Class 4 - The Spirit of Christ in Hosea

Class 4 - The Spirit of Christ in Hosea


Up to this point, we have looked at practical considerations of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer and his preaching in different parts of the country.  We will now turn our attention to the prophetical aspects of Hosea that really point forward to the Lord Jesus Christ.  There are four places in the New Testament where Hosea is quoted directly. 

  1. The first is Matthew 2:15 where he quotes Hosea 11:1, “Out of Egypt I have called my son” as being fulfilled when Jesus came out of Egypt after the death of Herod.
  2. The second is by the Lord Jesus Christ himself when he twice uses Hosea 6:6 “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice” against the Pharisees.
  3. The third time is Paul in Romans 9:25-26 where he quotes both Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 in relation to his arguments that the Gentiles would be accepted as well as the Jews.
  4. The fourth time is in 1 Peter 2:10 where Peter uses it in a similar fashion to Paul.

What we will be doing in the next two classes will be taking a closer look at these passages and their surrounding context to see some amazing prophecies come true in our Lord.  First of all, we will look at the passages Peter and Paul use and how that turns our minds to consider the child Jezreel as a type of Christ.  After that, we will look at what made Matthew use a seemingly out of context verse in relation to the Lord’s life.  That will be quite a lot for one class so we’ll continue the topic in the next session by looking at what significance there is to Jesus quoting Hosea 6:6, not once, but twice.

It will be somewhat more expositional but nonetheless inspiring.  Prophecy is meant to move us, to excite us, and to solidify our faith in God.  It’s also interesting to consider how Jesus would have read this prophecy considering, as we shall see, he could read so much about himself in it.

Not my People

Let’s start by turning to 1 Peter 2:9-10,

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; {10} Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Recognize it?  If you check your margin, you’ll see that verse 10 is from Hosea 2:23.  Now in this context it seems that Peter is taking all the associations that used to be of Israel and is now applying them to the ecclesia.  To bolster this he uses Hosea 2:23 to apply to us, the ecclesia, which includes Gentiles.

This is the way that Paul also uses it in Romans 9:25-26,

“Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?  {25} As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. {26} 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.”

Here Paul takes two similar passages from Hosea 2:23 and 1:26, puts them together and uses them to argue that the Gentiles are called as well as the Jews.  At first glance, it’s a bit difficult to see why the apostles use these verses.  When we go back and look at the context, it clearly is about natural Israel for in the following verse of Hosea 1:11 it says,

“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.”

When you have Judah and Israel coming together you’re talking about their later day restoration as it is at the end of chapter two as well.  So is Paul justified in using this verse about the Gentiles?  He is.  It turns out the clue is in the phrase “not my people”.  It is used only one other time in the Old Testament in Deut. 32:19-21,

“They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.”

By the way, Paul in Romans 10:19 also quotes this passage.  The phrase “not a people” refers to the Gentiles.  Therefore, what Hosea is saying is that God, when he rejected Israel would regard them as Gentiles, “not a people.”  Understand this and you see that Paul’s argument in Romans is very powerful.  By quoting Hosea, he is saying that if God could make the Israelites into Gentiles then he could certainly make Gentiles into Israelites.  It is all based on faith.

Call His Name Jezreel

Now the phrase “not my people” (Lo-ammi) and “no mercy” (Lo-ruhamah) are from children of sign.  You’ll remember here that these were the “children of whoredoms” (2:4) born to Gomer and not Hosea.  These children represent the children of Israel and Judah in their state of separation from God and the need for forgiveness.  In this case, as Peter and Paul show, they also speak to us about our enmity with God and being strangers from the commonwealth of Israel.  If this was the case of Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi then who does Jezreel symbolize?  He was the first-born legitimate son of Hosea.  Does he represent Jesus?

Before we delve into the answers to that question in Hosea, let’s consider his contemporary Isaiah who also had children.  Isaiah in chapter 7 has his son Shearjashub with him, which means, “a remnant shall return”.  More significantly, there is the child Immanual in verse 14, which is no doubt about the Lord Jesus Christ.  Finally, in Isaiah 8 there is the third child Mahershallalhashbaz, meaning, “in making speed to the spoil he hasteneth the prey”, which really has to do about the judgment of the nation to come.  Isaiah tells us in 8:18 that these three children whom the Lord had given him were “for signs and wonders” (which is quoted in Hebrews 2:13 about Jesus and his brethren).  There are some interesting parallels and differences in these records but nonetheless it takes our minds back to Hosea expecting one of his children to more perfectly mirror the Lord Jesus.  That child is Jezreel.  Let’s read Hosea 1:4-5,

"And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. {5} And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel."

Jezreel means, “God sows”.  Typical to Hosea this name has meanings on different levels.  It can mean God scatters as in judgment or God sows as in planting.  In this context, you very much get that sense of judgment but later on of planting. 

There was to be an initial fulfillment during the days of the prophet.  This is much like Isaiah’s prophecy of Immanuel, “before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings” (Isa. 7:16).  This would establish the veracity of the prophet’s words but although it was couched in terms of the day it would be further elaborated to have implications for the later days.

Jezreel was a valley in northern Israel known for its military engagements.  This is where Jehu, fulfilled God’s commandments, and destroyed the house of Ahab.  Jehu though turned out to not be faithful in the end and his dynasty only lasted to the fourth generation (2 Kings 10:30).  Hosea here would be prophesying during his great grandson Jeroboam II’s reign.  This marked the beginning of the swift slide (six kings in thirty years) to the collapse of the Northern Kingdom by the hands of the Assyrians.  For Judah, it’s salvation from the Assyrians by the hand of God is prophesied in verse 7,

(Hosea 1:7)  "But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen."

Say Unto Your Brethren… They Shall Hear Jezreel

Verse 11 mentions Jezreel again,

"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 where we see the shift in the name to a later day fulfillment.  Instead of scattering, it is about gathering together into one.  In this sense, the name Jezreel emphasizes the planting of God.  In fact, the phrase “come up out of the land” has the idea of a plant sprouting out of the ground.  The NLT considers this when it paraphrases it like this,

“What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel—when God will again plant his people in his land.”

We can also see here the Messianic import when the children of Israel shall “appoint themselves one head” or “leader” (NASB, NIV, NET).   It is a parallel statement with the day of Jezreel, that is, Jezreel is to be that one head.  It is very similar to the statement in 3:5 where it says that Israel will “return, and seek the Lord their God and David their king.”

Now before we move onto the next occurrence of the name Jezreel I want you to notice something subtle here in the record at chapter 2:1,

"Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah."

Is God telling Hosea to say this?  This couldn’t be since they are his children not his brethren.  It must be Jezreel.  There is definitely a connection between 2:1 and 1:11 which may be a later day application for Jezreel since the names are changed to Ammi – “my people” and Ruhamah – “I will have mercy”.  Jezreel would speak and they would hear.  Keep this in mind as we look at the last instance of Jezreel in 2:18-23,

"And in that day [the day of Jezreel] will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely. {19} And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. {20} I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. {21} And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; {22} And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. {23} And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy [Loruhamah -> Ruhamah]; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people [Loammi -> Ammi]; and they shall say, Thou art my God."

It’s such a beautiful picture of the kingdom.  Look at all these terms “that day”, “covenant”, “betrothal”, “break the bow and the sword”, “lie down safely”.  It is a wonderful reminder of the kingdom being a place where animals are peaceful and the earth is fruitful.  The physical blessing show forth the spiritual blessings in a people that hear, that hear Jezreel.  God sows.  In verse 23 you will notice the names of the children of whoredoms being reversed.  That’s you and I, brothers and sisters, and the remarkable example of God’s steadfast love and forgiveness.

There is one last thing about the name Jezreel that will tie in nicely with our next subject.  Hebrew scholars say that Jezreel sounds an awful lot like Israel.  If you were a Hebrew and heard Hosea speaking you might listen very hard to see if he’s saying Israel or Jezreel.  This is deliberate on God’s part and we find Hosea often using word plays like this.  I think it is obvious by now that Jezreel is a type, sign or prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ.  When it comes to our next Hosea prophecy, it is important to recognize this.  A contemporary of Hosea, Isaiah does this in Isaiah 49.  Get the sense here that it is the Spirit of Christ (1 Pet. 1:11) which is speaking through the prophet.

(Isa 49:1-10)  “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. [NASB, “from the body of My mother He named Me.”]{2} And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; {3} And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified.”

It is this verse in the midst of a highly Messianic passage that shows us the title of Israel is given to the suffering servant.  The sinful nation failed, but the servant, the ideal “Israel,” will succeed.  The Jews would interpret this about themselves but there are two Israel’s here in view, as we read in verse 5-6,

“{5} And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. {6} And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”

The servant, Israel must be the ideal “Israel” who like Moses, establishes a covenant for the nation (v. 8) and leads them out of bondage (v. 9) to the Promised Land (v. 10).   That is Jesus, isn’t it?  He established the new covenant, freed us from the bondage of sin and death and is leading us to the kingdom (v. 10 is quoted in Rev. 7:16).

There are many connections to Hosea in this passage but the chief one is verse 13,

"Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted."

Where in Hosea does it talk about people and mercy in the same verse?  It’s Hosea 2:23,

"And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."

Isn’t it amazing then that Isaiah goes onto talk about a woman who cannot forget her sucking child (v. 15), a woman who has lost children (v. 20) but gained more in their place (v. 21), and a mother who had been divorced from God (50:1).

No doubt then, that Jezreel/Israel is the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Messiah had to go through a pattern of the nation of Israel itself.  Let’s then turn to our next prophecy of Christ in Hosea and see how this ties in.

Out of Egypt Have I Called My Son

Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:14-15 to bolster the fact that the Messiah had to fulfill an exodus out of Egypt.

 "When he [Joseph] arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: {15} And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son."

Now when we turn to Hosea to see the context there is a difficulty.  It seems like Matthew has randomly taken something out of context.  Hosea 11:1-2 says,

"When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. {2} As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images."

Isn’t this just about the nation of Israel?  How could this be a prophecy of Christ?  Did Matthew make a mistake?  Well, let’s be careful here and take into account three principles.

  1. Hosea uses the Israel / Ephraim names for emphasis as we talked about in Class 2.  Notice the same play between verses 1 and 3.
  2. Hosea and Isaiah use the name Israel for the nation but also for the nation’s leader, the perfect Israelite (e.g. Isaiah 49:3).  The perfect suffering servant was to follow a similar pattern as the nation but overcome where they failed.
  3. Prophecies intertwine current fulfillments with other future fulfillments, which we can see from the larger context.

There is a larger context, which we will want to be aware of before we make critical judgments on Matthew’s usage of Hosea.  Before this analogy of a son out of Egypt, there are a couple more beforehand.  There is one in 10:1,

"Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images."

There is another back in 9:10,

"I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved."

If you carefully read these next to 11:1-2 you get the sense they are parallel, very similar in form and function.  Therefore, the overall context for our consideration really starts in 9:7, which begins some absolutely remarkable prophecies of the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It may be difficult to see how or why they are so intermixed with the current judgments against the nation but there is no denying that they are there.

The Fig Tree

Let me read to you the NET translation of Hosea 9:7-8 to get a better sense of how it relates to Jesus,

“The time of judgment is about to arrive! The time of retribution is imminent! Let Israel know! The prophet is considered a fool – the inspired man is viewed as a madman – because of the multitude of your sins and your intense animosity. {8} The prophet is a watchman over Ephraim on behalf of God, yet traps are laid for him along all of his paths; animosity rages against him in the land of his God.”

Here is a picture of a people who see the prophet as a fool and a madman (John 10:20; Mark 3:21).  They did this because they were so filled with hatred for the prophet who exposed their sins.  On top of that, they laid traps for him to catch him in his words.  Sound familiar?  It is so much like the time of Jesus, isn’t it?  The phrase here “Let Israel know” in the KJV (and ESV) reads “Israel shall know.”  I ask you, brothers and sisters, is this Israel or is it Israel?  Is “the prophet” a general term for prophets, is it Hosea or is it that greater prophet to come (John 1:21; Acts 7:37).

Are we are stretching here?  Let’s just keep building.  The very first phrase, “the days of visitation are come” is picked up by Jesus in Luke 19:44,

"[Your enemies] shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation."

As Hosea said, Israel shall know, and Jesus did know, but natural Israel did not know.  It is important at this point to notice the timing.  Jesus next goes in and casts out the moneychangers.  What Luke leaves out, Mark supplements by relating the cursing of the fig tree.  Let’s just turn to Mark 11:12-20 and quickly scan the story.

"And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: {13} And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. {14} And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it. {15} And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; {16} And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. {17} And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. {18} And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine. {19} And when even was come, he went out of the city. {20} And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots."

With all this in mind then let’s turn back to Hosea 9 and compare.  Coming off what we all ready read in verse 7-8 we see something interesting in verse 10,

"I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved."

So God saw Israel as a first ripe fig tree and expected fruit just like Jesus came to the fig tree and found no fruit.  He didn’t just capriciously curse a poor tree.  He did it as a parable of the nation.  What did Jesus do after cursing the fig tree?  He went and cast all those who sold and bought in the temple.  Look at verse 15,

"All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters."

When Jesus and the disciples come past the fig tree again they see it, not only withered, but very specifically “dried up from the roots.”  Now read verse 16,

"Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit [Mark 11:14]: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb."

Isn’t that just remarkable?  There is just too much here, brothers and sisters, to deny that embedded in this prophecy is a tale of what Jesus Christ would do.  It doesn’t end there though.  Look at 10:3,

"For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?"

Where did we hear that before (John 19:15)… “we have no king but Caesar.”

Finally, there is a link in 10:8,

"The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us."

The connection here would not be readily discernible unless the Lord Jesus Christ had quoted it.  You may or may not have in your margin a reference to Luke 23:30.  Let’s go to that passage and read the context from verse 27-31,

"And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. {28} But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. {29} For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. {30} Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. {31} For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?"

It is unmistakable that Jesus wants our minds to go back to Hosea.  Not just to 10:8 but to the whole concept of barrenness and unfruitfulness.  He sees this generation as exactly like the generation of Hosea.  We find in Hosea the same pictures of plants and fruitfulness intertwined with birth and children.

Plants and Children

This takes us back to how Matthew quoted 11:1 in the first place.  They had gone down to Egypt to escape the slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem.  Do we find that here in Hosea as well?  Let’s read Hosea 9:11-16 again with this in mind.

"As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception. {12} Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them! {13} Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer [Herod!]. {14} Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts… {16} Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb."

Matthew would actually use a passage from Jeremiah for a fulfillment of the prophecy but it seems to me he could have easily quoted again from Hosea.  Clearly, Matthew, by the spirit of inspiration, has brought us to Hosea to consider the fulfillment of the word in his Son and that we might believe.  If then, Hosea 11:1 is about Christ then what about the similar phrases in 9:10 and 10:1?

“I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness.”

“Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself.”

Again, it is helpful to look at 10:1 in different translations as the King James is very literal here.

ESV - “Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit.”

The word for empty in the KJV really means “to empty” but in the sense of harvesting.  That is why in other translations we have something like,

NET – “Israel was a fertile vine that yielded fruit.”

NLT – “How prosperous Israel is— a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit.”

LXX – “Israel was a vine with beautiful branches; the fruit there of was abundant”

So, there is a positive sense here but like the other passages it quickly turns to the negative.  Nevertheless, we cannot help but think of Jesus words, “I am the true vine…” (John 15).  Did Jesus have this passage in mind when he said that?  He could also have had Psalm 80:8-19 in mind as well.

"Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. {9} Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. {10} The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. {11} She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. {12} Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? {13} The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. {14} Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; {15} And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch [the son] that thou madest strong for thyself. {16} It is burned with fire, it is cut down: they perish at the rebuke of thy countenance. {17} Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. {18} So will not we go back from thee: quicken us, and we will call upon thy name. {19} Turn us again, O LORD God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved."

While reading that we can see that it is about the nation of Israel but we get the feeling that there is something more to it.  “The man of thy right hand… the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself” seems too Messianic to pass up.

If that is not convincing enough then we just have to turn to Isaiah 53:1-3 for further proof.

"Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? {2} For he [my servant = Jesus] shall grow up before him [the LORD] as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. {3} He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."

Isn’t that an interesting picture in light of what Hosea has prophesied?  Israel, the nation, was dried up from the roots (Hosea 9:16) --- a dead tree in parched dry ground.  Jesus Christ came to the generation and grew up in that soil.  He sprouted forth as if by a miracle, “a root out of dry ground.”


In review, we started talking about Jezreel, Hosea’s firstborn, who was a pattern or type of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Remember what Jezreel means?  God sows.  We saw how significant that would be in the life of Jesus especially as he comes again to plant God’s people in their land and become their head.

We’ve also seen a remarkable string of prophecies throughout Hosea 9, 10 and 11.  These were specific prophecies that parallel with Jesus cursing of the fig tree and driving the moneychangers out of the temple.  This all confirmed for us that Matthew’s quoting of “out of Egypt have I called my son” is quite right.  It is a deep and wonderful key that has unlocked to us other passages that speak of the Christ.

What further proof do we need?  The word is so wonderful and powerful.  Woven into its very fabric are the prophecies about our Lord Jesus Christ that have happened.  How many of these do we miss when we quickly read over passages like this?  Brethren, it is there if we have eyes to see.  Let’s believe and be encouraged by this sure word of prophecy.