76 Sermons on the Old Testament

28 Jesus Studied Hosea's Prophecies.

In my last sermon I showed how Hosea, the great prophet of Israel, saw punishment approaching as a result of the iniquities and moral degradation to which the Northern Kingdom had descended. But I have also said that Hosea was not right in thinking that it was the Father who was bringing the punishment for sin, for the Father does not punish.

Jesus Studied Hosea's Prophecies

I am here, Jesus:

In my last sermon I showed how Hosea, the great prophet of Israel, saw punishment approaching as a result of the iniquities and moral degradation to which the Northern Kingdom had descended. But I have also said that Hosea was not right in thinking that it was the Father who was bringing the punishment for sin, for the Father does not punish.

However, the evils which the Israelites of this time practiced, with their increasing loss of moral fiber and deterioration into immorality and pagan worship, inevitably created material conditions which worked against them. The people lost their high faith in God and what he represented for them; righteousness and justice. They lost, in a word, their lofty idealism which had given them the steel and the sinews to take Caanan as the land which He had promised them. They lost their faith that He would protect them -- and thus lost their link with Him. Only by a return to Him could the link be reestablished.

The Father's spiritual forces were unable to help and protect Israel because the spiritual contact had been broken by the people's withdrawal into materialism and evil practices. The two Hebrew Kingdoms -- and specifically, Israel, at the time -- was thus left uncovered to the storms of materialism and the dominant materialistic forces then in operation. For just as I said when I preached in Palestine, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," man is subject to the powers that be in the Kingdom to which he belongs, and if man is subject to the Kingdom of the earth plane, there he has only the forces of that plane to cling to and must abide by what those forces do.

Now in the earth plane conditions of those times, Israel, a drop of water as against a mighty sea, was tossed about by the larger and more powerful of the Fertile Crescent Nations, had nothing to adhere to for protection She sought the alliances in other countries but if I may use word "Soul" with a collective connotation, what reliance could she have on nations in a similar or worse condition of soul? Only if the soul returns to the Father and seeks Him can it receive His protection. Only as Israel turned from her evil ways and returned to God by obeying His statutes of justice and righteousness, could Israel rise above the earth plane, reestablish the spiritual link with Him and obtain His protection.

Now Hosea had great spiritual insight and it was given unto him to realize that the only way for Israel to survive was to come back to the Lord. In his book of Hosea, he wrote in a way that the people would understand, and he attributed conditions, good and evil, to the workings of God. But instead of saying, "Work evil and evil will work within you," he could only say, "Work evil and God will punish you." But he had the insight to realize that once the people suffered a disaster, they would understand that this disaster was caused by their own sins and, rejecting their sins and iniquities, would turn to God and seek His help:

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. I will be
thy King: where is any other that may save thee? (Chapter 13, verses 9-10).

If there was no way for the people to have faith in God and obey His statutes of righteousness (in their way of living), then their own evils would create the evil forces that would overtake them. Or, as Hosea thought, God would use other nations as His instrument of punishment.

Thus, in his love for his people Israel, he exhorted them to forsake their evils and return to God before it was too late -- and before the punishment, which he saw coming, struck its terrifying blows. Only repentance for evil done and a return with contrite heart could have any appeal to God. A superficial, outward turning to God without the change in heart was meaningless.

They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord;
but they shall not find Him;
He hath withdrawn himself from them. (Chapter 5, verse 6).

And in this connection the ritual of sacrifice is worthless:

For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of
God more than burnt offerings. (Chapter 6, verse 6).

The main theme in Hosea, then, is repentance for sin and a revival of faith in God and to walk In His statutes. Punishment is not merely for the sake of punishment, but to enable Israel to reform and correct its way to attain the moral and ethical standards set by God. In the words of Hosea, God says:

I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offences,
and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me earnestly.
(Chapter 5, verse 15).

Hosea then prophecies the return to God after the coming disaster, and the resultant revival and life for the nation:

Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for He hath torn, and He will
heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.
After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up,
and we shall live in His sight. (Chapter 6, verses 1 and 2).

This, then, was the promise of redemption given by God to the Israelites through the mouth of Hosea. It had nothing to do with me, Jesus, as some Christians think. They profess to see in these words a prophesy of my resurrection, on the third day. Nothing can be further from the truth. Hosea had no inkling of my coming, as he has told me, and his words were directed only to the Hebrew people without the slightest idea his words might be misconstrued to be applied to another situation more than seven centuries later.

But Hosea did have an insight into the redemption of his people. This redemption was two-fold: it meant a return to Palestine from exile in Assyria, but it also meant redemption from sin and a return to the Lord. Since, in his day, God was presumed to be living in the Temple in Jerusalem, a return to the Lord meant a material return to the land as well as a moral reform. I am sorry to say that some writers on this subject think this return meant a physical return only -- it did not, and as a matter of fact, when in later centuries the Father was more correctly conceived as being universal and present everywhere in the world, a return to Him meant a return to His statutes and moral laws. The strong emphasis laid by Hebrew writers on the physical return or ingathering of the exiles was made inevitable by the two exiles suffered by the Hebrew people during this millennium of which I speak. Later I realized that return to the land where God dwells was a concept which in its wider meaning really represented a return to the pristine purity of the soul and life in the Spiritual Heavens. When I was preaching in Palestine I had the knowledge that ultimately this return to God and the land meant return to the spirit world, but with a home in the Celestial Heavens where the Divine Love in the soul gives it its abode with the Father Himself.

Now when Hosea spoke of a return to God, he meant primarily a moral regeneration, a rebirth following the punishment of exile to Assyria, which he realized was rapidly approaching. This exile, he thought, would last "until the end of days" but the return would finally be a renewal of their inheritance under David their king.

" . . . . . afterwards shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord, their God, and David their King; and shall come trembling unto the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." (Chapter 3, verses 4 and 5).

Here, then, Hosea had a clear Messianic concept -- ultimate happiness for the Hebrew people under a king come from the House of David. It would be a Kingdom achieved through repentance unto contentment, with God their protector and ruled by a descendant of their great king, David.

Here is one of the first Hebrew concepts of the Messiah -- not the Messiah as conceived by Christians some eight hundred to a thousand years later, -- but the Messiah as conceived by one of the greatest of Hebrew Prophets early in the story of sacred prophesy. For Hosea says:

"And the children of Judah and of Israel shall be gathered together and they shall appoint themselves a head, and shall go up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel" (Chapter 1, verse 11).

This meant that after the exile of the Hebrews, both Israelites and Judeans -- would return to the land united as one country and, having chosen their king, leave the land of exile to return to their own land. They would at the same time be regenerated in spirit obedient to God's statutes, for the day of Jezreel meant the day of redemption. Their one head, then, was the king of their redeemed nation -- their Messiah. This is one of the prophecies regarding my coming found in the books of the prophets, a subject I shall deal with as I show the development of love in the Old Testament.

Once Israel forsakes her evil ways and returns to God, then God will shower upon the land and the people great abundance of life and fertility. Hosea meant to tell his people that this abundance and life was not only for this world of the material but for the life to the soul -- and the only way he could give his people this feeling was to write it in a way they could understand. Since they could not understand language dealing with life in the spirit world, he wrote about the good things they longed for in this world, but in such wonderful poetry and beauty that some of the people sensed that, because of its sublimity, these things went beyond their fondest hopes and could be secured only in an ideal world. This world to them was the Messiah's time of redemption.

At this time lsrael's sins were to be forgotten, for the purified soul cannot hold a memory of sin; they were to turn from idolatry to faith in the Father, calling Him, as the true church, Ishi my Husband. And the Father was to return to His people in Love -- the Divine Love which the Father has for His children.

I will heal their backsliding I will love them freely: . . . . . . . . .

And, states Hosea, this God's Love will be as between husband and wife: "And I will betroth thee unto Me forever; Yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in justice and in loving kindness, and in compassion (the Divine Love). And I will betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness; And thou shalt know the Lord." (Chapter 2, verses 16-23).

It was from the study of Hosea that I realized that God's Love was different from human love and that it could be possessed by man.

Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens

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