Summary: The Gospel According to Hosea God's Faithfulness, part 2
The Gospel According to Hosea
God's Faithfulness, part 2
We started our summer series last week, The Gospel According to Hosea, looking at God's Faithful love for an unfaithful people. If you remember, Hosea was a prophet toward the end of fifty years of great peace and prosperity and military expansion under the reign of Jeroboam II. The peace and prosperity was not good for the spiritual climate of the nation. They had become so spiritually bankrupt that they were unrecognizable as God's unique people. Blind to their spiritual bankruptcy they were coasting along as though nothing was wrong. Last week I shared about Hosea's marriage which I will review then finish the rest of the chapter.
1. An Unusual Marriage (vs. 1-2)
Last week we saw that Hosea's marriage to Gomer is a picture of God's relationship to Israel. In the same way that Hosea had entered into a marriage Covenant with Gomer who then repeatedly violated her covenant with Hosea, God has entered into a covenant with Israel who has repeatedly violated their covenant with God. Yet God, loving and faithful to an unloving and unfaithful people, repeatedly pursued Israel by going to extreme measures to win her back. In the course of their marriage they had three children forming an unusual family.
2. An Unusual Family (vs. 3-9)
The first child, a son, is named Jezreel. God explains this name by saying that he will soon punish the house of Jehu and bring Israel to an end. This is perplexing because the Lord, through the prophet Elisha, commanded Jehu to kill the house of Ahab and then the Lord commended Jehu for his zeal in finishing off the dynasty of Omri especially the slaughter of the priests of Baal. The issue is resolved when we look at the Hebrew word for punish. It can mean 'to punish' but it has a broad range of meanings such as 'attend to,' 'appoint,' 'visit,' 'inspect,' even to 'rule over.' So context must determine how we translate the verb. I don't think punish is the best translation because God would be contradicting a prior command he gave Jehu. It seems better to understand this verse as 'God will visit upon the house of Jehu the same bloodshed of Jezreel.' God will bring the bloodshed of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu because his dynasty's rule was really no better than that of Jeroboam or Ahab and led Israel into spiritual whoredom. The Omri dynasty was wicked and so was wiped away by Jehu but Jehu did not learn the lesson and his dynasty was no better so God wiped him out also.
Gomer conceived again and bore a daughter and Hosea called her name 'no mercy because he will no more have mercy on the house of Israel and so will take them away,' away into exile as a means of disciplining the nation. If you are his you cannot escape God's discipline. If you are not his, then you cannot escape God's judgement. God disciplines those he loves and he will take whatever measures that are necessary to accomplish his purposes. But in contrast God will have mercy on Judah, the southern kingdom and save them miraculously, I think because again, God is faithful to his covenantal promise to bring the Messiah from the line of the king of Judah. God is sovereign over history and raises up and brings down as he pleases.
The last child born is called 'not my people.' Israel had drifted so far from being the covenantal people of God that they were no different than the pagan nations around them so God breaks covenant with them. This is not an absolute statement because Hosea was faithful to the covenant and he still was one of God's people. God is making a distinction between the majority of the Israelites, who were whoring after other gods and are not his people, and the minority, who are spiritually faithful and are still his people. The New Testament sheds light on the Old Testament so we must interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament. Paul makes this distinction clear in Romans when he makes a distinction between physical Israel and spiritual Israel. Physical Israel are those Israelites who are ethnically Jews, circumcised in the flesh, but not circumcised in the heart. God was and is faithful to his covenant but the individual Israelites still had to appropriate the covenant by faith. But sin and apostasy does not have the last word; God always does. So even though things look bleak and Israel faces God's judgement there is hope.
3. An Uncommon Hope (vs. 10-2:1)
Here is promised a complete reversal of the judgment described by the names of the three children. The wording here shows us God's faithfulness to the Abrahamic covenant. This was partially fulfilled when Israel was brought out of exile but completely fulfilled with the coming of Jesus establishing the New Covenant. What the Old Testament prophets did not see clearly; the New Testament writers bring clarity. The New Testament reinterprets and expands this promise to Israel to include believing Gentiles and the church so that the church fulfills and supersedes Israel. The church is made up of a remnant of 'spiritual Israel' or believing Jews and believing Gentiles. The gathering of the northern and southern kingdoms is the gathering of all nations, the scattered sheep as we saw in John. In the same way that the butterfly surpasses and fulfills the caterpillar so too the church surpasses and fulfills Israel as the people of God.