God does not just deal with our heart, he heals our heart – Friday, 3rd Week of Lent – Hosea 14:2-9/Mark 12:28-34

Read also https://www.pottypadre.com/hate-in-a-holy-week/ based on the Gospel of today. Simply click on the link.

We tend to make up with people we hurt by offering them a gift; a ‘peace offering’ of sorts. Yet that is not what God desired from the people of Israel. God did not want their burnt offerings and trinkets of two candles and one garland. What he wanted was for them to say the right words to him; words of repentance for the years of disloyalty and backsliding.

Hosea’s ministry began in 760 BC and ended approximately in 720 B.C. shortly before the Assyrian conquest of Israel. He began his ministry when Jeroboam II was king of the Northern kingdom which consisted of ten tribes. Jeroboam I, was the first king of a divided Israel. It was he who led a popular revolt against the high taxation of Rehoboam, son of Solomon (1 Kings 12). This split the nation into two parts. Rehoboam ruled the nation of Judah with Jerusalem as its capital in the south and Jeroboam ruled Israel in the north with Samaria as its capital

Hosea’s ministered in the northern kingdom of Israel in the days of Jeroboam II. From a political and economic standpoint Jeroboam II was a successful and Israel prospered politically and materially under his reign. Yet from a spiritual and moral standpoint, this was a time of significant spiritual and moral decay. As a result of their political success the people just didn’t look to the Lord the way that they should. The seeds of idolatry, spiritual failure, and moral corruption sown in days of Jeroboam II produced a tragic harvest in the following years when they were taken into exile.

Turning to God is never easy especially when you have forgotten how to say you are sorry. Hosea knows that God does not desire another bull to be slaughtered as yet another meaningless gesture of the people’s repentance; this time they need to say sorry and mean it. But years of living in sin does not only make us loose our way, it makes us loose our voice.

In the reading of today, Hosea prompts the people to say the right words. “Do you need help?” the prophet seems to ask. “Are you out of practice in talking with God, or just out of practice in telling the truth when you do?” So, Hosea the prophet became a coach, giving them the words that they needed to speak; words spoken from the heart that would please God.

At the heart of these words of repentance is the admittance of guilt. Israel had trusted in the power of its alliances with Assyria rather than trust in God. Israel had fashioned idols that they had created with their hands. These idols they called “their gods.” It is for these sins that God at the start of this book, orphaned his people.

While the Prophet Hosea makes for very difficult reading because of its overt condemnatory message to a sinful nation, that tone and tenor changes as the Prophet winds down in chapter 14. The heart of God has melted. This time his heart has melted not with a bull burnt on an altar but with a humble contrite heart that speaks through words.

The heart of God not only melts it is molten with love. God makes promises to a perpetually faltering people. He says, “I will heal” “I will be like the dew.” God does not make conditions but rather promises that he will heal.

It’s interesting that God wants to heal not just deal with our heart. But he is clear what he wants to heal. He desires to heal our disloyalty, our backsliding. Even more, he promises to love us freely for he is no longer angry with Israel

However, in returning to the Lord, Israel must come back on God’s terms, not their own; the same must be said of us. When Christ called the tax collectors and sinners, he called them to repentance. It is the sinner that followed Christ and not that Christ followed the sinner. Israel his to come back to God but on his terms.

While the text of today may bring us consolation it also demands a commitment on our part. God who desires to forgive the sinner demands that the sin be abandoned. The Samaritan woman set down her pot and with it she set down her sin. Matthew left the tax collectors office; Zacchaeus returned the money he defrauded…. God cannot bless sin but he definitely desires to redeem the sinner.

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