Don’t Believe It
“Oh Pastor Dave, you’ve got to listen. I feel so guilty. Can God ever forgive me? My addiction has destroyed my marriage. My kids won’t even talk to me, and I’ve burned out even my most patient brothers and sisters in Christ.” Then the tears begin to flow, great sobs as their shoulders shake, and the person unravels.
Now I can’t read minds, and especially not hearts. So I take it all at face value and stress that John the Apostle has assured us that if we confess our sins the Lord is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But after pastoring for over forty years, the Lord has taught me that he wasn’t kidding when Jeremiah wrote that the heart is deceitful above all things. I might read people’s lips perfectly, but it can all be a big lie.
In yesterday’s Devo we discovered how the Lord allowed his people to face devastating judgment. The Assyrians, the Nazis of the ancient world, blitzed the Northern Kingdom, but God didn’t allow them to totally destroy his people. The Assyrians withdrew, and the Lord waited for his people to come to their senses and genuinely seek him. In today’s passage, it looks like God’s wish has been fulfilled.
“Come, let us return to the LORD for he has torn, but he will heal us.
He struck us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us. Certainly, on the third day, we will arise and live before Him. Let us intimately know the LORD. Let us pursue intimacy with him. As certainly as the sunrise, he will appear. He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3
I’ve heard this preached as an Old Testament text predicting Jesus’ resurrection. And if you simply pick out words like “two days, ” “will arise” and “third day,” forget all about tracking Hosea’s thought, it will preach. The average church audience will tell you what a great Easter message it was, but if we want to get serious about genuinely understanding God’s Word, we need to actually read what Hosea wrote in the flow of the ideas he is presenting to us.
Observe that God’s people are talking, but there is no honest confession of their guilt on their lips. There’s talk about returning and getting intimate with the LORD again. There’s recognition that God’s judgment has hurt them badly, but they simply assume he will return to them. They think God’s actions are as mechanical as the rising of the sun and the coming of rain in fall and spring in Israel. The nature gods Baal and Astarte are as mechanical as the rising sun and the weather cycles, but the Creator demands a far more honest, true inner response.
Sadly, Hosea’s audience have so syncretized their beliefs about the God of Israel with the character of Baal and Astarte that they fail to realize that the true God won’t be manipulated by the sweet sounding melody of this so-called repentance.
If you think I’m wrong about interpreting this as a false confession, skip ahead to tomorrow’s Devo. If our passage today is a true repentance or if it is somehow an Old Testament prediction of the Easter miracle, why did God respond to his people like he did?
LORD, thanks that you’ve saved me from getting too cynical by allowing me to hear and then see true repentance where a hardened sinner actually is forgiven and transformed by your grace. Thanks also for giving me a teacher like Hosea who shows me that people lie. You can’t always trust what they say.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!