Q. I’ve been reading the various positions of the Reformed Amillennialists. Most of them are easily de-bunked but that isn’t the case for Hosea 11:1 / Matthew 2:15. It seems very one-sided. In Hosea 11:1 God spoke of Israel as his son and called him out of Egypt. Matthew 2:15 says Jesus fulfilled this when He came back from Egypt as a baby after being forced to flee there to avoid Herod’s infanticide. Amillennialists use this to support their view that end times prophecy is figurative and not to be taken literally. They say a comparison of these two verses proves that Jesus is the true Israel, implying there’s no place for the nation of Israel in the end times.
A. Through out the Old Testament God used several different analogies to symbolize Israel depending on the feelings He wanted to express. For instance, in Exodus 4:22-23 He called Israel His first born son (even though he wasn’t) to draw a comparison of importance to Pharaoh and his first born son. If Pharaoh refused to let God’s symbolic first born son go, God would kill Pharaoh’s actual first born son.
Hosea 11:1 is a statement meant to express the idea that God loved Israel like a father loves a son. But earlier, in Hosea 1:2, God had referred to Israel as an adulterous wife to explain how He felt about Israel’s worship of pagan gods. And in Ezekiel 16 He spoke of Israel as an abandoned baby girl He found along the road. He said although He treated her like a daughter and gave her every advantage, she grew up to be an insatiable prostitute, another reference to Israel’s pagan worship practices.
Would we assume from these passages that an adulterous wife or a prostitute is the true Israel? He also compared Israel to an olive tree and to a vineyard. Are either one of these the true Israel? Of course not.
Matthew 2:15 simply says that just as God called Israel out of Egypt, so did He also call His Son (who was also a son of Israel) out of Egypt. Matthew was writing to a Jewish audience to show them that Jesus was the Messiah, the King of Israel. In doing so, he used many more comparisons to Old Testament prophecy than any other Gospel writer.
Once people depart from a literal interpretation of the Bible it seems like there’s no end to the interpretations they can come up with. To accept this one you have to ignore hundreds of prophecies relating to the second coming. Many of them specifically call for Israel to be a nation on Earth under the Kingship of the Lord Jesus. Jesus is not the true Israel anymore than God is the true Israel. Israel is the true Israel.