Sometimes we’ll listen to prophets and preachers, and sometimes experience must be our teacher. God desires to have his people walking in his ways and following his instruction for living. Even still, we find ourselves wandering back over the line regularly, don’t we?
6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
22 “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the Lord?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
In Hosea’s day, people were not following God, and God’s wrath was falling upon them. It is interesting to see it in light of 2Samuel 14:14, in which we see that God’s desire is not to take life, but to restore life. God desire is to bless and not curse. People push him into that corner… and sometimes, restoring life requires a path of discipline to get us where we need to be.
Hosea 6:1-2 explains it from Israel’s perspective:
1 “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.
Sounds harsh doesn’t it? Yet the emphasis in our reading shouldn’t be on the tearing to pieces and the injury. We ought to focus on returning to the Lord and living in his presence. That’s God’s desire for us. And as we have seen lately in our readings (Deuteronomy 1-3, for example), we need to be reminded that God is God. Sometimes we’ll listen to prophets and preachers, and sometimes experience must be our teacher.
All the while, there is a better way, which God prefers for us and for him. God desires mercy. God desires to have his people walking in his ways and following his instruction for living. That we would live in his presence daily is his ultimate desire for humanity.
Sacrifice and burnt offerings, just like the discipline of his children, reflects the reality of sin, judgment, and the need for atonement. There is a need to deal with sin in the world, and again, we are the ones who initiate that need. Not God. He doesn’t desire burnt offerings. That means his people haven’t stayed close to him. God never wants that.
In fact, God cared so much about focusing on grace over wrath that he sent his only son Jesus to be the one sacrifice for all time, so that no burnt offerings would ever be required again. If we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us, we can live in fellowship with God every day, under the grace of Jesus. Even still, many of us prefer to slowly walk back over to disobedience and our own ways, repeatedly…
Where are you today? Are you having a burnt offering kind of week or are you living in the presence of God consistently? Yup. We move back and forth, don’t we? Let’s remember on the path that we are the ones who move, and God desires nothing more than for us to be at his side always – his gift of Jesus is the ultimate proof…