Hosea 6:6 “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Verses 1-3 of this chapter actually sound very good, and verse three has been set to music in Japanese in a worship chorus that I like very much. However, verse four makes it clear that those pious words are just words, and didn’t indicate the motives of the heart of those who spoke them. They were trying to bribe God with religious words and rituals, when God was after real heart change. The Japanese for this verse, rather than saying “mercy,” uses a word that is usually rendered in English as “faithfulness,” written with two characters, the second of which indicates reality as opposed to fantasy. Later in this same book we are told to “Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.’” (Hosea 14:2) Words are important and valuable, but only if they express the true motivation of the heart. Isaiah, Jeremiah and others condemn empty ritual, but we still try to get away with it because it is easier than genuine heart and lifestyle change. Right now one of the elements of the political turmoil in the US is the whole matter of words and symbols. Political correctness kicked in first, and only recently morphed into tearing down statues of historical figures. Words and symbols are important, but that importance is mostly limited to the attitudes and intentions of the heart. As a Black policeman recently said to a White girl who was berating him and other police officers, “America doesn’t have a race problem, it has a sin problem.” What is going on is very sad, and would often be laughable if it weren’t so destructive. Symbols are taken as more important than substance, and everyone loses. God is the most real thing there is, and He desires reality in our obedience to Him.
I was a Drama major in college, and I understand acting. I can put on a very convincing front. However, that has taught me the importance of genuine sincerity. “Sincere” comes from the Latin term for “without wax,” because, as famous as Italy is for beautiful marble, used in buildings and statuary, not all marble is of the same quality, and unscrupulous people would use wax to fill in holes in low-quality marble to make it look much better. In English we use “Sincerely” as a standard term in ending a letter, but that is no guarantee the letter is actually without pretense and deceit! God sees through every pretense, and it is totally impossible to deceive Him. I am not only to speak the truth in love, (Ephesians 4:15) I am to live in truth, without pretense or deceit. While I am on this earth I won’t do it perfectly, but my goal is always to be an accurate representation of my Lord, who is Love and in whom there is no deceit at all.(1 Peter 2:22)
Father, I am saddened, at times to the point of depression, at some of the things I see and hear in the news, but I certainly like it no less than You do. Help me remember that You always have a purpose for allowing it, and that Your ultimate resolution will be glorious indeed. As You have told me to do, help me rest, relax, and rejoice in You whatever is going on, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!