The Doctrine of the Wilderness According to Hosea
My reader, what do you think about when you read the verse, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her [Israel], and bring her into the Wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her” (Hos. 2:14)? This Wilderness experience sounds delightful, doesn’t it? It certainly doesn’t sound like a Tribulation Period of unspeakable suffering, right? Indeed. It is for this reason that most people never reconcile Hosea 2:14 with Hosea 2:3-4 and Hosea 2:15.
“Lest I strip her [Israel] naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a Wilderness, and set her like a Dry Land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.”
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her [Israel], and bring her into the Wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the Valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”
Contextually, Hosea 2:14 and Hosea 2:3 are talking about the same Wilderness experience. This means that the merciless stripping and slaying of Israel in the Wilderness whereby the children of whoredoms do perish (setting her as in the day she was born), according to Hosea 2:3-4, is the exact same experience wherein the Lord allures Israel into the Wilderness and speaks comfortably to her insomuch that she sings in the Wilderness (as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came out of the Land of Egypt), according to Hosea 2:14-15. Hosea testified that, indeed, Israel would be given vineyards and she would see the fulfillment of all she hoped for and sung about in the Wilderness! So, how does a seemingly hopeless pronouncement of a Wilderness Tribulation (Hos. 2:3-4) become the very means of hope, comfort, and singing? The same way the seemingly hopeless pronouncement, “Thou shalt surely die” (Ezek. 33:14), leads once-born and backslidden evildoers to repent and as a result they inherit the promise, “He shall surely live” (Ezek. 33:15-16). Only an undeserving escapee of a divine and Inescapable Manhunt knows the rejoicing that sovereign mercy allows when the promise is fulfilled, “He shall surely live!” Even so, Ezekiel’s prophesying has been and will continue to be a detailed commentary on how the Manslaying Wilderness, the Tribulation (Hos. 2:3-4), was the backslidden Churches’ only “door of hope” as Hosea testified (Hos. 2:14-15). Ezekiel’s prophesying on the subject has been informatively unrivaled up to the time of the reception of Jeremiah 30:1-31:40 by the Prophet Jeremiah. Therefore, to those who have ears to hear, it is an indisputably clear how “the Valley of Achor” (the slaughtering of the troublers of the Church) is Israel and Judah’s only hope of salvation (Hos. 2:3-4, 14-15, Amos 9:8-10 & Ezek. 3:17-21, 18:1-32, 33:1-20)! Nevertheless, according to the providence of God, Ezekiel will wax all the more exact and complementary to expound the mysteries that unveil the Glory of God in the Tribulation Period in the coming days (from the 6th year of the reign of Zedekiah onward).
the Wilderness – Hosea 2:3, 14
The Wilderness experience is explicitly cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah in Ezekiel 19:12-14 via parabolic language (East Wind: Ezek. 17:10, Land Desolate: Ezek. 15:8) and in Ezekiel 20:35-38 via an interpretation of the parable.
the Sword – Amos 9:8-10
The Devouring Sword experience is explicitly cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah all throughout the prophesying of both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but as a qualification in reference to those who will survive the Sword Ezekiel 12:14-16 and Ezekiel 17:21 are explicit, and this is the same message echoed by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 31:2 (a timely clarification of Ezekiel 21:1-7).
the Fire – Amos 2:5, 5:6
The Devouring Fire experience is explicitly cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah in Ezekiel 15:1-8, 19:14, 20:46-49, & 22:17-22 via parabolic language, and Ezekiel 21:1-7 (speaking of the sword) is an interpretation to the parabolic language in general but above all its interpretation clarifies the parable spoken in Ezekiel 20:46-49.
What is the Wilderness experience? It is the same as the Devouring Sword and Fire of God. All three are terms used to describe the overarching Tribulation experience via the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities. Now, it is important to note that there are other uses for the word Wilderness which relate to and branch off from the primary Wilderness experience (the Tribulation) wherein God would save both Israel and Judah. These variant uses of the word describe the suffering and woe that extend from the overarching operation of salvation via the Wilderness. For example, through the Babylonian Captivity the Kingdom of Judah and the City of Jerusalem would become an actual Wilderness, literally speaking (Jer. 4:23-26, 22:6, 51:43); and, also, the False Prophets turned the Kingdom of Judah, the Church (God’s “Vineyard” and “Pleasant Portion”), into a Wilderness, spiritually speaking (Jer. 12:10, Amos 8:11-13), but neither of these two uses of the term depict the overarching operation that God called the Wilderness in so many other places.
In the 7th year of the reign of Zedekiah (approximately one year from this point in time) Ezekiel will deliver a very pointed and clarifying message pertaining to the Wilderness doctrine in Ezekiel 20:1-49 (see “Wilderness” in Ezek. 20:35-36). From the latter half of the 6th year of Zedekiah’s reign and onward the message is increasingly consistent and intentionally clarifying! Even so, Ezekiel 18:1-32, Jeremiah 30:1-31:40, Hosea 2:3-15, and Ezekiel 20:1-21:7 are profoundly complementary and vitally connected one to another, and of course Ezekiel speaks of the destroying, purifying, and salvific Wilderness of the Tribulation Period as one which is like “the Wilderness of the Land of Egypt” (Ezek. 20:36). This point, and the Exodus Generation in general, has and will continue to be ideologically foundational to comprehending the Tribulation Period because they were the generation that God took into the Wilderness at the first – and therein, in the Wilderness, they became for every generation thereafter. No doubt, this is why the Exodus Generation was repeatedly referenced by the Tribulation Prophets of Israel who prophesied of the Assyrian Captivity (Hos. 2:3-15, 9:10, 11:1-4, 13:1, 4-6; Amos 2:9-12, 3:1-2, 5:21-27). No doubt, this is why the Exodus Generation will be the primary subject whereby Ezekiel will definitively establish the doctrine of the Wilderness in the Tribulation Period of Judah via the Babylonian Captivity in Ezekiel 20:1-21:7, just as Hosea did for Israel (Hos. 2:3-15). Very specifically, though, this means that the stripping of Judah and the reducing of her status to the time when she was born (which was, namely, her Wilderness experience when she came out of the Land of Egypt according to Hosea 2:3-15) was an inspired reference-point for further elaboration. Ezekiel, a student of Hosea’s prophecies, was inspired to elaborate the details of the operation and thus we see several chapters dedicated to what was briefly mentioned by Hosea (the destructive / salvific Wilderness experience is cited in reference to God’s dealing with Judah in Ezek. 16:7, 37-39, 20:35-38). Therefore, furthermore, just as Israel was an adulteress and a harlot in the sight of God (as seen in Hosea 1:2-3, 3:1-3 [Hos. 4:15-19 appeals to Judah]), Judah was likewise depicted in Ezekiel Ch. 16 & 23.
The Exodus Generation references are interpreted in Ezekiel 20:1-21:32 because the Exodus Generation is used as an example of a time when the wrath of God executed the divine sentences of the Law via the operation of the Glory of God manifesting among the people. In other words, this was a time when the Glory of God was in operation for the fulfillment of Church Purity, and the Tribulation Period is likewise. The details of this cannot be explored now (as we will in Ezekiel 20:1-49), but let it be known to the reader that herein lies the meaning and point of Jeremiah 30:20-31:2 and very specifically Jeremiah 31:2 (“The people which were left of the sword found grace in the Wilderness…”). Remember the details just as Jeremiah told the story, my reader. The bruises and wounds were incurable, meaning that intercession was unable to stop the near annihilation of the people resulting in the end of both Kingdoms and the desolation of both Lands. This was the unchangeable. In other words, they must be drawn into the Wilderness! However, God promised that – through it! – He would heal the people’s unhealable wounds and restore their health by saving, forgiving, and regathering them into the Land as one Nation under David their King. Therefore, as an interpretation to this, we see that the divine utility of the Tribulation was so that all the wicked persons from among God’s people would be slain and thereby they wouldn’t defile the Church any longer. The fulness of the prophecies that Jeremiah uttered would not come to pass until this intent, the purging of all wicked persons from the Church, was totally accomplished (Jer. 30:20-31:2). Therefore, at last, let us understand the full intent of Jeremiah’s clarification, that those individuals who found grace (through the repentance of their wickedness) are the very same ones who did scarcely escape the sword and thus they were effectually exercised by the Wilderness unto repentance (Jer. 31:2).