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Bible Commentaries
Hosea 3

Ironside's Notes on Selected BooksIronside's Notes

Verses 1-3

Chapter 3

Israel’s Present And Future

This chapter, brief as it is, becomes of vast importance if one would understand the ways of God in regard to the earth and the earthly people. It is, one might say, the 11th of Romans of the Old Testament, and, read in connection with that portion, sheds much light on the mystery of Israel’s present anomalous condition and the predictions concerning their future glory.

Once more the prophet’s relation to his wife is taken up as an illustration. She who had been before denominated a harlot is now an adulteress. The difference in its application is readily perceived. Israel, utterly unworthy before Jehovah took them up in His wondrous grace, had-after their union with Himself had been sealed by covenant-proven more unworthy still, so that they are likened, not only by Hosea, but other prophets also, to an adulteress, following strangers instead of her husband.

Here the language used is significant. The . prophet is not told to love his wife. She had forfeited all claim to that relation. She is simply called “a woman,” and he adds, “beloved of a friend;” that is, one who had, as we have seen, chosen another in place of her rightful spouse.

Hosea’s love for so unworthy and worthless a creature was to be a picture of “the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel,” who, professing themselves to be in covenant-relation with Him, yet “look to other gods and love grape-cakes” (ver. 1). The latter expression is the correct reading, in place of “flagons of wine,” which has no specific reference to idolatry. The cakes were expressive of the idolatrous relation they were sustaining, as the reader may see by consulting Jeremiah 7:18 and 44:19. It was thus they honored her who in that day bore the title of “Queen of heaven”-a title which in apostate Christendom has been given to Mary the mother of our Lord, and that in direct defiance of Scripture.

Gomer (for I doubt not she is indeed the “woman” the passage speaks of) seems to have so involved herself that only by paying a redemption price can she be released from her wretched and degrading position; so the prophet “bought her to him for fifteen pieces of silver, and for a homer of barley, and a half homer of barley”-the purchase-price of a common slave, thus illustrating the words of Isaiah, “Ye have sold yourselves for naught, and ye shall be redeemed without money”7 (Isaiah 52:3). Tenderly had Jehovah entreated them through the same prophet to “Return unto Me, for I have redeemed thee” (ch. 44:22). But though the purchase-price was paid at Calvary’s cross, Judah and Israel are wayward still, and the marriage-covenant has not been renewed.

Hosea says to Gomer, “Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee” (ver. 3); that is, a period of testing, undefined in duration, is to pass ere she shall be restored to conjugal privileges.

The application is made by the Holy Spirit in the closing verses, “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” (vers. 4, 5). In these two verses we have succinctly set forth their whole state for this entire dispensation, as also the future blessing that is to be theirs in the day of the kingdom, when it is displayed in power and glory.

The “many days” run throughout the whole present period until the fulness of the Gentiles shall be completed.

Ever since the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans they have answered to the description here given. They have been a nation of wanderers, with no national standing, “without a king, and without a prince.” The sceptre has departed from Judah and the lawgiver from between his feet-solemn witness of the fact that Shiloh is already come, but come only to be rejected by them. Thus they are left without a sacrifice, for their temple is destroyed and their altar profaned. From nation to nation, and from city to city, they have wandered through the centuries; a homeless, often-hated people, despised by man and without means of approach to God on the ground of the law which they have broken.

Ritual and Talmudic lore have in large measure taken the place of God’s appointed ordinances and the authority of the “Torah” (the law) among them. But from year to year they have to confess in anguish, as they beat their breasts, “Woe unto us, for we have no Mediator!” The smoke of sacrifice ascends not to heaven; the blood of atonement is not sprinkled within the veil in any earthly sanctuary; and blindness in part having wrapped them in judicial darkness, they know not that by the one offering of the Lord Jesus on the cross iniquity is taken away and sin purged, because eternal redemption has been found in that precious blood.

Thus not only are they without a sacrifice, but without a priest also-“without an ephod”-for all records have long been lost: and though many survive who are in the direct line of priesthood (as shall be made manifest in the day of their restoration), yet they cannot now trace their genealogy; and if they could, there is no temple in which to officiate. Meantime the heavenly Priest ministers in the sanctuary above, but their eyes are holden, and they know Him not.

It might naturally be supposed that, being denied all the consolations of the religion of their fathers, they would have fallen again into the idolatrous practices of the heathen: but no; for we learn they were to abide “without an image,” and “without teraphim.” The Babylonian captivity cured them of idolatry. Since then, that at least has not been one of their national sins. They have no means of access to the true God while they revile and refuse His Anointed. On the other hand, they follow not after idols, but wait, like the redeemed wife of the prophet, till the day when they will again be publicly owned by Jehovah.

When the present dispensation is ended, and the Church has been translated to heaven, God will once more take them up in grace and fulfil the promises made to the fathers.8 After passing through the unparalleled tribulation of the latter days, as predicted by Jeremiah (ch. 30), by Daniel (chs. 11 and 12), by Zechariah (chs. 12-14), and by our Lord Himself in Matthew 24:0 and kindred scriptures, they shall “return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear [or the Hebrew may be rendered, ‘shall hasten to’] the Lord, and His goodness.” It will be the fulfilment of that to which all the prophets have looked forward, when Israel’s wanderings shall be over, their sins blotted out, themselves renewed, and the kingdom confirmed to them. In that day Jesus will be King over all the earth, sitting upon the throne of His father David, and reigning in glorious power and majesty. It would seem, too, from a careful comparison of this passage with the latter part of Ezekiel’s prophecy, that a lineal descendant of David’s line (called “the prince”) shall exercise regency on earth over the restored nation, under the authority of Him whose capital city will be the new and heavenly Jerusalem, the “city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.”

Thus shall the years of Israel’s mourning be ended, and the day of Messiah’s glory have arrived; for the two synchronize. There can be no full blessing for Israel and the earth till the tragedy of Calvary is repented of, and Jew and Gentile unite in owning their sin in crucifying the Lord of glory and killing the Prince of life.

Till then, the unhappy condition delineated in the next chapter must continue-save that the curse of idolatry has been done away, as we have seen.

Verses 4-5


It is evident from the word of God that certain saints will be found on earth in the days of the great tribulation. Many of these will be called on to suffer martyrdom while others will be preserved through this entire period and will enter into the kingdom to be set up on earth. Because of this, it has naturally been concluded that these are necessarily members of the church, the body of Christ.

Many think of the church as a surname by which the entire family of faith from Adam to the end of the millennium is designated. If one thinks of the church in this manner there can be only one answer to the question. "Will the church or any part of it go through the great tribulation?" Certainly many members of the household of faith will have to endure great suffering during that time of trouble. But if one has learned to distinguish clearly from scripture between new birth, common to all children of God in every dispensation, and membership in the body of Christ, which belongs alone to the saints of this present age from Pentecost to the rapture. It should not be difficult to distinguish the saints who will have part in the tribulation from those who will be caught up before it begins. But because many believers are not clear as to this distinction, the point deserves further consideration.

First let it be noted that Old Testament prophecy never refers to this dispensation in which we live (extending from Pentecost to the Lord's coming for His own), save in a most indefinite way (as, for instance, in Daniel 9:26). From Moses to Malachi, scripture is mainly occupied with one nation, Israel (Amos 3:2; Deuteronomy 7:6; Psalms 147:19-20), and the hope of that nation, namely, the raising up of a prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15), priest (Psalms 110:4; Zechariah 6:13), and king (Isaiah 32:0; Psalms 2:6). This hope will bring them into everlasting blessing as people (Psalms 132:11-18; Isaiah 35:10; Isaiah 51:11; Isaiah 61:7), though not until they have been born again (Ezekiel 36:24-30). The gentiles will share in that blessing (Isaiah 56:6; Isaiah 65:1), not on the same footing with Israel, but rather in subjection to them (Isaiah 14:1-3; Isaiah 60:3-5; Isaiah 62:2-3).

Before the ushering in of that day of Jehovah's power and Messiah's glory the prophets predicted the rejection of the looked-for Redeemer by Israel to whom He came (Isaiah 53:0). In consequence Israel is set aside by God (Zechariah 7:13-14), while the rejected Messiah takes His place in the heavens on Jehovah's throne (Psalms 110:1), which He will occupy until the future repentance of the people (Hosea 5:15). This setting aside of Israel is not final, as Jeremiah 30-31 declare. But before their restoration to divine favor and the land of Palestine, the Israelites must pass through a short period of unequalled persecution and chastisement, called "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7). At the close of this time they will be ready to acknowledge the crucified one as their Lord, and will "mourn for Him as one mourning for his only son" (Zechariah 12:10-13:6- 7). In the darkest hour of their sorrow, when Jerusalem is surrounded by armies and they are in dire distress, He will appear as their Deliverer and the destroyer of their enemies, after which the tabernacle of David will be raised up and the reign of righteousness ushered in (Zechariah 14:0: Amos 9:8-15).

In the New Testament we find much new information introduced, without which the present working of the Spirit of God in the world would be inexplicable. In Romans 11:0 we are told that upon the breaking off of the natural branches (Israel) from the tree of promise, wild branches (gentiles)are put in their place. In other words, Israel's rejection has made way for unforetold grace to be shown to the nations, though Old Testament prophecy of blessing to the heathen can be quoted as proof that such grace is not in opposition to their final blessing. However, this special work among the gentiles is not to go on forever, for if these do not continue in divine goodness, they too shall be cut off and the natural branches grafted in again.

God is doing a work now that is not mentioned in the Jewish oracles, during the time that His earthly people are lo-ammi ("not my people," Hosea 1:9), or unacknowledged by Him, "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in" (Romans 11:25). This is one of the "mysteries", one of the secret things (Deuteronomy 29:29) that has until now been unrevealed. The Lord Jesus confirms this (from the political side) in his prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, the long period of desolation and gentile supremacy following it, and the end that occurs with his personal appearing. Luke 21:24 records: "Jerusalem shall be trodden of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."

This passage is related to Daniel 9:0, where we see the prophecy of the seventy weeks. Let us briefly consider the main points. From the course of time, seventy weeks of years, or 490 years, are "determined," or "cut off," and given to Daniel's people, or the Jewish nation. Before this period of time expires six important events will have taken place:

1. Transgression will be finished;

2. An end will be made of sins;

3. Atonement (rather than reconciliation) will be made for iniquity;

4. Everlasting righteousness will be brought in;

5,. Vision and prophecy will be sealed up, or fulfilled;

6. And the most holy, or holy of holies, of the millennial temple at Jerusalem will be anointed (see Ezekiel 40-48).

The seventy weeks are divided into three unequal periods. The first is seven weeks, or forty-nine years. The second is sixty-two weeks, or 434 years. The third is one week, or seven years. During the first seven weeks, or "the strait times", the city and wall of Jerusalem were to be rebuilt. The date from which to count is found in Nehemiah 2:0, when a "commandment went forth to restore and build Jerusalem." The sixty-two weeks seem to have immediately followed, and ended in the coming of Messiah. After the conclusion of this period He was cut off and had nothing, but atonement was made. Then comes the present long interval of Jerusalem's treading down. The city is destroyed, as our Lord foretold also, and "even unto the end shall be war," until one arises who confirms a covenant with the Jews for the last final week. Clearly, then, this week is still future. The prophetic clock stopped at Calvary; it will not start again until "the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."

The present is a timeless epoch, parenthetically introduced between the sixty-ninth and seventieth week, in which God is taking out from among the gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:14). He has utterly given up the Jew, but both Jew and gentile stand on equal footing: "There is no difference: For all have sinned" (Romans 3:22-23). Both are saved through faith in Christ, and all such are made members of the one body, the church.By the Holy Ghost both are united to the Lord Jesus Christ as head in heaven. (See Romans 16:25-28; 1 Corinthians 12:0; Ephesians 4:0; Colossians 1:24-29). This began with the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:0; 1 Corinthians 12:13). It will be completed at the coming of the Lord when He calls His church to be forever with Himself, an event which may take place at any moment (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 2 Thessalonians 2:1).

Then the long-delayed seventieth week will begin to run its course. At its conclusion Daniel's prophecy (as all other millennial prophecies) will be entirely fulfilled. Atonement was made for iniquity after the expiration of the sixty-ninth week. Everlasting righteousness will be brought in at the end of the seventieth. This brief period will be one of judgement. It will include judgement on apostate Christendom, on Israel, and on the nations at large. It is to be the awful result of the rejection of the Prince of Peace. Revelation 4-19 is occupied entirely with its solemn events. The saints of all prior dispensations, as well as the church, are seen enthroned in heaven as the twenty-four elders who have been redeemed with the blood of the lamb (Revelation 5:0) at the beginning of the week. They ride forth as the "armies of heaven" with "the Word of God" at His glorious appearing at the end.

The last three-and-one-half years will be the time when Israel shall receive "of the Lord's hand double for all her sins" (Isaiah 40:2), the "time of Jacob's trouble" spoken of in Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1, and the "great tribulation" of Matthew 24:0 and Revelation 7:14. The covenant breaking prince of Daniel 9:0 is the beast, the head of the Roman Empire, who makes a league with the wilful king of Revelation 11:36-39. He is the antichrist of prophecy (1 John 2:18), the idol shepherd of Zechariah 11:15-17, who will "come in his own name," as foretold by the Lord Jesus in John 5:43, and will be received by the majority of the Jews as messiah, but who will become the cruel persecutor of a faithful company designated as "the remnant" (Isaiah 11:11; Ezekiel 6:8; Revelation 12:17). In Revelation 7:0 we read of 144,000 out of all the tribes of Israel and a numberless white-robed multitude of spared gentiles who will follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They are said to have come up out of the great tribulation and to have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Many take it for granted that this is a heavenly company, and one is not surprised at that, for the language used is so nearly like that which we find later on in connection with the saints in the new Jerusalem. But a careful comparison of this chapter with a part of Isaiah 49:0 makes it clear that this great multitude represents the nucleus of the kingdom to be set up in this world at the time when our Lord returns and the days of heaven prevail on the earth. In other words, it refers to heavenly conditions in this world. In Isaiah 49:8-13, we read:

"Thus saith the Lord. In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee; and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages. That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them; for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. And I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. Behold, these shall come from far; and, lo, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim. Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for the Lord hath comforted His people, and will have mercy upon His afflicted."

There is no question here of resurrection or the peopling of the heavenly Jerusalem. This entire prophecy has to do with the resurrection of Israel and the blessing of the gentiles through them of the earth in a coming day. The language of verse 10 is almost identical with that of Revelation 7:16. Who then are these saints?

First we must consider the 144,000. There has been speculation regarding this company. Some see them a picture of what they call a firstfruits rapture, linking this passage with Revelation 14:0, where 144,000 are seen standing with the Lamb on Mount Zion. The current teaching states that a select group of believers will be raptured before the great tribulation, while the rest will have to pass through it. The 144,000 are supposed to represent this select group. The great multitude, the majority of the church, will be purified in the fires of the great tribulation. But scripture knows nothing of any such selective rapture. The word of God is perfectly plain. Consider these texts from the Bible: "Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at His coming." "We which are alive and remain shall be caught up together." There is no hint of any division in the church of God, the body of Christ. All are saved by grace, all are alike made "meet to be partakers of the of the inheritance of the saints in light." The rapture is never presented as reward for special devotedness, but is preliminary to the judgement seat of Christ, where we shall all stand to receive our rewards. We will be in a glorified body when we appear at that great tribunal. This could not be true if only a special group were raptured before the tribulation.

It is sad to observe the way various sects and systems seek to identify themselves with the 144,000. According to the Seventh-day Adventists, these are those who keep the commandments perfectly. The Russellites insist that they are a special class of overcomers who will be exalted to the divine nature, whereas others will be saved on a lower plane. Various pentecostal groups declare that they are those who have been baptized with the Spirit and speak in tongues, or are characterized by other remarkable gifts.

But what are the facts? First we have the vision (Revelation 7:1-3), and then the interpretation (7:4). The 144,000 are out of all tribes of the children of Israel and represent that remnant which will turn to the Lord after the church has been caught up, in accordance with Romans 11:23: "Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." In the book of Daniel, and in many parts of prophetic scripture, we find this remnant distinguished from the mass. They are the wise who understand. They are the gleanings in the day of Jehovah's wrath, who will be recognized by Him as His own. They are sealed for preservation in view of the coming kingdom, before the dreadful storm of the great tribulation is permitted to break on the earth. In Revelation 14:0 we see them as a victorious company, safely emerged from that storm, having formed what we might call the bodyguard of the Lamb, when He returns to mount Zion. It is evident that they will be a witnessing company and will carry the gospel of the kingdom to millions who have never heard and rejected the message of grace. As a result of their testimony, we see the great multitude of gentiles brought to a knowledge of Christ and cleansed by His precious blood.

For I know their works and their thoughts; it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them into the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw thee bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles. And they shall bring all your brethren for an offering unto the Lord out of all nations upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon swift beasts, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, saith the Lord, as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the Lord. And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the Lord (Isaiah 66:18-21).

Here we have God dealing in grace with Israel and the gentile nations during the time of the great tribulation and just before He sets up His glorious kingdom here on earth.

We are told in Daniel 12:3,

"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament;

and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."

This has to do with their testimony in the time of trouble yet to come, but Daniel has told us,

"At that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."

The hour of their darkest trouble and deepest sorrow will result in the elect among them returning to the Lord. The 144,000 of Revelation 7:0 are those who will say, "Come, and let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up" (Hosea 6:1). Zion's sore travail shall result in a great bringing forth of children, as predicted in Micah 5:3 and Isaiah 66:8.

"Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children."

The "blindness in part"is to be done away, the "fullness of the Gentiles" having come in, as shown also in Hosea 3:4-5:

"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."

This is true not of the nation as a whole (see Zechariah 13:8-9; Isaiah 24:13;F also Ezekiel 20:31-44) but of the remnant. The mass will be destroyed for their apostasy. The remnant will be acknowledged as the nation, and "so all Israel shall be saved" (Romans 11:26). To be of the sons of Jacob will not ensure an opportunity of grace. None who refuse the truth now, whether Jew or gentile, can be saved then.

In Matthew 25:0, we have the judgement of the living nations at the Lord's return. This is to be distinguished from the judgement of the great white throne. The former is premillennial, the latter postmillennial. We read:

"When the Son of man shall come in His glory and all the holy angels with Him,

then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory, and before Him shall be gathered all nations."

Notice there is no word of people here being raised from the dead, as at the final judgement. But we see the living nations gathered before him, and a separation is made according to the treatment afforded those whom the Lord calls "my brethren." Linking this with the passages we have already considered, it would seem to be clear that the "brethren" here referred to are His brethren after the flesh, the remnant of Israel. Those who enter into the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world are the gentiles who received these brethren and heeded their message. These are the ones who inherit the millennial kingdom.

Those who are martyred under the beast and the anti-christ in that day will be raised from the dead when the Lord descends to take the kingdom, and will thus form the last cohort of the first resurrection. Notice the order indicated in Revelation 20:4-6. First, John says, "I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgement was given unto them." These are undoubtedly identified with the saints who are raised at the rapture before the tribulation. Then John mentions another class.

"And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years."

These are the martyrs of the tribulation period. They have their part in the heavenly side of the kingdom. As to the unsaved, we are told in verse 5. "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection." Verse 6 includes the entire company who have part in the various cohorts of the first resurrection. "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection; on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years."

It is plain then that there will be saints on the earth during the great tribulation, but they are not members of the body of Christ, as that body is now constituted by the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They will be individual believers, as in Old Testament times, and will through grace be enabled to witness for Christ in that day of great distress. They will share in the kingdom and enjoy the blessing of the Lord in a wonderful way, but they are not included in the body of Christ that occupies a distinct place through all the ages to come.

Bibliographical Information
Ironside, H. A. "Commentary on Hosea 3". Ironside's Notes on Selected Books. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/isn/hosea-3.html. 1914.
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