“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now He will heal us. He has injured us; now He will bandage our wounds. In just a short time He will restore us, so that we may live in His presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” (Hosea 6:1-3, NLT)
The prophet Hosea found himself pleading with the unfaithful people of Israel to return to God. And the obvious anguish in Hosea’s plea reveals his parallel experience with unfaithfulness – Hosea’s wife repeatedly strayed from their marriage and prostituted herself, even conceiving children with other men. Hosea surely knew how it felt to plead with one you love.
In the preceding chapters, Hosea had been prophesying great destruction for Israel, predicting the awful downfall to come as a result of their idolatry and wickedness: “One thing is certain, Israel: On your day of punishment, you will become a heap of rubble. The leaders of Judah have become like thieves. So I will pour my anger on them like a waterfall. The people of Israel will be crushed and broken by my judgment, because they are determined to worship idols. I will destroy Israel as a moth consumes wool. I will make Judah as weak as rotten wood…I will be like a lion to Israel, like a strong young lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces! I will carry them off, and no one will be left to rescue them. Then I will return to my place until they admit their guilt and turn to me. For as soon as trouble comes, they will earnestly seek me.” (Hosea 5:9-15, NLT)
In Hosea’s plea that follows this message of destruction, there is a confidence that God will respond to repentance with redemption: “He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.” We find the truth of this confidence repeated in the New Testament. The Apostle John wrote of it in I John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” In Acts chapter 2, Peter quotes from the prophet Joel: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21/Joel 2:32). Jesus spoke a message to the church at Laodicea that closely resembles the message delivered to Israel by Hosea: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. Be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them, and they with me” (Revelation 3:19-20). The pattern is illustrated time and time again – when there is repentance, God is waiting to respond with redemption!
However, the tragedy of Hosea’s day was that just as God’s redemption is reliable as the dawn, the people’s apostasy was as predictable as the dew: “’O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?’ asks the Lord. ‘For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight…I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. But like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust’” (Hosea 6:4, 6-7).
God says to an unfaithful Israel, “Show me some love!” How do we show love to God? Scripture tells us over and over that we show love to God through our obedience:
- John 14:15 – “If you love me…keep my commands.”
- John 14:21 – “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.”
- John 14:23 – “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.”
- I John 2:5 – “If anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in them.”
- I John 5:3 – “This is love for God: to keep His commands.”
- II John 6 – “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.”
And how do we know what commands to obey? God says through Hosea, “I want you to know me.” This was Hosea’s heart cry: “Oh, that we might know the Lord!” In order to love Him, we must obey Him; in order to obey Him, we must know Him. If we would see ourselves restored “so that we may live in His presence”, we must “press on to know Him”, and “He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn.”
~ Matt Kinnell
NHIM Board Chair