Hosea’s Prophecy and The Return of the King

Introduction

Anyone who has been watching the current events knows that the Israel/Palestinian conflict has been in the news again. As of yesterday there was a cease fire. This is not new and is a repeat of the previous cycles of conflict in the region. As much as most of us would like to see some sort of permanent and peaceful resolution, I am not sure if it is really possible. I won’t make this post into a rant about the long history of the conflict there. You can read up on that here.  Instead, I want to focus on what I believe to be both the short term and long term solution to the problem.

The Prophecy of Hosea

If we look into the book of Hosea, we see that there is a significant prophecy about why Israel lacks a king today. In Chapter 3, God instructs Hosea to take Gomer back, but apparently into some sort of restricted relationship rather than marital intimacy. The significance of this action is explained as follows:

“And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.”- Hosea 3:3-5.

We see the following prediction:

1. Israel will lack specific items for “many days.” 2. For the record, for nearly two thousand years, Israel has gone without a king descended from David since about 587 B.C. (a century after Hosea’s own day) when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and disposed of the Jewish king Zedekiah and then carried away most of the people to the captivity to Babylon. (1)

Furthermore, during the subsequent centuries the nation barley had kings who were descendants of the Maccabees (around 100 B.C.) and the two kings of the Herod family (the last dying in A.D. 44). (2)  The word “prince” in this verse signifies a ruler or governmental official. By the way, there are other names were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.” Some of the names include “Son of David,” “ Son of God,” “ Son of Man,” “ Prophet,” “Elect One,” “Servant,” “ Prince,” “ Branch,” “Root,” “Scepter,” “Star,” “Chosen One,” and “ Coming One.” So we see that “Prince” is a name for the Messiah.

Also,  Israel has been without its own governmental officials in Palestine from A.D. 70, when the Romans took Jerusalem, until the modern establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. Even if the exile patriarchs and nasi’ are counted as princes in Hosea’s sense, the period during which Israel had none of these officials is still substantial from about 1100 to 1948. (3)

 The Davidic King

Remember that God had established a covenant with David that Israel about always always having a King. While God promised that Israel would have an earthly king (Gen. 17: 6; 49:6; Deut.17: 14-15), he also promised King David that one of his descendants would rule on his throne forever (2 Sam.7:12-17; 1 Chr.17:7-15; Ps.89:28-37). In other words, David’s line would eventually culminate in the birth of a person whose eternality will guarantee David’s dynasty, kingdom and throne forever. The existence of Israel is directly related to God’s covenant with Israel and Israel’s relationship to God as the King. The Davidic covenant established David as the king over all of Israel. Under David’s rule, there was the defeat of Israel’s enemies, the Philistines. David also captured Jerusalem and established his capital there (2 Sam. 1-6). As seen in 2 Sam. 7:1-4, David wanted to build a “house” (or Temple) for the Lord in Jerusalem. God’s response to David was one of rejection.

However, as just mentioned, God did make an unconditional promise to raise up a line of descendants from the house of David that would rule forever as the kings of Israel (2 Sam. 7:5-16; 1 Chr.17:7-15; Ps.89:28-37). The desire for the restoration of the Davidic dynasty became even more fervent after the united kingdom of the Israelites split into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, at the time of King Rehoboam. The prophets even spoke of a Davidic Messiah who would be unlike any past Davidic king (Is. 9:6-7; 11:1-5; Jer. 23:5-6; Mic. 5:2-5). Both Hosea and Ezekiel spoke of the Davidic aspect of the Messiah. While Hosea spoke of a time when the northern tribes of Israel would seek out David, Israel’s king (Hos. 3:5), Ezekiel spoke of a new David who would be a shepherd as well as a prince and a king to Israel (Ezek. 34:23-24; 37:24-25). This king’s function would help restore the Davidic dynasty after the exile.

But what does Jesus have to do with this?

The New Testament authors unanimously declare Jesus as the one who is from the “seed of David,” sent by God to restore God’s kingship over mankind (Matt. 1:1; Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3,4; 2 Tim:2:8; Rev. 22:16). As seen in 2 Samuel 7:12-17, the immediate prophecy is partially fulfilled in David’s son Solomon.

However, the word “forever” shows there are future descendants to come. God promised David that his “seed” would establish the kingdom. There were two ways for this prophecy to come to pass. Either God could continually raise up a new heir or he could have someone come who would never die. Does this sound like the need for a resurrection? That is exactly how Paul understood Jesus’ Messiahship in Romans 1:1-5:

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

This also means the Messiah must come prior to 70 A.D, since in that year all Israel’s genealogical records were destroyed along with the Temple. Within a few decades of 70 A.D., it was impossible to prove who was a son of David and who was not. Therefore, the fulfillment reached its completion in the Messiah, both son of David and the one greater than David (Psalm 110:1-4). As it says in Luke 1:32-33, “He shall be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” But in this sense, Jesus is not simply a son of David, but instead, Jesus is the Son of David.

But what does this have to do with the prophecy of Hosea?

This prophecy that was given in Hosea has gone on for many centuries. Look at the text again:

“And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.”- Hosea 3:3-5.

Is it just a coincidence that Israel has gone for many centuries without a King? While today there are thousands of Messianic believers (Jewish people who think Jesus is the Messiah) in the United States alone – some estimate the number to be over half a million,  the majority of Israel rejects Jesus as their Davidic King. So not much has changed since the first century. Also, it was spoken of in Isaiah 53 that the Suffering Servant would be rejected.

This means that the messianic task of Jesus is not completed. In looking at the messianic task of Jesus, His work is broken up into a series of stages:

1. Jesus as the Davidic King was presented at John’s baptism (Matt. 3:1-17). In other words, this is when He was consecrated for the messianic task.

. 2. Jesus as the Davidic King presented His miracles as evidence of His messiahship: (Matt. 11:4–6; see also Lk. 7:22). The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time where miraculous deeds would be the sign of both the spiritual and physical deliverance of Israel (Is.26: 19; 29:18-19; 35:5-6; 42:18; 61:1).

3. Jesus as the Davidic King was crucified (Isaiah 52: 13-53: 1-12). He then rose from the dead and ascended to the Father (1 Cor.15:1-17; Acts 1: 9-11).

4. Jesus as the Davidc King carries out his current messianic work is a priest-advocate (1Jn. 2:2; Hebrews 7:1-27).

5. One day, Jesus will return and establish the earthly, national aspect of the kingdom of God. (Is. 9:6; Amos 9:11; Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14; 27; Is. 11:11-12; 24:23; Mic. 4:1-4; Zech.14:1-9; Matt. 26:63-64; Acts 1:6-11; 3:19-26). In other words, one day the Messiah will be King over His people (Matt. 19:28).

Conclusion: How does this apply to the current Middle East Situation?

“ But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” -2 Peter 3: 10-13

In this passage, Peter talks about “hastening” the return of the Lord. The Greek word for “hastening” is a form of “speudo” which means “to hurry up” or “speed up.” In other words, perhaps our own Christian living can hasten the return of the Messiah. The Hebrew Bible and the New Testament as well confirms that God’s peace can only happen through a Messiah (see Isa 9:6-7; Micah 5:4-5). Peace with God is offered through the death and resurrection of Jesus (Rom 5:1; Eph 2:14-17; Col 1:19-20; see Heb 13:20). Peter declared to Cornelius: “You now the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). The Hebrew word “Shalom” which means peace, completeness, or wholeness can refer to either peace between two entities (especially between man and God or between two countries). So while we strive to look for a temporary peaceful solution in the Middle East and await the Messiah’s return, we know that The “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6; Jer 33:8-9) is the only one who can provide a transformed heart that leads to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Sources:

1. R. D. Geivett and G.R. Habermas, In Defense of Miracles: A Comprehensive Case For God’s Actions in Human History (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press. 1997), 216-217.

2.  Ibid.

3. Ibid.

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