“Come, let us return to the Lord;
for he has torn us, that he may heal us;
he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will raise us up,
that we may live before him.
Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord;
his going out is sure as the dawn;
he will come to us as the showers,
as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:1-3 ESV
And [Jesus] said, “There was a man who had two sons. And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. Luke 15:11-24 ESV
Jesus told a story about a young man who wanted to leave his father and live life his own way. His father gave him a lot of money, and the young man ran away from home and spent all the money on parties and fun. Soon he ran out of money, and at the same time there was a famine in the country he lived in, so he became very hungry. He ended up with a job feeding pigs, and he was so hungry he wanted to eat the pig food! No one gave him anything to eat. Finally he realized that he had been very foolish, and decided to return home to his father. He realized that he had been much better off in his father’s home, and he made up his mind to live his life in his father’s way again. His father forgave him and welcomed him home.
For awhile the people of Israel felt the same way as this young man did. They had gone their own way and not lived their lives as God’s people. They had worshiped false gods and goddesses and broken God’s laws, and God had punished them for this. Then they started to say to each other that they should return to the Lord. Even though God had punished them for their sins, they believed that he would forgive them and heal them. They felt that they had died as a nation, but they believed that the Lord would revive them and bring them back to life again. They told each other that they should press on to know the Lord and to live in his ways with him in their lives.
Jesus told the story about the young man as a picture of people who run away from God, their heavenly Father. Our Heavenly Father loves us, and when we run away from him, he is always ready to forgive us and to welcome us back and heal us of the sins that have been hurting us. God was ready to forgive the people of Israel for turning away from him, and to bring their nation back to life. The sad thing is that they soon turned away from God again. But even though God’s people were not faithful to God, he stayed faithful and kept his promise to send the world the promised Savior. Jesus came to die on the cross to pay for the sins of all people, and after he died he was put in a grave. But after two days God revived him, and on the third day he was raised up from the dead. Because of Jesus, we have life with God now and always.
Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for the times we turn away from you. Help us to always turn back and live life in your ways. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.