Book of Hosea
You may have noticed that the person Hosea has essentially disappeared from the narrative. He wrote about himself only in Chapters one and three when he followed through on the instructions God gave him. In the subsequent chapters, he was purely the mouthpiece of God. He was faithfully delivering the Lord’s message without calling attention to himself. Undoubtedly, his life and marriage also continued to be a living picture of what God wanted to communicate to His people.
The opening to Chapter six offers a refreshingly hopeful turn in the midst of the strong language of Israel’s judgment. It makes more sense when we go back to the last verse of the previous chapter. The unfaithfulness of Israel had caused a break in their covenantal relationship with God. As their world was falling apart, God understood that they still needed Him; He wanted to help. Would they turn to Him for that help? “Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me.” (5:15) Chapter six opens with the words they could use if they would earnestly seek Him again. It is as if God was putting forth what He desired to hear them say.
This lovely, lyrical passage reveals what God wanted to see in their hearts: returning to Him, healing, longing for refreshment and restoration; acknowledging Him; persevering in acknowledging Him no matter what; and knowing with certainty that His help will always come. The encouraging and refreshing surety of His help – like the sun, the winter and spring rains – stand in stark contrast with the certainty with which God explained that they would be harshly overtaken by Assyria (5:9)
After the beautiful, hopeful opening text, God sounds a bit like a frustrated parent: “What am I going to do with you, Ephraim? What am I going to do with you, Judah?!!!” One of the interesting aspects of the prophets is that we get a glimpse of what is on God’s heart, what He is thinking, what matters to Him, how He feels about things, and more. The Book of Hosea is no exception. God was hurt by their abandonment of a relationship with Him: “Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.” (4)
The Lord returned to the notion that what is in our heart matters very much to Him. He understood that with the Law and its rituals that people could go through the motions, giving Him lip service, following a “spiritual checklist,” doing what seemed like good things. He made it clear that He saw this, and it was all completely empty. That is not at all what He wanted from them. He did not want them by rote to give burnt offerings and make sacrifices – “good things” – even though that is what the Law prescribed. What He wanted to see in their lives was showing mercy and seeking Him. (6) Again, what He cared about was their hearts. What good were sacrifices and burnt offerings when they had no mercy or when then would not even acknowledge Him? Those “good” deeds became meaningless. He wanted their hearts; He longed for the time when they would earnestly seek after Him. (5:15 – 6:3)
“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…For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” ~ Hosea 6:3,6
Questions to ponder:
- What are ways you can renew your heart toward God? What refreshment do you need?
- Sometimes, we simply need to “press on” in trusting God. What are ways that you can persevere in trusting God each day?
- Consider using Hosea 6:1 -3 has a personal prayer to God.