Penitence and Forgiveness
Lord, I cry out to You, I lean on You, I trust in You. What a faithful God You are.
Read Hosea 14:1-9
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Sin is not small because it is not against a small Sovereign. Sin is dishonoring God by preferring other things over him, and acting on those preferences” (John Piper). We need to take ownership of our sins and embrace God’s forgiveness on a daily basis.
Hosea concludes by giving God’s people some words to take with them when they return to God. It’s a lovely idea. Whether we come from churches where there are set or extempore prayers, it’s good to think about them in advance before they turn into cliché. The opening lines seem straightforward enough, but verse 3 is a much more specific repentance. I am tempted to say it may mean, for our day, give up on car worship. Is that too frivolous? Maybe, but we can’t go on as we are. In more sober exegetical style, it seems more like a rejection of looking to military might to save us, particularly when the apparent ally (here, Assyria) turns out to be a destructive enemy. Historically, Hosea’s prophecies come to an end with the reign of Hoshea, the last king of Israel, who was taken captive by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser in 723 BC.
So, honesty and specificity are needed for proper confession. But what will be God’s response? Paula Gooder is helpful here: “God does not even expect us to be faithful all by ourselves … God himself is faithful enough for us all.” This is the force of the end of verse 8, where God says to his people “your faithfulness comes from me” (NRSV). What greater grace can there be? It doesn’t stop us from willfully straying, but it is the culmination of Hosea’s vision of a flourishing people, fertile and fruitful, gathered together in community with God. The vision concludes on a more sober, thoughtful note in verse 9. It’s a call to discernment and understanding, to remember the dual vision of Hosea’s prophecy: there is a right way and a wrong way (several wrong ways, even). But God’s restorative mercy always appears when we come to our senses.
How much we need a revival of serious prophecy, where the lives of the prophets and the beauty and persuasiveness of their language testify to the unfathomable love of God!
What can you look forward to if you walk in covenant faithfulness with the Lord our God (5-8)? What lessons have you learned from reading Hosea?
Patient and Loving Father, what a joy it is to return to You. I drift away from You so easily, but You call me back into fellowship. Thank You for Your promise of forgiveness.