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The parent-child connection is one of the deepest relationships in life. A parent loves a child unconditionally, but that love means that the parent will also discipline that child when they disobey.

Like many Old Testament passages, our reading in Hosea describes Israel in terms of a parent-child relationship. Notice the repeated emphasis on God’s love: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son . . . I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love” (Hosea 11:1, 4). Yet, Hosea also highlights Israel’s disobedience: “The more they were called, the more they went away from me” (Hosea 11:2). God had called Israel to be His chosen people so that His covenant love might be made known to the world. As Hosea points out, however, in the end Israel failed miserably and repeatedly at being the faithful son.

When we turn to our New Testament reading, it might surprise us that Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1, not in reference to wayward Israel in need of discipline, but in reference to Jesus Himself. Joseph took Mary and Jesus down to Egypt where they stayed until King Herod’s death. Then Scripture declares: “So was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Out of Egypt I called my son’” (Matt. 2:15).

Matthew makes his intentions clear by quoting Hosea: Jesus is the new Israel, the true Son of God. Where Israel failed in its covenant relationship with God, Jesus is declared a beloved Son, pleasing to the Father (Matt. 3:17). Israel repeatedly disobeyed God’s will and failed to witness God’s salvation to the world. Christ, however, the true Son of God, offered His perfect obedience to the Father’s will, and with that, the love of God was made known to the world.

Apply the Word

Just as Christ fulfilled Israel’s role as God’s true Son, so He fulfills all righteousness on our behalf. In fact, without the True Son standing before the Father for us, we have no access to the Lord. But in Christ, we are brought into relationship with God. Give thanks today to our Lord and Savior that because of Christ’s Sonship we now have eternal life.

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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