Church Write-Up: Hosea 1:10, Hosea 2, and Romans 9

The sermon at church this morning made many of the same points as the mid-week Bible study, so, in this particular Church Write-Up, I will focus on the Sunday School class, which is about Hosea.

A. Hosea 1:10 (2:1) states: “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” (KJV).

This verse is a prophetic prediction that God will restore Northern Israel and reaffirm her as his people, after a season in which the Northern Israelites are not God’s people, due to their disobedience.

Last week, the pastor was saying that the Northern Israelites became lost to history. The pastor expressed explicit disagreement with Garner Ted Armstrong’s position that the Northern Israelites became the Anglo-Saxon people, or any other Europeans.

When, however, was Hosea 1:10 fulfilled? The pastor’s answer to that is “in Matthew 16:16.” There, Peter, due to personal divine revelation, proclaims that Jesus is the son of the living God. This takes place in Caesarea Philippi. Hosea 1:10 predicts that the Northern Israelites will be called the sons of the living God; in Matthew 16:16, Jesus, as the embodiment of Israel, is called the son of the living God. Hosea 1:10 is directed to Northern Israel, which is probably the “place” where God will reaffirm that the Northern Israelites are his people. The Book of Hosea also mentions “Jezreel,” a verdant area in Northern Israel, in both a negative and a positive sense: “Jezreel” means that God will sow judgment on Israel, but also that God will graciously sow the Northern Israelites into their land. That coincides with God affirming Israel as his people after a period in which they are not his people. In Matthew 16:16, Peter calls Jesus the son of the living God in Caesarea Philippi, which is located in Northern Israel, specifically (according to the pastor) in Jezreel. Peter affirms that Jesus is the son of the living God in the place where God had said that Israel is not his people: in Jezreel. As occurs elsewhere (i.e., Matthew 2:15; cp. Hosea 11:1), Israel is narrowed down to one person, Jesus; God’s promises to Israel are fulfilled in Jesus’s salvific work.

The pastor noted that Romans 9 applies Hosea 1:10 to believers, who have been made God’s people through faith in Jesus Christ. Israel is narrowed down to one person, Jesus, but then it is expanded to include the church, the beneficiaries of Christ’s work.

At the same time, in an offhand comment, the pastor appeared to suggest a more literal fulfillment to Hosea’s prophecies about Northern Israel. In Hosea 2:14, God says that he will woo Israel in the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. The pastor related this to Israel becoming closer to God in exile, which was a sort of wilderness for her.

B. Paul in Romans 9:24-25 applies Hosea 1:10 to the inclusion of Gentiles into the people of God. According to the pastor, Paul interprets the “place” where not-God’s-people will become God’s people, not as the land of Israel, but rather as the word of God, specifically the Gospel. The Gospel is where people become the people of God, as they receive it. That may work. Romans 9:31-33 depicts God laying a stone of stumbling in Zion, which is Jesus. Those who receive Jesus are affirmed as God’s people; those who deny him, at least for the time being, are not God’s people. Jesus, one who was from Israel, is the “place” where one’s status as part of God’s people is enabled and determined.

C. The pastor referred to a scholarly view that the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 is based on themes in Hosea 2. Hosea 2 depicts a new marriage between God and Israel. God makes with Israel a covenant. Israel has a new beginning. God is not only forgiving Israel but is making things new.

D. In Hosea 2:18, God promises to make a covenant for the Israelites with the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and creeping things. The pastor said that God often calls nature as a witness because it is not fickle; human beings, by contrast, are fickle. Nature is an unchanging witness to the covenants. There may be something to that, since Jeremiah 31:35-36 compares God’s commitment to Israel with the ordinances of the sun and the moon, implying that these features of nature are stable and lasting.

E. The pastor commented on Romans 9. He said that Paul’s point there is that one is part of God’s people, not by race, circumcision, or keeping the law, but by rather God’s determination, God’s mercy, and faith. The pastor continued to say that Luther prioritized God’s mercy over God’s sovereignty, meaning we can thank God for showing us mercy, while also hoping God will show mercy to others. I think that is ultimately where Paul goes in Romans 11:30-32, where Paul envisions God showing mercy to the Israelites, who previously rejected Christ.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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