11. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
11. Et congregabuntur filii Jehudah et filii Israel simul-- et ponent sibi caput unum-- et ascendent e terra; quia magnus dies Jizreel.
The Prophet speaks here peculiarly of the children of Abraham; for though God would make no more account of them than of other nations, he yet wished it to be ascribed to his covenant, that they in honor excelled others; and the right of primogeniture, we know, is everywhere given to them. Then as Abraham's children were first-begotten in the Church, even after the coming of Christ, God here especially addresses them, Ascend together from the land shall the children of Israel and the children of Judah, and they shall assemble together, and appoint for themselves one head. In the last verse, Hosea spoke of the universal gathering of the Church; but now he confines his address to the natural race of Abraham. Why? Because God commenced a restoration with that people, when he extended his hand to the miserable exiles to bring them back from the Babylonian captivity to their own country. As then this was the beginning of the gathering, the Prophet, not without reason, turns his address here to them, and thus sets them in higher honor, not that they were worthy, not that they could by any merit claim this dignity; but because God would not make void his covenant, and because he had chosen them that they might be the first-begotten, as it has been already stated, and as they are also elsewhere called, 'My first-begotten is Ephraim,' (Jeremiah 31:9) We now then understand the order and arrangement of the Prophet, which is to be carefully noticed, and the more so, because interpreters confound all these things, and make no distinctions, when yet the Prophet has not here mingled together the children of Israel and the children of Judah with the Gentiles, except for a certain purpose.
Let us now consider the words of the Prophet. Assembled together, he says, shall be the children of Israel and the children of Judah. No doubt, the Prophet has in view the scattering, which had now lasted more than two hundred years, when Jeroboam had led away the ten tribes. Inasmuch as the body became then torn asunder, the Prophet says, Together shall be gathered the children of Judah and the children of Israel. And designedly does he thus speak, lest the Israelites should felicitate themselves on their own power; since they were a mutilated body without a head; for the king of Israel, properly speaking, was not legitimate. The Lord had indeed anointed Jeroboam; and afterwards Jehu, I admit, had been anointed; but is was done for the sake of executing judgment. For when the Lord intended really to bless the people, he chose David to rule over them; and then he committed the government over all the children of Abraham to the posterity of David. There was therefore no legitimate head over the people of Israel. And the Prophet intended distinctly to express this by saying, Gathered together shall be the children of Judah and the children of Israel; which means this, "Ye are now secure, because fortune smiles on you; because ye are overflowing with money and all good things; because ye are terrible to your neighbors; because ye have cities well fortified; but your safety depends on another thing, even on this, that ye be one body under one head. For ye must be miserable except God rules over you; and the only way in which this can be is, that ye be under the government of David. Your separation, then, proves your state to be accursed; your earthly happiness, in which you felicitate yourselves, is unhappiness before God." The Prophet then reminded the people of Israel, that God would at last deal kindly with them by restoring them to their first unity. The import of the whole then is, that the children of Abraham shall then at length be blessed, when they shall unite again in one body, and when one head shall rule over them. They shall then be gathered together, and appoint one head. The Prophet shows here also what kind of assembling this will be which he mentions, which was to be this, they shall be gathered under the government of one king. For whenever God speaks of the restoration of the people, he ever calls the attention of the faithful to David: 'David shall rule, there shall be one shepherd.' Then one king and one head shall be among them. We now perceive the design of the Prophet.
But this passage clearly teaches, that the unity of men is of no account before God, except it originates from one head. Besides, it is well known that God set David over his ancient people until the coming of Christ. Now, then, the Church of the Lord is only rightly formed, when the true David rules over it; that is, when all with one consent obey Christ, and submit to his bidding, (pendebunt ab ejus nutu hang on his nod:) and how Christ designs to rule in his Church, we know; for the scepter of his kingdom is the gospel. Hence, when Christ is honored with the obedience of faith, all things are safe; and this is the happy state of the Church, of which the Prophet now speaks. It seems, indeed, strange, that what is peculiar to God should be transferred to men that is, to appoint a king. But the Prophet has, by this expression, characterized the obedience of faith; for it is not enough that Christ should be given as a king, and set over men, unless they also embrace him as their king, and with reverence receive him. We now learn, that when we believe the gospel we choose Christ for our king, as it were, by a voluntary consent.
He afterwards subjoins, They shall ascend from the land. He expresses more than at the beginning of the verse; for he says, that God would restore them from exile to their own country. He then promises what was very necessary, that exile would be no hindrance to God to renew his Church; for it was the people's ruin to be removed far from their country, and consequently to be deprived of their promised inheritance during their dispersion among heathen nations. The Lord then takes away this difficulty, and distinctly declares, that though for a time they should be as wholly destroyed, they shall yet come again to their own land. They shall, therefore, ascend (this is said with regard to Judea, for it is higher than Chaldea) they shall, therefore, ascend from Chaldea and other places in which they had been dispersed. We now understand what the Prophet means by saying, Gathered together shall be the children of Israel and the children of Judah that is, into one body; and further, they shall appoint for themselves one head. This is the manner of the gathering; and it must be also added, that the Church then obeys God, when all, from the first to the last, consent to one head: for it is not enough to be constrained, unless all willingly offer themselves to Christ; as it is said in Psalm 110, "There shall be a willing people in the day in which the King will call his own.' Then the Prophet intended to express the obedience of faith, which the faithful will render to Christ, when the Lord shall restore them.
And they shall ascend, he says, from the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel. It may be asked, why does he here call the day of Jezreel great; for it seems contrary to prophecy? This passage may be explained in two ways. Great shall be the day of Jezreel, some say, because God will sow the people whom he had before scattered. So they think that the Prophet, as in a former instance, alludes to the word, Jezreel. But the sense seems to me to be another. I do not restrict this clause to the last, nor to the promise, but apply it to the slaughter which has been before mentioned; for they correspond with one another. They shall ascend from the land; for great shall be the day of Jezreel. The Israelites were as yet resting in their nests, and thought that they could not by any means be torn away; besides, the kingdom of Judah did not then fear a near destruction. The Prophet, therefore, intimates here, that there would be a need of some signal and extraordinary remedy; for it shall be the severe and dreadful slaughter in the day of Jezreel. We now perceive the real meaning of the Prophet, They shall ascend from the land; for 1 great shall be the day of Jezreel.
They might, indeed, have otherwise objected, and said, "Why dost thou thus prophesy to us about ascending? What is this ascending? Do we not rest quietly in the inheritance which God formerly promised to our fathers? What meanest thou, then, by this ascending?" The Prophet here rouses them, and reminds them that they had no reason to trust in their now quiet state, as wine settled on its lees; and this very similitude is even used in another place, (Jeremiah 48:11.) The Prophet here declares, that there would be a most dreadful slaughter, which would call for the signal mercy of God; for he would in a wonderful manner restore the people, and draw them out like the dead from their graves: for great then shall be the day of Jezreel; that is, "As the calamity which the Lord shall bring on you will be grievous and dreadful, I do not in vain promise to you this return and ascending." This seems to be really the meaning of the Prophet.
Grant, Almighty God, that as we have not only been redeemed from Babylonian exile, but have also emerged from hell itself; for when we were the children of wrath thou didst freely adopt us, and when we were aliens, thou didst in thine infinite goodness open to us the gate of thy kingdom, that we might be made thy heirs through the Son, O grant that we may walk circumspectly before thee, and submit ourselves wholly to thee and to thy Christ, and not feign to be his members, but really prove ourselves to be his body, and to be so governed by his Spirit, that thou mayest at last gather us together into thy celestial kingdom, to which thou daily invitest us by the same Christ our Lord. Amen.