Mercy, Not Sacrifice
Lord, here I am; I offer myself to You today. Speak to me through Your Word.
Read Hosea 6:1—7:2
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
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.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.
5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth—
then my judgments go forth like the sun.
6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 As at Adam, they have broken the covenant;
they were unfaithful to me there.
8 Gilead is a city of evildoers,
stained with footprints of blood.
9 As marauders lie in ambush for a victim,
so do bands of priests;
they murder on the road to Shechem,
carrying out their wicked schemes.
10 I have seen a horrible thing in Israel:
There Ephraim is given to prostitution,
Israel is defiled.
11 “Also for you, Judah,
a harvest is appointed.
“Whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people,
7 1 whenever I would heal Israel,
the sins of Ephraim are exposed
and the crimes of Samaria revealed.
They practice deceit,
thieves break into houses,
bandits rob in the streets;
2 but they do not realize
that I remember all their evil deeds.
Their sins engulf them;
they are always before me.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectAre you merely “going through the motions” today? Or are you coming to be refreshed in the Gospel and to meet with God?
It’s so easy to think that what God wants from us is civility—that we’re respectable, upright people who do the right thing. As long as we’re not too bad and do the right things, God is happy enough.
But Hosea blasts that kind of religion out of the water! Through Hosea’s life and message, God screams and shouts and weeps that he doesn’t want our observation of rules, he wants our love (4; 2:19).
“Go and learn what this means,” Jesus said, quoting our passage: “‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matt. 9:13). Have we learned what this means? The NLT renders it: “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”
And that’s the problem: we can so easily live on the surface, and convince ourselves that keeping our own rules and laws is really what God wants. The Pharisees were good at that kind of “sacrifice.” But what God wants is wayward sinners to receive his love like the rising sun and the falling rain (3), warming and refreshing our hearts. That’s what grows the fruit of stable and steady love for God (4b), producing love (mercy) for neighbor.
Have you been just following religious rules in your faith? “Come, let us return to the Lord…” in repentance and faith.
Allow the Lord to search your heart. Get back to the basics: spend time in repentance, consecration and praise today.
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