I recently saw a very respected amillennarian make the statement on his blog that Hosea 11:1 is a prediction of Christ.
The problem is that Hosea 11:1 is not a prediction of any kind, much less of Christ. It is a historical statement. How do we know? By reading the verse in its context. It is a statement about Israel's history of rejection of God in spite of all the good things that God had done for them.
This kind of statement that Hosea 11:1 is a prediction of Christ reminds me that dispensationalists are not the only ones who will say strange things to try to make Scripture fit their paradigm.
So what of Matthew 2:15 and the "fulfillment" of Hosea 11:1? When we consider the NT uses of "fulfill" (pleroo), isn't is obvious that "fulfillment" has a much broader semantic range than simply the realization of a previous prediction?
Consider Matthew 5:17 where Christ "fulfilled" the Law? Was the Law a prediction? No, it was a standard of living that Christ fully kept.
Or Romans 15:19 where Paul "fulfilled" the preaching of the gospel. What did Paul do? He preached the word to a whole region, and thus "fulfilled" or "preached fully."
And I could list more. But you can get out your lexicon and check them out on your own time.
A "fulfillment" can also be an illustration of a typological fulfillment. That's what I believe is going on in Matthew 2:15. When Matthew thinks of Christ going to Egypt, he thinks of the illustration of Israel having been in Egypt and being saved out of Egypt.
When you think of the illustration and the original, you realize that Hosea 11:1 has only one similarity with Matthew 2:15: God's chosen one(s) being brought out of Egypt.
Note these differences:
- Israel and Christ are two different people(s).
- In Hosea 11:2, the people continued to walk in sin. Jesus never sinned.
- In Hosea 11:3, the people were unaware or forgetful of God's work in their lives. Christ never forgot that, but rather recognized continually that everything he did was only what the Father wanted done.
- In Hosea 11:5, they would be enslaved to Assyria, something Christ never was.
- In Hosea 11:6, they would be destroyed, something Christ never was.
So whatever else we might say about Hosea 11:1, it is not a prophecy. It is a statement of historical fact designed to highlight the utter incomprehensibility of Israel's rejection of God.