(Calvin on Hosea, part 3) Lecture Third We have to explain first this clause, "I will save the house of Judah neither by the bow, nor by the sword, nor by war, nor by horses, nor by horsemen". What the Prophet had touched upon before is here more clearly expressed, and that is, that God has no need of foreign aids, for he is content with his own power. But Hosea continues his contrast; for the people of Israel, as they possessed much carnal power, thought themselves, as they say, beyond the reach of darts: but the kingdom of Judah was exposed to all dangers, as it was not powerful in forces and arms. This folly the Prophet exposes to contempt, and says, that safety is dependent on God alone, that men in vain trust in their own velour, and that there is no reason why the needy and destitute should despair of their safety, as God alone is abundantly sufficient to preserve the faithful. The meaning then is, that though the destitute condition of the kingdom of Judah was an object of contempt to all, yet this would be no obstacle, that it should not be preserved through God's favour, though it obtained no aid from men. And let us learn from this place, that we are not so preserved by the Lord, that he never employs any natural means; and further, that when he has no recourse to them, he is abundantly sufficient to secure our safety. We ought then so to ascribe our safety to the Lord as not to think that any thing comes to us through ourselves, or through angels, or through men. Let us now proceed - Hosea 1:8,9 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then said [God], Call his name Loammi: for ye [are] not my people, and I will not be your [God]. The "weaning" the Prophet mentions here is by some understood allegorically; as though he said, that the people would for a time be deprived of prophecies, and of the priesthood, and of other spiritual gifts: but this is frigid. The Prophet here, I have no doubt, sets forth the patience of God towards that people. The Lord then, before he had utterly cast away the Israelites, waited patiently for their repentance, if, indeed, there was any hope for it; but when he found them be ever like themselves, he then at length proceeded to the last punishment. Hence Hosea says, that the daughter, who was the second child, was weaned; as though he said, that the people of Israel had not been suddenly cast away, for God had with long patience borne with them, and thus suspended heavier judgement, until, having found their wickedness to be unhealable, he at length commenced what follows, "Call" the third child Lo-ammi. The reason is added "For ye are not my people, and I will not hereafter be yours". This, as I have said, is the final disowning of them. They had been before called Jezreelites, and then by the name of the daughter God testified that he was alienated from them; but now the third name is still more grievous, "Ye are not my people"; for God here abolishes, in a manner, the covenant he made with the holy fathers, so that the people would cease to have any pre- eminence over other nations. So then the Israelites were reduced to a condition in which they differed nothing from the profane Gentiles; and thus God wholly disinherited them. The Prophet, doubtless, was not well received, when he denied them to be God's people, who had yet descended from Abraham according to the flesh, who had ever been so accounted, and who continued proudly to boast of their election. But let us hence learn, that those awfully mistake who are blind to their own vices, because God spares and indulges them. For we must ever remember what I have said before, that the kingdom of Israel was then opulent; and yet the Prophet denies them, who flourished in strength, and power, and riches, to be God's people. There is then no reason for hypocrites to felicitate themselves in prosperity; but they ought, on the contrary, to have regard to God's judgement. But though these, as we see to be the case, heedlessly despise God, yet this passage reminds us carefully to beware lest we abuse the present favours of God. It follows - Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, [that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people, [there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God. Now follows consolation, yet not unmixed. God seems here to meet the objections which we know hypocrites had in readiness, whenever the Prophets denounced destruction on them; for they accused God of being unfaithful if he did not save them. Arrogating to themselves the title of Church, they concluded that it would be impossible for them to perish for God would not be untrue in his promises. "Why! God has promised that his Church shall be for ever: we are his Church; then we are safe, for God cannot deny himself." In what they took as granted they were deceived; for though they usurped the title of Church, they were yet alienated from God. We see that the Papists swell with this pride at this day. To excuse all their errors they set up against us this shield, "Christ promised to be with his own to the end of the world. Can the spouse desert his Church? Can the Son of God, who is the eternal Truth of the Father, fail in his faithfulness?" The Papists magnificently extol the faithfulness of Christ, that they may bind him to themselves: but at the same time, they consider not that they are covenant breakers; they consider not that they are manifestly the enemies of God; they consider not that they have divorced themselves from him. The Prophet, therefore seeing that he had to do with proud men, who were wont to arraign the justice of God, says, "The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea"; that is, "When the Lord shall cut you off, still safe will remain this promise which was given to Abraham; 'Look at the stars of heaven, number, if thou can't, the sand of the sea; so shall thy seed be,'" (Gen. 22: 5.) We indeed know, that whenever the Prophets severely reproved the people and denounced destruction, this was ever opposed to them, "What! can it be that the Lord will destroy us? What would then become of this promise, Thy seed shall be as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the sea?" Hence the Prophet here checks this vain-confidence, by which hypocrites supported themselves against all threatening, "Though God may cut you off, he will yet continue true and faithful to the promise, that Abraham's seed shall be innumerable as the sand of the sea." I indeed admit that the Prophet here gave hope of salvation to the faithful; for it is certain that there were some remaining in the kingdom of Israel. Though the whole body had revolted, yet God, as it was said to Elijah, had preserved to himself some seed. The Prophet then was unwilling to leave the faithful, who remained among that lost people, without hope of salvation; but, at the same time, he had regard to hypocrites, as we have already stated. We now see the design of the Prophet, for he teaches that there would be such a vengeance as he had spoken of, though God would not yet be forgetful of his word; he teaches that there would be such a casting away of the people, though God's election would yet remain firm and unchangeable; in short, he teaches that the adoption by which God had chosen the offspring of Abraham as his people would not be void. This is the import of the whole. Then the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which is not to be measured nor numbered. He afterwards adds, "And it shall be in the place where it had been said to them", (shall be said, literally,) "Ye are not my people; there it shall be said, Ye are the sons of the living God". It has been asked, whether this prophecy belongs to the posterity of those who had been dispersed. This, indeed, would be strange; for so long a time has passed away since their exile, and dejected and broken, they dwell at this day in mountains and in other desert places; at least many of them are in the mountains of Armenia, some are in Media and Chaldea; in short, throughout the whole of the East. And since there has been no restoration of this people, it is certain that this prophecy ought not to be restricted to seed according to the flesh. For there was a prescribed time for the Jews, when the Lord purposed to restore them to their country; and, at the end of seventy years, a free return was granted them by Cyrus. Then Hosea speaks not here of the kingdom of Israel, but of the Church, which was to be restored by a return, composed both of Jews and of Gentiles. So Paul, a fit interpreter of this passage, reminds us, 'Whom he has called, not only of the Jews, but also of the Gentiles; as he says by Hosea, I will call a people, who were not mine, my people; and her beloved, who was not beloved: and it shall be, where it had been said to them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the sons of the living God,' (Rom. 9: 24, &c.) Paul applies this passage, and that rightly, to the whole body of the faithful, collected without any difference, from the Jews as well as from the Gentiles: for otherwise, as we have said, the correctness and truth of prophecy would not be evident: and this view also agrees best with the design of the Prophet which I have just explained. For, since hypocrites in a manner tie to themselves the power of God, the Prophet says, that God can, if he chooses, raise up in an instant a new Church, which would exceed in number the sand of the sea. How so? God will create a Church for himself. From what? From stones, from nothing: for, as Paul says elsewhere, 'he calls those things which are not, as though they were,' (Rom. 4: 17.) At the same time, God, as it has been said, by his goodness contended with the wickedness of that people; for though they rejected his favour, yea, and obstinately thrust it away from themselves, yet such perverseness did not hinder the Lord from preserving a remnant for himself. Now, this passage teaches, that they are very perverted in their notions, who, by their own feelings, form a judgement of the state of the Church, and accuse God of being unfaithful, when its external appearance does not correspond with their opinion. So the Papists think; for except they see the splendour of great pomp, they conclude that no Church remains in the world. But God at one time so diminishes the Church, that it seems to be almost reduced to nothing; at another time, he increases and multiplies it beyond all hope, after having raised it, as it were, from death. Isaiah says in the tenth chapter, ver. 22, 'Were the number of the children of Israel as the sand of the sea, a remnant only shall be saved.' The Prophet there designedly exposes to scorn the hypocrites, who falsely pleaded that prophecy, 'Look on the stars of heaven, and on the sand of the sea, if thou can't number them; so shall thy seed be.' Since, then, Isaiah saw that hypocrites, relying on that prophecy, were rising so perversely against him, he said, "Be it so, be it so, that ye are as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the sea; yet a remnant only shall be saved;" which means, "The Lord will at last cut you down, and reduce you to so small a number, that ye shall be extremely few." Now, on the other hand, Hosea says, That after the Israelites shall be reduced to a very small number, that nothing but waste and solitude will appear, then the Lord will restore the Church beyond all human thoughts and will prove that he had not in vain promised to Abraham that his seed would be as the sand of the sea. Since, then, the Lord wonderfully defends his Church, and preserves it in this world, so that at one time he seems to bury it, and then he raises it from death; at one time he cuts it down as to its outward appearance, and then afterwards he renews it; we ought to take heed, lest we measure according to our own judgement and carnal reason, what the Lord declares respecting the preservation of his Church. For its safety is often hid from the eyes of men. However the case may be, God does not bind himself here to human means, nor to the order of nature, but his purpose is to surpass by his incredible power whatever the minds of men can conceive. Thus then ought this passage, "The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea", to be expounded: God will gather his Church from all quarters, from the Gentiles as well as from the Jews when the whole world will think it to be extinct. "And it shall be in the place where it had been said, Ye are not my people; there it shall be said, Ye are the sons of the living God". The Prophet, in these words, amplifies by a comparison the grace of God; as though he said, "When God shall restore anew his Church, its state shall be more excellent than before." How so? "They shall not only," he says, "be the people of God, but also the sons of the living God;" which means, that God will more familiarly show himself a Father to those, whom he will thus suddenly gather into one body. I indeed allow that the ancients under the law were honoured with this title; but we ought to attend to the present passage; for the Prophet contrasts the two clauses, the one with the other: "And it shall be in the place where it had been said, Ye are not my people; it shall be said there, Ye are the sons of the living God". He might have said, "And it shall be in the place where it had been said, Ye are not my people; there it shall be said, Ye are nosy my people:" but he ascends higher; God will confer more honour on his new people, for he will more clearly manifest his favour to them by this title of adoption: and it belongs in common to all, to the Gentiles as well as to the Israelites. We ought not to apply this, as it is commonly done, exclusively to the Gentiles: for Hosea speaks not here only of the Church which God attained for himself from the Gentiles, but of the whole Israel of God, a part of whom is the seed of Abraham. Let us then know that God here offers his grace generally, to the Israelites as well as to the Gentiles, and testifies, that after having justly cast away this people, he would make all to know that he had not been unmindful of his covenant, for he would attain to himself a much larger Church - from whom? From the children of Abraham, as it has been said, as well as from strangers. And there is an important meaning in the verb, 'It shall be said:' "It shall be where it had been said, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said", - The Prophet means, that our salvation appears not, before the Lord has begun to testify to us of his good-will. Hence the beginning of our salvation is God's call, when he declares himself to be propitious to us: without his word, no hope shines on us. Hosea might have said, 'It shall be in the place where it had been said, Ye are not my people, there they shall begin to be the sons of God:' but he expresses more, 'It shall be where it had been said, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said, Ye are the sons of the living God.' As to the first clause, it must be referred to the threatening which have been already explained; and in this way was also checked the contumacy of the people, who heedlessly despised all the Prophets. "What! God has bound himself to us: we are the race of Abraham; then we are a holy and elect nation." But the Prophet here claims authority to himself as a teacher: "I am a herald of God's vengeance, and seriously proclaim to you your rejection: there is then no reason why ye should now harden your hearts and close your ears; for now at length will follow the execution of that vengeance which I now declare to you." The Prophet then declares here that he had not rashly pronounced what we before noticed, that it was not an empty bug bear, but that he had spoken in the Lord's name; as Paul also says, 'Vengeance is prepared by us against all them who extol themselves against Christ,' (2 Cor. 10: 6.) And we see also what was said to Ezekiel, 'Go and besiege Jerusalem; turn thy face, and stand there until thou stormest it, until thou overthrowest it.' The prophet was not certainly furnished with an army, so that he could make an attack upon Jerusalem: but God means there that there is power enough in his word to destroy all the ungodly. So also Hosea signifies the same here: "When by the word alone the Israelites shall be cast away it shall be said, Ye are the sons of the living God." Let us then know, that God rises upon us with certain salvation, when we hear him speaking to us. It follows Hosea 1:11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great [shall be] the day of Jezreel. The Prophet speaks here peculiarly of the children of Abraham; for though God would make no more account of them than of other nations, he yet wished it to be ascribed to his covenant, that they in honour excelled others; and the right of primogeniture, we know, is everywhere given to them. Then as Abraham's children were first-begotten in the Church, even after the coming of Christ, God here especially addresses them, "Ascend together from the land shall the children of Israel and the children of Judah, and they shall assemble together, and appoint for themselves one head". In the last verse, Hosea spake of the universal gathering of the Church; but now he confines his address to the natural race of Abraham. Why? Because God commenced a restoration with that people, when he extended his hand to the miserable exiles to bring them back from the Babylonian captivity to their own country. As then this was the beginning of the gathering, the Prophet, not without reason, turns his address here to them, and thus sets them in higher honour, not that they were worthy, not that they could by any merit claim this dignity; but because God would not make void his covenant, and because he had chosen them that they might be the first-begotten, as it has been already stated, and as they are also elsewhere called, 'My first-begotten is Ephraim,' (Jer. 31: 9.) We now then understand the order and arrangement of the Prophet, which is to be carefully noticed, and the more so, because interpreters confound all these things, and make no distinctions, when yet the Prophet has not here mingled together the children of Israel and the children of Judah with the Gentiles, except for a certain purpose. Let us now consider the words of the Prophet. "Assembled together", he says, "shall be the children of Israel and the children of Judah". No doubts the Prophet has in view the scattering, which had now lasted more than two hundred years, when Jeroboam had led away the ten tribes. Inasmuch as the body became then torn asunder, the Prophet says, "Together shall be gathered the children of Judah and the children of Israel". And designedly does he thus speak, lest the Israelites should felicitate themselves on their own power; since they were a mutilated body without a head; for the king of Israel, properly speaking, was not legitimate. The Lord had indeed anointed Jeroboam; and afterwards Jehu, I admit, had been anointed; but it was done for the sake of executing judgement. For when the Lord intended really to bless the people, he chose David to rule over them; and then he committed the government over all the children of Abraham to the posterity of David. There was therefore no legitimate head over the people of Israel. And the Prophet intended distinctly to express this by saying, "Gathered together shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel"; which means this, "Ye are now secure, because fortune smiles on you; because ye are overflowing with money and all good things; because ye are terrible to your neighbours; because ye have cities well fortified; but your safety depends on another thing, even on this, - that ye be one body under one head. For ye must be miserable except God rules over you; and the only way in which this can be is, that ye be under the government of David. Your separation, then, proves your state to be accursed; your earthly happiness in which you felicitate yourselves, is unhappiness before God." The Prophet then reminded the people of Israel, that God would at last deal kindly with them by restoring them to their first unity. The import of the whole then is, that the children of Abraham shall then at length be blessed, when they shall unite again in one body, and when one head shall rule over them. They "shall" then "be gathered together, and appoint one head". The Prophet shows here also what kind of assembling this will be which he mentions, which was to be this, - they shall be gathered under the government of one king. For whenever God speaks of the restoration of the people, he ever calls the attention of the faithful to David: 'David shall rule, there shall be one shepherd.' Then one king and one head shall be among them. We now perceive the design of the Prophet. But this passage clearly teaches, that the unity of men is of no account before God, except it originates from one head. Besides, it is well known that God set David over his ancient people until the coming of Christ. Now, then, the Church of the Lord is only rightly formed, when the true David rules over it; that is, when all with one consent obey Christ, and submit to his bidding, and how Christ designs to rule in his Church, we know; for the sceptre of his kingdom is the gospel. Hence, when Christ is honoured with the obedience of faith, all things are safe; and this is the happy state of the Church, of which the Prophet now speaks. It seems, indeed, strange, that what is peculiar to God should be transferred to men - that is, to appoint a king. But the Prophet has, by this expression, characterised the obedience of faith; for it is not enough that Christ should be given as a king, and set over men, unless they also embrace him as their king, and with reverence receive him. We now learn, that when we believe the gospel we choose Christ for our king, as it were, by a voluntary consent. He afterwards subjoins, "They shall ascend from the land". He expresses more than at the beginning of the verse; for he says, that God would restore them from exile to their own country. He then promises what was very necessary, that exile would be no hindrance to God to renew his Church; for it was the people's ruin to be removed far from their country, and consequently to be deprived of their promised inheritance during their dispersion among heathen nations. The Lord then takes away this difficulty, and distinctly declares, that though for a time they should be as wholly destroyed, they should yet come again to their own land. They "shall", therefore, "ascend", (this is said with regard to Judea, for it is higher than Chaldea) - they "shall", therefore, "ascend" from Chaldea and other places in which they had been dispersed. We now understand what the Prophet means by saying, "Gathered together shall be the children of Israel and the children of Judah" - that is, into one body; and further, they shall appoint for themselves one head. This is the manner of the gathering; and it must be also added, that the Church then obeys God, when all, from the first to the last, consent to one head: for it is not enough to be constrained, unless all willingly offer themselves to Christ; as it is said in Psalm 110:, 'There shall be a willing people in the day in which the King will call his own.' Then the Prophet intended to express the obedience of faith, which the faithful will render to Christ, when the Lord shall restore them. And they "shall ascend", he says, "from the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel". It may be asked, why does he here call the day of Jezreel great; for it seems contrary to prophecy? This passage may be explained in two ways. Great shall be the day of Jezreel, some say, because Goal will sow the people whom he had before scattered. So they think that the Prophet, as in a former instance, alludes to the word, Jezreel. But the sense seems to me to be another. I do not restrict this clause to the last, nor to the promise, but apply it to the slaughter which has been before mentioned; for they correspond with one another. "They shall ascend from the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel". The Israelites were as yet resting in their nests, and thought that they could not by any means be torn away; besides, the kingdom of Judah did not then fear a near destruction. The Prophet, therefore, intimates here, that there would be a need of some signal and extraordinary remedy; for it shall be the severe and dreadful slaughter in the day of Jezreel. We now perceive the real meaning of the Prophet, "They shall ascend from the land; for I great shall be the day of Jezreel". They might, indeed, have otherwise objected, and said, "Why dost thou thus prophesy to us about ascending? What is this ascending? Do we not rest quietly in the inheritance which God formerly promised to our fathers? What meanest thou, then, by this ascending?" The Prophet here rouses them, and reminds them that they had no reason to trust in their now quiet state, as wine settled on its lees; and this very similitude is even used in another place, (Jer. 48: 11.) The Prophet here declares, that there would be a most dreadful slaughter, which Would call for the signal mercy of God; for he would in a wonderful manner restore the people, and draw them out like the dead from their graves: "for great" then shall be the day of Jezreel; that is, "As the calamity which the Lord shall bring on you will be grievous and dreadful, I do not in vain promise to you this return and ascending." This seems to be really the meaning of the Prophet. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that as we have not only been redeemed from Babylonian exile, but have also emerged from hell itself; for when we were the children of wrath thou didst freely adopt us, and when we were aliens, thou didst in thine infinite goodness open to us the gate of thy kingdom, that we might be made thy heirs through thy Son, - O grant that we may walk circumspectly before thee, and submit ourselves wholly to thee and to thy Christ, and not feign to be his members, but really prove ourselves to be his body, and to be so governed by his Spirit, that thou mayest at last gather us together into thy celestial kingdom, to which thou daily invites us by the same Christ our Lord. Amen. Calvin on Hosea (continued in part 4...) --------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-03.txt .