Finally then in Hosea 14:9 we are left two questions. These questions and their answers serve to sum up all of the prophesy, all of the Book of Hosea. As Hosea was obedient to marry Gomer, as they had a child, and then she ran off into a life of unfaithfulness, had two children by other men, and yet Hosea took them and cared for them as his own. As Hosea also provided for Gomer’s needs, even as that meant providing for the men she was living with away from him, and as she sank into debt and despair and was trapped and prepared for auction to be sold as a slave, he went to the slave market and placed the winning bid and redeemed her, he won her and brought her back home to be not a slave or a servant but to be restored to be his wife. As we see the power and reach of God’s Redeeming Love, God asks, “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.”

Who is wise? Let him understand these things. If you are wise, if you do possess wisdom and it possesses you, if you have honed and toned the skill of applying God’s Word to the circumstances of life, then you will understand this message and these events. You will be able to discern the truth at the heart of this living parable, this pageant of brokenness and redemption. You will see, with the help of wisdom, that this message points to Christ, who was sent to redeem us as we were born in unfaithfulness, conceived in sin, bound and enslaved from birth to our fallen human nature. Now we have been restored to Him by faith. And we are called to walk in obedience and faithfulness, not as a slave, but as His friends! As family.

If you don’t see it, if you don’t get it, if you have trouble understanding this word and these messages, then you need wisdom. How do you get wisdom? Ask God for it! He will give it.

Who is wise? He who understands what it is that we have been redeemed, what we have been redeemed from, and what we have been redeemed to.  Psalm 107:43 tells us, “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the Lord.” And Proverbs 1:5 reminds us, “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.”

Then Hosea asks, “Who is prudent? Let him know them.” What does the word prudent mean? It means literally here, “to be discerning.” Discernment is also a skill, to be learned, honed, and improved. Discernment is not merely calling out evil. It is knowing the difference between right and wrong and as Spurgeon puts it, knowing the difference between right and almost right. And it is a skill. In fact, Romans 1 tells us that those who “Did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting…” and one of those things that is sinful and unfitting is to be “undiscerning.” (Rom. 1:28, 31).

When he asks then, “Who is discerning? Let him know them.” The them there are the things of God, the themes of this story. Listen to these Proverbs.

  • Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly. (Prov. 13:16). 
  • The simple believes every word, but the prudent considers well his steps. (Prov. 14:15).
  • A fool despises his father’s instruction, but he who receives correction is prudent. (Prov. 15:5).
  • The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge. (Prov. 18:15).

 There is a theme running through these verses that ties discernment to knowledge. We must know the truth, we must know the Word of God – it is the standard by which we judge and examine and prove truth. We must inform our mind and heart and conscience with the Word of God.

Hosea closes now by saying, “For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” Here we have one of the banner themes of Scripture. The ways of the Lord are right! And how much trouble and doubt and fear do we find when we doubt this truth?

The word right means “straight.” This is not just correct, but this is the measure for righteousness and justice and goodness. And understand this, God does not do it because it is right. If God does it, it is right by nature of the fact that it is God doing it! So whatever God is doing in your life right now, it can’t be wrong. God will not do what is wrong to get something right out of it. If God does it, it is right. We may not like what God is doing, or who He is using to do it, but if He is doing it, it is right.

“For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” If we are to walk in righteousness and obedience then we must be walking in those straight paths, along that narrow way. Deuteronomy 8:6 says, “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” Walking in His ways, that is to obey Him.

Psalm 25:4 says, “Show me Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.” Show us so that we might walk in them!

But it says transgressors stumble in them. The word transgressors means those who are rebellious. The righteous walk, the rebellious stumble. They fall and trip over the Word and ways of God. They are offended. Proverbs 4:19 tells us, “The way of the wicked is like darkness; they do not know what makes them stumble.” And 1 Peter 2:7-9 adds, “7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ 8 and ‘A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  

The ways of the Lord are always right. The righteous will walk in His ways and the rebellious will be offended and will stumble because of them.

There is one verse I want to share to finish this series. It has far reaching implications for the church today and for our nation today. Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have those who love Your law, and nothing causes them to stumble.”

In discussions with the lost, with cult members, with atheists and evolutionists, as we discuss the Word of God and the ways of God, they try so very hard to trip us, to cause us to stumble, to fall, to lose face or lose an argument. And they try to manipulate a sinful reaction out of us because if we react wrongly they act as if that voids our arguments and our belief. But if we love God’s Law, if we hear and obey His Word, if we walk in His ways, then we should not be offended by anything!

Are we surprised when sinners sin? We shouldn’t be, should we? The better we understand God’s Word the less reason we have to be offended by anything. And yet we see so often that those who claim to be the most knowledgeable in the Word of God are those that claim to be offended by everything. The weak brother, according to Paul, is weak because he is uneducated. He is offended because he does not understand the Word of God. So we need not convince him to violate his conscience, instead we must disciple him and teach him so that his conscience aligns with the Word of God and not the traditions of men.

So in the face of the chaos of life in this fallen world we must preach the necessity of repentance and faith in Christ. We must proclaim the need to confess our sin and God’s willingness to forgive and to restore sinners to fellowship with Himself. We must preach the gospel of redemption through the blood of Jesus!

Looking at God’s Redeeming Love this is what we see…even in judgment God is there, and even after judgment God is able to raise the dead. In His love, He has defeated sin, death, and the grave. And by grace, He loves us to the end. Remember back to the beginning of this series. What does Hosea’s name mean? It means “deliverance.” We have been delivered. We have been redeemed. And our Redeemer’s name is Jesus.