The people of Israel would live many days without a king

Bible passage: Hosea 3:4-5
Prophet: Hosea
Written: About 750 BC

Hosea's prophecy, found in Hosea 3:4-5, foretells three important events:

1. The people of Israel would lose their sovereignty ("live many days without a king or prince"). A Bible scholar, named John Gill, interprets Hosea 3:4 as meaning that the people of Israel would endure a period of time "Without any form of civil government ... being subject to the kings and princes of other nations."

2. The people of Israel would lose their ability to worship in the manner in which they were accustomed. (example: "without sacrifice ... without ephod").

3. The people of Israel would return to the land of Israel and seek "David their king." (The phrase, "David their king," is often understood to refer the promised Messiah, who the prophets had said would be a descendant of King David).

Each of these three things has happened twice. The first time was about 2,600 years ago when the Babylonians invaded the Holy Land, deposed the king, destroyed the city of Jerusalem, and the holy Temple, which was the center of worship for the people of Israel.

The Babylonians also forced many Jews into exile. But, after the collapse of the Babylonian empire, many eventually returned to their homeland and rebuilt Jerusalem and the Temple. A few centuries later, the second Temple had undergone a massive reconstruction, which was completed at about the time of Jesus, which was about 2,000 years ago.

From a Christian point of view, Jesus, who is described as being a descendant of King David in the New Testament book of Matthew, is the Messiah who was promised when Hosea spoke of "David their king." King David had already been dead for two centuries by the time Hosea lived. But it was widely understood and believed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, a king within the line of Davidic (descendants of David) kings.

This prophecy went through a second fulfillment. During the Roman Empire era, the people of Israel had lost sovereignty over their homeland for the second time, and they had lost their Temple for the second time, when the Romans destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This was about 1900 years ago.

- Research and commentary is based on the book 100 Prophecies. © Ray Konig and AboutBibleProphecy.com.

Here is Hosea 3:4-5 (NIV):

4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol.

5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.