“For I declare mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
If we are not sincere when we attempt to turn away from our sin and trust in God’s grace over our failures, then we will likely end up falling back into that same sin repeatedly or any other pattern of sins. If that cycle sounds familiar to you, then let me help you out and let you know that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
In Hosea 6, the chapter starts with Israel mistakenly believing that God’s judgment upon them will be temporary and short-lived. They demonstrate a very shallow repentance in verses 1-3, believing that God’s punishment and separation on them will surely end as simply as “the sun rises” each day.
The people fail to realize that God’s wrath for their adulterous sin has nothing to do with the changing seasons, and everything to do with their lack of true repentance and committed, faithful obedience. Empty promises won’t do.
In my post entitled God Wants YOU, I talk about God’s desire for obedience over sacrifice. We see in verse 6 that God repeats this standard for Christian-living, saying that “mercy” and acknowledgment of God far outweigh sacrifice and offerings.
In this passage, the word “mercy” is the Hebrew word hesed, which earlier in verse 4 is also translated to the word “love”. Hesed is essentially right conduct / obedience and loyalty, and if we replace those translations into verse 6, we can read the passage as:
“For I declare love / loyalty / obedience, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
The people of Israel make a faulty assumption that their hollow words of repentance, paired with any mixture of offerings, would restore God’s favor upon them quickly. God denies these offerings and states in verse 10 “I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There Ephraim is given to prostitution and Israel is defiled.”
Brothers and sisters, God desires love, loyalty, obedience, and our acknowledgement of His lordship over our lives, well beyond any fleeting commitments or sacrifices. He knows our hearts, and for our good, doesn’t cave in to insincere repentance. He won’t willingly leave His children in a false state of security.
Sometimes we are completely sincere and it’s a matter of us going through God’s process of sanctification, working that sin out of our life over time. But in this case of Israel, they are simply taking advantage of God’s grace. And that is what defiles their words of repentance and offerings.
When we fully put our shortcomings and failures at the foot of the cross, genuinely seeking to be transformed from the inside out through faithful obedience, then we are restored. Trust in Jesus completely, and know that His sacrifice on the cross as His gift of grace, is sufficient!
No more empty promises.
[From January 27, 2019]