The Book of the Twelve (Minor Prophets) 09: Hosea (7 final) - Wanna Go Back to Egypt
So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt? (Hosea 11-14)
The Sad Story of Old Israel - The last few chapters of Hosea continue to warn of the judgment coming from the hands of the Assyrians (7:22 B.C.). These chapters retell the story of Israel with a very sad ending during Hosea’s day. Hosea 11:1ff - “When Israel was a youth I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son ... [but] They kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.” It is as though they return to Egypt except their Egypt is now “Assyria” (11:5). They become slaves again. The result is (11:6) “The sword will whirl against their cities, and will demolish their gate bars and consume them because of their counsels.” Their rejection of the Law of God leads to their own counsels of destruction. Similarly, 13:4ff says, “I have been the LORD your God since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, for there is no savior besides Me... 13:6 As they had their pasture, they became satisfied, And being satisfied, their heart became proud; Therefore they forgot Me.” This explains the reason for infidelity. This is the story of the covenant-breaking impulse of the sons of Adam (6:7). Apostasy is, however, self-destruction. “13:9 It is your destruction, O Israel, That you are against Me, against your help.”
The Bright Future of True Israel - Yet for all the infidelity rehearsed, the end of the book still promises a hopeful healing of Israel interspersed with the calls to repentance (note the last verse of book). There is a reference to the “rising” of Israel in chapter 13 (cf 1 Cor. 15:55): “13:14 Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting?” By the end of the book it is confirmed in ch. 14: “14:4 - I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them.” Just as in 6:2, “He will raise us up on the third day that we may live before Him” - Israel’s history must be read with Christ at the center. He became the sacrificial Servant Israel (Is. 53) and then was vindicated in the resurrection, fulfilling such as Messiah of Israel. Jesus’ resurrection is the resurrection of True Israel and all connected to Him by faith have a share in Resurrection Life.
Exhortation(s): It is important not to miss the forest for the trees and to reflect on the parallels of the story of Israel to our own experience. Like Israel in Hosea’s day, we, upon being rescued, can become proud, satisfied with the gifts, and forget our Giver and Deliverer. We may not see that this is just a return to Slavery because it may seem like being “free.” As Christians today we can forget our “first love” and proceed toward the same kind of self-destruction. The healing power from the “heart’s idolatry” is heeding the Law-Word of God and resting in faith on Jesus who is Life and who raises us from sin and its slavery. Where are you personally? Where are the hearts of your children?
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more