Hosea -- The Prophet for Our Time
It is a fact that while the Prophet Hosea is categorized as being among the minor prophets of the Bible, because of the shortness of his book, his message is perhaps the most dramatic prophecy to the Covenant Nations in the present era. It is certainly a message that should not fail to be missed, yet it is missed in a very big way indeed, because of the persistent spiritualization of the prophets message to the House of Israel.
This violation done to the literal context of the prophecy to the nation of Israel is at the root of the great blindness to the Gospel of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. It is high time that the blinders were removed and the profound depth of the story of Redemption in history was known. The prophecy is nothing less than a telescopic preview of what would happen down through the pages of history. In one bold sweep across the centuries beginning with the dispersion of the House of Israel and climaxing in their redemption, the fullness of the Gospel of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is revealed. It is an incomparable prophetic vision for our time.
Through a life experience parable of the prophet, the northern ten-tribed Kingdom of Israel is depicted as an unfaithful wife, whom YEHOVAH divorced and sent away into Assyrian bondage. In graphic terms Hosea sets out the story of the rejection, the punishment, the regathering and the ultimate restoration of the House of Israel. His distinctive message is set by two words, Lo-ammi, "not my people," and Ammi, "my people" (Hosea 1:9 & 2:1).
Hosea as a fearless and true prophet had warned the people of impending judgment for their sins, making it clear to them that they would not escape punishment if they persisted in transgressing the commandments, statutes and judgments of the LORD and partaking of the idolatrous practices of the nations in the region around them. Yet, in the midst of the condemnation that he issued for their evil ways, Hosea was able to look forward in ultimate vision to behold the coming glorious deliverance when the unfaithful wife of YEHOVAH would be forgiven and the bill of divorcement would be blotted out.
One might have thought that this advance knowledge concerning the glorious reunion of the people of the Kingdom with YEHOVAH God Almighty would have been received without difficulty as the evidences of unfolding history confirmed that the great plan of redemption for Israel was being fulfilled in part at the Reformation and in Protestant civilization.
How can such a powerful prophetic vision fail to have been understood and interpreted by most theologians over the past fifty years and longer? The answer can be understood in the way that theological dogma from pre-Reformation times has persisted and indeed resurrected itself as we have fallen away from the Faith as a nation. The lack of understanding of the Bible in its nation-state context, as God's great Master Plan for establishing His Kingdom upon this earth and what is to a very large extent a prophetic document for the Kingdom under construction, has resulted in the Bible, as our national book, remaining very much a closed book for multitudes of Christians.
This basic link between the Old and New Testaments, or the former and new covenants with YEHOVAH's people of Israel has failed to be understood as a continuity of history in the great story of YEHOVAH's love for the nation of the servant people in the earth. It is a blindness which for the past half century has become a cause of increasing falling away from the Faith. A universalism has developed within Christian movements that make it more and more difficult for the believer to follow in the true path of righteousness which exalts the nation under YEHOVAH God.
Howard Rand in his Introduction to Study in Hosea wrote the following concerning the great vision given to the Prophet Hosea:
"Marking the downward steps in the great apostasy in Israel, and seeing the [Shekinah] glory of the Lord leave His people, Hosea used another and more spectacular analogy to forecast the years of bitter tribulation which the House of Israel would be compelled to endure. He predicted their national demise in terms of the 'burial' of the House of Israel in the 'graveyard' of Assyrian captivity. Nevertheless, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the prophet looked forward to the day when they would be ransomed from the grave and live again in God's sight.
"This, the prophet makes plain, will be the outcome of the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of Israel. Their ultimate restoration is therefore assured and this will come to pass when the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples awaken to recognition of their origin and identity as the House of Israel in the world today."
The Prophet's Commission
The true spelling of the prophet's name, taken from the Hebrew, is Hoshea, which means "salvation." His calling and purpose was to demonstrate, through his own difficult personal family experiences what the LORD was enduring at the hands of His national bride, the people of Israel. Many consider the LORD's instruction to Hosea to be very strange indeed. To take "a wife of whoredoms" appears like a scandal. Actually Hosea was being told to take a wife from among the women of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who had turned to idolatry after departing from the commandments, statutes and judgments of YEHOVAH God. So in taking to wife "Gomer," whose name means 'consuming' and whose father Diblaim means 'withered' Hosea was graphically demonstrating to the House of Israel the results following the immorality and degeneration due to the great apostasy.
Many times in the history of YEHOVAH's people Israel men and women were named to commemorate significant happenings. The outstanding instance of this was when the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines in battle. Samuel's daughter-inlaw gave birth to a son whom she named Ichabod, which means "inglorious," for she said, "The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken" (I Samuel 4:22).
Gomer bore Hosea a son and the LORD instructed the prophet to call him Jezreel, a name that has two meanings: "may God scatter" and "may God sow." Gomer then conceived and bore a daughter and God commanded the prophet to name her Lo-ruhamah, which means "not compassionated" or in Romans 9:25 "not beloved" and in I Peter 2:10, "not having obtained mercy." YEHOVAH's judgment was coming upon the rebellious House of Israel to the extent that they would cease to be a kingdom as they then existed. He would in fact no longer have mercy and utterly cause them to be taken away (Hosea 1:4-6). The judgment took place for the House of Israel, but what is often overlooked, is that almost all of the House of Judah as well was removed to Assyria and Media from 721-701 BC. Only a final small remnant of Judah was taken to Babylon and Persia around 130 years later. From these captivities none of the House of Israel and less than 50,000 of the House of Judah ever returned, who were then merged with Edom to be called Jews.
The theological mind-trick that follows then assumes that this vast majority of the Hebrew race, as His national bride, was just written off by the ever-loving and ever-faithful YEHOVAH God of Israel to be replaced seven centuries later by the Church as His bride. The reason for this is that the prophecy of Hosea is not followed through to its most wonderful and glorious climax. History and the prophetic Scriptures are simply ignored for the sake of a legacy of dogma from pre-Reformation times, the greater aspect of the tragedy being -- this blindness applies to all the Protestant organizations that resist Roman Catholic teaching. Why is this so? Why do they fear the Gospel of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God after centuries of reformed teaching?
It is a difficult fact to face, yet nevertheless true, that once dogma is established only a revelation of the holy spirit can unlock the mind pattern to take it out of the rut into which it has fallen. Today, rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, which Yeshua the Messiah preached, we have the `Gospel of the Church' in which the Protestant movements are slipping back, either in apathy to Rome, or to a shallow universal type of pagan Christianity. A religion has been made out of the Church, starting with the Roman Catholic Church. In fact Israel is still the servant people and Nation under YEHOVAH God, called out to serve Him in righteousness as His example nation to all the other nations in the earth. What is needed is a new second phase of the Reformation to open the eyes of the blind national servant of YEHOVAH God. Our civilization is literally disintegrating around us and there is no understanding as to what we should aspire to as a nation because the Gospel of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is not being preached as the Established Faith under YEHOVAH God.
Sons of God
Immediately following the pronouncement that the House of Israel would not be YEHOVAH's people and that He would not be their God, the LORD declared through Hosea:
"Yet 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, that in the place where it was said unto them, ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God" (Hosea 1:10).
As Howard Rand explained in his book:
"This was a look into the future, to a time far removed from the days of the Prophet Hosea, when, in conformity with the covenant promise made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their descendants would become a great multitude. At that time the nations of modern Israel would be residing in a new location and would be ignorant of their identity as the seed of Abraham. Yet, in the very place where men would be saying they are not God's people Israel, it would be said of them that they are the sons of the living God. This can refer to nothing less than the fact that the term 'Christian' (which means sons of God through Jesus Christ) would be applied to those among them who seek the Lord their Saviour. It could only apply to the time when the House of Israel would be Christianized and under the New Covenant, seeking Him whom they rejected by refusing to keep the terms of the Old Covenant."
Hosea foresaw that "the children of Israel would abide many days without a king, and without a prince," but that "afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:4-5). In effect they would become a very prestigious Christian monarchy of Davidic descent. The great theme running throughout Scripture is the symbolic relationship of husband and wife existing between the LORD God YEHOVAH and His people Israel. Many have supposed that His Plan of using a race and nation has failed and has been discarded -- except that for some reason the Jews, seem to remain on the scene, not as a blessing to the Arabs, but as an un-Christian anomaly called Israelis. It is a puzzle to Christendom as to what is really going on in the world.
Many, if not most, Christian leaders who have little knowledge of history and even less faith, are apparently content to accept the God-dishonouring supposition as truth -- that YEHOVAH's Plan of using Israel, in its prophetic fulfillment as a Company of Nations and as the instrument of His Purpose has failed. Acting as false prophets, they imply that YEHOVAH God has failed. The Prophet Hosea did not do so -- he is the true prophet for our time.
-- Michael A. Clark
Hope of Israel
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.