From Solomon’s Porch Sunday Evening Sermon Series in Hosea
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”
And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
Many times in the Old Testament literature we find references to something bigger, something more, something that exceeds the peoples wildest expectations. These passages are just too big to be confused with anything other than the Gospel of the New Testament. Here in Hosea we find one such prophecy, too big to be fulfilled in the history just beyond the exile. All prophecy is future history and what was on the horizon for the people of Judea was their exile and return to the Land, with the rebuilding of the Temple and their capitol city, Jerusalem. This is truly a momentous time. But we need to take into account the declining state of Israel over the next 500 years if we are to come to an understanding that Hosea 1:10 could not possibly be referring to that period.
First, when the people rebuild the Temple in Ezra’s writings, the young men rejoice but the old men weep…… why? The Temple is smaller and less grand than the one built by Solomon. It was a shadow of the former in stature and grandeur, and these old men had laid eyes on it, they’d seen it, and they knew it was not the same.
Second, the people of the tribes of Israel were noticeably smaller. Ten tribes were taken into captivity by Assyria 200 years before Cyrus the great gives the edict to return, while Judah and Benjamin were only in captivity in Babylon for 70 years. Those same ten tribes were forbidden to go to Jerusalem by Jeroboam I to worship around 900 BC, and a false system of worship was erected in Israel that was in place until their captivity. So from 900 BC, til the return to the Land around 530 BC, the Northern Tribes had either been engaged in idolatry or had been captive in a foreign nation. What occurred was a whole sale loss of the their sacred memory and identity. Hosea 1:8,9, which are the previous verses to the one given at the top of this article state,
When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
Indeed every prophecy given around the birth of Hosea’s children in chapter one of the Book of Hosea say essentially the same thing.
So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all.
The reality is, in the post exile period the people of Judea were fewer, dropping from 12 tribes down to really just 2 ½. (Judah, Benjamin, and the Levites placed in those tribes) There were some who returned from Assyria, but not many. Most had completely lost their heritage and intermarried with their captors.
Third, Judea would never again be a sovereign nation. From the rise of Babylon on the stage of history as the world power of their day, til the final destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Rome in 70 AD, dispersing the remaining tribes among the nations of the world 1,943 years ago, Judea would pass as a vassal state from one empire to another, from Babylon to Medo-Persia, from Medo-Persia to Greek control, from Greek control to the Roman dominance of Jesus’ day.
So the history of Judea during the period after the captivity is not glorious enough to possibly account for verses 10 and 11 of Hosea 1. These verses clearly are allusions to the Gospel and the coming New Covenant to be established by Jesus. So how do we account for them, and what do they mean in the light of the New Covenant? This will be the subject of the second installment of “Inclusion: Israel, Abraham, and the Church”.
Soli Deo Gloria