Hosea 11:1
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.







When Israel was a child.
The meaning is not, necessarily, when Israel was an infant, a child in mere years, but when Israel was a child in spirit, docile, simple of mind, sincere of purpose, true in worship. When Israel lifted his eyes heavenward, and sought for Me, then I stooped over him as a man might stoop over his child to lift him into his arms, and press him closely to his heart. There is a unit of the individual; let us take care lest we rest there, and so miss the ever-enlarging revelation of the Divine purpose in human history. There is not only a unit of the individual, there is a unit of the nation. Israel is here spoken of as if he were one man, a little child; though a million strong in population, yet there was in the million a unit. This is one aspect of Divine providence. We must not regard nations as if they ceased to have status and responsibility, name and destiny before God. A nation is one, a world is one, the universe is one. What does God know of our little divisions and distributions into pluralities and relationships? The nation may have a character. The Church is one, and has a reputation and influence. So we come upon the Divine handling of great occasions. The Lord is not fretted by details. All the details of His providence come out of and return to one great principle of redeeming Fatherhood. The locks are innumerable; the key is one, and it is in the Father's hand. Let Him hold it.

(Joseph Parker, D. D.)

The leading topic of this chapter appears to be the calling of the people of Israel out of the prison-house of Egypt. It gives a gracious account of our heavenly Father's love, and a fearful picture of man's ingratitude. Under figures and emblems there is a lively representation of God's dealings with His redeemed ones — with the Israel that now is, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. The call of Israel from Egypt, as typical of Christ and of His people, is our subject. It is typical of us, as we are called from sin to the holiness of the heavenly Canaan.

I. GOD'S LOVE TO CHRIST, AS A CHILD, MANIFESTED TO US BY HIS CALLING HIM FROM EGYPT. In the fulness of time the beloved of the Father became flesh, and dwelt among us. But no sooner did He appear than His life was threatened. The child was borne for safety into Egypt. In due time Christ was called out of Egypt, brought again to the Holy Land, there to exercise His ministry and perform the will of God.

II. GOD'S LOVE TO US, WHILST WE WERE YET AT A DISTANCE FROM HIM. We who are redeemed are loved with the self-same love with which God loved His only begotten Son.

II. THE EFFECT WHICH THE POSSESSION OF THIS LOVE WILL NATURALLY PRODUCE IN OUR HEARTS. It will produce love to others. What should be the effect of God's love in our minds? A disinterested love to our fellow-creatures. Thus shall we have a scriptural evidence that we are of the spiritual Israel, whom God hath loved and called out of Egypt.

(G. C. Tomlinson.)

Homilist.
I. A HIGHLY FAVOURED PEOPLE.

1. God loved them.

2. God emancipated them.

3. God educated them.

4. God healed them.

5. God guided them.

6. God relieved them.

7. God fed them.

II. A SIGNALLY UNGRATEFUL PEOPLE.

1. They disobeyed, God's teaching.

2. They gave themselves to idolatry.

3. They ignored God s kindness.

4. They persistently backslided.

III. A RIGHTEOUSLY PUNISHED PEOPLE. The judgment would be —

1. Extensive; and

2. It should continue; and

3. It should be destructive.Is not this history of this people typical? Do not they represent especi ally the peoples of modern Christendom, highly favoured of God, signally ungrateful to God, and exposed to punishment from God?

(Homilist.)

1. This is the great sin of the visible Church, to which she hath a strong inclination naturally, even in her best frame.

2. Men's hanging sometimes in suspense, and having some inclinations to return, will neither double out their point against the power of corruption within them, nor will it extenuate their backsliding.

3. The great backsliding of God's people is their backsliding from God and communion with Him; which draweth on all other apostasies and defections.

4. It is of the Lord's great mercy that He ceaseth not to follow backsliders with messages from His Word.

(George Hutcheson.)

1. It is adopting love. God loved Israel in Egypt, Israel in captivity, Israel among the brick-kilns, and called him "His son." It is by no merit or righteousness of our own that we are made sons of God. We become children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. God's love is adopting love. God delights in adopting children, and giving them the spirit of adoption, and taking them to the home of the ransomed family.

2. It is a tender love. The Lord describes the manner of a mother teaching her babe to walk. "I taught Ephraim to go." The Omnipotent became as a nurse to Israel. When difficulties arose He bore him in His arms as a man doth bear his little child. And the heavenly Father is ever the same.

3. His inviting love. "Called My son out of Egypt." We know how cruel Pharaoh was, and how hard were his taskmasters. But there was One who loved them, who said, "I have heard their cry, and have come down to help them." His fiery cloudy pillar was the symbol of his inviting love.

4. It is weeping love. God mourns over their iniquities. God's love as weeping love was displayed by "The Man of Sorrows," whose grief was for the hardness of men's hearts, and whose hot tears over Jerusalem were because she knew not the things which belonged to her peace.

5. His incarnate love. "The cords of a man." Incarnate love is the magnet by which souls are drawn to God. "The Word was made flesh" begins the story of redemption. Christ became man, to stand in man's place and deal with God in man's behalf, and to be able to enter into our feelings and fears as a merciful and compassionate High Priest.

(A. Clayton Thiselton.)

The scope of this chapter is to clear God from severity, and to upbraid Israel for ungrateful and stubborn carriage, against mercies and means, and yet to promise mercy to the remnant, to His elect ones. At the close of the preceding chapter there were dreadful threatenings against Israel, that the mothers should be dashed in pieces upon their children, and the king utterly cut off. But does not this argue God to be a God of rigid severity? Where is the mercy, goodness, and clemency of God towards His people? God says, "For all this I am a God of mercy and goodness, for I have manifested abundance of mercy already, and am ready still to manifest more; but you have been a stubborn and a stout-hearted people against Me." From this general scope observe —

1. God stands much upon the clearing of Himself to be a God of love and mercy. Whatsoever becomes of the wicked, yet God will make it clear before all the world that He is a God of much mercy. God takes it very ill that we should have any hard thoughts of Him; let us not be ready to entertain such thoughts of God, as if He were a hard master. "When Israel was a child." That is, at his first beginning to be a people, in his young time, My heart was towards him. When he knew little of Me. When he could do little for Me. When there was much vanity and folly in him, as there are generally in children. When he was helpless and succourless, and knew not how to provide for himself. The love of God to Israel is expressed in these three particulars.(1) God "entered into a covenant" with him.(2) "Thou becamest Mine," that is, I had separated thee for Myself, and took thee for a peculiar one to Me, and intended special mercy and goodness to thee.(3) I confirmed all this by an oath, "I sware unto thee." Observe —

2. It is the privilege of the Church and of the saints to be beloved of God. God loves His people; this is their privilege, He loves them with a special love.

3. It is a great aggravation to sin, to sin against love.

4. It is very useful to call to mind God's old love.

5. All God's old mercies remain engagements to duty and aggravations to sin.

6. Let not our hearts sink in despairing thoughts, though we see that we are able to do but little for God, and though we are unworthy of His love.

7. God's love begins betimes to His people; let not His people's love be deferred too long.

(Jeremiah Burroughs.)

1. God's love to the Church is her first and great privilege, which prevents her in her lowest condition, when she is unworthy and base. When Israel was a child, witless and worthless, then I loved him. And this is the fountain of all God's bounty to him.

2. The Lord will make His love to His people conspicuous in their preservation in a low condition, and under much trouble, when He seeth it not fit to deliver them from it.

3. The Lord also will magnify His deliverance from trouble and bondage, not only spiritual, but outward also, in so far as is for their good.

3. As the Lord doth ofttimes manifest His love, and put special honour on His people, by putting them to sufferings and trouble, so He will specially make His delivering of them proclaim His love and estimation of them, and His peculiar interest in them.

(George Hutcheson.)

"And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is My son, even My first-born; and I say unto thee, Let My son go, that he may serve Me." On these words Hosea's reference rests. The people of Israel are to God as a son to a father; even as a first-born son. That is why He has come down to deliver them. We speak of the "purposes" of God, as though God had formed some complex schemes at an early period in the world's history, and now He must work these schemes out. But the God of the Bible is no scheme-maker. He is a Father — we are His sons. It is Israel's cry that has brought Jehovah down to deliver them. He is the Father of the fatherless. He hears the cry of the afflicted. But though God is moved by love, He does all things in order. He pities His people before their cry has ascended to Him; but He waits for that cry before He comes down to deliver them. For He will not deliver the unwilling or the proud. So He waits. And He came to the right person. He will do His work by means of a man, and He knows the man to do it. Moses brought Israel out of Egypt. Jehovah, that is the name of Israel's Father and Deliverer. "I am that I am" is practically the translation of Jehovah. It is a somewhat cold name to us, because we know the tenderer name of Father. Hosea's reference looks forward as well as backward; it looks before and after. Hosea saw that his words had a fuller meaning than could be filled by the people of Israel. He saw that they carried a promise which had not been performed even in his day. Like Abraham, he saw Christ's day afar off, and was glad.

(James Hastings, M. A.)

How can Matthew speak of these words as a prophecy, and of the sojourn of the Divine babe in Egypt as a fulfilment of their prophecy? It has been said that Matthew uses Hosea's words, so to speak, rhetorically or classically, declaring that the story of the infant Jesus in Egypt was a fine instance of Hosea's saying. Or it may be answered that the literal Israel was the type of the spiritual Israel. At all events, the Divine Man was Himself the true, ideal Israel, and as such Jehovah did call Him when a child out of Egypt. Once more, it may be answered, in a more general way, that the present is ever the fruit of the past and the seed of the future. Events are born of events, as successive parts of plants are born of preceding parts; the parts are different, but they are radically only repetitions of the original seed. History repeats itself. The historic is ever the prophetic. Particularly is it true in a case of special Divine election, like that of the Jewish nation, that history will be prophecy. The fulfilments of the prophetic Scriptures, like waves of the sea, are ever-multiplying and enlarging concentric circles. And Jesus Christ is evermore the final and crowning fulfilment. The Divine Man is the universal pleroma — alike the radiant point and the circumference of all things. As God called out of Egypt His son, so out of Egypt does He call His Church. It was literally true of some of the most eminent of the fathers, — , , , . It is spiritually true of all God's people.

(G. D. Boardman.)

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