I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offering. (Hosea 6:6)
The love and mercy of God embrace us, filling our souls and restoring us. May His grace continue to abide with you, now and always.
Today, I intend to meditate on the knowledge of God through Hosea chapter 6. This knowledge grants vitality to our souls and restores our community of faith when we are filled with it. Moreover, it is closely intertwined with our salvation.
The message in Hosea suggests that knowing God is more crucial to Him than offering sacrifices. This text was written around 2,800 years ago. To put this into perspective, the history of the United States spans only about 247 years, making the story of Hosea and Jeroboam II ancient in comparison. During the reign of Jeroboam II, whose 41-year rule was marked by significant territorial expansion and economic revitalization. Despite these achievements, the Bible portrays Jeroboam II as a failed leader.
Why? Jeroboam II’s reign was deemed a failure because he followed the sinful habits of former Northern Israel kings, whose dynastic history was marred by countless betrayals, murders, and usurpation of the throne. Despite having access to the Pentateuch and a school of prophecy, they failed to put their knowledge into practice, to love God wholeheartedly, and help the weak around them. For instance, Jeroboam II engaged in extensive land speculation, where powerful individuals acquired vast amounts of land despite opposition from the prophets. This wickedness persisted in Northern Israel, leading to its eventual destruction.
At present, buying and investing in land may not seem wrong. It may appear reasonable for someone with substantial financial means to acquire additional properties for investment purposes. Conversely, if you suddenly lose your job and require quick cash, you may opt to sell your house and land. From a socio-economic standpoint, it doesn’t appear problematic.
So, what do the 5 Books of Moses teach about real estate? In Leviticus 25:23, 25, God says: “23 The land must never be sold on a permanent basis, for the land belongs to me (God). You are only foreigners and tenant farmers working for me. 25 If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and is forced to sell some family land, then a close relative should buy it back for him.”
My point is that let’s explore what is the bottom line of the law. It would be illogical to apply ancient social laws to modern real estate laws. However, we can still adhere to the underlying principles of these laws, which recognize God’s sovereignty and call for compassion toward our neighbors. Leviticus 25 teaches us about God’s character, and the purpose of the law is to ensure that extreme economic disparity doesn’t lead to starvation. Jeroboam II and other powerful and privileged individuals who amassed great wealth should have been aware of this, but their knowledge failed to translate into action.
Knowing God goes beyond memorizing the Lord’s Prayer or a few Bible verses. While Scripture is alive and has the potential to transform our souls and lives, it is not enough to merely absorb it intellectually. We possess great power through our free will, enabling us to either allow or obstruct the Word’s influence in our lives.
How can we amplify the power of the Word in our lives? Firstly, we must remain steadfast in our faith. For me, the foundation of my faith is rooted in Christ’s love and sacrifice on the cross. What is the bedrock of your faith? The cross is a symbol of God’s endless love for us and serves as a testament to His love. Let us all stand firm in our faith and proclaim God’s love even in adverse circumstances. Through prayer and heartfelt declarations, we can unleash the power of God’s Word in our lives.
Secondly, let us love God more. Our aim in life should be to love and honor God above all else. Let us continually align our thoughts and desires towards this goal. Obedience is one tangible way to demonstrate our love for God, as Jesus affirms in John 14:21: “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.” With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we can grow in our love for God. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can keep and practice God’s words. As Jesus promises in John 14:26, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
My soul is inherently sinful, and at times, God brings to my attention certain actions or thoughts that I should avoid. One day God asked me to stop some thoughts and behaviors. They were minor misbehaviors, things. However, I continued secretly, disregarding God’s voice. This behavior caused a blockage in my communication with God and hindered my prayer life. However, when I humbly asked for God’s grace, the powerful work of the Holy Spirit immediately stopped my bad habit. As a result, I felt the intense love of God and my desire to be faithful grew stronger. Let us, therefore, rely on the Holy Spirit to help us love God more and strive to obey Him in all things.
Conclusion. The absence of knowledge of the Word results in an unhealthy relationship within our community. Ignorance of God leads to a lack of compassion for others, and gradually diminishes the holiness of God within us, turning us into formal, religious people, and fake believers.
God’s Word is not stagnant but alive and active. Though we may have the ability to neglect it, just as the servant in the parable of the talents who buried his talent, we can also actively use it to our benefit. Like the good workers who multiplied their talents, we too can deepen our knowledge of God by actively applying His Word in our lives.
The purpose of our ministry is not just to stay busy with work. Merely doing countless things does not determine the success of serving God. Rather, our goal should be to personally know God’s love and His holy character through spending time with Him, meditating on His Word, and applying it to our everyday lives. May the sweet love of God fill your soul now and forevermore!
Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 7th, 2023
Pastor John Kim, Lakeridge Lutheran Church