Hosea, Rightly Divided & Verse-by-Verse
Session 13 | Hosea 11:1-
Hosea 11:1-7 | Love...and Rejection
Verse 1 –
This section (vv. 1-7) is the contrast of God’s love with Israel’s rejection. You can almost hear the anguish in the heart of God over the spurning of Israel toward Him.
The section begins by God sharing His love for Israel as a child, declaring that He called my son out of Egypt. Beginning in Exodus 4:22, God called Israel my son, even my firstborn. And in the Exodus experience He certainly called His son out of Egypt. In this sense the passage is plain, and a reference to the birth of the nation in the Exodus experience.
But this verse also gives us a fantastic view into the interpretation of prophecy. In Matthew 2:15, with Jesus being in Egypt, the Scripture says that the flight to Egypt was so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
From exegetical work on the Hosea passage alone, there is no way that one would ever know to take this as a Messianic prophecy. Only with the revelation of God in Matthew 2:15 would we know to associate the Hosea prophecy with the Messiah. However, this alerts us of two important matters in interpretation of prophecy. First, God seems to equate Israel with His Son, the Messiah. In one sense (as seen here), the Messiah is the embodiment of the nation in its perfected form. This is why there is often a division between the Jewish and Christian interpretations of certain passages such as Isaiah 53, with Jews claiming that the Suffering Servant is the nation, and Christians that it is the Messiah.
Second, this alerts us to the fact that there may be hidden meaning in plain words. If we only get the surface (i.e. grammatical and contextual) meaning of prophetic literature, we may be missing out on something far more fantastic. For example, Song of Solomon in its grammar and context is a love story between a man and a woman. There is a theological meaning of the song that goes deeper than the surface level.
Because of these two truths, when we read prophecy, we should always consider whether or not a word, phrase, or passage could have a deeper meaning. We should search the Scriptures for anything and everything that sounds similar, seeking understanding. We should not be timid in looking deeper to a different level of meaning. However, we should also understand that unless the Scripture explicitly teaches something, we cannot know it is true. But if we insist on “chapter and verse” to give proof, we will also miss out on tremendous libraries of information.
Verse 2 –
The Lord brings the pronoun they, seemingly moving away from Egypt to the prophets who called them to faithfulness. But the more they called, the faster Israel ran.
Note that the hidden Messianic prophecy of verse 1 is only found in the final phrase of verse 1 and does not continue to verse 2. This helps us to understand that there are times when a prophetic passage can be taken without its context on occasion.
Verse 3 –
Verses 1-2 contain the first “call and rejection” contrast of the section. Verse 3 contains the second. God says, I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms. This would be the picture of a father’s love, as he teaches his child to walk. Compare similar pictures in Deuteronomy 1:31, for example. In rejection, however, the people did not recognize God as their healing Father.
Verses 4-7 –
Verses 4-7 contain the third rejection of love by Israel. In this one, the former displays of love are expressed in verse 4 and the rejection in verse 7, with an interlude of judgment in verses 5-6.
The Lord says in verse 4 that He drew them with cords of a man and them elaborates with bands of love. The reference to cords of a man does not likely mean man-made cords but rather the things that would be used to draw man (humanity), such as love, patience, concern, tenderness, etc. The final two lines of the verse give examples of this human tenderness, as one who would loosen their yoke and stoop down to feed them.
Hosea 11:8-11 | The Lord’s Patience
Verse 8 –
The Lord expresses His love for Israel. His love and His repentings are kindled together. This verse really shows God’s heart, one of both love and of righteousness. The word repentings is, in Hebrew, compassions, consistent with the etymology of the word, which includes the feeling of contrition or regret. The Lord is contrite because of His love for Israel yet the need to punish.
Verse 9 –
The Lord determines that He will not execute the fierceness of mine anger nor destroy Ephraim. The key words are fierceness and destroy. He is going to send judgment, but He is not going to do so in fierceness nor to destruction. In effect, God determines to hold back in His wrath. This is God’s compassion resulting in God’s grace.
Verses 10-11 -
These verses are a reference to the last days, in which Israel shall ultimately walk after the LORD, but not until He shall roar like a lion. In fact, the entire purpose of the Tribulation (the 70th week of Daniel) is to bring Israel to repentance. The result of this repentance is that God will place them in their houses, a reference to the millennium.