I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:4-7 ESV
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV
Olive trees have been grown around the Mediterranean world for thousands of years. Olive trees grow to be about 20 feet tall, and they can live for a thousand years! The trunks are usually twisted and gnarly, but even an old tree with a hollow trunk will still produce olives. Olive oil was very important to people in Bible times. It wasn’t just used for cooking, but it was also used as fuel for lamps and for medicine. The olives would be picked when they were still green, and then pressed to make olive oil. The wood of the tree was sometimes used for carving, including in Solomon’s temple. Like any fruit tree, the olive tree produces flowers before olives grow. These flowers have a fragrance that is similar to licorice, or anise.
After lots of pleading and warning and threatening, the prophet Hosea gave a beautiful promise from the Lord. God promised that he would turn the his people back to him and love them and stop being angry with them. He used the picture of a beautiful farm with blossoming lilies, cedars and olive trees that grow in Lebanon, and fields of grain and blossoming vineyards. The picture even included the fragrance of the trees. Everything in this picture is growing and blooming and producing fragrance and food, because God is the farmer and gardener that makes everything grow.
It’s God who turns our hearts back to him when we turn away. We sinned against God, but he sent Jesus to be our Savior and to die on the cross for us so that our sins could be forgiven. Jesus brings us back to our heavenly Father, and makes us God’s children. God sends us his Holy Spirit to help us grow and trust him and do the works of love that are like fragrant flowers and fruit and rich, ripe grain. God works in us and through us to make us his people and to keep us with him forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us back to you and for helping us grow in love and faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.