For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.(Hosea 3:4-5)
Hosea was one of the Hebrew Prophets who saw the short and long term future of the nation.What Hosea saw, was that Israel, the wife of Jahweh had become a harlot,faithless to her God, but seeking after foreign alliances and worship of idols.
Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.(Hosea 3:1-3)
Furthermore He saw that Israel and Judah would not repent, they were intractable in their harlotries, and that the Kingdom was unsustainable, due to Israel’s violation of the covenant. She must go into exile, and ultimately be scattered unto all nations of the earth as Moses predicted she would.
Hosea saw a period of “many days” in which there would be no King, prince or temple, no sacrifice, (neither idols),no priests, worship or national symbols. In fact he saw the day when there would be no Israel!
At the time Hosea prophesied, there was all of the above, temple, Priestly system of sacrifice, national polity, symbols and identity. The idea that there would be a long period of time without those things was unthinkable. But Hosea is a prophet of the LORD.
Then Hosea saw an “Afterward” period. The long time without the national identity and purpose would eventually end, and there would be a transition period. What marks the “Afterward”?
Hosea saw in his vision that the Afterward would commence when “the children of Israel return”.
In Hosea’s future, there would be a seventy year period of captivity in Babylon or Israel, but this isn’t what Hosea was prophesying here, because He prophesied that this return would occur in “the Latter days”.
Hosea saw Israel return from a much longer exile, and it would turn out to be a much,much vaster exile, as Moses said, she would be scattered across the face of the entire earth!
The Return would be twofold;
- first there would be a physical return of the children of Israel, back to the land, in the last days.
- But the second sense of return is moral and spiritual, for He prophesied that “Afterward shall the children of Israel return and seek the LORD Her God…”, in other words, Israel would make Teshuvah, seeking God again.
We currently live between the first “return” and the second “return” prophesied by Hosea, for the scripture has been fulfilled that after all of these years, (since 70 AD) Israel has been repopulated with Jews who have been returning to the land since May 1948 from the nations of the world, where they had been scattered.
The next step, still to come, is that they “seek the LORD their God and David their King,and enter into the fear of the LORD and his goodness. When will this occur? In the latter days.
To seek “David their King” is a reference to the Davidic covenant(see the appendix), in which God promised that a Son of David would rule on the throne of David forever, a reference to the Messiah, the Son of David. Israel will seek and worship the Messiah, after they repent and return to the land, in the last days.
We will look at more of the details of what Hosea saw…in the next article.