From An Exposition of the Prophecy of Hosea, on Hosea 1:10.
There have been some minor updating of old English words and punctuation.
God has the time to bring in the abundance of people to the profession of the faith – multitudes, even as the sand of the seashore. He will do it, and He has ways enough to accomplish it. Though for their present, men cast this reproach upon the people of God – that they are but few, a company of poor mean people, a handful, that are nothing in comparison of the rest [of mankind]. But this reproach will be wiped away, and we may yet expect that before the world comes to an end, the greatest part of its inhabitants shall embrace the faith of Christ and become godly too (Isaiah 49:19-21). This [promise] has not yet been fulfilled.
- “The stone,” in Daniel 2:35, “that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth” [is a promise that] God’s people shall fill the whole earth. Now, take all Christians [presently living] to be God’s people that only acknowledge Christ to be the Son of God. They are computed to be not above the sixth part of the world. Yet, this must be fulfilled – that the church shall be as the stone that smote the image, [and] become a great mountain and fill the whole earth.”
- John saw, in the Revelation, “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Rev 21:2, 10). When God comes to dwell with men by His Spirit, all people shall come and flock to the church, as the prophet says, like “the doves to their windows” (Isa 50:8), and they, you know, fly together in flocks.
- In Christ’s time, the people of God were a little flock: “Fear not, little flock.” The Greek has two diminutives, little, little flock, and so it may be translated, “Fear not, little, little flock; for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). It was a little flock then, but it shall be a great flock when the Father shall come to give them the kingdom.
- Christ is promised to have the “heathen for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession” (Ps 2:8); He shall possess them. A king does not possess the kingdom who only possesses some town, or shire [land] of it: Christ shall possess the uttermost parts of the earth. Yea, it shall be said, “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and his Christ” (Rev 11:15). They are the Lord’s indeed in some sense always, but he speaks in special sense, wherein it shall be said not only a few congregations are the Lord’s, and His Christ’s, but the whole kingdoms of the earth, which, with their great kings, shall come and bring their glory into the church.
Although God defers fulfilling His promise for a time, yet at last, He does it gloriously. The paucity of the number of the saints of God now shall not discourage always; let us be above this stumbling block. There are but few yet; what then? There shall be many, “The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea.” Though we do not see ways how this promise shall be fulfilled for the present, yet let us believe it. For, observe:
- When God first made this promise to Abraham, that his seed should be as the stars of heaven, and as the sand of the seashore, it required much exercise of faith in Abraham to believe it. It was 20 years after this promise before Abraham had a child. At last he had a child, and a child by promise; then he must go and kill that child; but he was spared.
- Well, Isaac grows up, and he was 40 years old before he married; and all this while there was but one of the promised seed. When Isaac married, Rebekah his wife continued 20 years barren; what became of the promise all this while, that the seed of Abraham should be as the sand of the sea? Here are 20 years gone, and 40 years gone, and 20 years more gone, and yet there are no children of the seed by promise but Isaac.
- Nay, it appears that upon their going into Egypt, which was 215 years after the promise, they were but 70 of them all. Where is the promise then, that Abraham’s seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude?
- But now mark: God afterwards comes on apace, for in Numbers 1:46, you find that, at the end of the next 215 years, they were reckoned, when they came out of Egypt, to be 603,550 fighting men of 20 years old and upwards, besides all the women and children, and all the tribe of Levi, which made to and 20,000 more (Num 3:39).
Thus, though it was long, yet when God’s time came, He fulfilled the promise to Abraham. So, though we do not for the present see God making good the promise, yet let us believe, for God has ways to fulfill all, and He will do it; and, when He comes, He will come gloriously above our faith.
Though the beginnings be very small, yet we may expect a glorious increase afterward. As it was with the church at the beginning, so it will be here: that which Bildad said of Job (Job 8:7) may well be applied to the church, “though thy beginning was small, yet thy latter end should greatly increase.”