COMMENTARY ON HOSEA
“ 1:8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 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. 11 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: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” (Hosea 1:8-11)
Hosea is being prepared to minister to the people of God. Because of the tender associations of the prophetic ministry, Hosea’s whole person must be involved – heart, soul, mind, and strength. A ministry for God cannot be a heartless one. The text before us is challenging. It contains an affirmation of Divine rejection, and one of restoration as well – a declaration of Divine acceptance in the very place where rejection was announced. The prelude to the announcement of this condition will require the development of great sensitivity on the part of Hosea. This sensitivity will be developed in the crucible of family life, thereby providing a constant reminder to Hosea of the nature or his work for the Lord.
In this text we are again exposed to the Divine nature, which does not change. God reacts in specific ways to both sin and righteousness, the acceptance of His word and the rejection of it. From the beginning, these reactions have not changed or been altered in the slightest degree. That is precisely why we can learn and derive comfort from both the records and the affirmations of the Scriptures (Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:11). If there was any inconsistency in God’s nature, we could not learn from what He did in the past.
YE ARE NOT MY PEOPLE
“ 1:8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.” Hosea has begotten two children through Gomer: a son, Jezreel, and a daughter, Loruhamah. The name of the son declared that God was going to “avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu,” who fulfilled God’s word in a dishonorable way, and caused the house of Israel to cease. The daughter’s name was Loruhamah, declaring that God was would have no more mercy on the ten tribes of Israel, but would take them away. Now a third child is born, and also given a name that declared what the Lord would do.
There is a morsel of truth to be found in these circumstances that is most precious. What God is doing is more important than what is happening to us. If, for example, Hosea would have made his family the most important thing, these names would have been a burden too heavy to bear. However, His awareness of the working of the Lord, together with his great trust in the Lord, enabled him to stand tall during this time.
WHEN SHE HAD WEANED LORUHAMAH. Eastern women commonly nursed their children for 2-3 years. You may recall that the day Isaac was “weaned,” a great feast was prepared for him. It was at that time that Ishmael mocked him (Gen 21:8-9). When Hannah presented Samuel to the Lord, to live with Eli in the house of the Lord, it was only after he had been “weaned” (1 Sam 1:22-24). Thus, at least two to three years have passed since the Lord announced He would eliminate Israel, showing her no more mercy.
This was, in my judgment, a period of Divine longsuffering and patience. There are two levels of Divine chastening revealed in this first chapter. First, the withdrawal of mercy: “I will have no more mercy on the house of Israel” (1:6). Second, the complete disavowal of God: “Ye are not my people” (1:9). The weaning of Loruhamah stands for the period of extended mercy between those levels.
CALL HIS NAME LOAMMI. Now Gomer bares a second son, and Hosea is told to call his name “Loammi.” The name means “not my people.” The name would reflect a statement the Lord would make – a statement that would affirm something He would do. It is something that will not contradict His nature, but will rather be an confirmation of His nature or character. Although it will not blend well with some theological views, it is a solid revelation of who God is and how He responds to sin among His people.
YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE. This is a staggering statement, for it is addressed to offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – “the house of Israel.” Their genealogy and pedigree was proper. They were in the right land. They possessed the qualifying history, having been delivered from Egypt. The prophets had been sent to them. The promises were made to them. David had promised, “the Lord will bless the house of Israel” (Psa 115:12). Isaiah said, “the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His pleasant plant” (Isa 5:7). They had a legitimate beginning. How is it that such words could be uttered to them by God Almighty?
Some views of God emphatically deny that He is capable of saying such things to those who have entertained a real association with Him. Such souls would say these people were never really a people, but were only pretenders. Our text will dash such theology to the ground, proving it to be spurious and degrading to the Living God.
This statement amounts to God disowning the people. He does not say “You will not be My people,” but “You ARE NOT my people.” Later, the prophet Isaiah would declare why this happened: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa 59:2).
This disowning did not take place suddenly. First he broke their bow, causing their strength to depart (Hos 1:5). Second, He withdrew His mercy from them (Hos 1:6). Now He severs His association from them: “You are not My people.”
I WILL NOT BE YOUR GOD. The Lord asserts His will on the matter. He refused to be their God. He will not come to their aid or support them. In so doing, He reduces “the house of Israel” to a people differing nothing from other nations – for their distinction was, in fact, their God. There are people with whom God refuses to be associated, and here is an example of such! By saying “I will not be your God,” the Lord means He will not be with them or for them. He will not be their Defender, Nourisher, Savior, Deliverer, Father, Hope, or Refuge. He will not hear their prayers, or dispatch angels for their aid. He will not lead them. Such a condition is so dreadful the sensitive soul will do anything to avoid hearing these words – anything!
IT SHALL BE SAID UNTO THEM
“ 10 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.”
The abandonment of the house of Israel will not be for ever! It will be very real, but it will also have a conclusion. Some of the branches will, indeed, be broken off, but not all of them (Rom 11:17). Even though Israel was carried captive into Assyria, Isaiah said a remnant would survive: “And there shall be an highway for the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria; like as it was to Israel in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt” (Isa 11:16). There would be a “remnant of Israel” (Isa 10:20; Jer 6:9; 31:7; Mic 2:10).
YET THEIR NUMBER WILL BE VAST. The word “remnant,” in this case, does not mean a few. What a glorious principle is seen here! It is true that light sprang out of darkness (2 Cor 4:6), joy came out of sorrow (Job 41:22; John 16:20), peaceable fruit follows chastening (Heb 12:11), and life came from death (1 John 3:14). So in this word the Lord vaults Israel forward to behold their latter end, when He would “do them good” (Jer 32:40-41). The word given to Abraham would be fulfilled, even in the house of Israel: “in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore” (Gen 22:17).
The Divine intention in this is to bring great glory to God by delivering a large body of people, even as He did from Egypt. It was in their affliction that they began to “multiply.” Stephen drew attention to this Divine work. “But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt” (Acts 7:17). So, Hosea was told, it will be with “house of Israel.” Even though God disowned them, yet, in the prospect of His coming appointments, the people would multiply greatly. Although it appeared on the surface as though the Abrahamic promise would be nullified, yet it would remain in tact for God’s glory.
IN THE PLACE. “The place” refers to the time of Israel’s dispersion, when they were “removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither [the Lord] shall drive them” (Jer 24:9). There, in that state of dispersion, things would eventually change by the hand of God. A single “place,” noted for both rejection and acceptance. God promised, “But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers” (Jer 16:15). This was not answered in the return from the Babylonian captivity, for that related primarily to the children of Judah (Dan 6:13).
YE ARE THE SONS OF THE LIVING GOD. And what would be said in this place, where God has previous disowned the people saying, “Ye are not My people,” and “I will not be your God.” Here is what the Lord will say: “Ye are the sons of the living God!”
The Holy Spirit does not leave us to speculate about this matter. Both Jews and Gentiles are included in this promise, as affirmed in the ninth chapter of Romans. “Even us, whom He hath 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” (Rom 9:24-26). Paul accounts for the inclusion of the Gentiles by saying they were “grafted in among” the Jews (Rom 11:17). Spiritually speaking, both Jew and Gentile were in the same condition. Both had rejected the knowledge given to them, and thus both were rejected by Him.
At the time of Hosea’s prophecy, neither of these events had taken place. The Lord had not yet disowned “the house of Israel,” nor had He declared them to be His sons. Yet, as God is wont to do, He “gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did” NKJV (Rom 4:17). This is the kind of speaking that nourishes faith and builds hope. Those who confine themselves to the “here and the now” are deprived of the power of such promises. Faith refuses to remain in the “now.” It seeks for a word from God about the future.
The commitment to Israel is just as sure as the commitment to the Gentile world. It would be folly to imagine that the promise here made to Israel was realized in the Gentiles alone, for we are categorically told if applies to both Jew and Gentile.
What a marvelous picture we are given of our great God. He declares the gathering of Israel even before they are dispersed, and their recovery before they are rejected.
JUDAH AND ISRAEL GATHERED TOGETHER
“ 11 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: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”
Here is a wonderful promise concerning the seed of Abraham. It is couched in the midst of the announcement of great judgments, as it is God’s manner to do. This is an proclamation of Divine intent, not of mere possibilities.
JUDAH AND ISRAEL TOGETHER. At the time of writing, the children of Abraham had been divided for over two hundred years – since Jeroboam led the ten tribes away and caused them to sin (1 Kgs 11:31; 14:16). For some, it would appear as though all hope had been destroyed. But God announces Judah and Israel will be “gathered together.” The Lord revealed to Ezekiel something of the largeness of this gathering. “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand” (Ezek 37:16-19).
Jeremiah was told, “In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together” (Jer 3:18). Isaiah also spoke of this: “the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people . . . And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Isa 11:12).
For that matter, the New Covenant, now enjoyed by those in Christ Jesus, is said to be made “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jer 31:31). What we are presently experiencing in Christ Jesus will yet be fulfilled in the ancient people.
ONE HEAD. After the division of the nations they had separate kings and leaders. But Hosea is told that will eventually be changed, and they would jointly consent to “one head.” This is an obvious reference to the conversion of the Jews, when they will be joyfully under the Headship of the Lord Jesus. The Prophets speak freely of this time, not yet realized by them. “And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David; He shall feed them, and He shall be their Shepherd. And I the LORD will be their God, and My servant David a Prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it” (Ezek 34:23-24). Jesus Himself referred to this grand state. He spoke of it from the standpoint of the acceptance of the Gentiles – but it is the same gathering. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice; and there shall be one fold, and one Shepherd” (John 10:16).
THEY SHALL COME UP. That is, Judah would come up primarily from Babylon, and Israel from Assyria. Yet, over the years there had been a remarkable dispersion, so that the earth had been sprinkled, as it was, with Jews. The Lord declared He would bring them “out of all countries whither I have driven them” (Jer 23:3). AND again, “Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely”(Jer 32:37). This will have its ultimate fulfillment in Christ Jesus, when the veil is “taken away” from their eyes (2 Cor 3:16). This is when “the Deliverer shall come out of Zion, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Rom 11:26). It is when the valley of dry bones will be raised to life (Ezek 37). Then the word of Jeremiah will be fulfilled, “And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart” (Jer 24:7).
Presently, those who are in Christ Jesus have tasted of this blessing, and thus ought to have great hope for the future of those to whom “the promises were made.” It is, after all, more reasonable for them to experience the blessing than for the Gentiles to do so. That is the reasoning of Romans 11:12,24.
GREAT SHALL BE THE DAY. This speaks of the reversal of the curses Hosea has announced. Those who were broken will be healed (Hos 1:5). Those who received no mercy would obtain mercy (Hos 1:6). Those who were taken away would be gathered (Hos 1:6). Those who were not God’s people would be His. Those obtained no mercy would receive mercy. It would, indeed, be a great day for the people of God!