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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
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Nave's Topical Bible - Gentiles; God Continued...; Israel, Prophecies Concerning; Jesus, the Christ; Prophecy; Quotations and Allusions; Scofield Reference Index - Christ; Wife; Thompson Chain Reference - Conversion; Gentiles; Missions, World-Wide; The Topic Concordance - Mercy; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Adoption; Mercy of God, the;
Verse Hosea 2:23. I will sow her — Alluding to the import of the name Jezreel, the seed of God. Then shall it appear that God has shown mercy to them that had not obtained mercy. Then the covenant of God will be renewed; for he will call them his people who were not his people; and they shall call Jehovah their God, who before had him not for the object of their worship. It does not appear that these promises have had their fulfilment among the Jews. They must either be understood of the blessings experienced by the Gentiles on their conversion to God by the preaching of the Gospel, or are yet to be fulfilled to the Jews on their embracing the Gospel, and being brought back to their own land.
The sentences in the latter part of this verse are very abrupt, but exceedingly expressive; leaving out those words supplied by the translators, and which unnerve the passage, it stands thus: I will say to NOT MY PEOPLE, THOU MY PEOPLE; and they shall say, MY GOD.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​hosea-2.html. 1832.
Unfaithful Israel (2:2-23)
In Chapter 2 Hosea’s sons are apparently now grown up and Hosea asks them to plead with their mother to return to him. In the same way the minority of faithful believers in Israel plead with the faithless nation to return to God (2).
Israel’s adultery was to follow Baal instead of Yahweh. The people believed that Baal was the god of nature and he would give them happiness. Just as a husband could strip his unfaithful wife and send her away naked, so God will, by drought and conquest, strip Israel’s land, leaving it bare and fruitless (3-5).
God creates other hindrances designed to stop Israel from going after Baal and to help her return to him, but she persists in pursuing Baal. Only when she cannot get what she wants from Baal does she selfishly turn back to Yahweh, hoping he can do better for her (6-7).
In his grace God receives unfaithful Israel back, but by ruining the productivity of the land he will show her that he, not Baal, is the controller of nature (8-9). As an adulterous wife is shamed by being stripped naked, so the nation that is committing spiritual adultery with Baal will be shamed as her land is stripped bare (10-13).
After she acknowledges her wrong, God will win Israel back to himself. When Israel first entered her land, the Valley of Achor (GNB: Trouble Valley) brought warnings of judgment (see Joshua 7:22-26), but when she returns it will bring hope (14-15). No longer will she try to follow both Yahweh and Baal. Yahweh will be her only husband. In fact, she will be so determined to avoid any identification of Yahweh with Baal, that she will refuse to use the word baal when speaking of Yahweh as her husband or master. She will use the alternative word ish (16-17). Yahweh will protect her from all dangers, whether from the world of nature or from the world of people. He is God of nature and God of history (18).
The ‘re-marriage’ will be based on God’s standards and maintained by his loving faithfulness to the marriage covenant. Israel will know Yahweh and be inseparably united with him (19-20). He, the only God of nature, will then give to Israel the blessings of nature that she desired. The curses signified by the names of Hosea’s three children will then be turned into blessings (21-23).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​hosea-2.html. 2005.
"And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them that were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."
"I will sow her unto me in the earth ..." The double meaning of Jezreel again appears here, the term meaning either "God will scatter," or that "God will plant" (in the sense that God scatters seeds). Of course, it applies to both Israels. God will scatter the old Israel, but he will plant the new Israel all over the world. The dual prophecy inherent in this has been remarkably fulfilled throughout two millenniums!
"That had not obtained mercy ..." This verse also is a bold and definite prophecy of the receiving of the Gentiles into the New Covenant. Paul quoted both this verse and Hosea 1:10 in Romans 9:25-26, applying both passages to the current dispensation of Christ. For the same purpose, Peter also used the terminology of both these passages in 1 Peter 2:10. Thus, there can be no valid question of the Messianic import of this remarkable prophecy.
Despite the terrible judgment that fell upon the whore, no true Israelite was left out of these glorious promises:
"The same words promised the same mercy to both Jews and Gentiles, that all should be one in Christ, all one JEZREEL, one SPOUSE to Himself, one Israel of God, one Beloved; and that all with one voice of Jubilee should cry unto Him, My Lord and my God."
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​hosea-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
And I will sow her unto Me in the earth - She whom God sows, is the Church, of whom God speaks as her, because she is the Mother of the faithful. After the example of her Lord, and by virtue of His Death, every suffering is to increase her. “The blood of Christians was their harvest-seed” . “The Church was not diminished by persecutions, but increased and the field of the Lord was even clothed with the richer harvest, in that the seeds, which fell singly, arose multiplied” .
In the earth - “o He does not say “in their own land,” i. e., Judea, but “the earth.” The whole earth was to be the seed-plot of the Church, where God would sow her to Himself, plant, establish, cause her to increase, and multiply her mightily.” As he said, “Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the pagan for Thine inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession” Psalms 2:8. Of this sowing, Jews were the instruments. Of them according to the flesh, Christ came; of them were the Apostles and Evangelists and all writers of Holy Scripture; of them was the Church first formed, into which the Gentiles were received, being, with them; knit into one in Christ.
I will ... have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy - This which was true of Israel in its dispersion, was much more true of the Gentiles. These too, the descendants of righteous Noah, God had cast off for the time, that they should be no more His people, when he chose Israel out of them, to make known to them His Being, and His will, and His laws, and, (although in shadow and in mystery,) Christ who was to come. So God’s mercies again overflow His threatenings. He had threatened to Israel, that he should be “unpitied,” and no more His people; in reversing His sentence, He embraces in the arms of His mercy all who were not His people, and says of them all, that they should be “My people and beloved.” At one and the same time, was Israel to be thus multiplied, and “pity” was to be shown to those not pitied, and those who were “not God’s people,” were to become “His people.” At one and the same time were those promises fulfilled in Christ; the one through the other; Israel was not multiplied by itself; but through the bringing in of the Gentiles. Nor was Israel alone, or chiefly, brought into a new relation with God. The same words promised the same mercy to both, Jew and Gentile, that all should be “one in Christ,” all one Jezreel, one Spouse to Himself, one Israel of God, one Beloved; and that all, with one voice of jubilee. should cry unto Him, “my Lord and my God.”
And they shall say, Thou art my God, - (or rather, shall say, my God) There seems to be more affectionateness in the brief answer, which sums up the whole relation of the creature to the Creator in that one word, “Elohai, my God.” The prophet declares, as before, that, when God thus anew called them His people, they by His grace would obey His call, and surrender themselves wholly to Him. For to say, “my God,” is to own an exelusive relation to God alone. It is to say, my beginning and my end, my hope and my salvation, my whole and only good, in whom Alone I will hope, whom alone I will fear, love, worship, trust in, obey and serve, with all my heart, mind, soul and strength; my God and my all.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​hosea-2.html. 1870.
The Prophet here takes the occasion to speak of the increase of the people. He had promised a fruitful and large increase of corn, and wine, and oil; but for what end would this be, except the land had numerous inhabitants? It was hence needful to make this addition. Besides, the Prophet had said before, ‘Though ye be immense in number, yet a remnant only shall be preserved.’ He now sets God’s new favor in opposition to his vengeance, and says, that God will again sow the people.
From this sentence we learn that the allusion in the word, Jezreel, has not been improperly noticed by some, that is, that they, who had been before a degenerate people and not true Israelites shall then be the seed of God: yet the words admit of two senses; for
And he afterwards adds,
We then understand the meaning of the Prophet to be, that God would multiply the people, that the small remnant would increase to a great and almost innumerable offspring. I will then sow her in the earth, that is, throughout the whole land; and I will have mercy on La-ruchamae, that is, I will in mercy embrace her, who had not obtained mercy; and I will say to the no-people, Ye are now my people We see that the Prophet insists on this, — That the people would not only seek the outward advantages of the present life, but would make a beginning at the very fountain, by regaining the favor of God, and knowing him as their propitious Father: for this is the meaning of the Prophet, of which something more will be said to-morrow.
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​hosea-2.html. 1840-57.
Say to your brethren ( Hsa Hosea 2:1 ),
And here he leaves out the Lo, which is the negative.
Say to your brethren, My people; and to your sister, Ruhamah ( Hsa Hosea 2:1 ).
Or, "having obtained mercy."
So the negative Lo is taken away in chapter 2.
And say to your brother, my people; and to your sister, having obtained mercy. Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her in a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully; for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, and my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up the way with thorns, and make a wall, and she shall not find her path. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but she shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for it was better with me than now ( Hsa Hosea 2:1-7 ).
So Israel's period of desolation, the period of wondering and wandering until she says, "I'm gonna return to my first husband. I'll return to God. It was at least better for me then that it is now."
For [the Lord said,] she did not know that I gave her the corn, and the wine, and the oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness ( Hsa Hosea 2:8-9 ).
Failed to realize that their blessings had come to them from God. So often, as a nation is blessed of God, they forget the source of blessing. "America, America, God shed His grace on thee." But we forget that. We begin to extol the merits of democracy, the value of the free enterprise system. And we begin to attribute the greatness of America to many other things, forgetting that it was God who gave us the corn, the oil, and the wine, the gold, the silver; it was God that made us great. And we're prone to forget these things. And when you forget the true source of the blessing in your life, the result is the misuse of those blessings. Taking those very blessings that God has bestowed and misusing them, using them against God.
So the children of Israel were taking the wine, the oil that God had given, and they were offering it as a sacrifice unto Baal. They took the gold and the silver that God had blessed them with and they made little pagan idols of Baal or Molech and they worshipped them, taking the very blessings of God and turning them against God, as we so often see today. People who have been talented by God, given beautiful voices to sing with, and yet they are singing songs of blasphemy, suggestiveness. People have a marvelous talent for writing and they're writing pornographic material. Taking the very assets that God has given to them and using them against the Lord. Men that God has endowed with great brilliance, powerful intellects, and they use that intellect to try to prove that there isn't a God or to destroy the faith of others who may believe in God. Taking the very blessings of God and turning them against the Lord.
Now this, of course, God said, "I'll come and take I'll take away the corn in its time." You see, if you abuse those blessings of God, God will take them away. How many have lost those very things that God had given to them because of their misuse of them?
Now God said,
I will discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of my hand. I will also cause her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all of her solemn feasts. And I will destroy her vines, her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them ( Hsa Hosea 2:10-13 ),
Baalim, of course, being the plural of the Baals, the various lords, the various gods that they were burning incense to.
and she decked herself with earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgot me, saith the LORD ( Hsa Hosea 2:13 ).
And thus, God's indictment against Israel worshipping all these false gods, going after these false gods and forgetting the Lord.
Therefore, behold, [the Lord said,] I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her ( Hsa Hosea 2:14 ).
This is a prophecy of that time when during the Great Tribulation God will bare a portion of the nation of Israel down to the wilderness where He will protect them for the three and a half years of the Great Tribulation period. In Revelation, chapter 12, we read where God will give them wings of an eagle that they might be born to the wilderness place where they will be nourished for three and a half years. Jesus mentioning this said, "When you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, flee into the wilderness. Don't bother to go back to your house to get your coat" ( Matthew 24:15-18 ). And God will preserve them and keep them. Isaiah 26 , "He will hide them until the tribulation is over, until the indignation is overpast" ( Isaiah 26:20 ).
"Therefore, behold," the Lord said, "I will allure her." God is going to begin to deal again with the nation of Israel as He preserves them from the man of sin during the Great Tribulation period. "I will bring her into the wilderness, and there I will speak comfortably to her."
And I will give her her vineyards from there, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope ( Hsa Hosea 2:14-15 ):
Now the valley of Achor is that valley that comes from Jericho up through to Bethel. It was in the valley of Achor the trouble (the word Achor is "trouble") is where, when they had conquered the city of Jericho and the children of Israel were moving into the land where there was this little town of Ai, and some of Joshua's men said, "Hey, don't send the whole army. We'll go over and we'll wipe out Ai and we'll bring you all of the loot." And so they went over and the men of Ai came out against them and began to defeat them. They came running back to Joshua and Joshua fell on his face and began to pray and the Lord says, "Why are you crying unto Me? Why are you praying now? If everything was all right you would have had victory, but there's sin in the camp." And so the Lord revealed that Achan, one of the men of Israel, had taken some of the loot from Jericho, which was all to be given to the Lord. He said, "You know, the first belongs to Me. The rest, as you go into the land, you can divide among yourself, but the first belongs to Me." Firstfruits always unto God. Jericho, the firstfruit, as they conquer the land, all belongs to God.
Well, Achan saw this beautiful Babylonish garment and he hid it in his own tent and all. And so the Lord reveals the sin of Achan, and it was dealt with there in the valley of Achor, the valley of trouble. They called the place Achor after the trouble that Achan, he said, "For you have troubled Israel." And so this valley where Israel was troubled, of course, coming up out of the Jordan valley into the land again will be the door of hope to the people.
and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt ( Hsa Hosea 2:15 ).
As in, after the Great Tribulation period when the Lord returns and these people then come from the wilderness, they will make their way back up into Israel through this valley of Achor and there they will be singing as they did years ago in the times of Joshua as they were coming into the land that God had promised, with singing and rejoicing. So, therefore, they shall come and sing in the heights of Zion and this glorious day in the future.
And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [that is, my husband]; and no longer Baali ( Hsa Hosea 2:16 ).
Now Baali is, of course, is lord but it is using that pagan term Baal. So you don't call him, "My Lord," but you'll be calling him, "My husband."
For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. And in that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and I will make them to lie down safely ( Hsa Hosea 2:17-18 ).
That's equivalent to Isaiah's prophecy where they will beat their swords into plowshares, their spears into pruning hooks and all. And they will make a covenant with the animals. The animals will no longer be vicious. The lion will lie down, or the lion will eat grass with the ox and a little child shall lead them. The animal kingdom will again be at peace. In those days you women won't have to have that abhorrence of snakes or all anymore or worried spiders or things of this nature. God is going to bring peace over the whole earth. No more wars and people will lie down in peace and in safety.
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever ( Hsa Hosea 2:19 );
God is going to just restore forever.
yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. And I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD ( Hsa Hosea 2:19-20 ).
This is a prophecy that is yet to be fulfilled. Still in the future when this glorious work of God is wrought upon the people of Israel and upon that nation.
And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God ( Hsa Hosea 2:21-23 ).
And so the restoration. And this of course, you remember, as Peter was speaking in the book of Acts, he said, "As the scripture in all places speaks of the restitution of all things" ( Acts 3:21 ). This is that restitution that Peter was speaking about. Not a universal restitution of all men, but the restitution of the nation of Israel to God and the restitution of this relationship where they say, "You are my God," and God says, "You are My people." And God betroths them again in faithfulness and in love and in mercy and all. This undying love that God has for these people. God's incurably in love with them. In this glorious time when they are restored, when they acknowledge God, He acknowledges them. "
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​hosea-2.html. 2014.
2. Renewed fertility and restored favor 2:21-23
This message stresses the renewed fertility and restored favor that Israel could anticipate because Yahweh would reach out and save her in the future.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​hosea-2.html. 2012.
The Lord would also plant Israel in the Promised Land; He would plant her there securely where she would grow under His care and blessing. He would show compassion to the people whom He formerly said were "not loved," and He would reclaim as His own the people whom He formerly called "not my people" (cf. Hosea 1:6; Hosea 1:9). They would then acknowledge Yahweh as their God, not Baal. The names of all three of Hosea’s children come together again in Hosea 2:22-23.
"Hosea 2:23, along with Hosea 1:10, is quoted in Romans 9:25-26 and 1 Peter 2:10. Paul quoted those Hosea passages to say that both Jews and Gentiles will be converted during the Church Age (cf. Romans 9:24). This does not mean, however, that he equated the Gentiles with Israel and regarded the conversion of Gentiles as a direct fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy. Paul clearly taught that national Israel would be saved as well (Romans 11). Rather, Paul extracted from Hosea’s prophecy a principle concerning God’s gracious activity . . ." [Note: Chisholm, "Hosea," p. 1387.]
3. The restoration of Hosea’s and Yahweh’s wives ch. 3
Like the first section in this series of messages that develop the figure of marital unfaithfulness (Hosea 2:2-8), this last section also blends the prophet’s personal experience with that of Yahweh. This is the strongest affirmation of Gomer’s and Israel’s restorations. Chapter 3 is probably a separate cycle of judgment and restoration speeches from Hosea 2:2-23. [Note: Charles H. Silva, "The Literary Structure of Hosea 1-3," Bibliotheca Sacra 164:654 (April-June 2007):181-97.]
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​hosea-2.html. 2012.
And I will sow her unto me in the earth,.... That is, Jezreel, or the people of God, the church betrothed; this is another blessing following upon the marriage relation between Christ and his people, both Jews and Gentiles, in the latter day, a multiplication of a spiritual seed and offspring. So Kimchi and Aben Ezra observe, that the words signify that the people of Israel shall increase and be fruitful as the seed of the earth. These now are good seed which the Lord sows; such as are born not of corruptible but incorruptible seed; are quickened by the Spirit of God; have a good work of grace begun in them; and though they may lie for some time under the clods in darkness and obscurity, yet shall rise up in the green blade of a lively profession, and bring forth the fruits of righteousness. Seed for sowing is the choicest and most precious, and of greatest esteem and value, and is separated from the rest for that use, though but little and small in quantity in comparison of it; all which is applicable to the people of God. This is said to be sown "in the earth or land"; either in their own land, the land of Israel, into which they shall now be brought, Ezekiel 21:22 or in the field of the world, the nations and people of the earth, according to Zechariah 10:9 or rather in the churches of Christ on earth, the churches in the Gentile world, into which the Jews, when converted, shall be brought, and increase and multiply; and this will be all the Lord's doing.
I will sow her: he will quicken and convert them, and place and plant them in Gospel churches, though ministers may be instruments in his hands; and all their fruitfulness and increase will be "unto him", for his service, the promotion of his interest, and for his honour and glory. The Targum is,
"I will establish you before me in the land of my Shechinah or majesty.''
And I will have mercy on her that had not obtained mercy; upon Loruhamah, or the people of Israel, signified by her, Hosea 1:6 and also the Gentiles, for to both Jews and Gentiles the apostle applies the words in Romans 9:24 and they were fulfilled in part in his time, by the conversion of some of the Jews, and by the calling of the Gentiles; but will have a larger accomplishment in the latter day, when all Israel shall obtain mercy, and be saved; see Romans 11:26 and are applicable to the people of God at all times, when called by grace; for though before conversion there is mercy for them in the heart of God, which is from everlasting; and in his purpose and resolution to bestow; and which is displayed in his choice of them, considered in the decree of the means as fallen creatures, and so vessels of mercy; and which is laid up in covenant for them, which is full of the sure mercies of David; and appears in the mission of Christ, and their redemption by him; and in sparing and saving them before calling; as well as in their regeneration, which is the fruit of abundant mercy; yet is not manifested to them till converted, when they openly obtain it: the Lord has mercy on them, and brings them out of the horrible pit of the state of nature; plucks them as brands out of the burning; opens the prison doors, knocks off their fetters, and sets them free; feeds their hungry and clothes their naked souls; heals their diseases, and pardons their iniquities, and saves them with an everlasting salvation.
And I will say to them which were not my people, thou art my people; or to "Loammi", the people of Israel, signified by the prophet's child of that name, Hosea 1:9, who should no more be called so, but "Ammi", my people, Hosea 2:1, which, as before observed, was in part fulfilled in the first times of the Gospel; but will be more fully accomplished at the conversion of the Jews, and the bringing in the fulness of the Gentiles; who though chosen to be the people of God, and are so federally, and were given in covenant to Christ as such, and so redeemed and saved by him from their sins; yet are not till conversion laid hold on by the Lord, and formed as his people for himself, and are without knowledge of him, and communion with him: nor are they called his people by themselves or others; but, when converted, they have the characters, and enjoy the privileges, of God's people; they have the witness of the relation to themselves by the Spirit of God, and are known and acknowledged by others; the Lord says this unto them, and avouches them for his people:
and they shall say, thou art my God; in the strength of faith, under the testimony of the Spirit of God, they shall claim their interest in God, as their covenant God in Christ; which is made known in effectual calling by the work of grace on their hearts; by the blessings of grace bestowed on them; and by the Lord's dwelling among them, and his protection of them.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​hosea-2.html. 1999.
|Promises of Mercy.||B. C. 764.|
14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and 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. 16 And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. 17 For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. 18 And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. 19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. 20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; 22 And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. 23 And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.
The state of Israel ruined by their own sin did not look so black and dismal in the former part of the chapter, but that the state of Israel, restrained by the divine grace, looks as bright and pleasant here in the latter part of the chapter, and the more surprisingly so as the promises follow thus close upon the threatenings; nay, which is very strange, they are by a note of connexion joined to, and inferred from, that declaration of their sinfulness upon which the threatenings of their ruin are grounded: She went after her lovers, and forgot me, saith the Lord; therefore I will allure her. Fitly therefore is that therefore which is the note of connexion immediately followed with a note of admiration: Behold I will allure her! When it was said, She forgot me, one would think it should have followed, "Therefore I will abandon her, I will forget her, I will never look after her more." No, Therefore I will allure her. Note, God's thoughts and ways of mercy are infinitely above ours; his reasons are all fetched from within himself, and not from any thing in us; nay, his goodness takes occasion from man's badness to appear so much the more illustrious, Isaiah 57:17; Isaiah 57:18. Therefore, because she will not be restrained by the denunciations of wrath, God will try whether she will be wrought upon by the offers of mercy. Some think it may be translated, Afterwards, or nevertheless, I will allure her. It comes all to one; the design is plainly to magnify free grace to those on whom God will have mercy purely for mercy's sake. Now that which is here promised to Israel is,
I. That though now they were disconsolate, and ready to despair, they should again be revived with comforts and hopes, Hosea 2:14; Hosea 2:15. This is expressed here with an allusion to God's dealings with that people when he brought them out of Egypt, through the wilderness to Canaan, as their forlorn and deplorable condition in their captivity was compared to their state in Egypt in the day that they were born,Hosea 2:3; Hosea 2:3. They shall be new-formed by such miracles of love and mercy as they were first-formed by, and such a transport of joy shall they be in as they were in then. It is hard to say when this had its accomplishment in the kingdom of the ten tribes; but it principally aims, no doubt, at the bringing in both of Jews and Gentiles into the church by the gospel of Christ; and it is applicable, nay, we have reason to think it was designed that it should be applied, to the conversion of particular souls to God. Now observe,
1. The gracious methods God will take with them. (1.) He will bring them into the wilderness, as he did at first when he brought them out of Egypt, where he instructed them, and took them into covenant with himself. The land of their captivity shall be to them now, as that wilderness was then, the furnace of affliction, in which God will choose them. See Ezekiel 20:35; Ezekiel 20:36, I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you. God had said that he would make them as a wilderness (Hosea 2:3; Hosea 2:3), which was a threatening; now, when it is here made part of a promise that he would bring them into the wilderness, the meaning may be that he would by his grace bring their minds to their condition: "They shall have humble hearts under humbling providences; being poor, they shall be poor in spirit, shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity, and then they are prepared to have comfort spoken to them." When God delivered Israel out of Egypt he led them into the wilderness, to humble them and prove them, that he might do them good (Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:3; Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 8:16), and so he will do again. Note, Those whom God has mercy in store for he first brings into a wilderness--into solitude and retirement, that they may the more freely converse with him out of the noise of this world,--into distress of mind, through sense of guilt and dread of wrath, which brings a soul to be quite at a loss in itself and bewildered, and by those convictions he prepares for consolations,--and sometimes into outward distress and trouble, thereby to open the ear to discipline. (2.) He will then allure them and speak comfortably to them, will persuade them and speak to their hearts, that is, he will by his word and Spirit incline their hearts to return to him, and encourage them to do so. He will allure them with the promises of his favour, as before he had terrified them with the threatenings of his wrath, will speak friendly to them, both by his prophets and by his providences, as before he had spoken roughly, Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 40:2. By the hand of my servants the prophets I will speak comfort to her heart; so the Chaldee. This refers to the gospel of Christ, and the offers of divine grace in the gospel, by which we are allured to forsake our sins and to turn to God, and which speaks to the heart of a convinced sinner that which is every way suited to his case, speaks abundant consolation to those that sorrow for sin and lament after the Lord. And when by the Spirit it is indeed spoken to the heart effectually, and so as to reach the conscience (which it is God's prerogative to do), O what a blessed change is wrought by it! Note, The best way of reducing wandering souls to God is by fair means. By the promise of rest in Christ we are invited to take his yoke upon us; and the work of conversion may be forwarded by comforts as well as by convictions. (3.) He will give her her vineyards thence. From that time and from that place where he has afflicted her, and brought her to see her folly and to humble herself, thenceforward he will do her good; not only speak comfortably to her, but do well for her, and undo what he had done against her. He had destroyed her vines (Hosea 2:12; Hosea 2:12), but now he will give her whole vineyards, as if for every vine destroyed she should have a vineyard restored, and so be repaid with interest; she shall not only have corn for necessity, but vineyards for delight. These denote the privileges and comforts of the gospel, which are prepared for those that come up out of the wilderness leaning upon Christ as their beloved,Song of Solomon 8:5. Note, God has vineyards of consolation ready to bestow on those who repent and return to him; and he can give vineyards out of a wilderness, which are of all others the most welcome, as rest to the weary. (4.) He will give her the valley of Achor for a door of hope. The valley of Achor was that in which Achan was stoned; it signifies the valley of trouble, because he troubled Israel, and there God troubled him. This was the beginning of the wars of Canaan; and their putting away the accursed thing in that place gave them ground to hope that God would continue his presence with them and complete their victories. So when God returns to his people in mercy, and they to him in duty, it will be to them as happy an omen as any thing. If they put away the accursed thing from among them, if by mortifying sin they stone the Achan that has troubled their camp, their subduing that enemy within themselves is an earnest to them of victory over all the kings of Canaan. Or, if the allusion be to the name, it intimates that trouble for sin, if it be sincere, opens a door of hope; for that sin which truly troubles us shall not ruin us. The valley of Achor was a very fruitful pleasant valley, some think the same with the valley of Engedi, famous for vineyards, Song of Solomon 1:14. This God gave to Israel as a pattern and pledge of the whole land of Canaan; so "God will by his gospel give to all believers such gifts, graces, and comforts in this life, as shall be a taste of those more perfect good things of the kingdom of heaven, and shall give them as assured hope of a full possession of them in due time." So the learned Dr. Pocock expounds it; and, to the same purport, this whole context.
2. The great rejoicing with which they shall receive God's gracious returns towards them: She shall sing there as in the days of her youth. This plainly refers to that triumphant and prophetic song which Moses and the children of Israel sang at the Red Sea,Exodus 15:1. When they are delivered out of captivity they shall repeat that song, and to them it shall be a new song, because sung upon a new occasion, not inferior to the former. God had said (Hosea 2:11; Hosea 2:11) that he would cause all her mirth to cease, but now he would cause it to revive: She shall sing as in the day that she came out of Egypt. Note, When God repeats former mercies we must repeat former praises; we find the song of Moses sung in the New Testament, Revelation 15:3. This promise of Israel's singing has its accomplishment in the gospel of Christ, which furnishes us with abundant matter for joy and praise, and wherever it is received in its power enlarges the heart in joy and praise; and this is that land flowing with milk and honey which the valley of Achor opens a door of hope to. We rejoice in tribulation.
II. That, though they had been much addicted to the worship of Baal, they should now be perfectly weaned from it, should relinquish and abandon all appearances of idolatry and approaches towards it, and cleave to God only, and worship him as he appoints, Hosea 2:16; Hosea 2:17. Note, The surest pledge and token of God's favour to any people is his effectual parting between them and their beloved sins. The worship of Baal was the sin that did most easily beset the people of Israel; it was their own iniquity, the sin that had dominion over them; but now that idolatry shall be quite abolished, and there shall not be the least remains of it among them. 1. The idols of Baal shall not be mentioned, not any of the Baals that in the days of Baalim had made so great a noise with, O Baal! hear us; O Baal! hear us. The very names of Baalim shall be taken out of their mouths; they shall be so disused that they shall be quite forgotten, as if their names had never been known in Israel; they shall be so detested that people will not bear to mention them themselves, nor to hear others mention them, so that posterity shall scarcely know that ever there were such things. They shall be so ashamed of their former love to Baal that they shall do all they can to blot out the remembrance of it. They shall tie themselves up to the strictest literal meaning of that law against idolatry (Exodus 23:13), Make no mention of the names of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth, as David, Psalms 16:4. Thus the apostle expresses the abhorrence we ought to have of all fleshly lusts: Let them not be once named among you,Ephesians 5:3. But how can such a change of the Ethiopian's skin be wrought? It is answered, The power of God can do it, and will. I will take away the names of Baalim; as Zechariah 13:2, I will cut off the names of the idols. Note, God's grace in the heart will change the language by making that iniquity to be loathed which was beloved. Zephaniah 3:9, I will turn to the people a pure language. One of the rabbin says, This promise relates to the Gentiles, by the gospel of Christ, from the idolatries which they had been wedded to, 1 Thessalonians 1:9. 2. The very word Baal shall be laid aside, even in its innocent signification. God says, Thou shalt call me Ishi, and call me no more Baali; both signify my husband, and both had been made use of concerning God. Isaiah 54:5, Thy Maker is thy husband, thy Baal (so the word is), thy owner, patron, and protector. It is probable that many good people had, accordingly, made use of the word Baali in worshipping the God of Israel; when their wicked neighbours bowed the knee to Baal they gloried in this, that God was their Baal. "But," says God, "you shall call me so no more, because I will have the very names of Baalim taken away." Note, That which is very innocent in itself should, when it has been abused to idolatry, be abolished, and the very use of it taken away, that nothing may be done to keep idols in remembrance, much less to keep them in reputation. When calling God Ishi will do as well, and signify as much, as Baali, let that word be chosen rather, lest, by calling him Baali, others should be put in mind of their quondam Baals. Some think that there is another reason intimated why God would be called Ishi and not Baali; they both signify my husband, but Ishi is a compellation of love, and sweetness, and familiarity, Baali of reverence and subjection. Ishi is vir meus--my man; Baali is dominus meus--my lord. In gospel-times God has so revealed himself to us as to encourage us to come boldly to the throne of his grace, and to use a holy humble freedom there; we ought to call God our Master, for so he is, but we are more taught to call him our Father. Ishi is a man the Lord (Genesis 4:1), and intimates that in gospel-times the church's husband shall be the man Christ Jesus, made like unto his brethren, and therefore they shall call him Ishi, not Baali.
III. That though they had been in continual troubles, as if the whole creation had been at war with them, now they shall enjoy perfect peace and tranquillity, as if they were in a league of friendship with the whole creation (Hosea 2:18; Hosea 2:18): In that day, when they have forsaken their idols, and put themselves under the divine protection, I will make a covenant for them. 1. They shall be protected from evil; nothing shall hurt them, nor do them any mischief. Tranquillus Deus tranquillat amnia--When God is at peace with us he makes every creature to be so too. The inferior creatures shall do them no harm, as they had done when the beasts of the field ate up their vineyards (Hosea 2:12; Hosea 2:12) and when noisome beasts were one of God's sore judgments,Ezekiel 14:15. The fowl and the creeping things are taken into this covenant; for they also, when God makes use of them as the instruments of his justice, may be come very hurtful, but they shall be no more so; nay, by virtue of this covenant, they shall be made serviceable to them and brought into their interests. Note, God has the command of the inferior creatures, and brings them into what covenant he pleases; he can make the beasts of the field to honour him (so he has promised, Isaiah 43:20) and to contribute to his people's comfort. And, if the inferior creatures are thus laid under an engagement to serve us, it is our part of the covenant not to abuse them, but to serve God with them. Some think that this had its accomplishment in the miraculous power Christ gave his disciples to take up serpents,Mark 16:17; Mark 16:18. It agrees with the promises made particularly to Israel, in their return out of captivity (Ezekiel 34:25, I will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land), and the more general ones to all the saints. Job 5:22; Job 5:23, The beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee; and Psalms 91:13, Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder. But this is not all; men are more in danger from one another than from the brute beast, and therefore it is further promised that God will make wars to cease, will disarm the enemy: I will break the bow, and sword, and battle. He can do it when he pleases (Psalms 44:9), and will do it for those whose ways please him, for he makes even their enemies to be at peace with them,Proverbs 16:7. This agrees with the promise that in gospel-times swords shall be beaten into plough-shares,Isaiah 2:4. 2. They shall be quiet from the fear of evil. God will not only keep them safe, but make them to lie down safely, as those that know themselves to be under the protection of Heaven, and therefore are not afraid of the powers of hell.
IV. That, though God had given them a bill of divorce for their whoredoms, yet, upon their repentance, he would again take them into covenant with himself, into a marriage-covenant, Hosea 2:19; Hosea 2:20. God's making a covenant for them with the inferior creatures was a great favour; but it was nothing to this, that he took them into covenant with himself and engaged himself to do them good. Observe,
1. The nature of this covenant; it is a marriage-covenant, founded in choice and love, and founding the nearest relation: I will betroth thee unto me; and again, and a third time, I will betroth thee. Note, All that are sincerely devoted to God are betrothed to him; God gives them the most sacred and inviolable security imaginable that he will love them, protect them, and provide for them, that he will do the part of a husband to them, and that he will incline their hearts to join themselves to him and will graciously accept of them in so doing. Believing souls are espoused to Christ, 2 Corinthians 11:2. The gospel-church is the bride, the Lamb's wife; and they would never come into that relation to him if he did not by the power of his grace betroth them to himself. The separation begins on our side; we alienate ourselves from God. The coalition begins on his side; he betroths us to himself.
2. The duration of this covenant: "I will betroth thee for ever. The covenant itself shall be inviolable; God will not break it on his part, and you shall not on yours; and the blessings of it shall be everlasting." One of the Jewish rabbin says, This is a promise that she shall attain to the life of the world to come, which is absolute eternity or perpetuity.
3. The manner in which this covenant shall be made. (1.) In righteousness and judgment, that is, God will deal sincerely and uprightly in covenant with them; they have broken covenant, and God is righteous. "But," says God, "I will renew the covenant in righteousness." The matter shall be so ordered that God may receive even these backsliding children into his family again, without any reflection upon his justice, nay, his justice being satisfied by the Mediator of this covenant very much to the honour of it. But what reason can there be why God should take a people into covenant with him that had so often dealt treacherously? Will it not reflect upon his wisdom? "No," says God; "I will do it in judgment, not rashly, but upon due consideration; let me alone to give a reason for it and to justify my own conduct." (2.) In lovingkindness and in mercies. God will deal tenderly and graciously in covenanting with them; and will be not only as good as his word, but better; and, as he will be just in keeping covenant with them, so he will be merciful in keeping them in the covenant. They are subject to many infirmities, and, if he be extreme to mark what they do amiss, they will soon lose the benefit of the covenant. He therefore promises that it shall be a covenant of grace, made in a compassionate consideration of their infirmities, so that every transgression in the covenant shall not throw them out of covenant; he will gather with everlasting lovingkindness. (3.) In faithfulness. Every article of the covenant shall be punctually performed. Faithful is he that has called them, who also will do it; he cannot deny himself.
4. The means by which they shall be kept tight and faithful to the covenant on their part: Thou shalt know the Lord. This is not only a promise that God will reveal himself to them more fully and clearly than ever, but that he will give them a heart to know him; they shall know more of him, and shall know him in another manner than ever yet. The ground of their apostasy was their not knowing God to be their benefactor (Hosea 2:8; Hosea 2:8); therefore, to prevent the like, they shall all be taught of God to know him. Note, God keeps up his interest in men's souls by giving them a good understanding and a right knowledge of things, Hebrews 8:11.
V. That, though the heavens had been to them as brass, and the earth as iron, now the heavens shall yield their dews, and by that means the earth its fruits, Hosea 2:21; Hosea 2:22. God having betrothed the gospel-church and in it all believers to himself, how shall he not with himself and with his Son freely give them all things, all things pertaining both to life and godliness, all things they need or can desire? All is theirs, for they are Christ's, betrothed to him; and with the righteousness of the kingdom of God, which they seek first, all other things shall be added unto them. And yet this promise of corn and wine is to be taken also in a spiritual sense (so the learned Dr. Pocock thinks): it is an effusion of those blessings and graces which relate to the soul that is here promised under the metaphor of temporal blessings, the dew of heaven, as well as the fatness of the earth, and that put first, as in the blessing of Jacob, Genesis 27:28. God had threatened (Hosea 2:9; Hosea 2:9) that he would take away the corn and the wine; but now he promises to restore them, and that in the common course and order of nature. While they lay under the judgment of famine they called to the earth for corn and wine for the support of themselves and their families. Very gladly would the earth have supplied them, but she cannot give unless she receive, cannot produce corn and wine unless she be enriched with the river of God (Psalms 65:9); and therefore she calls to the heavens for rain, the former and latter rain in their season, grapes for it, and by her melancholy aspect when rain is denied pleads for it. "But," say the heavens, "we have no rain to give unless he who has the key of the clouds unlock them, and open these bottles; so that, if the Lord do not help you, we cannot." But, when God takes them into covenant with himself, then the wheel of nature shall be set a-going again in favour of them, and the streams of mercy shall flow in the usual channel: Then I will hear, saith the Lord; I will receive your prayers (so the Chaldee interprets the first hearing); God will graciously take notice of their addresses to him. And then I will hear the heavens; I will answer them (so it may be read); and then they shall hear and answer the earth, and pour down seasonable rain upon it; and then the earth shall hear the corn and vines, and supply them with moisture, and they shall hear Jezreel, and be nourishment and refreshment for those that inhabit Jezreel. See here the coherence of second causes with one another, as links in a chain, and the necessary dependence they all have upon God, the first Cause. Note, We must expect all our comforts from God in the usual method and by the appointed means; and, when we are at any time disappointed in them, we must look up to God, above the hills and the mountains,Psalms 121:1; Psalms 121:2. See how ready the creatures are to serve the people of God, how desirous of the honour: the corn cries to the earth, the earth to the heavens, the heavens to God, and all that they may supply them. And see how ready God is to give relief: I will hear, saith the Lord, yea, I will hear. And, if God will hear the cry of the heavens for his people, much more will he hear the intercession of his Son for them, who is made higher than the heavens. See what a peculiar delight those that are in covenant with God may take in their creature-comforts, as seeing them all come to them from the hand of God; they can trace up all the streams to the fountain, and taste covenant-love in common mercies, which makes them doubly sweet.
VI. That whereas they were now dispersed, not only, as Simeon and Levi, divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel, but divided and scattered all the world over, God will turn this curse, as he did that, into a blessing: "I will not only water the earth for her, but will sow her unto me in the earth; her dispersion shall be not like that of the chaff in the floor, which the wind drives away, but like that of the seed in the field, in order to its greater increase; wherever they are scattered they shall take root downward and bear fruit upward. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. I will sow her unto me." This alludes to the name of Jezreel, which signifies sown of God, or for God; as she was scattered of him (which is one signification of the words) so she shall be sown of him; and to what he sows he will give the increase. When in all parts of the world Christianity got footing, and every where there were professors of it, then this promise was fulfilled, I will sow her unto me in the earth. Note, The greatest blessing of this earth is that God has a church in it, and from that arises all the tribute of glory which he has out of it; it is what he has sown to himself, and what he will therefore secure to himself.
VII. That, whereas they had been Lo-ammi--not a people, and Lo-ruhamah--not finding mercy with God, now they shall be restored to his favour and taken again into covenant with him (Hosea 2:23; Hosea 2:23): They had not obtained mercy, but seemed to be abandoned; they were not my people, not distinguished, not dealt with, as my people, but left to lie in common with the nations. This was the case with the rejected Jews; and the same, or more deplorable, was that of the Gentile world (to whom the apostle applies this, Romans 9:24; Romans 9:25), that had no hope, and was without God in the world; but when great multitudes both of Jews and Gentiles were, upon their believing in Christ, incorporated into a Christian church, then, 1. God had mercy on those who had not obtained mercy. Those found favour with God, and became the children of his love, who had been long out of favour and the children of his wrath, and, if infinite mercy had not interposed, would have been for ever so. Note, God's mercy must not be despaired of any where on this side hell. 2. He took those into a covenant-relation to himself who had been strangers and foreigners. He says to them, "Thou art my people, whom I will own and bless, protect and provide for;" and they shall say, "Thou art my God, whom I will serve and worship, and to whose honour I will be entirely and for ever devoted." Note, (1.) The sum total of the happiness of believers is the mutual relation that is between them and God, that he is theirs and they are his; this is the crown of all the promises. (2.) This relation is founded in free grace. We have not chosen him, but he has chosen us. He first says, They are my people, and makes them willing to be so in the day of his power, and then they avouch him to be theirs. (3.) As we need desire no more to make us happy than to be the people of God, so we need desire no more to make us easy and cheerful than to have him to assure us that we are so, to say unto us, by his Spirit witnessing with ours, Thou art my people. (4.) Those that have accepted the Lord for their God must avouch him to be so, must go to him in prayer and tell him so, Thou art my God, and must be ready to make profession before men. (5.) It adds to the comfort of our covenant with God that in it there is a communion of saints, who, though they are many, yet here are one. It is not, I will say to them, You are my people, but, Thou art; for he looks upon them as all one in Christ, and, as such in him, he speaks to them and covenants with them; and they also do not say, Thou art our God, for they look upon themselves as one body, and desire with one mind and one mouth to glorify him, and therefore say, Thou art my God. Or it intimates that such a covenant as God made of old with his people Israel, in general, now under the gospel he makes with particular believers, and says to each of them, even the meanest, with as much pleasure as he did of old to the thousands of Israel, Thou art my people, and invites and encourages each of them to say, Thou art my God, and to triumph therein, as Moses and all Israel did. Exodus 15:2, He is my God, and my father's God.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Hosea 2:23". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​hosea-2.html. 1706.
The prophecy of Hosea naturally divides itself into two principal divisions with minor sections. The first consists of Hosea 1:1-11; Hosea 2:1-23; Hosea 3:1-5; the second, of the rest of the book. Within these greater divisions, however, we have distinct parts.
The first chapter presents the prophet with his ministry "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." He was therefore a contemporary of Isaiah, who prophesied during the same kings, save that in the case of Hosea only do we hear of the then reigning king of Israel, of whom, rather than Judah, our prophet treats. For the word of Jehovah to him takes into account the condition of Israel as a whole, and particularly uses the dismal condition of Ephraim for the moral good of Judah. This is true of the whole book, which is remarkable for its occupation simply with the Jew, without noticing (as do other prophets) the Gentiles either for judgment or for blessing.
Hosea is, one might say, exclusively devoted to the ancient people of God, with a very slight but remarkable exception in the first chapter; but even it is couched in terms so enigmatical (and this, I believe, with divine intention for a special end), that many have failed to discern the truth contemplated in consequence of not using the light supplied in the New Testament. But there cannot be a more striking example than this very instance affords of the all-importance of using one part of scripture, not to correct indeed this were impossible and irreverent but better to understand another. In order to profit by the fuller revelation of the mind of God, we do well to read the earlier communications in the strongest light vouchsafed to us. It is one mind conveyed by one Spirit; and God can give us grace by dependence on Himself to guard us, as far as is consistent with our moral condition, from that narrowness to which we are all too prone, making certain portions of scripture our favourites, so as to interfere with due heed to the rest of the word. Those who indulge in these thoughts cannot be expected to understand the word of God, and, in what they make their one-sided study, are apt to fall into singular and sometimes fatal mistakes. The most precious truths of God, if they are used in an exclusive way, may by the enemy be turned to the support of serious error. Thus there would be danger if there were, for instance, the systematic limiting of the mind to the resurrection or heavenly side of divine truth. Or again, take prophecy; and how withering to the soul when that part of scripture practically becomes a monopoly? Take the church for it does not matter what and in it there is no security one whit more. The reason is simple; the secret of power, blessing, security, and communion is found, not in resurrection or heaven, not in prophecy nor in the church, nor in any other conceivable branch of truth, but in Christ, who alone gives the whole truth. Consequently we see that what we all know to be a doctrine and a necessary principle in God's revelation is true also as applied to every detail of practical experience.
In this case, then, the date of Hosea indicates his interest in Israel, and the work that God assigned him in reference to the twelve-tribed nationality of His people, when the ruin of Israel was at hand, and that of Judah was ere long to follow. Brief as his handling of his subject is, there is a remarkable completeness in the prophecy; and the moral element is as prominent in the second part, as the dispensational is in the first. The parenthesis of Gentile empire is quite omitted throughout. He is filled with the afflictions and the guilt of Israel as a whole, and, more than any other of the twelve shorter prophets, breaks forth into passionate and renewed grief over the people. The book accordingly abounds, as none other does so much, in the most abrupt transitions, which therefore make the style of Hosea singularly difficult in some respects, and, it may be added too, far more so to us just because of its intensely Jewish character. Not being Jews, we do not come under their character of relationship; but those who are to be called as Jews by and by will understand it well. They, having that position, and being thus called (though through the sense of the deepest sins on their part, at the same time knowing the yearnings of the Spirit of God over them), will enter into, as I believe they will profit by, that which to us presents difficulty because we are not in the same position.
The first chapter mainly consists of symbolic action, which represents the course of God's purposes. "The beginning of the word of Jehovah by Hosea. And Jehovah said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms* and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from Jehovah." Nothing can be more evident than this declared object. The prophet is commanded to do that which was necessarily most painful in itself, and suggestive of what he as a man of God must have felt to be humbling as well as repulsive. But such was the attitude of Israel to their God, and Jehovah would make the prophet and those who heeded the prophecy to understand in measure what He must feel as to His people. "So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. And Jehovah said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel." This was the first great blow. Israel was to be smitten in the house of Jehu, the avenger of the blood-guiltiness that had been brought in by the idolatrous Jezebel. Jehu was a rough man, vain and ambitious, suited notwithstanding to deal in his rude fashion with that which had dishonoured Jehovah a man far enough outside the current of the feelings of the Spirit of God, but none the less employed in an external way to deal with the evident and open evil of Ahab's house and Israel.
*The very least we can say is that the expression intimated to the prophet what Gomer was going to be. But it must be allowed that the phrase naturally conveys the impression that she had already been guilty of an impure life too common where idolatry reigned. If Salmon begat Boaz of Rahab the harlot, it is not hard to conceive the Lord commanding the prophet to take Gomer to wife as a symbolic parable to Israel. It may be worth noticing that, while in ver. 3 she is said to have borne "him" a son, this is not the phrase, but one more vague, in verses 6 and 8. The mother's character might suffice to stamp itself on the children; but the absence of the pronoun in the ease of Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi, as contrasted with Jezreel is under the circumstances remarkable.
Nevertheless this, as it had no root in God, so it had no strength to maintain itself against other evils. Hence, although it suited the policy of Jehu to deal with certain gross idolatries, the political-religious evil that characterized the kingdom of Israel seemed necessary to sustain him against the house of David. Consequently, as he had no conscience as to the sin of Jeroboam, this was judged of Jehovah in due time. God smote not only Jehu's house, but Israel. The kingdom was to pass, though it might linger for a little while afterwards; but it was smitten of God. This is what is represented by Jezreel. God would scatter in due time. The Assyrian broke the power of Israel in the valley of Jezreel (afterwards called Esdraelon), a scene of covetousness and blood from first to last.
Then again we find a daughter appears, whose name was to be called Lo-ruhamah, a name which expresses the absence of pity towards the people. No more mercy was to be shown. Thus the failure of the kingdom of Israel, which soon followed after the dealing with Jehu's house, was not then complete. There would be still more judgment from God; for He says, "I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel." Jezreel was but the beginning of the judgments of God. "I will utterly take them away." It was not therefore the collapse of the kingdom of Jehu only, but Israel as a whole was to be swept from the land, never more to be restored as a separate polity. "But," says He in the very same breath, "I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by Jehovah their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen." The Assyrian was allowed to destroy the kingdom of Israel, but was himself checked by divine power when he hoped to carry off Judah.
Thus there was a lengthening of the tranquillity for Judah. They, at least for the time, exhibited fidelity to Jehovah in their measure. Afterwards another child is born a son; and "then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be to you." It was no longer therefore simply a case of breaking up Israel completely, but Judah now comes into judgment. As long as the royal tribe stood, there was still a nucleus round which all the people might be gathered. As long as the house of David was true in any measure with Judah attached yet far from being true, God could (morally speaking) yet work recovery, or at any rate He could make them, as it were, swell out into a great people. But now, on the proved faithlessness of the innermost circle, God represents the solemn crisis by the birth of the son called Lo-ammi. Yet there is no notice of the Babylonish conqueror. The prophet abruptly passes by the captivity of Judah, and at once goes forward to the glorious reversal of all the sentences of woe. It is the reunion of all the tribes, but not the scanty return under Zerubbabel. A greater is here, even Messiah. Undoubtedly He is chosen, given and appointed to them by God; but it was important also to show that they will yield willing and active subjection. Gathered together, Israel and Judah shall make (or appoint) themselves one head, and shall come (or go) up out of the land: not Babylon or Assyria, or even the earth at large, I think, but rather an expression of their union religiously in the same solemn assemblies and feasts, as we have already seen them one people under one head. It was accomplished neither after the captivity nor when Christ came, but strikingly the reverse. It remains to be fulfilled when He comes to reign over the earth. "For," then indeed, "great [shall be] the day of Jezreel." God shall sow His people in His land, not scatter them out of it. It is the day not of humiliation but of manifested glory. "Yet," says He in His very sentence of judgment on Judah, "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, in the place where it shall be said unto them, Ye [are] not my people, it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God."
Observe the remarkable change here. It is the scripture already referred to as the mysterious intimation of the call of the Gentiles in pure grace. This, though distinctly taught in Romans 9:1-33, surprises many readers. The reason is because we are apt to regard all as an antithesis in a merely human or limited fashion. If any man of God on the face of the earth had had the writing of the sentence left to himself, had there not been the full power of God which is meant by inspiration in its true and proper sense, it seems quite inconceivable that this sentence could ever have been written. Who would have said it, let him be supposed the best of men, if he loved Israel as a good Jew? Least of all surely Hosea, whose heart was all on fire for the people, both in horror on account of their wickedness and in yearning after their blessedness. But for that reason he of himself would have said, not "Ye are not my people," but Ye shall be made my faithful people. No, this is not what God says, but something quite different. The strong bias so natural even to a good man would have rendered it out of the question to speak as Hosea does. We find it hard to take in, even when written plainly before our eyes, the distinct teaching of God, conveying as it does an unexpected form of thought and an altogether new subject. The Spirit inspired him and can teach us.
This, as hinted before, is the scripture which the apostle Paul employs inRomans 9:1-33; Romans 9:1-33, as is well known. There he is vindicating, as is plain, the sovereign call of God the only resource for man where all is ruined. How beautifully this fits in with our prophet is evident. The ruin of Israel was already there; the ruin of Judah was impending. All was doomed. What then can man fall back on? If the people of God on the earth turned out only a mass of ruins on one side or another, what was there to look to? Nothing and none but God, not His law, but His sovereign grace. Accordingly this is exactly what does come in; as indeed the sovereignty of God must always be the help and sustainment and joy of a soul that is thoroughly beaten out of itself when its evil is truly judged before God. But it often takes a long while to break a man down to that point. Hence it is that many feel difficulties about it, unless perhaps on their death-bed. Then at least, if anywhere, man is true. God is true always; but man (I am speaking now only of such as are born of God) then parts company with those visions, or rather fitful shadows, which had disordered and misled him during the activities of life. Then indeed he realizes what he is as well as what God is. Accordingly, if he lose all confidence in himself in every possible way, it is only to enjoy a confidence, never so well known before, in God Himself.
This is precisely what we find here in the reasonings of the apostle Paul. It is naturally offensive to the pride of man's heart, and more particularly to a Jew's. For had they not received magnificent promises from God? It was a great difficulty to them, and it sounds very natural and formidable, how it was possible that the promises of God should I may not say fail, but seem to fail. But this came from looking simply at themselves with the promises of God. We must remember that the Bible does not contain merely the promises it largely consists, and particularly the Old Testament, of a divine history of the responsibility of man. We must leave room for both, so as not to let the responsibility of man overthrow the promises of God; but, on the other hand, not to neutralize the responsibility of the one because of the promises of the other.
The tendency of all men is to become what people call either Arminians or Calvinists; and a hard thing it is to hold the balance of truth without wavering to either side. There is nothing, however, too hard for the Lord; and the word of God is the unfailing preservative from either one or the other. I am perfectly persuaded spite of partisans who think only of their own views, or freethinkers who have no difficulty in allowing that both are there that neither Arminianism nor Calvinism is in the Bible, and that they are both thoroughly wrong without even the smallest justification. The fact is, that the tendency to either is deeply seated in unrenewed minds that is, the same man may be an Arminian at one time and a Calvinist at another; and it is likely that, if he has been a violent Arminian one day, he may become a violent Calvinist to-morrow. But the roots of both lie in man and in his onesidedness. The truth of God is in His word as the revelation of Christ by the Spirit, and nowhere else.
So it will be observed inRomans 9:1-33; Romans 9:1-33 how completely the apostle sets aside the Jewish misuse of the promises of God. By a chain of the most convincing facts and testimonies of the Old Testament urged in this wonderful chapter, he compels the Jew to abandon the flattering conceit of national election, used absolutely and exclusively as was his wont; for really it is a conceit of himself after all. If they hold to the exclusive pretensions of Israel as simply deriving from Abraham in the line of flesh (which was their point), in that case they must accept others to be their companions; for Abraham had more sons than Isaac, and Isaac had another son than Jacob. The ground of flesh therefore is utterly indefensible. A mere lineal descent would have let in the Ishmaelites, for instance; and of them the Jew would not hear. If he pleaded that Ishmael sprang from Hagar, a slave, be it so; but what of Edom, born of the same mother as well as father, of Isaac and Rebecca, twin brother of Jacob himself? Consequently the ground taken was palpably unsound and untenable. We must therefore fall back upon the sole resource for man's evil and ruin God's sovereignty and gracious call. This was so much the more in point, because there was a time, even in the early history of the chosen people, when nothing less than God could have preserved it and given a ray of hope. It was not the Ishmaelites, not the Edomites, not the Gentiles, but Israel, who made the calf of gold. Had God dealt with them according to what they had been there to Him, must there not have been utter and immediate destruction? It is referred to now because of the moral principles connected with the citation of Hosea in Romans 9:1-33; and indeed all these truths appear to me to run together in the mind of the Spirit of God. If therefore we would understand the prophecy, we must follow and receive that which may seem discursively pursued in the New Testament, but which really was before the inspiring Spirit here too.
Consequently we have in the prophet what was true morally from the beginning of their sad history. It was now verging towards the bitter end of Israel, with Judah's ruin in full view. The very fact of prophets being raised up proved that the end was approaching; for prophecy only comes in with departure from God. There is no such form of revelation as prophecy when things run smooth and fair; nor is it then, morally speaking, required. What we have in days of comparative fidelity is the setting forth of privilege and duty; but when the privilege is despised and the duty not done, when God's people are in evident guilt, and judgment must follow, prophecy comes to tell of God's judging the evil, but with mercy and yet better blessing to the obedient remnant. This is true in principle even of the garden of Eden. God did not speak of the Seed of the woman till Adam was fallen; and so when Israel had transgressed like Adam, prophecy shines out. If the ruin were before Moses' eyes, as indeed it was, prophecy was vouchsafed to the lawgiver himself, as we see conspicuously in the end of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, not to speak of the wondrous burst through Balaam's mouth in the close of Numbers. Afterwards, when God had brought in every new form of blessing to kings raised up in grace to sustain the people, yet the ruin was only more decided. Prophecy too assumes a more comprehensive, systematic, and complete shape. A whole host of prophets, one might say, appears at this time; mighty prophetic utterances warned the people when outwardly things seemed strong but all was over before God, who therefore caused the alarm to be sounded with a remarkable and persistent urgency. The trumpet, as it were, was blown for Jehovah all over the land; and thus Hosea, as we know, was the contemporary of Amos, Micah, Isaiah, and perhaps other prophets at this time. There had been one even earlier still, as we may see if we compare the history. There was a peculiar reason for not putting the earliest first in order, which I hope to explain when I arrive at his book.
Already then the ruin was such that God's sovereignty was the only sure ground which could be taken. Hence we have seen that the apostle Paul uses this to point out, not merely the resource of grace for Israel, but that on Israel's failure it was perfectly open to God to go out to the Gentiles. For this is what Paul quotes the passage for in Romans 9:1-33: "That he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only." From the moment God falls back on His own sovereignty the ground is as open for a Gentile as for a Jew. God is not sovereign if He may not choose whom He pleases. If He is sovereign, then it is but natural that His sovereignty should display itself where it would be most conspicuous. The call of the Gentiles furnishes this occasion; for if they were worst, as they certainly were utterly degraded, for this very reason they were most fit objects for the exercise of the divine sovereignty in grace. "Even us whom he called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles. As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people which were not my people, and her beloved which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the children of the living God." It is evident that verse 25 the apostle interprets of the future call of Israel, the reinstatement of the people of God on a better footing than ever in sovereign grace; but he also applies verse 26 to the Gentiles.
Thus all is here set out in the most orderly method: "Even us whom he hath called, not of the Jews only" (shown in verse 25), "but also of the Gentiles" (referred to in verse 26). "And it shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there shall they be called the sons of the living God." Consequently sonship is far more characteristic of the call of the Gentile than of the Jew. Thus in the change (not a little one, as I was going to say, but very great indeed), in the avoidance of the expression "people" and the employment of "sons," God with the most admirable propriety, intimates by His prophet that when He was going to work in grace He would work worthily of His name. He would bring Gentiles not merely into the place of Israel, but into a better standing. Granted that they were the vilest of the vile: even so grace could and would raise them into the nearest relationship to God Himself. Then they should be, not a mere substitute for Israel, but "the sons of the living God" a title never given in its full force to any but the Gentiles who are now being called.
In a vague and general sense, as compared with distant Gentiles, Israel is called son, child, first-born; but this merely as a nation, whereas "sons" is individual. The expression, "In the place . . . . Ye are the sons of the living God," in the latter part of verse 10, is what has been already spoken of as the dim allusion to the call of the Gentiles. but it is so dim that many persons swamp it all together, making it bear on Israel. It might have been viewed as referring to Israel if God had said, "Then they shall be Ammi." He does not, however, say this, but "sons of the living God."
Such is the point of the apostle Paul; and what confirms this as the true interpretation is, that Peter also quotes from our prophet, and indeed was writing to a remnant of Jews only, as the apostle Paul was writing in his own proper place to Gentiles. Peter, however, though he does quote Hosea, omits the words, "They shall be called the sons of the living God." See 1 Peter 2:10: "Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." For his object he quotes fromHosea 2:1-23; Hosea 2:1-23, not from Hosea 1:1-11.
This strikingly falls in with what has been already observed, that the first chapter shows not merely the restoration of Israel (perfectly true as this is, and therefore in no way to be combated), but in a mysterious way room left by God for the bringing in of the Gentiles too. By the form of the allusion, which might very easily he overlooked, He proves His perfect knowledge beforehand, and makes a communication to us of the call of the Gentiles in their own proper distinctive relationship as sons of the living God, and not merely His people.
Hence it is that Peter, writing to Christian Jews only gives the latter. Although they had lost their place of people of God through idolatry and certainly the rejection of the Messiah did not mend matters, but rather confirmed the righteous sentence of God, that the little remnant which had come back were as bad as their fathers, or even worse, for they certainly perpetrated a greater crime in the rejection of their own Messiah, yet grace is come in, and they who have received the Messiah rejected but glorified, "are now the people of God." But he does not go farther, because he simply takes them up as persons who had by grace entered in faith into the privileges of Israel before Israel. They had received the Messiah; they were the remnant of that people. They who were not a people had become now a people; they who had not obtained mercy have now obtained mercy. But Paul, writing to the Gentiles, avails himself in a most appropriate way of what Peter passes by not ofHosea 2:23; Hosea 2:23, but of Hosea 1:10, which intimates the call of Gentiles in yet greater depth of mercy. At the same time he takes care to show that the Jew will require the very same ground of sovereign grace to bring him in by and by as we have for coming in now.
The prophet, it is well to observe, appears to point out Israel's future restoration immediately after in a slightly different phraseology, which I think ought to be noticed. "Then," he says (that is, when God has brought in the Gentiles, as we have seen), "Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land." Their restoration to the land is made evident here, their being joined not only Judah, but even reprobate Ephraim into Israel as a whole. "For great shall be the day of Jezreel." The very name of Jezreel, which was before a term of reproach and initiatory judgment, is now turned by the grace of God into a title of infinite mercy, when they shall be indeed the seed of God, not for scattering only but for the rich harvest of blessing that is to characterize the millennial day. Such is the first chapter.
Hosea 2:1-23 begins like the end of the first. In the rest of the chapter we have God carrying out a part but not the whole of the wonderful principles that are so compressed in the first chapter. We begin with the message: "Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. Plead with your mother." It is a call to those who like Hosea could feel, speak, and act according to the Spirit of Christ, with the courage inspired by the certainty of such relationships, though for the present the state of the people was as far from comforting as could well be conceived, as indeed is plain from the next and following verses. "Brethren" and "sisters" look at the Jews (I think) individually. "Your mother" looks at them corporately as a body. "Plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight." Here then we behold a most painful picture Jehovah threatening to put Israel to shame, and to have no mercy upon her children, because their mother had behaved shamelessly towards Himself. "For she is not my wife, nor am I her husband." She must put away her scandalous unfaithfulness, "lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day when she was born, and make her as the desert, and cause her to die of thirst. On her children I will have no mercy; for they are lewd children, because their mother hath committed lewdness, their parent hath acted shamefully; for she said, I will follow my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my wine."
Accordingly Jehovah threatens to hedge up her way with thorns. "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and raise a wall, that she may not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now." There was compunction occasionally, a little revival from time to time even in Israel; but the people never really repented or consequently abandoned their course of sin. Their good resolutions were the proof of God's goodness and the fruit of His testimony, but they never effected a thorough repentance of Israel. "For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they made into images of gold." Thus all was perverted to the service, and it was imputed to the favour of false gods. "Therefore," says He, "I will take my corn in its time, and my new wine in its season; and I will recover my wool and my flax designed to cover her nakedness. And I will expose her vileness before her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of my hand." Then He threatens that all her mirth shall cease, "her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn assemblies. And I will destroy her vines and her fig-trees." Even her natural blessings must be cut off which her unbelief made an excuse for the idols she set up. "And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them." All her luxurious and idolatrous sins therefore would come up in remembrance for judgment.
Nevertheless Jehovah remembers mercy, and immediately after announces that He will allure her, and, though leading he; into the wilderness, speak soothingly to her. But it should not be the past renewed, the old and sad history of Israel rehearsed once more; for to her He would grant her vineyards thence, the valley of Achor for a door of hope. The very place which of old was a door of judgment under Joshua becomes a door of hope in the prophetic vision. "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." Nor shall this freshness of renewed youth fade away as then. "And it shall be at that day, saith Jehovah, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali," (that is, "husband" in love instead of mere "lord," were it in the best and truest sense of dominion and possession from her mouth); also the many and false lords should no more be remembered by their names. "And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword."
Thus we see that, coincident with the return of Israel to Jehovah, and this flowing out of His grace towards them, there shall follow universal blessedness. God will make all the earth to feel to its own joy the gracious restoration of His long-estranged people. With the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and the reptiles of the earth, Jehovah declares He will make a covenant for them in that day. It is infatuation to think that all this was fully accomplished at the return from the Babylonish captivity. The result is that even Christians, misled by this miserable error, are drawn away into the rationalistic impiety of counting God's word here mere hyperbole to heighten the effect, as if the Holy Spirit deigned to be a verbal trickster or a prophet were as vain as a litterateur. No; it is a brighter day when the power of God will make a complete clearance from the world of disorder, misrule, man's violence and corruption, as well as reduce to harmless and happy subjection the animal kingdom at large.
On the other hand, it is not the epoch of the Incarnation, as some pious men say; though how they can venture on it is marvellous. "That day" is still future, and awaits the appearing and the kingdom of the Lord Jesus. It its distressing to confound such a prophecy with Peter's vision in order to apply all to the church now. "The bow and the sword and the battle I will break and remove out of the earth or land, and will make them to lie down safely." But, better than all, "I will also betroth thee to myself for ever;" for what is the worth of every other mercy compared with this nearest association with Jehovah Himself? "Yea, I will betroth thee to myself in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies," says He for the third time. "I will betroth thee to myself in faithfulness; and thou shalt know Jehovah."
Then comes a final and still fuller assurance. "And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith Jehovah, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel." What an uninterrupted line of blessing, from the heavens down to every earthly blessing in the land of Israel! Every creature of God shall then reap in full enjoyment the fruits of the restored and consummated union of Jehovah with His ancient people. "And I will sow her unto me in the earth [referring to the name of Jezreel]; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy (or Lo-ruhamah); and I will say to them which were not my people (or Lo-ammi), My people thou; and they shall say, My God."
Alas! the heavens had been severed, necessarily and long severed, from the earth by the sin of man, and Satan had gained power not merely on the earth, but above could claim a seeming title of righteousness as accuser before God; and thus the heavens were turned into brass against His people, whom the same enemy so often deceived, perverting that which ought to have been the constant governing power and symbol of all , that influenced men in relation to God into his mainspring,, of corruption. For instead of looking up to God in adoration, man adored the heavens and their host rather than God as the highest object of his worship. Such was the earliest form of idolatry. It was there that Satan's power particularly developed itself, in the turning of the highest creatures of God, the most significant parts and signs of His blessing to man, into instruments of the worst corruption. In that day Jehovah will show His power and goodness in destroying and reversing the work of Satan.
Instead therefore of longer hearing his accusation in the heavens who had only sought to dishonour God and involve man in his own ruin, Jehovah will clear the heavens. There will be restored freedom between the Creator and the higher creation, which speaks to Him as it were on behalf of the thirsty earth, Satan being then expelled, and his power and corrupting influence broken, never more to enter there again. Then, as it is said here, "the heavens shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil." That is, instead of the old and complete breach between the creation and God, and consequently therefore, through the serpent's wiles, desolation justly inflicted by God because of its fallen head, Satan will be effectually gone and all the effects of his power effaced. For the Second man will establish peace on a righteous ground for ever between God and Israel, and all the creatures of God, from the highest down to the lowest, enter into rest and Joy.
Thus there is a total reversal of what Satan had done by sin throughout the universe, but especially in view of Israel; so that the names of the first chapter, which then betokened divine judgment, are now converted into mercy and blessing. "The earth [or land] shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel," as Israel is styled, the seed of God. Lo-ruhamah God calls Ruhamah; and to Lo-ammi He says, "Ammi thou." No doubt there is an allusion in Jezreel to their antecedent dispersion; in no way to anything Israel has been during their days of shame and sorrow, but rather to a fresh sowing of them in the land by Jehovah's grace to His glory. The proper fulfilment of this (whatever be the verification of its principle in the Christian remnant, as we see in 1 Peter 2:1-25) awaits the future and manifest kingdom of Jehovah and His Anointed. Then, not in pledge but in fulness, will it be seen by all the world that Hosea has not written in vain: "I will sow her unto me in the earth." It is granted that Jehovah intends to take all the earth under His manifest sway (Psalms 2:1-12, Zechariah 14:1-21), but a great mistake that "the land" will not have a central place in this vast scheme of earthly blessing. The church will be the New Jerusalem, the heavenly metropolis, coming down from God out of heaven, to which she properly belongs as the bride of the Lamb. But the earth is to be blessed, and pre-eminently the land of Israel under Christ's glorious reign; for the divine purpose is to sum up all things in Him in whom we have obtained an inheritance all things, whether they be things in heaven or things on earth. He, the Son in a way quite unique, is Heir of all in the truest and fullest sense, and the kingdom at His coming will display what faith believes while it is unseen.
Hosea 3:1-5 presents a still more concise summary of Israel's past, present, and future, yet with fresh and striking features in this new outline, brief as it is. Even such Jews as acknowledge their own prophets as divinely inspired confess that Hosea in verse 4 describes exactly their present state, as it has also been for many centuries: neither altar of God nor idolatry, no consultation by the true priests or by idols; though they flatter themselves that they still adhere to Jehovah notwithstanding their sins.* How blind to overlook the teaching that they are out of relation to Jehovah, and that it is only after the present long-lasting anomaly in their state that they are to seek their God!
*Leeser's Twenty-four Books of the Holy Scriptures, page 1242. London edition.
This chapter winds up, as has been stated, the introductory portion of our prophecy. Hosea is still occupied with the purposes of God. "Then said Jehovah unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress." Again that most distressing contrast; the object of Jehovah's affection, and withal the base and gross return of Israel represented by Gomer, who had been unfaithful to the prophet, as was intimated before the marriage that she would be. The precision of the language, and the purity of God's servant even under so singular an injunction, are equally beautiful. She is called no longer thy wife but "a woman;" but her impurity was after marriage, and so she is justly named an adulteress. He is told to go again, and love her, a woman beloved by a "friend." Conjugal love is not intended; yet was she to be loved, as indeed she had been: there was no excuse for her sin in any failure of his affection. The exhortation was not after the manner of men, nor even of the law which regulated Israel's ordinary ways. It was grace, and "according to the love of Jehovah toward the sons of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons [or cakes] of grapes." For the connection of cakes with idolatry, seeJeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 7:18, Jeremiah 44:19. The purchase-money, half in barley, half in money, is that of a female slave; which marks the degradation to which the guilty woman had been reduced; it was of course not a dowry, as she had been married to him already. "And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide [lit. sit] for me many days," said the prophet to her; "thou shalt not commit lewdness, and thou shalt not be to* a man [i.e. neither in sin nor in lawful married life]: so I also toward* thee" his heart and care here, not "to her" as her husband, but "toward" her in affection as a friend. The bearing of this on Israel is next explained: "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 seraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek their God, and David their king; and shall fear Jehovah and his goodness in the latter days."
*The authorised version by giving "for me" and for thee" seems slightly to injure the force by its vague sameness of rendering.
Here are many important points which we could not have gathered from either the first chapter or the second. We have seen the general position down to the end inHosea 1:1-11; Hosea 1:1-11; we have had certain details about Israel in Hosea 2:1-23; but Hosea 3:1-5 furnishes the solemn evidence that the humiliation of Israel was to involve a most marked and peculiar isolation, and that it was not to be a passing visitation but a prolonged state, while grace would bless more than ever in the end. "For the sons of Israel shall abide many days." This could not have been concluded from the language of the preceding chapters. The picture therefore would not have been complete without it. Hence the Spirit of God, true to the divine purpose, gives us enough in these few words to meet the objections of him who might complain that Christianity supposes such an immense time as the period of Israel's blindness and departure from God. The answer is that the Jewish prophet says as much, and thereby the Lord leaves room for all that had to come in meanwhile. Not of course that "many days" would convey the thought of ages as the necessary meaning at first, but that as the time lengthened out, it would be seen that it had been all foreseen and predicted.
But there is more. For they are to remain "without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without a seraphim." Further, they were not to take up idolatrous statues or images, as they had so often done up to the captivity; and as they should be without an ephod, the distinctive priestly apparel, so they should not fall back on tutelary divinities as they used to do for anticipating the future. They should not have a king as before the captivity, nor a prince as the Jews had after their return from Babylon. Israel afterwards had neither; and even the Jews lost what they had not long after Christ came. Again, they were to be "without a sacrifice," their sacred as well as civil polity was at an end; for what is the law without a sacrifice? Thus it is a state of things far more true now since the rejection of the Messiah, than up to that transitional period when Messiah came to them; for, although they had not a king, they had a sort of princely ruler. Certainly in the days of the Lord there was under the authority of the Roman empire a subordinate king or ruler, who might be called prince in a certain sense. They were also to be not only without the worship of the true God, but even without the false gods to which they had formerly been victims. Clearly then this describes the present condition of Israel the most anomalous spectacle the world has ever seen a people who go on age after age without any of those elements which are supposed to be essential for keeping a people in existence. For they have lost their king and prince, they have neither God nor an idol. They are not able to present a sacrifice, having nobody that they know to be a priest. Partly since Babylon carried them into captivity, entirely since Titus destroyed Jerusalem, they are literally without those genealogies which the priests must possess and produce in order to prove their title to minister in the holy place. Whatever their pretensions, they can prove nothing, and yet they are upheld by God.
Thus we have here in a single verse of our prophet the most complete picture of their present state found in the word of God a picture which no Jew can deny to be a likeness of their actual state. The more honest they may be, the more they must acknowledge the living truth of the representation. Now, that God should have no connection with anything on the earth that He should be effectuating no purpose in a distinct manner for His own glory would be a monstrous notion, only fit for the wildest Epicurean dreamer, and a practical denial of the living God. Consequently, that God should use this time of the recess of Israel for the bringing in of other counsels is the simplest thing possible, which we can all understand. The Jew by and by will confess that he was inexcusably faithless in his ways and mistaken in his thoughts; he had here at least the negative side of the picture, his own enigmatic state, the people of God not His people, a nation without a government, and, stranger still, with no false god and yet without the true, having neither priest nor sacrifice. The Spirit of God gives the positive side in the New Testament, where we have the call of the Gentiles meanwhile, and within it the gathering of the faithful into the church Christ's body.
But in addition to all, the last verse furnishes another most distinct disclosure, which none but prejudiced men could overlook, that God has not done with Israel as such. It is not true, therefore, that the sons of Israel are to be merged in Christianity. They are said (ver. 5) afterwards not to turn but to "return," and seek Jehovah their God. This is not a description of becoming members of Christ, or of receiving the new and deeper revelations of the New Testament. They will never as a nation form the heavenly body of Christ, either wholly or in part. They will be saved in God's grace through faith in the Lord Jesus, but rather according to the measure vouchsafed to their fathers than to us now, with the modification of the manifest reign of the Lord. Compare Isaiah 11:1-16, Luke 1:1-80, Romans 11:1-36. Individuals merge in Christianity now of course, and are brought out of their state of Judaism consequently; but here we have a different and future state of things quite distinct in some material respects from anything that was or from anything that is, though there be but one Saviour, and but one Spirit, and but one God the Father. "Afterwards shall the sons of Israel return and seek" not the exalted Head in heaven nor the gospel as such, but "Jehovah their God." I grant you it is the same God, yet as Jehovah. It is not the revelation of His name as the Messiah (when rejected, and above all dead and risen) made Him known as "His Father and our Father, His God and, our God." It is not the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit into which we are baptized with water. Here it is rather the form and measure vouchsafed to the nation of old. In short it is God made known after a Jewish sort. And what confirms this is the next expression, "and David their king" that same blessed person, even the Messiah as such, who unites these two glories in His person, though the former of course not exclusively.
Evidently therefore a state of things is before. us quite distinct from Christianity. The Targum and the Rabbinical expositors own that David here means the Messiah. "And they shall fear toward Jehovah, and toward His goodness in the latter day." Thus we have clearly in this passage, not only the present abnormal condition of Israel, but the future restoration of their blessedness, yea, more than they ever yet possessed.* If "the latter days" mean, according to the well-known rule of Kimchi and other Jewish doctors, the days of the Messiah, the New Testament demonstrates that the question has still to be decided between the days of His first advent or those of His second. The context proves that in the Old Testament these days always look on to His reign in power and glory; but various parts of it in the Psalms and the Prophets attest His profound humiliation and death as clearly as His reign over Israel and the earth. The Jews and the Gentiles are quite if not equally wrong for want of simple-hearted intelligence without confusion of the New Testament with the Old.
*Dr. Henderson renders the last clause, "shall tremblingly hasten to Jehovah and to his goodness." His goodness will attract but overawe their souls. It is real and pious feeling, but in accordance with their relationship hardly with that of the Christian; and so the New Testament never speaks in exactly the same way. It is unwise and unfaithful to force the scriptures.
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Kelly, William. "Commentary on Hosea 2:23". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​wkc/​hosea-2.html. 1860-1890.