When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.Hosea 11:1(NASB)
The meaning of Hosea is 'Salvation', and in the book of Hosea we read the amazing history of a faithful prophet of God, who is instructed to marry a prostitute.. but she continues her harlotry throughout their marriage.
The shocking nature of Hosea's marriage is difficult for us to comprehend. And yet this is what happened in the life of this godly man, and is recorded for our learning.
Throughout the book we see a sharply defined parallel between.. a) Hosea and his unfaithful wife, Gomer and b) the Lord God of our salvation, and the apostate nation of Israel.
For most of the book we read about the heart-breaking life-story of a man... married to a wanton woman, who repeatedly betrays him with many lovers, and which paints a graphic picture of Israel's unfaithfulness to the Lord, and the ongoing idolatry of the nation.. which included the sins of the people and the wickedness of the priests.
In the final verses of the book, we discover the depth of God's love for Israel, who are urged to repent of their sins and finally to benefit from God's gracious blessings and everlasting faithfulness - just as Gomer finally repented of her adultery and unfaithfulness. Nevertheless, we continue to be astonished by Israel's long-term ingratitude towards their Saviour, and are ashamed to recognise some similar failings in our own lives, when we have left our first love, erected idols in our own lives, or wandered far from the God of our salvation.
One can almost feel the intense pain that God suffered, as we read.. "When Israel was a youth I loved him - and out of Egypt I called My son." It was love for the little nation of Israel that caused God to take Abraham out of his pagan country in Chaldea, and it was by grace that God promised to make him into a great nation - through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed.
It was out of love that God chose Israel to become His peculiar people and chosen nation. It was by grace that God protected them from the enemies that encompassed them, and provided sustenance for them during their wilderness wanderings. It was out of love for His people and by the grace of God that He brought them across the Red Sea and into the promised land of Canaan.
It was out of love that God determined that Israel would be the people by whom the Scriptures would be written and through whom the promised Messiah would be born. And love for His chosen nation caused God to reveal, to Pharaoh himself, that Israel were His special nation, His adopted son - His chosen heritage!
God loved His covenant people in their early days and redeemed them from bondage after they had endured four hundred years of Egyptian slavery. Sadly, the more God cared for His people, the greater was Israel's apostasy, and yet throughout their chequered history, the Lord was gracious to them. In His anger and wrath He repeatedly showed them His mercy, and we discover in the pages of Scripture, that a day is coming when God's chosen people will be ultimately restored to their God.
There is no hint that this Old Testament verse refers to anything other than Israel's deliverance from Egypt - "When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son." Israel was delivered from Egypt at the time of the first Passover supper, when the first-born of unbelieving Egypt were slaughtered by the angel of death. But when Matthew was prompted by the Holy Spirit to write his gospel, he applied this same verse to the Lord Jesus Christ - the only begotten Son of the Father.
Due to the murderous decree of King Herod, His parents were instructed by an angel of the Lord to flee into Egypt for a season. The newly born King of the Jews was taken there to escape the shocking slaughter of those innocent babes in Bethlehem, when the wicked king heard of His birth and determined to destroy this rival.
During His childhood and youth, we discover that Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and increased in grace and favour with both God and man. And so, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Matthew used the prophecy of Hosea to point to the Lord Jesus, when he wrote - "out of Egypt I called My Son."
God's promise to restore Israel as His chosen people, through Hosea's prophecy, still stands - but it will happen at God's time and in God's way. Although Israel rejected their Messiah and crucified their King, it was love that caused the Father to send His only begotten Son into the world, to redeem mankind from their sin.. and it was love that caused the Lord Jesus to set aside His heavenly glory, and be born into the fallen, human race, so that He could shed His own life-blood on Calvary's Cross for the sin of the world - which alone has the power to forgive the sin of ALL who believe on His name for salvation.
Praise God that by faith in JESUS we are also sons and daughters of God Most High, and He has called us, chosen us, and brought us out of bondage to sin and slavery to Satan, and adopted us into His family. Praise God that by His grace and love we have been given the right to be called His sons.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the amazing story of Hosea, whose life became such a beautiful picture of Your love for Israel and such a wonderful comfort for all Your children. Thank You that You are a faithful God, and that in Your mercy You have done all that is necessary for me to be forgiven of my sins - past, present and future - by faith in Christ. Thank You that by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone, I am eternally Yours. And thank You that nothing can separate me from Your love, and that no one can pluck me out of Your hands. Keep me faithful to my calling. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.