Hosea, prophet of mercy—chapter 34, Out of Egypt
Jan 07, 2017
Hosea 11:1 says,
1 When Israel was a youth, I loved him and out of Egypt I called My son.
The prophet now appeals to Israel/Ephraim by showing the history of God’s love, compassion, and mercy from the beginning of the nation’s history, when God redeemed Israel from the house of bondage in Egypt. Essentially, the prophet is prophesying that God will redeem Israel again, this time from Assyria. In Hosea 7:11 the prophet links Egypt with Assyria, showing how Egypt has become a metaphor for bondage and captivity.
Hence, we are to understand that if God could redeem Israel from Egypt, He could also redeem Israel from Assyria. It is a message of hope, though the captivity was to be long and difficult—a yoke of iron. But judgment is never without hope, for divine judgment is always limited and is always corrective in nature. Judgment for misdemeanors is limited to forty stripes (Deuteronomy 25:3), and long-term judgment for felonies is limited by the law of Jubilee (Leviticus 25:13). Even the death penalty ends with resurrection and with a summons to the Great White Throne, where every knee bows and every tongue confesses Jesus Christ as Lord (Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:10, 11).
In order to be called out of Egypt, one must first be in Egypt. Joseph was the first to go to Egypt betrayed and sold as a slave by his brothers. The brothers themselves went to Egypt at Joseph’s invitation, for God intended to bring equal judgment upon them. There they too became slaves in later years. But their slavery was not unending, because God had already promised to set them free 400 years after the birth of Abraham’s seed, Isaac (Genesis 15:13).
Abraham’s seed thus were “strangers in a land that is not theirs” from the birth of Isaac until Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Isaac himself lived in Canaan as a stranger and pilgrim his entire life, and His family moved to Egypt just ten years after his death. They spent 190 years as strangers in Canaan, which was under the hegemony of Egypt, and then spent another 210 years as strangers in Egypt itself. The full time of their sojourning, dating from the Abrahamic covenant, was 430 years (Exodus 12:40 KJV), for this covenant was given 30 years prior to Isaac’s birth.
The judgment of God upon the sons of Israel, imposed upon them for their treatment of Joseph, thus came to an end, and then God called them out of Egypt.
In the Egyptian (carnal) way of thinking, God’s judgment upon Israel should never cease. They thought that Israel should be slaves forever. Hence, because of their own self-interest, they opposed God’s righteous limitation on Israel’s slavery, standing in the way of righteous judgment. For this reason, Egypt was judged for not releasing its slave—God’s son—at the appointed time. The lesson to be learned here is that one should not oppose the mercy of God which limits judgment. To teach endless judgment upon sinners carries certain penalties and plagues, as history shows.
It was the same when Babylon refused to release Judah after 70 years (Jeremiah 50:33, 34). God had to overthrow Babylon, using Cyrus and Darius, in order to redeem them. In our own time, as we come out from under the yoke of Mystery Babylon, the same pattern holds true, which is why Revelation 17 prophesies the destruction of this world system of slavery through seven plagues (Revelation 15:8).
Israel, My First-born Son
When God sent Moses back to Egypt to lead Israel out of the house of bondage, He gave a message to Pharaoh in Exodus 4:22, 23,
22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Israel is My son, My first-born. 23 So I said to you, Let My son go, that he may serve Me.’ But you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your first-born.”
If Israel was God’s first-born son, then God was Israel’s Father and Egypt was Israel’s mother. Israel, then, was a spiritual Ishmaelite, having an Egyptian mother. Since the angel called Ishmael a pereh-awdawm, “wild donkey of a man” (Genesis 16:12), we see that Israel was a wild donkey of a nation. Donkeys are unclean creatures, and the first-born of a donkey was not allowed to be given to God as the first fruits. A first-born donkey had to be redeemed (or substituted) with a lamb. Exodus 13:13 says,
13 But every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every first-born of man among your sons you shall redeem.
The first-born sons among the Israelites had to be redeemed, because they were spiritual donkeys in their character, having Egypt as their mother. Likewise, as a nation, Israel could not leave Egypt to become the sheep of His pasture until they had been redeemed by the Passover lamb. There is a great spiritual principle to be seen in this law. First, it shows that natural birth brings forth carnal children, who, even if they have the faith of Abraham, are yet partly of Egypt with its bondage. They are children of the bondwoman, that is, the Old Covenant (Galatians 4:25).
The good news, of course, is that no one must remain in such bondage. God has made a way to be redeemed by the Lamb of God by means of the New Covenant, so that no one is trapped forever in a position of a spiritual donkey. One’s fleshly genealogy itself has put us into the slavery that Adam incurred, but one’s spiritual genealogy, when begotten by the spiritual seed of the gospel, brings us—and ultimately all of creation—“into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).
Jesus was Called out of Egypt
In Matthew 2:13-15 we read,
13 Now when they [the magi] had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise and take the Child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” 14 And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; 15 and was there until the death of Herod [He died a month later.], that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son.”
Hosea’s prophecy, then, applied also to Jesus Himself, for He too was called “Son of God.” It was necessary, then, that He should be taken to Egypt, not to be enslaved by the Egyptians, but to escape the bondage and death at the hands of King Herod. Herod died about a month later in late January of 1 B.C., and when Joseph heard the news, he returned with Mary and Jesus to Nazareth, probably in time for Passover the following April.
Jesus Himself, being begotten by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18), was not a spiritual Ishmaelite in need of a redeeming lamb. He was an “Isaac” type from the beginning. Even so, it was necessary to go to Egypt in order to fulfill the prophecy of Hosea. Later, at the start of Jesus’ ministry, He came to John for baptism, not that He needed cleansing for sin, but in order “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). His baptism fulfilled the prophetic law of baptism in Leviticus 14:6, 7, where the two birds, each being a type of Christ, were used to cleanse lepers. This law teaches us the spiritual principles by which we are changed from mortality to immortality.
Jesus’ conception by the Holy Spirit is the pattern for all of us who aspire to become the sons of God. It is the way we are able to become new creations having a new identity, moving from being an Ishmael to an Isaac. Natural childbirth brings forth an Ishmael; spiritual childbirth brings forth an Isaac. These are the two I’s, which conflict with each other (Romans 7:25; 8:7). The natural man is in bondage to sin (lawlessness); the spiritual man serves the law of God.
Israel’s Enslavement in Assyria
Israel was exiled because of persistent lawlessness. The people were carnal, knowing nothing about being begotten by the Spirit. Their inner bondage was then extended outwardly when they were enslaved by the Assyrians. While there were always a few chosen ones among them, as Paul says in Romans 11:4, 5, the nation as a whole was lawless and carnally minded, a condition which made it impossible for them to be subject to the law of God (Romans 8:7).
Yet this condition was not to last forever, for in the end, God was to call His son out of Egypt, that is, from the house of bondage. The Israelites were very much aware of their bondage in Assyria, but they needed to become aware that it was only an outer manifestation of their inner bondage to the natural man—that is, the carnal mind received from Adam and their fathers.
At the end of the divine sentence (2,520 years, or “seven times”), a move of the Holy Spirit must come, not only to end the political and economic captivity, but more importantly, to end the inner captivity to the natural, fleshly identity—the inner Ishmael. Only by begetting Christ within our hearts can we become truly free, being released from the law of sin and death. We must all become Isaacs, the true and anointed “seed” of Abraham (Galatians 3:29) in order to have a part in the Kingdom of God, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Jesus said in John 3:6,
6 That which is born [gennao, “begotten”] of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born [gennao] of the Spirit is spirit.
Like begets like. It is all “after its kind” (Genesis 1:12). The fleshly Israelites in Hosea’s day were all begotten by the flesh and were enslaved. Only the remnant of grace, the overcomers, were begotten by the Spirit and remained free in their hearts, even if they were enslaved outwardly. Fleshly Israelites are of Ishmael and are not chosen, but instead must be “cast out” (Galatians 4:30) in favor of the spiritual seed—Isaac—which is the only chosen seed that can inherit the Kingdom. So let us all hear the call to come out of Egypt, and let us be redeemed by the Lamb of God, who alone has the power to transform us from wild donkeys to become the sheep of His pasture.
This is part 36 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Hosea." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones