A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
God’s love is unending. His faithfulness is never failing. He will not leave us or abandon us forever, because of His great and boundless love. What, therefore, is the correct response to such unique love?
A heart of repentance. A genuine desire to return to the LORD.
“So you, by the help of your God, return…”
Repentance is a posture. It’s a humbling of ourselves and an acknowledgement of our guilt before the Judge of all. It’s not mere words but it’s an attitude. An attitude that says, “I agree with God that I am a sinner who’s broken His perfect law.” True repentance must be genuine and must go beyond the here and now and affect the future. It’s not a momentary thing that is over and done with quickly, but it’s an attitude that should lead us to want to return to the Lord. You cannot have true repentance without a return to the Lord. So God was calling Israel to repentance and to return. His love for them was strong and He didn’t want to rain His judgments upon His people, but they needed to repent and return to the God of their fathers.
But this could only be accomplished by God’s help. We cannot return to the Lord in our own strength for we are innately sinful and would not naturally choose to follow God’s ways. However, by the LORD’s help we can have a new heart and a new desire for the things of God. This is why Hosea implored Israel to return “by the help of your God.” But they didn’t want God’s help. They wanted to do their own thing and go their own way. In our day and age, we would call them self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-directed, and self-reliant, but God called it hard hearted, stiff-necked, and stubborn. And Israel never changed their ways. They kept running full speed ahead towards the judgment that was looming in front of them without a thought about God or His prophets—all because they were unrepentant and unwilling to accept God’s help and return to their spiritual foundation.
So what about us? How often do we in the name of self-reliance or self-sufficiency reject God’s guidance and direction? How often do we end up going off on our own way and refuse God’s offer to help us return? In how many ways are we like ancient, stubborn, stiff-necked Israel?
Even if we’ve experienced seasons during which we’ve rejected God and His ways and refused His help, He is still calling us to return. It’s not too late! The LORD is standing waiting for us with open arms and is ready to help us. We just need to ask. So today, right here and right now, if you’ve strayed from the straight and narrow way, come back. Accept God’s offer of help and return to the LORD and His ways. And may each of us bear the posture of repentance and not allow our stubborn, rebellious hearts to keep us from fully experiencing God’s love, grace, and mercy.
“‘Yet even now,’ declares the LORD, ‘return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”