Hosea14v5and6: THE DEW UNTO ISRAEL

Introduction. Read Hosea14.

God tells Hosea by way of encouragement: I will be as the dew unto Israel, he shall grow as the lily and cast forth his roots as Lebanon, his branches shall spread and his beauty shall be as the olive tree and his smell as Lebanon. Hos14v5and6.

God's goodness or grace is suggested by the expression: I will be as the dew unto Israel. It is possible to learn some valuable lessons about God's grace by comparing it with the dew. God's grace is like the dew in:

(1) It's origins.

(a) The dew descends from above. Philip James Bailey put it like this: Tis the tears which stars weep sweet with joy. Dew is far removed from the water of our oceans our rivers or springs. It is distilled from the atmosphere and the purest water on earth.

God's grace is pure and unsullied. It is distilled from the atmosphere of heaven. It is unpolluted by the motives which plague even the best of our actions. John writes of God's greatest gift: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Jn3v16and17. God's only motivation for the gift of his son was love, love and more love.

(b) The dew's arrival cannot be stopped by man. About the only kind of precipitation that can be controlled by man is snowfall. If stratus clouds are seeded with silver nitrate under certain conditions snowfall can be prevented. However, little can be done to prevent the dew forming.

Nothing can thwart the grace of God. God's goodness to Israel was evident in the Exodus, the wanderings in the wilderness and the conquest of the Promised Land. During the Babylonian exile the Jews finally dispensed with idolatry forever.

Stalin tried his best to wipe out Christianity in the USSR but he had not reckoned with the old grannies who hid their icons and told Bible stories to their grandchildren.

Mao tse Tung drove the church underground but there it was sustained by God's grace and grew and grew.

(2) It's dependence.

The amount of dew that falls depends upon:

(a) The heat of the preceding day.

James Ballantine wrote:

        In lang, lang days o' simmer, When the clear and cloudless sky
        Refuses ae weep drap o' rain To Nature parched and dry,
        The genial night, wi' balmy breath, God's verdure, spring anew,
        An' ilka blade o' grass Keps its ain drap o' dew.

On the whole the hotter the preceding day the more copious the nightly dew. Heavy dews are not common in Britain during the winter months. They occur most frequently in late summer and early autumn.

Perhaps this teaches us that God's grace is given most abundantly to those suffering the fierce heat of persecution, trials of various sorts and powerful temptation.

We read in Matthew's gospel that after Jesus had been tempted in the wilderness: Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Mt4v11. In the Garden of Gethsemane in his time of greatest agony: An angel from heaven appeared unto him and strengthened him. Lk22v43.

I love the testimony of Corrie ten Boom in her book, 'In My Father's House.' Corrie and her sister Betsie were in a concentration camp accused of harbouring Jews during the German occupation of Holland in the Second World War. Corrie lay next to her sister on a dirty mattress. She could feel the heart beat of Betsie. It was irregular and feeble.

Corrie tried hard to think of something comforting to say to her sister before falling asleep. Then she remembered a favourite saying of her dear, godly father: 'Underneath are the everlasting arms'.

"Betsie," Corrie whispered, "Are you asleep?"

"No, not yet," her sister replied weakly.

"Remember what father used to tell us - 'God is our dwelling place. Underneath are the everlasting arms.'"

Corrie could not be sure but she believed Betsie must have smiled in that black barracks.

"Oh yes, Corrie ....... and he will never leave us," Betsie whispered.

The dew of God's grace descended upon both sisters.

(b) The stillness of the night.

Lord Chesterfield described dew as: Those tears of the sky for the loss of the sun. Dew is very uncommon in turbulent weather conditions. The calmer the night the more copious the dew.

This should remind us of Psalm46v10: Be still and know that I am God. Some Christians abhor stillness. They are all for action; they cannot believe that God will bless without some new initiative. Elijah was like that. He thought his contest with the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel would convince the people to worship the LORD and the LORD only. Well the fire of the LORD fell. The prophets of Baal were slaughtered. But next day Elijah was fleeing for his life into the desert. It was there that God showed him that he wasn't in the wind or the earthquake of the fire but in the still small voice. Quiet, unspectacular but faithful witness was responsible for the 6000 who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

All over the world men and women are being converted through the testimony of family, friends and humble pastors.

Every day Christians everywhere enjoy a daily dew time - a time of quiet, Bible reading, meditation and prayer. See story, 'Be still'.

(c) The nature of the surface.

Some surfaces cool down much more rapidly than others during the stillness of the night. Sandy soils lose temperature more quickly than clay ones. A place particularly conducive to dew formation is a meadow. Each blade of grass has two cooling surfaces and there are innumerable blades of grass in a meadow. All you have to do is walk through a meadow after a dewy night to discover just how wet it gets.

It is undoubtedly true that some Christians receive more of God's grace than others. Martha entertained Jesus but spent her time bustling around organising the food rather than sit with Mary at his feet. Jesus told Martha her sister had chosen the better part - Mary's was the greater blessing. So, it is not the most obviously active Christians who necessarily experience copious drafts of God's grace.

(3) It nature.

(a) The dew falls exceedingly gently.

Charles Jefferys writes in his ballad, 'Mary of Argyll':

          I have heard the mavis (thrush) singing
          His love song to the morn;
          I have seen the dew drop clinging
          To the rose just newly born.

The dew is bestowed with exquisite tenderness. Rain on the other hand can pour down in torrents - flattening crops and eroding the soil. No plant is damaged by the dew.

Sometimes man's righteousness can take the form of an austere and legalistic orthodoxy that does more harm than good. Nowhere is this shown to better effect than in the gospels. Just consider how gently Jesus treated the woman taken in adultery, the Samaritan woman, the prostitute who wept on his feet, Mary who anointed him with precious ointment and Mary Magdalene. In EVERY case those women had their critics but Jesus treated them with understanding and grace.

Jesus still deals gently with sinners who come to him in repentance and faith. Many are like Lydia the business woman of Philippi whose heart the Lord opened.

(b) The dew arrives quietly and unannounced.

Edmund Gosse wrote of the wizard silence of the hours of dew.

You can never miss a thunderstorm - the lightning, the thunder, the fierce wind and the down pour of hail and rain. What a contrast with the impressive silence of the dew's arrival.

Now, it is true that when Jesus was born the angel's sang to the shepherds in the fields at night but compared to the birth of an earthly heir to the throne very little fuss was made. This aspect of the incarnation is celebrated in the carol, ' O Little Town of Bethlehem':

          How silently, how silently
          The wondrous gift is given
          So God imparts to human hearts
          The blessing of his heaven.
          No ear may hear His coming;
          But in this world of sin,
          Where meek souls will receive Him still
          The dear Christ enters in.

I believe that Jesus continues to work quietly in the lives of his people and through them to bring others into the kingdom. I like the word of testimony my friend Pastor Joseph Hewitt gave when he spoke in our church recently. He and his brother used to play in one of the mean streets of Clapham. One day a well dressed gentleman stopped where they were playing and asked the boys to get their mother. He then invited her two sons to attend the Sunday School at Courland Grove Grace Baptist Church. Joseph and his brother went and so began the work of grace in the life of my friend that led him to become a minister of the gospel. Just a quiet invitation from a godly Sunday School Superintendent made all the difference.

(c) The dew forms regularly and reliably in Palestine.

The hot, sunny days and clear still nights in Mediterranean countries are very conducive to dew formation through the long dry summers.

Christians can expect a never ending supply of God's grace. God can be relied upon to dispense it in our Sunday services, mid-week prayer meetings and private devotions. This year my old friend Peter Chaffey - befuddled by Alzheimer's disease - has just managed to attend our prayer meetings. How he loves to come - to sing the Sankey hymns - to read God's word - and to pray. What lovely prayers he makes. God is bestowing his grace on Peter and through Peter's joy in fellowship on me too.

(4) Its benefits.

(a) The dew beautifies.

Many poets have commented on the beauty imparted by the dew. Longfellow wrote: Every drop of dew has a whole heaven within it. And Tennyson: Every dew drop paints a bow.

I can recall going into a meadow one September morning and finding it bedecked in cobwebs from all of which hung dew drops sparkling in the autumn sunshine. It was a wonderful sight.

I think the regular recipients of God's grace are beautified. When Stephen was brought before the Sanhedrin on a charge of blaspheming Moses and God we read: They saw that his face was like the face of an angel. Acts6v15 My mother loved to quote the description of the face of an old Christian she came across in a book: A glowing tallow candle in a holy place.

(b) The dew refreshes.

Many a worn down, jaded Christian is refreshed by God's grace. I had an email recently from a man whose spiritual life was at a low ebb who said how much my exposition on Jesus' saying, "A bruised reed I will not break and a smoking flax I will not quench," restored him. See: Exposition on Mt12v20.

Yesterday I was feeling rather sorry for myself. I had to cancel a little walk and pub lunch with my friends John and Marion Skull because I had the gout. They came to see me instead and cheered me up.

There are many ways God bestows his grace upon us and refreshes flagging spirits - an email, a sermon, a visit, a public prayer, a hug. God takes his bowl and sprinkles the dew of his grace upon the fevered soul.

(c) The dew sustains.

The dew is a vital source of water for both vegetation and crops in the dry Mediterranean summer.

God's grace sustains the Christian during dry and difficult times.

I was fascinated to watch a retelling of the old story of Pitcairn Island on BBC TV. The programme was about the efforts of Australian archaeologists to discover evidence of the early settlement of the Pacific Island by Fletcher Christian and eight other mutineers from the Bounty in the late eighteenth century. Six Polynesian men and 12 women accompanied them. An old musket was all the archaeologists found for their very considerable efforts. Interwoven into the account of the archaeological dig and interviews with descendents of the mutineers was a history of that strange settlement. It was a sad tale of jealousy, drunkenness, murder and revenge. Finally only one man was left, Alexander Smith, along with 12 rebellious women and their 20 children. Fortunately Alexander Smith had been taught to read by his friend Edward Young before Young died. Smith began to read to the women and children from the Bible. It was then that the TV camera panned down on something the archaeologists had missed, the most precious artefact from that time, a 200 year old Bible, the old Bible from the Bounty itself, the living, active, penetrating and discriminating Word of God. That Word transformed the small community where previously hate had reigned. The programme ended with the Islanders singing the old Sankey hymn, 'In the sweet bye and bye,' a tribute to the preserving power and sweetening influence of a Holy Book.

The regular reading of the Bible was the means whereby God's grace transformed and sustained the Island community of Pitcairn.


The dew returns from whence it comes as James Montgomery points out:

          The dew-drop in the breeze of morn,
          Trembling and sparkling on the thorn,
          Falls to the ground, escapes the eye,
          Yet mounts on sunbeams to the sky.

God blesses us that we might bless him. We have received, by grace, new life and a new family that we might glorify God's name. So the Christian blessed by the dew:

  • Grows like the lily to be beautiful for Him.

  • Spreads forth roots like a cedar of Lebanon to stand firm for Him.

  • Stretches out branches to comfort and shelter others for Him.

  • Blossoms like the olive tree to be fruitful for Him.

  • Exudes a sweet fragrance like the pine needles of Lebanon.
When we close the Lord's prayer we usually use these words: For yours is the kingdom, and the power and the GLORY forever and ever. Amen. May our lives in some small measure - as we benefit from the dew of God's grace - glorify our Father in heaven.

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