves, among many other idols. Their words had been profane, blasphemous, and wholly offensive to God.
Now Hosea is telling them what they will need to do to restore God’s blessing and favor. They would need to give more than lip service, sort of like a child will do when he hopes. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” will cause his parents to decide against punishing his behavior. There will need to be more than words. God knows the hearts, and He is never fooled. They would need to make compensation for their sin by once again obeying God’s law for sacrifice and atonement. Instead of “calves of our lips,” this could just as accurately have been translated as “the sacrifice of our lips.”
There is much more coming in this chapter, but today I want to close with this quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon:
“This is a wonderful chapter to be at the end of such a book. I had never expected from such a prickly shrub to gather so fair a flower, so sweet a fruit; but so it is: where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. No chapter in the Bible can be more rich in mercy than this last of Hosea; and yet no chapter in the Bible might, in the natural order of things, have been more terrible in judgment. Where we looked for the blackness of darkness, behold a noontide of light!”Blue Letter Bible