A question came from a reader who asked, “The Story Of Celto-Saxon Israel, [Available from the ACP Bookstore – Ed.] on page 199, mentions a passage which speaks of ‘the day of Jezreel.’ What does this expression mean?”
This phrase appears in an important passage in Hosea chapter one, where the prophet declares, “Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 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.” (Hos. 1:9-11)
Three Prophetic Children
This prophecy occurs within the story of the birth of Hosea’s three children, every one of whose names are prophetic of Israel. Their names were Jezreel, Loruhammah, and Loammi. Jezreel means “sown or scattered.” Yet, the standard popular teaching is that Israel was not scattered or sown among the nations of the world, but instead all returned to Jerusalem intact! The second child was, “Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God…” (Hos. 1:6-7) Here we read that different destinies would befall Israel and Judah. Israel would be “utterly” (completely, totally, and finally) taken away or dispersed from the land of Canaan. Judah, on the other hand, would be “saved” from exile and return to Canaan. The third child was, “Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.” Here is a prophetic picture of Israel divorced from God and, moreover, no longer even known as the people of God. Again, this could not be fulfilled if the house of Israel had returned to Canaan from Babylon and Assyria. They must instead have lost their identification as Israel, the people of God.
Combining the prophetic meaning of all three children, we find that Israel did not return from the exile, but was sown or scattered among the nations of the world, and lost their identification as Israel, the people of God. This was quite in contrast to Judah, in which almost 50,000 exiles returned to Canaan with Ezra and Nehemiah, and rebuilt Jerusalem and its temple.
Bible commentaries generally state that the time period of this prophecy was at the end of the Babylonian captivity, which may indeed be correct as far as its Old Covenant fulfillment. However, they also suppose that it indicates the complete return of God’s people to Jerusalem after the fall of Babylon in 537 B.C. This cannot be the case, for several important reasons.
Notice that the prophecy declares that at the time of its fulfillment, Israel would be a great multitude “as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered.” Yet we are told that only 42,360 Israelites returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity. (Ezra 2:64) Certainly no one would affirm that such a small number, which can and was counted, represents the great multitude as the sand of the sea that could not be counted!
Again observe that one head was to be appointed by Israel and Judah. Who was that head? The Babylonian return included at least two prominent leaders, Ezra and Nehemiah, whose accounts appear in the books of the Bible named after them. In a New Covenant sense, this one head was Christ, who was to be received in faith by Israel. (Jer. 3:14-17) In an Old Covenant sense, it may have been the famous tribal leader, Odin, who according to history led his tribes from the Mid-East into Europe. (See the article, “An Ancient Answer to an Old Question” on the CBIA website, www.israelite.ca)
With this contextual background to the first chapter of Hosea, let us now focus upon Hosea’s first child, Jezreel, and see what prophetic import “the day of Jezreel” has for us. The child was evidently named prophetically for the famous Valley of Jezreel, which often figured prominently in Old Testament history. Located about 60 miles north of Jerusalem, it was thirty miles across east to west and eighteen miles north to south. Jezreel is the most fertile region of Canaan, which is indicated by the meaning of its name, “God’s seeding place.” A major portion of the Valley of Jezreel was apportioned to the tribe of Issachar, who we are told rejoiced in their tents. (Dt. 33:18)
Along with the benefit of its fertility came the disadvantage of being sought out by the enemies of Israel throughout Old Testament history. The armies of the Canaanites, Philistines, Egyptians, Assyrians, and Babylonians were only a few of the heathen nations who gathered there and pitched their tents on the soil of Jezreel. Its corresponding Greek name was Esdraelon, by which it appears in the apocryphal book of Judith (1:8). The McClintock & Strong Cyclopedia adds, “The struggle of good and evil is [typified] by that battlefield, the plain of Esdraelon, which was famous for two great victories – of Barak over the Canaanites (Judges chapters 4 & 5) and Gideon over the Midianites (Judges 7); and for two great disasters, the death of Saul in the invasion of the Philistines (I Sam 31:8) and the death of Josiah in the invasion of the Egyptians (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2Chron 35:22).” (I:405)
Armageddon and After
Of even more significance to Christians, this area is also referred to by another name: Armageddon, meaning “the mountain of Megiddo.” The city of Megiddo and the mountain nearby gave their name to the region anciently called Jezreel. We read this interesting New Testament passage in Revelation 16:13-16, “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty… And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.” Although it is usual to see it referred to as “the battle of Armageddon,” the Concordant Keyword Concordance observes, “There is no battle at Armageddon.” The word, “gather” in the text is a translation of the Greek word, “sunegagen,” meaning “led together” or “mobilized.” Apparently the forces of wickedness are gathered within the most fertile, productive part of Israel in the end times to do their unclean, demonic works before God’s judgment falls upon them. Is that happening today?
Just as Israel under the Old Covenant sinned against God and was punished, so Israel under the New Covenant will suffer the penalty for our sins. But this affliction by God is a temporary punishment for our correction, as the prophet Micah informs us: “In that day, saith the LORD, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off [i.e., Israel] a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever. And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion; the kingdom shall come to the daughter of Jerusalem.” (4:6-8) A “daughter” is not the old mother; in ancient times, the daughters of a city were the colonies it sent forth into other lands. In prophetic terms, Zion the kingdom of God would be found amongst “cast-off” Israel in other lands.
Since the Book of Revelation is full of great symbolism and allegory, an important question to consider is whether the verses we quoted in chapter sixteen will be literally fulfilled in old Canaan at all, especially if the House of Israel has been completely scattered and removed from there into other lands. As Christ said in Matthew 21:43, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Where is that nation where the latter-day House of Israel dwells, bringing forth fruits of the kingdom of God? It is interesting to note that the city of Megiddo, symbol of Armageddon, was actually located outside of Issachar within the territory of Manasseh, whose modern representatives are the United States.
Is Armageddon symbolic of events to take place in modern Manasseh in North America? Do the heathen who are flooding our shores represent the “unclean spirits… spirits of demons, doing signs?” (Rev. 16:14, literal) Does end-time Jezreel represent the final scattering, not of Israel, but of the power of the heathen? Finally, does the “Day [or Period] of Jezreel” represent the era in which we are now living?
May we, who place our faith in the Messiah of Israel, continue to seek His Word, guidance and protection as great prophetic events unfold in the momentous days ahead.