This post is part of a reflective Lenten series, originally published as Facebook posts on my personal account.
Lenten practice, day #28.
Reference: Hosea 6:1-11
I’m really starting to be grateful for these titles they put before different sections in the Bible—the books of the prophets make so much more sense with them.
This chapter is all one section, titled “Insincere Conversion.”
Short reflection, but the point of it is worth contemplating. At the beginning of the chapter, we see God predicting the reaction of Israel to his necessary punishment. They will immediately think, “All of this will blow over if we just go back to him. He’s a healer—he’ll heal our wounds if we take them to him.”
God makes it clear that he isn’t fooled, though. He desires a turning of their hearts—that Israel may want God because they want to love and be loved by GOD—not just so that they can make their wounds go away or relive themselves of the punishment they’ve earned.
Perhaps the most telling line of this is verse 6: “For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice.” Again, love is an authentic act of the will that requires sincere desire for the good of the other—sacrifice can be done with any intention and is a simple payment.
It’s really ridiculous for humans to think that we can fool God into calming down by trying give him what we think he’s looking for. Like really, guys? He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, created an entire UNIVERSE (at least) and the heavens themselves, yet we think that by obligatorily chopping up a nice goat and setting it on an altar (or in modern days, by blandly doing a nice deed or praying an Our Father) we can appease him? Do we not realize that it’s the INTENTION more than the ACTION that communicates authentic regret and earns authentic redemption? And do we not realize how IMPORTANT it is for us to express that apology and accept that forgiveness? If we really understood how important that is, we wouldn’t want to fake it.