Christ in the Minor Prophets: No. 5 - Hosea

Hosea 1‑14  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
H. P. Barker
No. 5 — Hosea
1. The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
2. The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms. and children of whore-dome: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.
9. Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
10. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered: and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
11. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head.
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Under certain circumstances mild measures avail nothing: only those of an extreme and drastic kind are of use. The state of Israel had become such, in the days of the kings mentioned in the opening verse of the prophecy before us, that mere words were futile. They would fall upon ears that were utterly deaf.
So “the beginning of Jehovah’s word by Hosea” was an action which must have been extremely repugnant to himself, but which should call attention to the backsliding state of the nation, and to the judgment that must inevitably ensue.
But the Spirit of God does not delight to dwell upon evil; though He may employ it as a dark background, to set forth in all the more striking relief, the glory and the blessing which are in the purpose of God for the earth.
Especially do we notice this in Hosea, where after briefly, but solemnly, portraying the terrible condition of Israel, he passes on to dwell upon the glories of the day of Christ. And it is exceedingly precious to the heart that loves Him to observe how the prophecy makes all the coming blessing to center around Him.
The One Head
He is first spoken of in Hosea as the ONE HEAD under which the divided nations of Judah and Israel will be reunited in that day. This He will be, not only by God’s appointment, but by appointment of the people themselves.
Having turned with true repentance to the God of their fathers, and their stony heart being exchanged for a “heart of flesh,” they will joyfully fall into line with God’s gracious appointment, and will with one voice acclaim Him, whom God has given them, as their Head.
The breach between Israel and Judah dates back to the days that followed the reign of Solomon. Though allowed of God in His government, it was none the less through the folly of His people that it was brought about. But when Christ gets His place in the hearts of His restored people, the breach will be forever healed.
The unity of the people of God evidently lies very near to His heart, and the Holy Spirit seems to take special delight in dwelling upon it, in connection with the coming day. Elsewhere we read: “I will give them one heart and one way” (Jer. 32:3939And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: (Jeremiah 32:39)); “And I will make them one nation... and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided... any more at all... and they all shall have one Shepherd” (Ezek. 37:22-2422And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: 23Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. 24And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. (Ezekiel 37:22‑24)); “In that day shall there be one Lord, and His name one” (Zech. 14:99And the Lord shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one. (Zechariah 14:9)).
If Christ will be the bond of unity in that day, how much more is He such today, when believers are members of His body, which is one! And it is as we give Christ His place in our hearts, and in our midst, that practical unity results.
These are days when amalgamations and confederacies of all sorts are devised. To none of these would we attach much importance. But we greatly desire to see Christians laying increasing emphasis on what unites all the children of God, rather than or; the differences that divide them, so that there may be a drawing together, on spiritual lines, of those whose hearts beat true to Him, and who “love His appearing.”
Israel’s Husband
“Behold... I will give her 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.
“And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call Me Ishi; and shalt call Me no more Baali...
“And I will betroth thee unto Me forever.”
In Hosea 2 we find the restoration of Israel described from the standpoint of Jehovah’s faithful love. He will be known to His people by a name that expresses that love. “Thou shalt call me Ishi (my Husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (my Lord).” We must ever bear in mind that the Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New. And in this place He, the Jehovah-Jesus known to us in grace, is addressed as ISRAEL’S HUSBAND. After all her years of wandering and apostasy, she will be brought to know the love that has followed her unfailingly. Her coldness of heart will be gone, and warmth of affection will spring up there, towards that blessed One who is Israel’s Bridegroom, as well as ours.
Israel’s King
“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim.
“Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”
Then in Hosea 3 Christ is brought before us as the true David, ISRAEL’S KING. The long period of scattering when without king, or prince, or sacrifice, (and without the idolatrous symbols of the false worship to which in the past they had so often had recourse) they have wandered homeless among the nations, will be over. They shall return and find the Lord, and “David their king.”
Regal honors will then belong to the One disowned at Calvary. Do not our hearts rejoice at the prospect? Is there one so selfish as to say, “I am not interested, because the scene referred to is not one in which I personally am concerned?” Are you not concerned in what concerns Him? Are you not interested in all that will give Him pleasure and conduce to His glory? When you sing “The crowning day is coming by-and-by,” is it only your crowning day of which you are thinking? Is it nothing to you that His crowning day is coming? May God deliver us all from such pitiable selfishness The remaining chapters of Hosea are full of instruction, but we pass over much, because our search is for Christ, in these old-time prophecies.
But it may be remarked in passing that knowledge, the knowledge of God, is a very great point in Hosea.
Israel’s declension is traced, first of all, to the lack of knowledge of Jehovah’s bounty. “She did not know that I gave her corn” (2:8). But in the day of future glory, when Jehovah betroths her to Himself, she shall fully know Him. “Thou shalt know the Lord” (2:8).
Meanwhile, the prophet has to mourn over this lack of knowledge: “there is no truth,... nor knowledge of God in the land” (4:1). This was the cause of all the trouble: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;” they had “rejected knowledge” (4:6).
It was this, too, that stood in the way of their return to God: “they have not known the Lord” (5:4).
But when repentance is wrought in them, and they are raised up, and live before God, then shall they know, and shall “follow on to know the Lord.” (6:3), and they will learn that this is more agreeable to God than anything else: “the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (6:6).
Mere profession would not do. Though Israel cried “My God, we know Thee” (8:2), it was in vain.
But even then, amidst all the surrounding corruption, those who, like Hosea, groaned over it, and sought the Lord, should be brought into the real knowledge of His ways. “He shall understand these things... and he shall know them” (14:9).
To know God, is to be brought to the Fountain-head of all blessing. There can be no happiness for the creature comparable to the revelation of the Creator in beneficence and love, and in a relationship in which He delights to have us before Him as sons. I speak now of the knowledge that is the portion of Christians. If God has revealed Himself fully, that means full blessing for us. Nothing can possibly transcend the unspeakable bliss of being brought to know God, in the fullness of His love, as revealed in His Son.
Israel’s Representative
“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”
But we turn, finally, to one more reference to Christ, in the pages of Hosea. The inspired quotation by Matthew of Hosea 11:11When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1) enables us to find Christ here too (compare Matt. 2:1515And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. (Matthew 2:15)). For when He came to earth He identified Himself in grace with Israel’s history-the sojourn in Egypt, and the temptation in the wilderness (compare Matt. 4:11Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. (Matthew 4:1)). Where Israel had been the subject of God’s preserving care, there He also trod, (His faithfulness displaying itself in shining contrast to Israel’s failure), so that He might, in a very real way, be able to sympathize with, and support and succor the hearts of His people in days to come, when God shall again bring them from the lands of their oppression, and cause them to pass through the wilderness; (See Ezek. 20:34,3534And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. (Ezekiel 20:34‑35); Isa. 11:1616And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:16); Hos. 2:1414Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. (Hosea 2:14)) before establishing them in the land which He has promised them.