Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
The word of the Lord, that came unto Hosea - Hosea, at the very beginning of his prophecy, declares that all this, which he delivered, came, not from his own mind but from God. As Paul says, "Paul an Apostle, not of men neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father." He refers all to God, and claims all obedience to Him. That word came to him; it existed then before, in the mind of God. It was first God's, then it became the prophet's, receiving it from God. So it is said, "the word of God came to John" Luk 3:2.
Hosea - i. e., "Salvation, or, the Lord saveth." The prophet bare the name of our Lord Jesus, whom he foretold and of whom he was a type. "Son of Beeri, i. e., my well or welling-forth." God ordained that the name of his father too should signify truth. From God, as from the fountain of life, Hosea drew the living waters, which he poured out to the people. "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation" Isa 12:3.
In the days of Uzziah ... - Hosea, although a prophet of Israel, marks his prophecy by the names of the kings of Judah, because the kingdom of Judah was the kingdom of the theocracy, the line of David to which the promises of God were made. As Elisha, to whose office he succeeded, turned away from Jehoram Kg2 3:13-14, saying, "get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother," and owned Jehoshaphat king of Judah only, so, in the title of his prophecy, Hosea at once expresses that the kingdom of Judah alone was legitimate. He adds the name of Jeroboam, partly as the last king of Israel whom, by virtue of His promise to Jehu, God helped; partly to show that God never left Israel unwarned. Jeroboam I was warned first by the prophet 1 Kings 13, who by his own untimely death, as well as in his prophecy, was a witness to the strictness of God's judgments, and then by Ahijah 1 Kings 14; Baasha by Jehu, son of Hanani 1 Kings 16; Ahab, by Elijah and Micaiah son of Imla; Ahaziah by Elijah 2 Kings 1; Jehoram by Elisha who exercised his office until the days of Joash Kg2 13:14.
So, in the days of Jeroboam II, God raised up Hosea, Amos and Jonah. "The kings and people of Israel then were without excuse, since God never ceased to send His prophets among them; in no reign did the voice of the prophets fail, warning of the coming wrath of God, until it came." While Jeroboam was recovering to Israel a larger rule than it had ever had since it separated from Judah, annexing to it Damascus Kg2 14:28 which had been lost to Judah even in the days of Solomon, and from which Israel had of late so greatly suffered, Hosea was sent to forewarn it of its destruction. God alone could utter "such a voice of thunder out of the midst of such a cloudless sky." Jeroboam doubtless thought that his house would, through its own strength, survive the period which God had pledged to it. "But temporal prosperity is no proof either of stability or of the favor of God. Where the law of God is observed, there, even amid the pressure of outward calamity, is the assurance of ultimate prosperity. Where God is disobeyed, there is the pledge of coming destruction. The seasons when men feel most secure against future chastisement, are often the preludes of the most signal revolutions."
The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea or in Hosea - God first revealed Himself and His mysteries to the prophet's soul, by His secret inspiration, and then declared, through him, to others, what He had deposited in him. God enlightened him, and then others through the light in him.
And the Lord said unto Hosea - For this thing was to be done by Hosea alone, because God had commanded it, not by others of their own mind. To Isaiah God first revealed Himself, as sitting in the temple, adored by the Seraphim: to Ezekiel God first appeared, as enthroned above the cherubim in the holy of holies; to Jeremiah God announced that, ere yet he was born, He had sanctified him for this office: to Hosea He enjoined, as the beginning of his prophetic office, an act contrary to man's natural feelings, yet one, by which he became an image of the Redeemer, uniting to Himself what was unholy, in order to make it holy.
Go take unto thee - Since Hosea prophesied some eighty years, he must now have been in early youth, holy, pure, as became a prophet of God. Being called thus early, he had doubtless been formed by God as a chosen instrument of His will, and had, like Samuel, from his first childhood, been trained in true piety and holiness. Yet he was to unite unto him, so long as she lived, one greatly defiled, in order to win her thereby to purity and holiness; herein, a little likeness of our Blessed Lord, who, in the Virgin's womb, to save us, espoused our flesh, in us sinful, in Him all-holy, without motion to sin; and, further, espoused the Church, formed of us who, "whether Jews or Gentiles," were all under sin, aliens from God and gone away from Him, "serving divers lusts and passions Eph 5:27, to make it a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle."
A wife of whoredoms - i. e., take as a wife, one who up to that time had again and again been guilty of that sin. So "men of bloods" Psa 5:6 are "men given up to bloodshedding;" and our Lord was "a Man of Sorrows Isa 53:3, not occasional only, but manifold and continual, throughout His whole life. She must, then, amid the manifold corruption of Israel, have been repeatedly guilty of that sin, perhaps as an idolatress, thinking of it to be in honor of their foul gods (see the Hos 4:13, note; Hos 4:14, note). She was not like those degraded ones, who cease to bear children; still she must have manifoldly sinned. So much the greater was the obedience of the prophet. Nor could any other woman so shadow forth the manifold defilements of the human race, whose nature our incarnate Lord vouchsafed to unite in His own person to the perfect holiness of the divine nature.
And children of whoredoms - For they shared the disgrace of their mother, although born in lawful marriage. The sins of parents descend also, in a mysterious way, on their children, Sin is contagious, and, unless the entail is cut off by grace, hereditary. The mother thus far portrays man's revolts, before his union with God; the children, our forsaking of God, after we have been made His children. The forefathers of Israel, God tells them, "served other gods, on the other side of the flood" Jos 24:14, (i. e., in Ur of the Chaldees, from where God called Abraham) "and in Egypt." It was out of such defilement, that God took her Eze 23:3, Eze 23:8, and He says, "Thou becamest Mine" Eze 16:8. whom He maketh His, He maketh pure; and of her, not such as she was in herself by nature, but as such as He made her, He says, "I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals when thou wentest after Me, in the wilderness" Jer 2:2. But she soon fell away; and thenceforth there were among them (as there are now among Christians,) "the children of God, the children of the promise, and the children of whoredoms, or of the devil."
For the land ... - This is the reason why God commands Hosea to do this thing, in order to shadow out their foulness and God's mercy. What no man would dare to do Jer 3:1, except at God's bidding, God in a manner doth, restoring to union with Himself those who had gone away from Him. "The land," i. e., Israel, and indirectly, Judah also, and, more widely yet, the whole earth.
Departing from - Literally, "from after the Lord." Our whole life should be Phi 3:13, forgetting the things which are behind, to follow after Him, whom here we can never fully attain unto, God in His Infinite Perfection, yet so as, with our whole heart, "fully to follow after Him." To depart from the Creator and to serve the creature, is adultery; as the Psalmist says, "Thou hast destroyed all them, that go a whoring from Thee" Psa 73:27. He who seeks anything out of God, turns from following Him, and takes to him something else as his god, is unfaithful, and spiritually an adulterer and idolater. For he is an adulterer, who becomes another's than God's.
So he went - He did not demur, nor excuse himself, as did even Moses Exo 4:18, or Jeremiah Jer 1:6, or Peter Act 10:4, and were rebuked for it, although mercifully by the All-Merciful. Hosea, accustomed from childhood to obey God and every indication of the will of God, did at once, what he was bidden, however repulsive to natural feeling, and became, thereby, the more an image of the obedience of Christ Jesus, and a pattern to us, at once to believe and obey God's commands, however little to our minds.
Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim - "Gomer" is completion; "Diblaim," a double lump of figs; which are a figure of sweetness. These names may mean, that "the sweetness of sins is the parent of destruction;" or that Israel, or mankind had completely forsaken God, and were children of corrupting pleasure.
Holy Scripture relates that all this was done, and tells us the births and names of the children, as real history. As such then, must we receive it. We must not imagine things to be unworthy of God, because they do not commend themselves to us. God does not dispense with the moral law, because the moral law has its source in the mind of God Himself. To dispense with it would be to contradict Himself. But God, who is the absolute Lord of all things which he made, may, at His Sovereign will, dispose of the lives or things which He created. Thus, as Sovereign Judge, He commanded the lives of the Canaanites to be taken away by Israel, as, in His ordinary providence, He has ordained that the magistrate should not bear the sword in vain, but has made him His "minister, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil" Rom 13:4. So, again, He, whose are all things, willed to repay to the Israelites their hard and unjust servitude, by commanding them "to spoil the Egyptian" Exo 3:22.
He, who created marriage, commanded to Hosea, whom he should marry. The prophet was not defiled, by taking as his lawful wife, at God's bidding, one defiled, however hard a thing this was. "He who remains good, is not defiled by coming in contact with one evil; but the evil, following his example, is turned into good." But through his simple obedience, he foreshadowed Him, God the Word, who was called "the friend of publicans and sinners" Mat 11:19; who warned the Pharisees, that "the publicans and harlots should (enter unto the kingdom of God before them" Mat 21:31; and who now vouchsafes to espouse, dwell in, and unite Himself with, and so to hallow, our sinful souls. The acts which God enjoined to the prophets, and which to us seem strange, must have had an impressiveness to the people, in proportion to their strangeness. The life of the prophet became a sermon to the people. Sight impresses more than words. The prophet, being in his own person a mirror of obedience, did moreover, by his way of life, reflect to the people some likeness of the future and of things unseen. The expectation of the people was wound up, when they saw their prophets do things at God's command, which they themselves could not have done. When Ezekiel was bidden to show no sign of mourning, on the sudden death of "the desire of his eyes" Eze 24:16-18, his wife; or when he dug through the wall of his house, and carried forth his household stuff in the twilight, with his face covered Eze 12:3-7; the people asked, "Wilt thou not tell us what these things are to us, that thou doest so?" (Eze 24:19, add Eze 12:10). No words could so express a grief beyond all power of grieving, as Ezekiel's mute grief for one who was known to be "the desire of his eyes," yet for whom he was forbidden to show the natural expressions of grief, or to use the received tokens of mourning. God Himself declares the ground of such acts to have been, that, rebellious as the house of Israel was Eze 12:2, "with eyes which saw not, and ears which heard not," they might yet consider such acts as these.
Call his name Jezreel - that is, in its first sense here, "God will scatter." The life of the prophet, and his union with one so unworthy of him, were a continued prophecy of God's mercy. The names of the children were a life-long admonition of His intervening judgments. Since Israel refused to hear God's words, He made the prophet's sons, through the mere fact of their presence among them, their going out and coming in, and the names which He gave them, to be preachers to the people. He depicted in them and in their names what was to be, in order that, whenever they saw or heard of them, His warnings might be forced upon them, and those who would take warning, might be saved. If, with their mother's disgrace, these sons inherited and copied their mother's sins, then their names became even more expressive, that, being such as they were, they would be scattered by God, would not be owned by God as His people, or be pitied by Him.
I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu - Yet Jehu shed this blood, the blood of the house of Ahab, of Joram and Jezebel and the seventy sons of Ahab, at God's command and in fulfillment of His will. How was it then sin? Because, if we do what is the will of God for any end of our own, for anything except God, we do, in fact, our own will, not God's. It was not lawful for Jehu to depose and slay the king his master, except at the command of God, who, as the Supreme King, sets up and puts down earthly rulers as He wills. For any other end, and done otherwise than at God's express command, such an act is sin. Jehu was rewarded for the measure in which he fulfilled God's commands, as Ahab who had "sold himself to work wickedness," had yet a temporal reward for humbling himself publicly, when rebuked by God for his sin, and so honoring God, amid an apostate people. But Jehu, by cleaving, against the will of God, to Jeroboam's sin, which served his own political ends, showed that, in the slaughter of his master, he acted not, as he pretended, out of zeal Kg2 10:16 for the will of God, but served his own will and his own ambition only.
By his disobedience to the one command of God, he showed that he would have equally disobeyed the other, had it been contrary to his own will of interest. He had no principle of obedience. And so the blood, which was shed according to the righteous judgment of God, became sin to him who shed it in order to fulfill, not the will of God, but his own. Thus God said to Baasha, "I exalted thee out of the dust, and made the prince over My people Israel" Kg1 16:2, which he became by slaying his master, the son of Jeroboam, and all the house of Jeroboam. Yet, because he followed the sins of Jeroboam, "the word of the Lord came against Baasha, for all the evil that he did in the sight of the Lord, in being like the house of Jeroboam, and because he killed him" Kg1 16:7. The two courses of action were inconsistent; to destroy the son and the house of Jeroboam, and to do those things, for which God condemned him to be destroyed. Further yet. Not only was such execution of God's judgments itself an offence against Almighty God, but it was sin, whereby he condemned himself, and made his other sins to be sins against the light. In executing the judgment of God against another, he pronounced His judgment against himself, in that he that "judged," in God's stead, "did the same things" Rom 2:1. So awful a thing is it, to be the instrument of God in punishing or reproving others, if we do not, by His grace, keep our own hearts and hands pure from sin.
And will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel - Not the kingdom of the house of Jehu, but all Israel. God had promised that the family of Jehu should sit on the throne to the fourth generation. Jeroboam II, the third of these, was now reigning over Israel, in the fulness of his might. He "restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath" Kg2 14:25, i. e., from the Northern extremity, near Mount Hermon, where Palestine joins on to Syria, and, which Solomon only in all his glory had won for Israel, "unto the sea of the plain" Ch2 8:3-4, the Dead sea, regaining all which Hazael had conquered Kg2 10:32-33, and even subduing Moab also (see the note at Amo 6:14), "according to the word of the Lord by Jonah the son of Amittan." He had recovered to Israel, Damascus, which had been lost to Judah, ever since the close of the reign of Solomon Kg1 11:24. He was a warlike prince, like that first Jeroboam, who had formed the strength and the sin of the ten tribes. Yet both his house and his kingdom fell with him. The whole history of that kingdom afterward is little more than that of the murder of one family by another, such as is spoken of in the later chapters of Hosea; and Israel, i. e., the ten tribes, were finally carried captive, fifty years after the death of Zechariah, Jeroboam's son. Of so little account is any seeming prosperity or strength.
I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel - The valley of Jezreel is a beautiful and a broad valley or plain, stretching, from West to East, from Mount Carmel and the sea to the Jordan, which it reaches through two arms, between the Mountains of Gilboa, little Hermon, and Tabor; and from South to North from the Mountains of Ephraim to those of Galilee. Nazareth lay on its northern side. It is called "the great plain" (1 Macc. 12:49), "the great plain of Esdraelon" (Judith 1:8). There God had signally executed His judgments against the enemies of His people, or on His people, when they became His enemies. There He gave the great victories over the invading hosts of Sisera (Jdg 4:4 ff), and of Midian, with the children of the East. Jdg 6:33. There also He ended the life and kingdom of Saul Sa1 29:1; Sa1 31:1, Sa1 31:7, Sa1 31:10, visiting upon him, when his measure of iniquity was full, his years of contumacy, and his persecution of David, whom God had chosen. Jezreel became a royal residence of the house of Ahab Kg1 18:46; Kg1 21:1-3; Kg2 9:10, Kg2 9:25, Kg2 9:30; Kg2 10:1, Kg2 10:11. There, in the scenes of Ahab's wickedness and of Jehu's hypocritical zeal; there, where he drave furiously, to avenge, as he alleged, on the house of Ahab, the innocent blood which Ahab had shed in Jezreel, Hosea foretells that the kingdom of Israel should be broken In the same plain, at the battle with Shalmaneser, near Betharbel (see the note at Hos 10:14), Hosea lived to see his prophecy fulfilled. The strength of the kingdom was there finally broken; the sufferings there endured were one last warning before the capture of Samaria (see the note at Hos 10:15).
The name of Jezreel blends the sins with the punishment. It resembles, in form and in sound, the name of Israel, and contains a reversal of the promise contained in the name of Israel, in which they trusted. "Yisrael" (as their name was originally pronounced) signifies, "he is a prince with God; Yidsreel, God shall scatter." They who, while they followed the faith, for which their forefather Jacob received from God the name of Israel, had been truly Israel, i. e., "princes with God," should now be "Yidsreel," "scattered by God."
Call her name Lo-ruhamah - The name is rendered in Paul "not beloved" Rom 9:25, in Peter, "hath not obtained mercy" Pe1 2:10. Love and mercy are both contained in the full meaning of the intensive form of the Hebrew word, which expresses the deep tender yearnings of the inmost soul over one loved; as in the words Psa 103:13, "As a father pitieth (yearneth over) his own children, so the Lord pitieth (yearneth over) them that fear Him." It is "tender love" in Him who pitieth; "mercy," as shown to him who needeth mercy. The punishment, foretold under the name of the daughter, "Unpitied," is a great enlargement of that conveyed under the name of the first son, "God shall scatter." Judah too was carried captive, and scattered; but after the 70 years, she was restored. The 10 tribes, it is now foretold, when scattered, should, as a whole, be cut off from the tender mercy of God, scattered by Him, and as a whole, never be restored. Those only were restored, who, when Judah returned from captivity, clave to her, or subsequently, one by one, were united to her.
But I will utterly take them away - Literally, "for, taking away, I will take away from them, or with regard to them," namely, everything . He specifies nothing; He excepts nothing; only, with that awful emphasis, He dwells on the taking away, as that which He had determined to do to the utmost. This is the thought, which He wills to dwell on the As a little while after, God says, that He would be nothing to them, so here, where He in fact repeats this one thought, "take away, take away, from them," the guilty conscience of Israel would at once, supply, "all." When God threatens, the sinful or awakened soul sees instinctively what draws down the lightning of God's wrath, and where it will fall.
I will have mercy on the house of Judah - For to them the promises were made in David, and of them, according to the flesh, Christ was to come. Israel, moreover, as being founded in rebellion and apostasy, had gone on from bad to worse. All their kings clave to the sin of Jeroboam; not one did right in the sight of God; not one repented or hearkened to God. Whereas Judah, having the true Worship of God, and the reading of the law, and the typical sacrifices, through which it looked on to the great Sacrifice for sin, was on the whole, a witness to the truth of God (see the note at Hos 11:12).
And will save them by the Lord their God, not by bow ... - Shortly after this, God did, in the reign of Hezekiah, save them by Himself from Sennacherib, when the Angel of the Lord smote in one night 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. "Neither in that night, nor when they were freed from the captivity at Babylon, did they bend bow or draw sword against their enemies or their captors. While they slept, the Angel of the Lord smote the camp of the Assyrians. At the prayers of David and the prophets and holy men, yea, and of the angels Zac 1:12 too, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, to set them free "to go up to Jerusalem, and build the temple of the Lord God of Israel" Ezr 1:3. But much more, this is the special promise of the Gospel, that God would deliver, not outwardly, but inwardly; not by human wars, but in peace; not by man, but by Himself. "By the Lord their God," by Himself who is speaking, or, The Father by the Son, (in like way as it is said, "The Lord rained upon Sodom fire from the Lord" Gen 19:24).
They were saved in Christ, the Lord and God of all, not by carnal weapons of warfare, but by the might of Him who saved them, and shook thrones and dominions, and who by His own Cross triumpheth over the hosts of the adversaries, and overthroweth the powers of evil, and giveth to those who love Him, "to tread on serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy." They were saved, not for any merits of their own, nor for anything in themselves. But when human means, and man's works, such as he could do of his own free-will, and the power of his understanding, and the natural impulses of his affections, had proved unavailing, then he redeemed them by His Blood, and bestowed on them gifts and graces above nature, and filled them with His Spirit, and gave them "to will and to do of His good pleasure." But this promise also was, and is, to the true Judah, i. e., to those who, as the name means, "confess and praise" God, and who, receiving Christ, who, as Man, was of the tribe of Judah, became His children, being re-born by His Spirit."
Now when she had weaned ... - Eastern women very commonly nursed their children two, or even three (2 Macc. 7:27) years. The weaning then of the child portrays a certain interval of time between these two degrees of chastisement; but after this reprieve, the last and final judgment pictured here was to set in irreversibly.
Call his name Lo-ammi - that is, "not My people." The name of this third child expresses the last final degree of chastisement. As the "scattering by God" did not involve the being wholly "unpitied;" so neither did the being wholly "unpitied" for the time involve the being wholly rejected, so as to be no more His people. There were corresponding degrees in the actual history of the kingdom of Israel. God withdrew his protection by degrees. Under Jeroboam, in whose reign was this beginning of Hosea's prophecy, the people was yet outwardly strong. This strength has been thought to be expressed by the sex of the oldest child, that he was a son. On this, followed extreme weakness, full of mutual massacre and horrible cruelty, first, in a long anarchy, then under Zechariah, Shallurn, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, Hosea, within, and through the invasions of Pul, Tiglathpileser, Shalmaneser, kings of Assyria, from without. The sex of the daughter, "Lo Ruhamah, Unpitied," corresponds with this increasing weakness, and breaking of the spirit. When she was weaned, i. e., when the people were deprived of all consolation and all the spiritual food whereby they had here to been supported, prophecy, teaching, promises, sacrifices, grace, favor, consolation, it became wholly "Lo-ammi, not My people." As a distinct part of God's people, it was cast off forever; and yet it became outwardly strong, as the Jews became powerful, and often were the persecutors of the Christians. The same is seen in individuals. God often first chastens them lightly, then more heavily, and brings them down in their iniquities; but if they still harden themselves, He withdraws both His chastisements and His grace, so that the sinner even prospers in this world, but, remaining finally impenitent, is cast off forever.
I will not be your God - Literally "I will not be to you," or, "for you;" "for you," by providence; "to you," by love. The words say the more through their silence. They do not say what God will not be to those who had been His people. They do not say that He will not be their Defender, Nourisher, Saviour, Deliverer, Father, Hope, Refuge; and so they say that He will be none of these, which are all included in the English, "I will not be your God." For, as God, He is these, and all things, to us. "I will not be to you." God, by His love, vouchsafes to give all and to take all. He gives Himself wholly to His own, in order to make them wholly His. He makes an exchange with them. As God the Son, by His Incarnation, took the Manhood into God, so, by His Spirit dwelling in them, He makes men gods, "partakers of the Divine Nature" Pe2 1:4. They, by His adoption, belong to Him; He, by His promise and gift, belongs to them.
He makes them His; He becomes their's. This mutual exchange is so often expressed in Holy Scripture, to show how God loveth to give Himself to us, and to make us His; and that where the one is, there is the other; nor can the one be without the other. This was the original covenant with Israel: "I will be your God, and you shall be My people" Lev 26:12; Exo 6:7; and as such, it is often repeated in Jeremiah Jer 11:4-5; Jer 24:7; Jer 30:22; Jer 31:1, Jer 31:33; Jer 32:38 and Ezekiel Eze 11:20; Eze 14:11; Eze 36:28; Eze 37:23, Eze 37:27. Afterward, this is expressed still more affectionately. "I will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters" Co2 6:18. And in Christ the Son, God saith, "I will be his Father, and he shall be My son" Sa2 7:14. God, who saith not this to any out of Christ, nor even to the holy Angels, (as it is written, "Unto which of the Angels said He at any time, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to Me a son?" Heb 1:5), saith it to us in Christ. And so, in turn, the Church and each single soul which is His, saith, or rather He saith it in them Sol 2:16, "My beloved is mine, and I am His," and more boldly yet, I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine" Sol 6:3. Whence also at the holy communion we say, "then we dwell in Christ and Christ in us; we are one with Christ, and Christ with us;" and we pray that "we may evermore dwell in Him, and He in us."
Yet - (literally, and) the number of the children of Israel ... Light springeth out of darkness; joy out of sorrow; mercy out of chastisement; life out of death. And so Holy Scripture commonly, upon the threat of punishment, promises blessings to the penitent "Very nigh to the severest displeasure is the dispersion of sorrows and the promised close of darkness." What God takes away, He replaces with usury; things of time by things eternal; outward goods and gifts and privileges by inward; an earthly kingdom by heaven. Both Peter Pe1 2:10 and Paul Rom 9:25-26 tell us that this prophecy is already, in Christ, fulfilled in those of Israel, who were the true Israel, or of the Gentiles, to whom the promise was made Gen 22:18, "In thy Seed shall all the nations be blessed," and who, whether Jews or Gentiles, believed in Him. The Gentiles were adopted into the Church, which, at the Day of Pentecost, was formed of the Jews, and in which Jews and Gentiles became one in Christ Gal 3:28. Yet of the Jews alone, not only did "many tens of thousands in Jerusalem believe" Act 21:20, but Peter and James both write "to the dispersed of the ten tribes" Jam 1:1; Pe1 1:1; and the Apostles themselves were Jews. Although, then, those Jews who believed in Christ were few in comparison of those who rejected Him, yet they were, in themselves, many, and, through those who, in Christ Jesus, were "begotten by them through the Gospel" Co1 4:15, they were numberless. Yet this prophecy, although accomplished in part, will, according to Paul Rom 11:25-26, be yet more completely fulfilled in the end.
In the place where it was said - (or where it shall be said, i. e., at the first) unto them, ye are not My people, there it shall, in after-time, be said unto them, ye are the sons of the living God Both the times here spoken of by the prophet were yet future, for Israel, although they had apostatised from God, had not yet been disowned by God, who was still sending to them prophets, to reclaim them. They ceased to be owned as God's people, when, being dispersed abroad, they had no share in the sacrifices, no temple-worship, no prophets, no typical reconciliation for sin. God took no more notice of them than the pagan. The prophet then speaks of two futures; one, when it shall be said to them, "ye are not My people;" and a yet further future, in which it should he said, "ye are the sons of the living God." The place of both was to be the same. The place of their rejection, the dispersion, was to be the place of their restoration. And so Peter says that this Scripture was fulfilled in them, while still "scattered abroad through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia." The place, then, where they shall be called the "sons of the living God," is, wheresoever they should believe in Christ. Although separated in body, they were united by faith. And so it shall be unto the end. "Nothing now constraineth to go up to Jerusalem, and still to seek for the temple of stones, for neither will they worship God, as aforetime, by sacrifices of sheep or oxen; but their worship will be faith in Christ and in His commandments, and the sanctification in the Spirit, and the regeneration through Holy Baptism, making the glory of sonship their's, who are worthy thereof and are called thereto by the Lord" .
It shall be said, ye are the sons of the living God - It was the special sin of Israel, the source of all his other sins, that he had left the "living God," to serve dead idols. In the times of the Gospel, not only should he own God as his God, but he should have the greatest of all gifts, that the living God, the fountain of all life, of the life of nature, of grace, of glory, should be his Father, and as being his Father, should communicate to him that life, which he has and is. For He who is life, imparts life. God doth not only pour into the souls of His elect, grace and faith, hope and love, or all the manifold gifts of His Spirit, but He, the living God, maketh them to he His living sons, by His Spirit dwelling in them, by whom He adopteth them as His sons, through whom He giveth them grace. For by His Spirit He adopteth them as sons. "We have received the spirit of adoption of sows, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. And if sons, then heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs of Christ" Rom 8:15.
God not only giveth us grace, but adopteth us as sons. He not only accounteth us, but He maketh us sons; He maketh us sons, not outwardly, but inwardly; not by inward grace only, but by His Spirit: not only by the birth from the Spirit, but in the Only-Begotten Son; sons of God, because members of Christ, the Son of God; sons of God, by adoption, as Christ is by Nature; but actual sons of God, as Christ is actually and eternally the Son of God. God is our Father, not by nature, but by grace; yet He is really our Father, since we are born of Him, "sons of the living God," born of the Spirit. He giveth us of His Substance, His Nature, although not by nature; not united with us, (as it is, personally, with His Son,) but dwelling in us, and making us "partakers of the Divine Nature." "Sons of the living God" must be living by Him and to Him, by His life, yea, through Himself living in them, as our Saviour saith, "If any man love Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" Joh 14:23.
Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together - A little image of this union was seen after the captivity in Babylon, when some of the children of Israel, i. e., of the ten tribes, were united to Judah on his return, and the great schism of the two kingdoms came to an end. More fully, both literal Judah and Israel were gathered into one in the one Church of Christ, and all the spiritual Judah and Israel; i. e., as many of the Gentiles as, by following the faith, became the sons of faithful Abraham, and heirs of the promise to him.
And shall make themselves one Head - The act of God is named first, "they shall be gathered;" for without God we can do nothing. Then follows the act of their own consent, "they shall make themselves one Head;" for without us God doth nothing in us. God gathereth, by the call of His grace; they make to themselves one Head, by obeying His call, and submitting themselves to Christ, the one Head of the mystical body, the Church, who are His members. In like way, Ezekiel foretells of Christ, of the seed of David, under the name of David; "I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David; and I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a Prince among them" Eze 34:23-24; and again; "I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms anymore at all" Eze 37:22. But this was not wholly fulfilled, until Christ came, for after the captivity they were under Zorobabel as chief, and Joshua as high priest.
And shall come up out of the land - To "come up" or "go up" is a title of dignity; from where, in our time, people are said to go up to the metropolis, or the University; and in Holy Scripture, to "come up," or "go up," out of Egypt (Gen 13:1; Gen 45:25, etc.), or Assyria Kg2 17:3; Kg2 18:9, Kg2 18:13; Isa 36:1, Isa 36:10, or Babylon Kg2 24:1; Ezr 2:1; Ezr 7:6; Neh 7:6; Neh 12:1, to the land of promise, or from the rest of the land to the place which God chose Exo 34:24 to place His name there, Shiloh, Sa1 1:22, or, afterward, Jerusalem; (Sa2 19:34; Kg1 12:27-28; Psa 122:4, etc.) and it is foretold that "the mountain of the Lord's house shall be exalted above the hills; and many nations shall come and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord" Isa 2:2-3; Mic 4:1-2. The land from which they should go up is, primarily and in image, Babylon, from where God restored the two tribes; but, in truth and fully, it is the whole aggregate of lands, the earth, the great "city of confusion," which Babel designates. Out of which they shall go up, "not with their feet but with their affections," to the "city set upon a hill" Mat 5:14, "the heavenly Jerusalem" Heb 12:22, and heaven itself, where we are "made to sit together with Christ" Eph 2:6, and where "our conversation is" Phi 3:20, that where He is, there may we "His servants be" Joh 12:26. They ascend in mind above the earth and the things of earth, and the lowness of carnal desires, that so they may, in the end, come up out of the earth, "to meet the Lord in the air, and forever be with the Lord" Th1 4:17.
For great is the day of Jezreel - God had denounced woe on Israel, under the names of the three children of the prophet, Jezreel, Lo-Ammi, Lo-Ruhamah; and now, under those three names, He promises the reversal of that sentence, in Christ. He begins with the name, under which he had begun to pronounce the woe, the first son, Jezreel. "Jezreel" means "God shall sow," either for increase, or to scatter. When God threatened, "Jezreel" necessarily meant, "God shall scatter;" here, when God reverses His threatening, it means, "God shall sow." But the issue of the seed is either single, as in human birth, or manifold, as in the seed-corn. Hence, it is used either of Him who was eminently, "the Seed of Abraham, the Seed of the woman," or the manifold harvest, which He, the seed-corn Joh 12:24, should bring forth, when sown in the earth, by His vicarious Death. It means, then, Christ or His Church. Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God before all worlds, was, in time, also "conceived by the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary," the Son of God Alone, in a way in which no other man was born of God. Great then should be the day, when "God should sow," or give the increase in mercy, as before He scattered them, in His displeasure.
The Great Day wherein "God should sow, was, first, the day which the Lord hath made" Psa 118:24, the Incarnation, in which God the Son became Man, "the seed of the woman;" then, it was the Passion, in which, like a seed-corn, He was sown in the earth; then, the Resurrection, when He rose, "the Firstborn among many brethren;" then, all the days in which "He bare much fruit." It is the one day of salvation, in which, generation after generation, a new seed hath been or "shall be born" unto Him, and "shall serve Him" Psa 22:30-31. Even unto the end, every time of any special growth of the Church every conversion of Pagan tribe or people, is "a day of Jezereel," a day in which "the Lord soweth." Great, wonderful, glorious, thrice-blessed is the day of Christ, for in it He hath done great things for us, gathering together under Himself, the Head, those scattered abroad, "without hope and without God in the world;" making "not My people" into "My people" and those not beloved into His "beloved," the objects of His tender, yearning compassion, full of His grace and mercy. For so it follows,