Reader: “Oh, that we might know the Lord!”
Response: “Let us press on to know him.”
Scripture: Hosea 5:15-6:6
Then I will return to my place
until they admit their guilt and turn to me.
For as soon as trouble comes,
they will earnestly search for me.
“Come, let us return to the Lord.
He has torn us to pieces;
now he will heal us.
He has injured us;
now he will bandage our wounds.
In just a short time he will restore us,
so that we may live in his presence.
Oh, that we might know the Lord!
Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
or the coming of rains in early spring.”
“O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks the Lord.
“For your love vanishes like the morning mist
and disappears like dew in the sunlight.
I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—
to slaughter you with my words,
with judgments as inescapable as light.
I want you to show love,
not offer sacrifices.
I want you to know me
more than I want burnt offerings.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The book of Hosea, his name means “deliverance,” is dealing with the faithfulness of God to his people and Israel’s unfaithfulness to their Lord. That seems to be the common theme of the whole First Testament! By God’s instruction, faithful Hosea is married to his unfaithful wife, Gomar, who is a prostitute, illustrating God’s painful relationship to his people Israel.
Our section of Scripture opens with the powerful reminder that God’s discipline is for the purpose of bringing his people to the place of admitting their guilt and returning to him. His discipline is not as much punitive as it is to cause the people to grasp the reality of their actions and repent. God is the source of their grief, the one who has “torn” them and who then offers healing. The purpose of this healing is to bring them back into an intimate relationship with him. He loves them. We can certainly understand the desire to be close to those we love and the great pain when we are alienated from those very people. God is no different. His heart also breaks in our rebellion.
I’d like to make a simple observation about the phrase, “Oh that we might know him.” In typical Hebrew fashion the idea is repeated with different words, “Let us press on to know him.” In our day, there can be much time spent gaining more and more knowledge about God. In fact, at the end of today’s passage this idea reappears. The “know” in this case has to do with a transparent, intimate communion with God as one would have with a spouse. God often speaks of his broken relationship with Israel in terms of adultery. They have been unfaithful to him. And in fact, this book of Hosea is the playing out of that relationship as portrayed in Hosea and Gomar’s relationship.
God, in speaking like an exasperated parent says, “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” You are fickle, untrustworthy, unreliable . . . your love fades, evaporates. I destroyed you with the words of the prophets. I made clear what is expected of you. I want you to show love to me, not simply go through the motions of worshiping me. (Here it comes again.) I want you to know me more than do things for me. What is there about us that would rather do things for God, then stop and spend time getting to know God? My guess is we need to be more human beings than human doings.
I keep writing about this theme but it’s throughout all of Scripture―knowing God in an intimate way. My tendency is to accumulate knowledge about God and the Scriptures because both are very interesting and inspiring. Dealing with God directly, as you would with another person, is different. With Hosea’s pen, our Lord is making clear his desire is for you and me to know him intimately. Paul underscores this same theme in his letter to the Philippians, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.” (3:10) “Knowing God” is to be the starting place, the middle place and the ending place. Let’s keep at it!
Music: “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee” Ivan Griffin, Trinity Episcopal
Prayer: Father, I want to know thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name. Amen. ―A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, p.31