Israel’s Version Of Repentance!
Sinful humans often expect God to return to them because they go through religious exercises and repeat words of repentance and pleas for help. But God desires much more from his people before he turns from his decision to harvest them like a person would thresh wheat.
Repentance must focus on sorrow for sin, turning from sin, and turning to God – not on religious ritual.
It isn’t unusual for the accused in a trial to express regret and remorse for what they’ve done and to ask for another chance. That’s just what Israel did, but God anticipated their hypocritical subterfuge and exposed not only their duplicity but also the sinful way they had treated their Lord.
The Nation’s False Repentance
“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)
When you read these words, you get the impression that the nation is sincerely repenting and seeking the Lord, but when you read what God says, you see how shallow their “confession” really was. “They do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him” (7:10). “They have spoken lies against Me” (v. 13). “They return, but not to the Most High” (v. 16).
What went wrong with this “confession”?
To begin with, their concern was for healing and not for cleansing. They saw their nation in difficulty and wanted God to “make things right,” but they did not come with broken hearts and surrendered wills. They wanted happiness, not holiness, a change of circumstances, but not a change in character.
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.
Hosea 6:1 (NLT)
Hosea pictured a people who went through the proper community worship ritual and said the right words but had the wrong emphasis. They knew they must return to God in repentance. The Hebrew word shuv means “to turn” and “to repent.”
They knew God was the cause of their present desperate situation. They knew God was the only one who could heal their wounds. (Hos. 5:12-13).
In just a short time he will restore us, so that we may live in his presence.
Hosea 6:2 (NLT)
What blind optimism! They were like the false prophets in Jeremiah’s day that offered the nation superficial remedies but never got to the heart of the problem (Jer. 6:14; 8:11-16). They were like physicians putting suntan lotion on a cancerous tumor instead of calling for drastic surgery. Expecting a “quick fix” is one of the marks of an unrepentant heart that doesn’t want to pay the price for deep cleansing (Ps. 51:6-7).
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 6:3 (NLT)
There is a third evidence of their shallowness: they saw forgiveness and restoration as a “mechanical” thing that was guaranteed and not as a relational matter that involved getting right with God. To paraphrase Hosea 6:3,
“If we seek Him, His blessing is sure to come just as the dawn comes each morning and the rains come each spring and winter.”
This is formula religion, like getting a candy bar out of a vending machine: put in the money, push the button, and out comes the candy. The Christian life is a relationship with God, and the relationships aren’t based on cut-and-dried formulas.
But again Israel makes the pursuit too easy. God’s appearance to a people pursuing him is as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise or like the rains that come in the rainy seasons of the year to water the crops. God is gracious. God is forgiving. God wants an intimate relationship in which his people truly know him, but God cannot be reduced to a law of nature that always repeats itself no matter what the people do.
Repentance and knowledge of God depend on a much deeper understanding and expectation of God. When we truly repent, our words will come from broken hearts and they will cost us something. Hosea considered words to be like “spiritual sacrifices” brought to the Lord (14:2), and we must not give Him something cheap (2 Sam. 24:24).
Words can reveal or conceal, depending on the honesty and humility of the sinner. We must take to heart the warning in Ecclesiastes 5:1-2.
CULTIVATING DYNAMIC DEVOTION
Hosea reveals God’s loving heart. God’s desire to bless His People far outshines the darkness of their sin. Repeatedly, God returns to the promise of restored relationship as the underlying purpose of His necessary judgment. The Lord puts premium value on His relationship with us. Let us seek faithfully to return that love with obedience.
Pursue knowing the Lord. Ask Him to revive, heal, and restore you, and to give you new life. Understand that God’s faithfulness to come to you now – and ultimately – is as dependable as the sun that rises every morning.
DECLARATION OF FAITH
I have become God’s own son/daughter and He has healed all of my infirmities. In Him, I am made whole in every way.
He has restored me in righteousness so that I may enter His presence without any sense of guilt of inadequacy.
I will continually to acknowledge His presence in my life. As surely as the sun rises, He is with me and He rains His blessings upon me freely.
I pray this declaration of faith in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.
GOD’S UNFAILING LOVE
Bible Exposition Commentary – Be Amazed
Holman Old Testament Commentary
New Spirit Filled Life Bible