For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.Hosea 6:6(NASB)
Hosea was one of many prophets that warned the nation of Israel against unfaithfulness to the God of their fathers. He cried out for repentance from the priests and people alike, and called for the entire royal household to turn from their wicked ways, repent of their spiritual adultery, and return to serving the Lord their God in spirit and truth.
God's rejection of Israel was represented by the names of Hosea's three children: 1) Jezreel - God will scatter 2) Lo-Ruhamah - not pitied and 3) Lo-Ammi - not my people. Yet restoration was promised to the nation when they turned from their wicked ways, while gracious redemption is pictured through the life-story of Hosea's adulterous wife when she was brought back into fellowship with her long-suffering husband - which will happen for Israel at the close of the 7-year Tribulation Period.
In the midst of a section which explains the reason for the severe discipline through which Israel has to go - and which calls for them to return to the Lord following a prophecy which indicates that restoration will happen "after two days," (i.e. after 2000 years, from the crucifixion of their Messiah) we read words that are profound in their simplicity: "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
Offerings and oblations that are simply following an established routine are unacceptable to the Lord Who desires that His people serve Him out of devotion, obedience, and love. Pharisaic adherence to rules and regulations, behaving legalistically in the keeping of feast days and fast days, a mechanical attitude towards worship and religious ordinances, and the meaningless repetition of prayers or invocations, are futile and the Lord will not accept such hypocritical behaviour.
The Lord is not interested in empty words, shallow worship, frigid feelings, superficial service, or legalistic rituals. He desires truth in the inward parts and a heart that is obedient to His Word. He longs for a people who are genuine, faithful, merciful, and who desire to carry out His will in their lives.
Our Heavenly Father and gracious Saviour desires mercy and not sacrifice. He longs that we come to a deeper knowledge of Himself, rather than engaging in the outward ritual of burnt sacrifices. May we be those that seek to honour Him to the depth of our being, in word and deed - in thought and in motive.
Heavenly Father, it is very sobering to realise how quickly Your people, Israel, strayed from Your ways and fell into spiritual adultery. I pray that I may walk in spirit and truth, and live in a way that honours Your name. Help me to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Enable me to be increasingly Christ-like in my actions, attitudes, mind, and motives so that Your name may be lifted up and others may see Christ in me. This I ask in His precious name, AMEN.
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