Christ in All the Scriptures
by A.M. Hodgkin
- V. Christ in the Prophets
8. Hosea --
- The prophet Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah and continued to prophesy for sixty-five or seventy years. He was God's messenger to the northern kingdom of Israel and only mentions Judah incidentally. He addresses Israel sometimes as ''Samaria'' and ''Jacob'' and ''Ephraim''-- the last because that tribe was the largest of the ten and the leader in rebellion. The book abounds in expressive metaphors. Ephraim is ''a cake not turned,'' ''a silly dove without a heart''; her king is ''cut off as foam upon the water.''
Hosea began to prophesy during the reign of Jeroboam II king of Israel, one of the most powerful of her kings, and [he continued prophesying] during the reign of his successors, whom the prophet does not even name because they were not of the Lord's choosing (8:4). There was not one of them found who would risk his throne for God. This was a striking illustration of the Law in Deuteronomy 17:15, ''Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose.'' That Israel possessed the written Law in the days of Hosea is shown from various passages, notably Hos 8:12.
- Wickedness of the Land.
- The moral state of Israel was as bad as it could possibly be. The idolatry inaugurated by Jeroboam I, the son of Nebat [1Kin 12:25-33], had continued for upwards of two hundred years, and had diffused every form of vice among the people. ''The Lord hath a controversy with the land,'' said Hosea, ''because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out'' (Hos 4:1,2). Drunkenness and shameful idol festivals were spread over the land. The idolatrous priests even waylaid and murdered the wayfarers.
- Judgment and Mercy.
- Hosea was sent both to denounce the sins of the people, and to proclaim to them the compassionate love of God, and His willingness to have mercy upon them if they would but return to Him. [Hosea] himself was made a sign to the people. His longsuffering love for a wife who proved faithless to him, and whom he bought back from a life of shame, was a picture of God's love to His rebellious people, who had broken their covenant with Him and had given themselves up to the worship of idols.
God first pronounces His judgment upon His people [Chapter 5]. He will be to them as a moth and rottenness, as a young lion, as a leopard, as a bear robbed of her whelps. He says He has hewed them by the prophets and slain them by the words of His mouth [6:5]. He foretells the awful destruction of Samaria, the sword that shall slay them, and the fire that shall destroy them. But along with judgment, He makes known His mercy, His earnest desire for their repentance. ''I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early'' (Hos 5:15).
Nothing can exceed the earnestness and love with which the Lord entreats Ephraim to return to Him. ''How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?'' Four times over this ''How'' is repeated [Hos 11:8]. ''O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thy help'' [Hos 13:9]. ''O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and return to the Lord: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously. . . . I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely'' [Hos 14:1,2,4]. And then follows His gracious promise of restoration, that He will be as the ''summer nightmist'' to Israel, and it shall grow with the beauty of the lily, with the strength of the cedars of Lebanon, with the fragrance of the undergrowth of those mountains, and with the fruitfulness of the olive, and the corn, and the vine, and the perennial greenness of the fir-tree.
- The Messiah.
- Messianic allusions in this book are clear and beautiful. Both Peter and Paul show us that the prophecy of Hosea 1:10 has been fulfilled in Christ (1Pet 2:10; Rom 11:25,26).
In Hosea 3:4, the present state of Israel is described. ''Without a king, without a prince, without a sacrifice, without an ephod''-- the sign of the priest-- because they have rejected their King, their true Priest after the order of Melchizedek, and are still rejecting the sacrifice He offered. And, on the other hand, they are ''without an image, and without teraphim,'' for they are free from idolatry. The next verse describes their glorious future, when they shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their King-- the Lord Jesus Christ.
- Resurrection of Christ.
- Chapter 6:2: ''After two days He will revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.'' The resurrection of Christ, and our resurrection in Him, could not be more plainly foretold. The prophet expressly mentions two days, after which life should be given, and a third day, on which the resurrection should take place. Verse 3: ''His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.'' He who should so go forth is the same as He who was to revive them and raise them up-- even Christ, who as ''the Day-spring from on high hath visited us'' [Luk 1:78], coming forth from the grave on the resurrection morning, and of whom it was foretold that He should ''come down like showers upon the mown grass'' [Psa 72:6].
- ''Out of Egypt.''
- Hosea 11:1. ''I called My Son out of Egypt.'' This had a primary fulfilment in Israel as a type of Christ. Its real fulfilment, as we are told by Matthew (2:15), was in Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God.
- One Saviour.
- Hos 11:4. ''I drew them with cords of a Man, with bands of love.'' Christ drew us with cords of a man when for us He became man and died for us. ''I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto Me'' [John 12:32].
- Hos 13:4. ''There is no Saviour beside Me.'' ''Thou shalt call His name Jesus (Saviour); for He shall save His people from their sins'' [Mat 1:21]. ''Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved'' [Acts 4:12].
- Hos 13:14. ''I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.'' ''The word rendered ransom, signifies rescued them by the payment of a price; the word rendered redeem, relates to one who, as the nearest of kin, had the right to acquire anything as his own, by paying the price. Both words in their most exact sense describe what Jesus did for us'' (Dr. Pusey).
''O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction,'' is a burst of triumph at the promised redemption, when Christ being risen from the dead became the first-fruits of them that slept [1Cor 15:20,55-57].
See the Book Notes on Hosea for a more complete discussion of these truths.
Return to the Table of Contents for Christ in All the Scriptures.
For another brief look at this book of the Bible,
see the related chapter in OT Reflections of Christ, by Paul Van Gorder.
Go to The Book opening page.