Read Hosea 6
6 “Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.
5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth—
then my judgments go forth like the sun.
6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 As at Adam, they have broken the covenant;
they were unfaithful to me there.
8 Gilead is a city of evildoers,
stained with footprints of blood.
9 As marauders lie in ambush for a victim,
so do bands of priests;
they murder on the road to Shechem,
carrying out their wicked schemes.
10 I have seen a horrible thing in Israel:
There Ephraim is given to prostitution,
Israel is defiled.
11 “Also for you, Judah,
a harvest is appointed.
“Whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people,
Hosea 6 is a poem calling for Israel to return to God for redemption and restoration of a right relationship. This is not the first or last time we will see a plea for Israel to return and repent. All of Hosea is about rebellion, consequences, and the power of God’s mercy.
In Hosea 4, Israel’s downfall is described clearly. It reads, “my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge” (v. 6). This idea of destruction coming from a lack of knowledge of God is not lost on us. We live in a culture that gleans information about God from short sound bites in social media. Hosea 6 describes a knowledge of God that requires his people to press on and in. Our knowledge of Him is meant to be an intimate pursuit, an endeavor, and a life-long quest for the Almighty. Too often, we settle for second-hand knowledge. A snippet of a sermon here. A podcast there. When we do, we bypass what God desires. He wants us to know and love Him with our whole heart, mind, and soul.
So often, we think, like Israel, our sacrifices to God is what He wants from us (Hosea 6:6). If only we could stop doing that one thing we know is bad or start doing that one thing we know is good, then we will be in good standing with God. We fool ourselves just like the Israelites did when we think that way. Sure, we should stop doing bad things we know are bad and start doing things we know are good. That is not the point. The point is God does not desire our sacrifices as much as He would rather have our hearts full of mercy and acknowledgment of Him. Sacrifice without mercy and knowledge of God is a vain attempt to please God.
God desires a relationship with His people. The right relationship goes beyond sacrifices. He wants us to pursue Him and know Him with our whole heart, mind and soul. He wants to revive and restore us. There is a harvest waiting for us.
- What shortcuts do you take in your pursuit to know God?
- What do you learn about the character of God in this passage?
- What do you think it means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than offerings?”
By the Way
Jesus refers to Hosea 6:6 in Matthew 9:13 and 12:7.
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