Ephraim, what will I do with you?
Judah, what will I do with you?
Your love is like a morning cloud,
like the dew that vanishes quickly.
5 Therefore, I have attacked them by the prophets,
I have killed them by the words of my mouth,
and my judgment goes forth like a light.
6 I desire faithful love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God instead of entirely burned offerings. Hosea 6:4-6, CEB
(We’re in the middle of a series on sacrifice for people in recovery that starts on Day 1. Get caught up or you may feel lost. The first five days are the groundwork, then the real fun starts.)
God desires an earnest and committed relationship with his community of followers and will settle for nothing less as he himself is deeply committed to guiding his people through difficult times. This isn’t because God is a controlling jerk, it’s because he’s a loving, committed partner to/with his people. He cares about how he is treated, just like we care about how we’re treated. Weird thought, yes?
Let’s note a few things so far. Remember, our topic is sacrifice. We know from years of reading the Bible together that sacrifice is a huge theme in the New Testament. Following God involves sacrifice on our part. Yet, here are these verses that say that God desires faithful love (also translated: lovingkindness, goodness, or mercy) and not sacrifice. What gives? God will not be manipulated with disingenuous signs of worship. Sacrifice isn’t wrong, disingenuous sacrifice is.
What is genuine sacrifice and worship? It’s the kind that comes from a genuine commitment on our part. It comes from a genuine place of lovingkindness, goodness, and mercy as we strive to display God’s character and vision for life to those around us.
Seems simple, right? Sure, it seems that way, but it obviously isn’t. It’s a huge struggle. More tomorrow.