God PROMISES to BLESS US when we REPENT/RETURN to HIM
September 19 Bible Reading: Hosea Chapters 13-14
"O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, 'Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.'" (Hosea 14:1-2)
This final section of Hosea’s prophecy begins with a call to repentance that includes a model prayer as well. Israel is called to repentance and is given the words of confession to use when they pray to God. Although the people of Israel abandoned God, God still loved them as they were His own people that he had redeemed from the Egyptian slavery. What God desired from the people of Israel was that they pray for His gracious forgiveness; repent and renew their allegiance to Him by renouncing foreign alliances (e.g. Assyria), their own military strength (the horses of Egypt), and the artificial gods that they were trusting so far.
Thus, Hosea’s message is the same as all the other prophets that Israel should repent and return to Jehovah God (v. 1). They had committed gross sin against God that had been their downfall (v. 1b). The prophet Hosea now pleads with them to turn to Jehovah God and seek His forgiveness (v. 2a). The people had to offer to Jehovah God the sacrifice of their lips (v. 2b). So far, the people of Israel had used their lips to praise their idols (calves), but they were now to use their lips to praise Jehovah God. They will recognize that only Jehovah God was their protector; and only in Him do the fatherless (who are the most helpless) find mercy and protection (v. 3b). When the people of Israel return to God in repentance, many blessings of God await them (see vv. 4–8).
It is therefore significant to note that Hosea closes with an encouraging word of forgiveness and restoration despite Israel’s rebellion and apostasy. Just like Hosea loved Gomer (his unfaithful and adulterous wife) and restored her, so God will love Israel again and restore her if she repents and returns to Him. They had to acknowledge that Jehovah God was their only hope for salvation!
The same principle is applicable for our lives today. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the love story of God’s compassionate love towards us. It begins with unconditional forgiveness, and the only condition that God demands from us is that we repent (turn away from our wrong doings) and return to Him. We need to trust in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross as the punishment for our sins. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23)
The sacrifices that God desires are words of true repentance! God does not want our outward material sacrifices but ‘sacrifices of our lips’ with words that come out of a remorseful heart. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart--these, O God, You will not despise." (Psalms 51:17)