“For I desire faithful love & not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Hosea 6:6, CSB
Have you ever read through Hosea? I just decided to dive into it, the last time having read the book through was years ago, though it had always been a favorite of mine. I love a good sappy romantic gesture, the kind where the plot twists & God jumps in & says ‘you no longer have anything, but watch me rebuild you. See how I can love you well.’ Its always in the midst of the people of Israel being disobedient & stubborn, too, willing to lose it all rather than turn back to the Father’s jealous love.
So the book of Hosea opens with
“When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he said this to him:
Go & marry a woman of promiscuity, and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the Lord.”
This is mostly a side note, because if the first time I felt God speaking to me he told me to go marry a stripper— who is, indeed, still a stripper— I would definitely have my doubts, no matter how clearly His voice came to me. But what does Hosea do? He goes out & marries Gomer, doing exactly as God commanded.
So the first five chapters are basically the equivalent of the lyrics to “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together” by Taylor Swift. I actually can’t confirm that for sure because I can’t think of any other lyrics off the top of my head but that’s what I’d imagine them to be like. She probably wrote the song right after reading Hosea chapters 1-5. But for real. I was reading through as Hosea has more kids with Gomer while she pretty openly fools around with other men & I can’t help but wonder 1. if Hosea ever wondered if the kids were actually his & 2. what I ever loved about this book so much.
But chapter 6 is the game changer.
Romantics, read on:
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us,
and he will heal us;
He has wounded us,
and he will bind up our wounds.
He will revive us after two days,
and on the third day he will raise us up
so we can live in his presence.
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.”
I’m such a sap for this. & the funny thing is the whole chapter isn’t even some love letter. Believe me, he still continues to rip them a new one. But he explains why.
“…Your love is like the morning mist
and like the early dew that vanishes…
For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Hosea 6: 4, 6
They weren’t giving Him their love and affections. Love and affections not being symbolic for something else like going to the synagogue, giving a certain amount of money to the poor, or talking to those considered dirty. Nope. He just wanted their love, & they weren’t giving it to him.
This is not me saying that going to church, giving to the poor, & all those things aren’t important. Because in the love of Christ, things have their place. But these people were obviously pretty good at being sacrificial & lighting up a good burnt offering, & here is God, being pretty frustrated because he wanted their love, which had no place in their rituals. Not that it couldn’t have a place, but love always has to be the home plate. If we are not doing things positioned in our love for him, they have no place. This isn’t a fake it till you make it kind of thing. This is a heart check. Our actions are either built in love or they have no place.
Because at the root of it all, he wants us to love him enough to want to know him more. He wants us to love him in the way that we’re so caught up thinking about him through out the day that when our days are interrupted by human interactions we are acting googley-eyed over him in response to them. Our general affection for him, oozing into every interaction through out the day.
In my relationship with my husband, his love is enough. Its what I want. If he just bought me flowers once a month, got me big, luxurious presents every birthday, but he was unloving every day apart from the gifts, even upon giving them barely making eye contact, I would be angry. Our relationship wouldn’t have any substance beyond sharing a last name.
Can you imagine how saddening it must be when we the little achievers just try to pack our lives with accomplishments? When we only do things for the gold stars that we want on the wall where everyone can see? In a world that seems to tick at a faster pace every day, that constantly asks us the question ‘who are you’, it can be easy to forget the truth. & the truth? That we can rest in His love & simply return the love. Just to know him, & to want to know him more. Maybe its time for you to hit the back pedal on somethings you’ve committed yourself to because you don’t feel your heart is in it for the right reasons. Did you know thats okay? It is. Its okay to not be called to do everything. Its good to check our motives, check our hearts condition.
I‘m currently reading Come Matter Here, a book by one of my favorite authors, Hannah Brencher. In the final pages I’m reading, she talks about a prayer she once heard while volunteering where the woman prayed, “reduce me to love.” Isn’t that the heart of it? Lord, in all of our actions, in everything we do, in our sitting. Let it be reduced to love.