When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
These words refer primarily, of course, to the historical event of the Exodus. But they are also prophetic words, and as such they have been already verified, and still await further verification. When a stone is thrown into a pond, a series of ever-enlarging concentric rings is formed, which extend perhaps to the banks of the water; so in like manner, although the first fulfillment of a prophecy may be near at hand, the prediction may also receive various further and wider fulfillments, until at last it is completely verified, on the largest scale, at the end of the world. The words before us have several applications. They apply -
I. TO THE JEWISH NATION. God elected Israel as his "firstborn son" among the nations (Exodus 4:22), thus constituting the Hebrews the aristocracy of the human race. He set his love upon them when they were a community of slaves. He heard their groaning by reason of their bondage. When the people were lying like toads under the harrows of their taskmasters, he interposed to save them. He raised up Moses to be their emancipator. Jehovah wrought on their behalf the tea plagues of Egypt. He led them, by a mighty miracle, through the bed of the Red Sea, while Pharaoh and his army perished in the waters. Jehovah protected and supported and guided Israel in the wilderness. He rained bread from heaven upon them, and brought them streams also out of the rock. He kept their clothes and shoes from wearing out. He led them by the cloudy pillar. He delivered them from their enemies. He entered into covenant with them, taught them his Word and will, and brought them at last into a goodly inheritance in Canaan. No other nation ever received such marks of honor. To Israel alone "pertained the adoption" (Romans 9:4).
II. TO JESUS CHRIST. Matthew says that this word of Hosea was fulfilled when the Child Jesus was brought up out of Egypt (Matthew 2:15). If Israel was "God's son, even his firstborn," Jesus is "the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father." The history of Israel typified and foreshadowed his career. He is the true seed of Abraham, the true Representative of the ancient Hebrew nation. "All the magnificence of prophecy, limited to Israel, would be bombast; Christ alone fulfils the idea which Israel stood for" (F.W. Robertson). The paternal love of God was exhibited more richly in the protection and deliverance of his holy Child Jesus than even in the great blessing of the Exodus. It was to avoid the danger of destruction that the infant Savior and his mother were taken down into Egypt. The Lord of heaven and earth, just now a wailing infant, must hide for a little season under the shadow of the Pyramids. By-and-by he shall be "called out of Egypt" to return to the Holy Land, and to become at length what Israel ought to have been - the great Witness for God, and Teacher of his wilt to all the nations of the world.
III. TO THE CHRISTIAN. Believers are all the sons of God by faith in Jesus Christ. And the redemption from Egypt was a type of deliverance through him from sin and death. Just as to the Hebrews in the time of Hosea "Egypt" stood for Assyria, or Babylon, or any land which they were to associate with a state of bondage (Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:3, 6), so now to us Gentiles "Egypt" is the symbol of our unregenerate state, and the Egyptian bondage is a type of the bondage of sin. All men are by nature the slaves of sin, and Satan is a much harder taskmaster than the Egyptian overseers. The natural man labors helplessly under the burden of evil. But God calls his people "out of Egypt" with an effectual and a holy calling. He redeems the believer from the bondage of guilt (Galatians 3:13), from subjection to the Law (Galatians 4:5), and from the slavery of sin (Titus 2:14). The very word "Redeemer," which is so dear to the renewed heart, was first consecrated as a sacred name at the time when God "called his Son out of Egypt." To the Christian the song of Moses is also the song of the Lamb (Revelation 15:3); and the preface to the ten commandments (Exodus 20:2) expresses the most forcible and yet tender of all inducements to lead a holy life.
IV. TO THE HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH. The Church of Christ is the true Israel, God's adopted firstborn son. And this world, in which the Church presently sojourns, may be compared to the land of bondage. It is "this present evil world;" and God's people look to be delivered from it, just as ancient Israel expected deliverance from Egypt. The time is fast coming when the Lord Jesus shall finally redeem his people from all evil. Often in the New Testament the word "redemption" is used to denote the consummation of the Church's hope. Jesus told his disciples that the occurrence of the signs of his second advent would announce to them that their "redemption was drawing nigh" (Luke 21:28). The whole Church is waiting for "the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). Here, though believers "serve the Law of God with their mind," they yet groan constantly under the burden of indwelling sin. But the hope of Israel - "that blessed hope" - is that Jehovah shall "call him out of Egypt." The Lord Jesus shall one day translate his Church to heaven - the land of perfect spiritual freedom and eternal joy. There bondage shall in every sense be gone forever. So long as Israel is in this world, he is "a child;" but in glory he shall become a man, and "put away childish things." God loves him now as a child; and his adopting grace is the pledge that the ransomed Church shall one day stand by the glassy sea, and sing the song of Moses and the Lamb. - C.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.