By some accounts, the scent of the olive tree is not so good, so the symbolism switches back to the cedar tree, as well as to the frankincense tree and the many other trees and plants that made the mountains of Lebanon smell so wonderful.
Revelation 5:8 describes the prayers of the saints as incense, and the church is called a garden of spices in Song of Songs 4:12, 14. Likewise, our spiritual sacrifices carry a sweet aroma to God (Genesis 8:21). When we live a life of obedience to God, as we strive to do now, and when Israel will do so in God's Kingdom, it pleases God as a beautiful perfume is pleasing.
The first part of Hosea 14:7 reads, "Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like the vine." "His shadow" might refer to God, but "his branches," "his beauty," and "his fragrance" (verse 6), refer to Israel, so "his shadow" must also. The whole phrase, "dwell under his shadow," denotes protection and reviving, restoration under shelter from adversity. Everyone has sought relief from the harsh rays of the sun in the shade of a tree, just as most have run under the spreading branches of a tree to escape a sudden shower. So will the nation of Israel be a refuge in that time, a fellowship of restoration under the blessings of God.
Those who live within that refuge "shall return"; they will grow again and again like a perennial plant. A lesson for us is that the shadow cast by the church, the spiritual "Israel of God," provides protection and growth. Over the centuries, God has called many into His church, but unfortunately, a great many did not stay. When the sun slipped behind a cloud or when the storm abated, many left the safety of the shadow. Some, however, choose to dwell there, never again leaving the spiritual safety of God's church.
It is these who "shall be revived like grain" and "grow like the vine." Grain, when it is sown, first dies and then revives (I Corinthians 15:35-44), a wonderful analogy of the resurrection of both the firstfruits and those of the White Throne Judgment. These revived ones will "grow like the vine," that is, produce fruit that is pleasing and glorifying to God (John 15:1-8).
A tree with a trunk 63 feet around and 70 feet tall could have branches that extend well over 100 feet side to side (see Hosea 14:5). What a great shade tree! In its shadow, one would be cool in the summer and protected from wind and rain in winter.
At this point, the comparison switches again. God says Israel will be beautiful as the olive tree. It is not that the cedar is an ugly tree, far from it. However, unlike the North American cedar tree, which is upright and narrow, the cedar of Lebanon is more sprawling, giving it a rangy appearance. The Bible often uses the olive tree, however, as a symbol of peace, prosperity, and beauty. It, too, is an evergreen, and in the same way, the Christian walk is not a part-time endeavor.
The olive tree is fruit bearing, while the cedar is not. Many professing Christians of this world talk a lot, but they produce little, if any, real fruit. They will tell you how good they are, how much they give to their church, how much they help the poor and downtrodden—then they will lie, cheat, and bury their neighbor in business!
Matthew 7:15-20 warns us of false prophets, saying that we will know the good from the bad by their fruits. This is true, not just of ministers, but of all people. In our walk through life, we will produce good fruit as we grow in God's ways and overcome. If we do not, Matthew 7:19 says we will be cast into the fire—the opposite result of being in God's Kingdom.