When things are in the crapper who do you blame? Life hands me a bunch of sour grapes and I will be the first to tell you it is not my fault. When God deals out discipline, how should we react? The Israelites did one of two things, they grumbled or they returned to God.
1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.”
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.
5 Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets,
I killed you with the words of my mouth;
my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.
6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
7 Like Adam, they have broken the covenant—
they were unfaithful to me there. Hosea 6:1-7
This is a good example of God’s grace in the Old Testament. God clearly states his desire, “mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” God wants the heart not your stuff. He want our whole self not lip-service. God wants us to be faithful to the covenant.
The Israelites fell into a very real and very modern trap. It is the same trap the nations around them had already fallen into. They had forgotten what God wanted from their worship. (By the way, it is the same thing God wants from us today.) In their worship, over time, they began to focus on the wrong things. They focused on things just like the nations around them did. The nations around them focused on the actions associated with conjuring a god. They fell into the trap that if they did XYZ they would get anything they wanted. (Not to mention that the nations around them used sex, drugs, and power in their worship, these things still turn heads today.)
Stay with me here. When we really mess up at work or with our spouse. Lets say you cheated on your girlfriend. What do you do when you feel the guilt afterwards? You go by flowers, you get a card, maybe you take them out to eat at a special place. You increase the good things you do to try to win back or at least salve your conscience. If we got caught we might really grovel and straiten up. So what do you do when you sin against the God of Heaven? We buy indulgences. We might give more to the Church, read the bible more, go on a weekend mission trip, pray for hours on end, fast, or whip ourselves.
ARE WE SUCH FOOLS? Is God so simple, shallow, blind that we can control him somehow by buying His grace? Can we conjure him up and use some tool (sacrifice) to get things from Him? Can we commit adultery with the world and then come home to Church on Sunday and expect Him to not be angry?
God is trying to wake us up. He will use whatever is at his disposal in our lives to turn our hearts and minds to Him. What does he wand from us, love, mercy, and acknowledgment of God in our lives. To live differently. To walk with God.
There are two sides to God. One is love, grace, and mercy. This is the side those in a relationship with God see. The side those who return to God see. AND there is the other side of God one of justice, anger, and punishment. This is the side you see when you try to control God. When your love is like dew (very temporary) and you do not keep the covenant, there is only punishment.
God bless. Keep the faith. Return.