Once upon a time there was a people who strayed from all that is true and good. And their hearts grew cold and hard from the deceitfulness of transgressing the true and the good. They were lost in darkness, blind to beauty, and numb to that which would deeply satisfy.
In this desolate wasteland rises one from among them who has stirred from his sinful slumber. His name is Hosea.
You know what it is to rise from a deep sleep: It takes time for one’s bearings to return, to shake the sleep from your eyes to see clearly, for all your senses to come back alive.
In the midst of awakening our just slumbering sinner calls out with a burdened heart to those still in sleep around him. He calls out with the hope that no matter how long you have lain comatose in your sin, forgiveness may still be found with Yahweh.
We all desperately need the smelling salts of Hosea's pronouncement, and the hope it reveals in our awakened state.
“Come, let us return to Yahweh.
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 Yahweh!
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.”
And now I am that I am speaks:
“O Israel and Judah,
what should I do with you?” asks Yahweh.
“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.
But like Adam, you broke my covenant
and betrayed my trust.
“Gilead is a city of sinners,
tracked with footprints of blood.
Priests form bands of robbers,
waiting in ambush for their victims.
They murder travelers along the road to Shechem
and practice every kind of sin.
Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel:
My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods!
“O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you,
though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.
Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for your sins have brought you down.
Bring your confessions, and return to the Lord.
Say to him,
“Forgive all our sins and graciously receive us,
so that we may offer you our praises.
Assyria cannot save us,
nor can our warhorses.
Never again will we say to the idols we have made,
‘You are our gods.’
No, in you alone
do the orphans find mercy.”
The Lord says,
“Then I will heal you of your faithlessness;
my love will know no bounds,
for my anger will be gone forever.
I will be to Israel
like a refreshing dew from heaven.
Israel will blossom like the lily;
it will send roots deep into the soil
like the cedars in Lebanon.
Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees,
as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon.
My people will again live under my shade.
They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines.
They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.
“O Israel, stay away from idols!
I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
all your fruit comes from me.”
Let those who are wise understand these things.
Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
and righteous people live by walking in them.
But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.