5Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth. 6For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. -Hosea 6:5, 6 (KJV)
The Old Testament book of Hosea shows us how God’s people the Israelites had gotten themselves into a mess of idolatry and unfaithfulness to God. Like an unfaithful spouse they kept turning away from the Lord, yet in His mercy He kept forgiving them and taking them back. God demonstrated this in a powerful way when He commanded the prophet Hosea to take a prostitute named Gomer for his wife. Hosea was faithful and did what the Lord commanded. He loved Gomer so much that even though she kept leaving him and returning to her life of prostitution Hosea continued to forgive her, take her back, and love her.
We can only imagine the anguish the prophet felt as he wandered the lonely streets and alleyways at night searching for his wayward wife. And when he found her he lovingly forgave her and brought her home. Truly this is a love which defies human understanding. Such love, mercy, and grace are rooted in the power of God which sees beyond our faults to our greatest need – salvation and grace. How sad that countless people believe such grace is something to be purchased. I will say a few prayers, attend church from time to time, try to be a “good person,” perhaps even donate money to charity, and in the end maybe God will receive me into heaven.
God made it clear how a changed heart is greater than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. Nothing we can do will erase the stain of sin which is upon our souls. We can try as hard as we can, bring all the offerings we can gather, and we can observe every ritual available. In the end these works will not purchase our salvation. This is why Jesus Christ came into the world. He did what we could not do for ourselves; He paid the penalty for our sins through His death upon the cross of Calvary. Jesus fulfilled for us the righteous requirements of God’s law. Through faith in Him we have a changed heart and we become new creations with a clean slate and brand new start.
The time to cease from wandering through life with no real hope of salvation is now. Through faith in Jesus Christ we are released from the chains of trying to save ourselves. We are liberated to serve God with joyful hearts and a new outlook. This is what Jesus meant when he spoke of knowing the truth and being set free (John 8:32). To know Jesus Christ is to know true spiritual freedom.
Have you begun the 40 day challenge of rising earlier to seek the Lord in prayer? If not begin today. Spiritual growth will surely follow.