The LORD promises to restore Israel and Judah. He states that the nation will experience a great increase in population and will be gathered together under one leader.
This section begins the second chapter of Hosea in the Hebrew text. With a radical shift in tone, the prophet Hosea stopped talking about the doom of the northern kingdom of Israel to predict the restoration of both Israel and Judah. Although the LORD would decimate the Israelite population in His judgment (Amos 5:3), He would one day reverse the curse to increase them beyond measure. As Hosea stated, Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. The phrase “the sons of Israel” is an idiom referring to the Israelites.
The statement that Israel will be like the sand of the sea indicates that the Israelites would become numerous (Joshua 11:4). The statement recalls the promise God made to Abraham in which He said, “Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore” (Genesis 22:17). Because God is faithful to His words, the prophecy would surely be fulfilled. Their current disobedience would be appropriately dealt with, but God’s ultimate design for Israel, and His promise to Abraham would be completely fulfilled.
Hosea also stated that Israel’s numerical increase would be the result of a new relationship that the Suzerain (Ruler) God would establish with them: And in the place where it said to them, you are not My people, it will be said to them, you are the sons of the living God. Israel was disciplined by God, but would be restored to fellowship with God through faithful obedience. Once the fellowship is renewed, the Israelites will be called the sons of the living God. In the ancient Suzerain-Vassal treaty structure, a faithful vassal would be given land and adoption into the royal family as a reward for faithful service. This verse predicts that Israel will once again live faithfully as unto the LORD, and therefore be called “sons.” We see this same pattern in the reward of Jesus for faithful service. He was already the Son of God in His relationship with the Father, but He was given the title of “Son” as a reward for His faithful service (Hebrews 1:5). Israel never stops being God’s chosen people, that relationship was given by God through His favor (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). But their obedience is required to restore fellowship with God. They will have fellowship with the LORD as they once had in Deuteronomy and will be sufficiently faithful as to receive the reward of being called “sons.”
Finally, Hosea declared that God’s renewed relationship with Israel will result in the reunification of the nation. The nation Israel enjoyed a glorious time as a united monarchy under King David and King Solomon. However, the once united monarchy in the days of David and Solomon collapsed because Solomon’s son and successor, Rehoboam, rejected the advice of the elders who told him to modify Solomon’s policies of taxation and forced labor. Consequently, when all the people of Israel “saw that the king did not listen to them, Israel departed to their tents…None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David” (1 Kings 12:16–20). Ever since the death of Solomon, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah remained divided. However, the LORD promised to reunite the two kingdoms one day. This division was God’s discipline for Solomon’s disobedience (1 Kings 11:11-13).
Not only will the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel be gathered together, they will appoint for themselves one leader. The leader will serve as the head of both kingdoms and will come from the branch of David (Amos 9:11; Jeremiah 23:5). This is a Messianic prediction, that one from the lineage of David will unite the kingdom once again. This will be Jesus, when He returns to earth again in His glory. He will reunite the kingdom of Israel and reign as its king. Jesus is a descendant of David (Matthew 1:1). He will return to earth, just as He departed (Acts 1:11). And He will restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6-7; Revelation 20:4-6).
Finally, the Israelites will go up from the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel. Since the name Jezreel means “God sows” in addition to “God scatters,” God uses Jezreel here to mean that He would sow the Israelites again into their land. He would plant the Israelites back in their land, in the very place of Jezreel. The people who were scattered (Jezreel) will once again be freshly sown or planted (Jezreel) in their land (Hosea 2:23).
10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel
Will be like the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered;
And 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.”
11 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.
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