How Not To Return

by Jul 5, 2017

As our community group studied Hosea 6-7 last week, we were amazed by the first few verses. The people are talking first, and then God responds. Here’s what the people say: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.” This seems like exciting, good news! The people seem to want to turn around and return to God! And we know from throughout the Bible that God wants His people to return to Him. But look at how He responds in verse 4: “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.” Why isn’t God welcoming them back? Is this the end of the line? What’s going on here?!?

No Confession
Although it seems like they are realizing their sin, there’s no actual mention of their sinfulness. They aren’t confessing that they’ve done anything wrong. They just want God’s blessing. But God wants us to recognize our sinfulness when we come to Him. He calls us to confess our actual sins, and admit that we are broken and lost without Him. In Luke 18 one man came to God thankful that he wasn’t very sinful. Another man came to God, beating his chest, begging God for mercy because of how sinful he was. Jesus says that only one of those men went home justified (spoiler: it was the guy who confessed his sin!). We were challenged from this chapter in Hosea to own our sin and to bring our brokenness honestly to God.

No Repentance 
Because there was no actual confession of sin, there could be no repentance. They couldn’t turn away from something that they didn’t recognize was a problem. They wanted God, but they also wanted to keep their sin. Is there some sin that you are holding on to? Do you want God, want His blessing, but you don’t want to give Him every part of your life? God calls us to turn away from our sin and pursue Him. The amazing thing about doing that is that we will receive more enduring joy in pursuing God than we do in pursuing sin. So God is calling us to turn away from the things that rob us of joy. How gracious is that?!

Not every example in the Bible should be followed. What we learn from Hosea 6-7 is that Israel didn’t return to God with their whole heart. They were like dew on the ground, that was burned away quickly in the sun. We should learn from them. We should see that we are broken, but we have a God who is ready to heal. He’s ready for us to turn around and return to him. But we have to recognize that we’re beggars. We bring nothing; no merit, no goodness, nothing worthy. And we’re begging God for everything. Have you recognized your brokenness? Have you admitted that it’s real? Have you turned from it to pursue joy in God? He’s ready to fill your life with joy.