Continued from Chapter 27
The prophet Hosea declares: “I will go and return to My place until they feel guilt and seek My face; in their trouble they will earnestly seek Me” (Hosea 5:15).
In the course of his message of rebuke for apostasy, Hosea stresses the necessity for Ephraim and Judah to first return to God through their own conscious decision before He will grant relief from their affliction. Disregarding context, many Christians interpret Hosea 5:15 as a prophesy dealing with circumstances necessary to inaugurate the alleged second coming of Jesus. As Christians explain this verse, the Jewish people must first accept Jesus as their messianic lord and savior before he can return a second time. This interpretation is belied by events surrounding the prophecy.
What makes this interpretation even more ludicrous is that it blames the Jews for the failure of Jesus to return. Interestingly, this Christian interpretation of the prophecy is even shown to be incorrect by Paul’s teachings. He says, that Israel as a nation will accept belief in Jesus, not through their own efforts but through the direct intervention of Jesus after his alleged return. Paul supports his position by citing Isaiah 59:20-21, with a number of critical variations. He writes, “and thus all Israel will be saved; just as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins;” (Romans 11:26-27). The Hebrew text of Isaiah 59:20-21 reads in translation: And a redeemer will come to Zion, and to those that turn from transgression in Jacob, says the Lord. And as for Me, this is My covenant with them, says the Lord; My spirit that is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed’s seed, says the Lord, from henceforth and forever.
The Hebrew text of Isaiah 59:20 agrees with Hosea that the people must first repent. Redemption will come to those who have first turned away from transgression: “And a redeemer will come to Zion, and to those that turn from transgression in Jacob.” Thus, even without taking the context of the verse in Hosea into account the verse itself does not agree with Paul’s claim that Jesus will initiate the conversion of Israel as a nation through his direct intervention. Paul changed Isaiah’s “a redeemer will come to Zion” to “a Deliverer will come from Zion” and Isaiah’s “and to those that turn from transgression in Jacob” to “he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” The latter wording agrees with the Septuagint as it appears in modern versions. The prophet’s words are unmistakable in their message that Israel must of their own volition return to God before He will intervene to save them from all that they suffer. There will be no direct divine intervention forthcoming to begin the process of repentance — it must begin with the sinner. As we see, even the New Testament does not take Hosea’s words as a referral to a second coming of Jesus.