Out of Egypt
And he arose and took the Child and His mother by night, and departed for Egypt; and was there until the death of Herod, that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled, saying, “Out of Egypt did I call My Son.” Matt. 2:14-15 (NAS)
Matthew, through the Holy Spirit, quotes the prophet Hosea and in the process clarifies for us God’s intended purpose in giving Hosea utterance-for our understanding and our benefit in relation to Jesus Christ. The original inspired statement is found in Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.”
Upon first look, this expression by Hosea would seem to only be reciting yet one more time the miraculous deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. But here, in the context of the book of Hosea, it is much more than that.
There are three main themes that run through the book of Hosea, much like the other writings of the minor prophets. They are sin, judgment, and restoration. The LORD, through the prophet, catalogues the history, the various offences, and the impending judgment of Israel for its idolatry. Judgment will include the scattering of the inhabitants of the northern kingdom of Israel among the foreign lands, yet the LORD moves the prophet to speak of a future hope, a future return.
In the first chapter of Hosea, the prophet, after being told to take a wife of harlotry, is told to name his first born son Jezreel. (Hos. 1:4) God, in His infinite wisdom, is going to use Hosea’s son’s name as a means of communicating important concepts to the nation of Israel, immersed in idolatry. First some background on this name Jezreel.
Jezreel, located about halfway between Bethel in the south and Dan in the north (location of the golden calves and altars set up by Jeroboam), was a prominent location of several Old Testament events as well as a historic valley battleground. Here was where Saul and Jonathan died in battle against the Philistines (1 Sam. 31:1-6). The vineyard of Naboth, the Jezreelite was here. This vineyard king Ahab desired and his devious wife Jezebel conspired to get it for him by conspiring to kill Naboth on trumped up charges thereby delivering the opportunity for Ahab to take it. (1 Kings 21:1-16) This wickedness ultimately led to God judging and eliminating the descendents of Ahab’s house under the leadership of Jehu with Jehu himself smiting the ast “of all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel.” (2 Kings 10:11)
The Hebrew word Jezreel can be translated two principal ways. Either as “God scatters”, in a negative sense, or as “God sows”, a positive sense looking to a harvest. In the context of chapter one, the LORD uses both these concepts in the same name. In verses four and five, God through Hosea communicates the why in naming his firstborn Jezreel, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it will come about on that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” There’s a picture presented here. First of all, that Jehu, who was commanded to wipe out the house of Ahab by God, obviously did it with the wrong attitude. The assumption would be that Jehu’s zealousness was driven by the opportunity to arrogate to himself the power of the throne. Therefore the LORD was going to punish his house, and with it, the armies of Israel (the bow of Israel) in the valley of Jezreel. Whether the Assyrian army actually delivered the fatal blow to the nation in this valley is uncertain. However, the principle is clear, here was where two royal households had previously met their demise.
In light that God would scatter the northern nation and no longer consider them part of His house, the Spirit then moves Hosea to note, “Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’ And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader, and they will go up from the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel.” (Hos. 1:10-11) This is a prophecy of the Gentiles coming in as part of God’s intended plan of the church. (Rom. 9:25-26)
Notice the language. “One leader”, “and they will go up from the land.” These are statements that would conjure up memories of the exodus from Egypt. However, this one leader is leading not only God’s covenant people from Sinai, the Jews, but people who once were not a people of God (the Gentiles). Hosea, in chapter two, speaking of these people says God will “allure her, bring her into the wilderness”. More exodus imagery, right? Hosea further states that the LORD will betroth her to Him forever in righteousness, justice, lovingkindness and compassion. In God so doing, the prophet states, “And they will respond to Jezreel. And I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘Thou art my God!’ ” (Hos. 2:22b,23)
God talked about another exodus of His people in Hosea led by one leader, who would betroth them “forever”. This is definitely about Jesus the Christ and His church. Israel was sown as the people of God in the exodus out of Egypt as a type for our benefit and understanding.
Egypt is representative of slavery to sin in scriptural imagery. Yet we forget God had delivered Israel into Egypt for protection at one time. When Egypt oppressed His people, having forgotten Joseph, God sent Moses back into Egypt to deliver the people in bondage. Likewise, God sends his son into Egypt for protection from Herod, then calls Him out of there at the right time, so He can fulfill God’s purpose in sowing (leading ) the true people of God out of spiritual slavery, betroth them, and bring them to Himself in the true promised spiritual land. (Heb. 12:22-24). Out of spiritual Egypt, God called many sons through Christ. One other thought. God sowing back the nations to Him through the gospel of the glory of Jesus Christ has broken the bow (the strength) of Satan in this spiritual valley of Jezreel! Praise God, Amen?