A Call to Repentance
Open Your Bible
Hosea 6:1-11, Hosea 7:1-2, Isaiah 53:1-6, Isaiah 53:11, Matthew 12:1-8
BY Jen Yokel
There are so many different ways to know people. You can know a list of facts about a person, but that’s not the same as knowing the exact shade of blue in their eyes, their specific sense of humor, or the way they hold their shoulders when they’re tired. That is the knowing of intimacy and deep friendship.
Have you ever considered how God wants us to know Him like that?
Hosea gives a prophetic image of a God who is angry, yes, but also grieved. In our reading today, the CSB titles the section beginning with Hosea 6:4 “The LORD’s First Lament.” Here we’re given one image after another of God experiencing betrayal and sorrow. “Your love is like the morning mist and like the early dew that vanishes” (Hosea 6:4). In this we’re shown a glimpse of His desire for His people, for “faithful love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (v.6).
We aren’t making burnt offerings these days, but how often do we make sacrifices by trying to do all the right things for God? Throughout our messy history, we’ve devised all kinds of ways to try and stay on God’s good side. We wonder if praying the right prayers, reading the Bible, going to church, and doing good deeds will be enough. Some of us spend our whole lives wrestling with guilt and shame for what we don’t do. And some of us give up trying at all.
But these small lines in Hosea paint a different picture. The God who knows us so intimately that hairs on our head are numbered wants to be seen and known by us (Luke 12:7). What do we do with the idea of an infinite God identifying with our hurts, to the point of becoming human to suffer with us, “despised and rejected…a man of suffering who knew what sickness was” (Isaiah 53:3).
You can hear echoes of the Lord’s lament when Jesus quotes Hosea right back at the Pharisees who criticized His disciples for violating a small Sabbath rule. “If you had known what this means…” He says this to people who knew Scripture better than just about anyone (Matthew 12:7)!
When we meet a God who wants to be sought and known, then we can hear the call to repentance in His lament. We don’t have to settle for just knowing about God in the form of facts and theological ideas. We don’t have to stay in a cycle of sacrificing and striving to try and keep God from getting mad at us either.
Hosea offers us a different invitation: “Let us strive to know the LORD. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land” (Hosea 6:3).