The postexilic condition of God’s kingdom people was not in any way close to the flourishing and glorious life that the prophets promised Israel and Judah within the restored covenant. Though the people had sporadic moments of obeying the voice of the Lord (e.g., Hag. 1:12), their obedience was temporary and fleeting. On multiple occasions, the people were urged to repent, do justice, and show mercy (e.g., Zech. 1:3–4; 7:9–10). The people’s religious fasting was not done with a sincere heart (7:5). Moreover, the people of God seem to have returned to idol worship (13:2), and corruption was prevailing among the priests (Mal. 1:6–2:9). The people’s disobedience was demonstrated in their profaning the temple (2:10–17) and robbing God of tithes and offerings (3:8–10). In short, God’s kingdom people did not show covenant loyalty and proved unable to keep the Lord’s commands. Indeed, the eager expectation found among postexilic prophets for a restoration beyond the restoration shows how the people of God’s kingdom looked forward to His deliverance as earnestly after the return from exile as they did before.
In the fullness of time, Christ came as the true Seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16), in whom God fulfills all His promises (2 Cor. 1:20). Therefore, all who are united to Christ have become true descendants of Abraham and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:29; see also Rom. 4:16). Through the church’s proclamation of the gospel, God gathers His chosen people from the ends of the earth, uniting them as His kingdom citizens.
The ingathering of God’s people from the northern kingdom took place as the good news of salvation went beyond Jerusalem and Judea to Samaria in the book of Acts. Indeed, gentiles and Samaritan half-breed northerners have become, alongside Jews, “God’s people” and “beloved.” In Romans 9:26, Paul applies Hosea 1:10 to gentile believers in Christ as true Israelites. By quoting Hosea 2:23, Paul explains that to be God’s people is to be a harlot redeemed by God’s love (Rom. 9:25). Alluding to Exodus 19:6, Peter calls God’s kingdom people, both Jews and gentiles, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for [God’s] own possession” (1 Peter 2:9). Thus, a new people of God, comprising Jews and gentiles, become His kingdom citizens, united together under one head, David’s son, Christ Jesus (Rom. 9:24–26). If God shows mercy to His gentile-like people Israel (the “Not My People” of Hos. 1:9), surely nothing stops Him from showing the same covenant mercy to other actual gentile nations. In other words, all those who have become citizens of God’s kingdom by His grace in Christ were, in fact, “gentiles” in need of mercy (1 Peter 2:10). In effect, the name “My People,” which is reserved in the Old Testament for ethnic Israel, has become now in the latter days applicable to all citizens of God’s kingdom who trust in Christ.
Finally, the new order of eternal celebration in the new heaven and new earth is the ultimate fulfillment of the ingathering of God’s kingdom citizens where God dwells among His people, and they enjoy everlasting perfect communion with God and with one another (2 Peter 3:13; Rev. 21:1–4).