Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 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)
Many of us shy away from calling people to repentance. In an age of relativism, where no single truth is seen as authoritative, we worry we’ll impinge on another’s space or freedom if we ask them to leave their sinful ways behind. Even just writing that sentence makes me think of a revival-style prophet who calls down God’s judgment on his listeners. Yet if we feel inspired or even compelled by the Holy Spirit to gently name an area of sin in another’s life, we do them – and ourselves – a disservice in keeping quiet. God can always find another messenger, but we will miss the blessing of (hopefully) witnessing the joy and freedom that comes with returning to God.
And this is what Hosea proclaims in this last chapter of his message to God’s people. Return to God, he says, for your sins have been your ruin. Realize that other gods have no power. For the Lord brings healing and love; he will turn away his anger and plant you deeply in rich soil. Then you will bring forth fruitful blossoms.
To us God gives the same message of grace and acceptance. As we repent from our waywardness, he gathers us up and holds us close. He plants us into soil that will bring forth growth and life. As we stay rooted in Jesus, we will show ourselves to be his disciples, bearing much fruit.
For although we may have acted as an unfaithful wife, such as Gomer to Hosea, yet the Lord will never serve us with divorce papers. He beckons us back home, to a place of rest, love and affirmation. As we dwell with him in safety, we will grow evermore into the people God created us to be.
Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, call me back to you, that I might enjoy your love, peace, and rest. May you be forever mine, and me forever yours.