Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
Take with you words
and return to the Lord;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.” Hosea 14:1-3 ESV
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food. Isaiah 55:1-2 ESV
Steve was a good student in school and he had good friends. He was on the soccer team and the track team, and he also worked on the school newspaper. But then Steve started to make a new group of friends. These friends thought school was a waste of time, and they preferred to hang out and smoke and sometimes use drugs. Steve started skipping classes sometimes, and his grades started to suffer. He quit working on the school newspaper, and during track season he couldn’t run as fast as before because he had tried smoking and drugs. After awhile Steve started to realize that he had traded many good things for things that were bad and were hurting him. His parents pleaded with him to go back to his old friends and his classes and school activities, and they helped Steve start to put his life back together again.
The prophet Hosea pleaded with the people of Israel to return to the Lord. They had traded all the good things God was doing for them to worship false gods and goddesses–idols that they had made with their own hands. They also trusted in the power of Assyria to help them rather than trusting in God to protect them. All of this was very foolish. The Lord was the only one who could really help them. Hosea urged the people to go back to God and ask for his forgiveness, and to bring sacrifices of bulls to show they were sorry and as a sign that they promised to stay faithful to God. He encouraged them to hope for God’s mercy. God has mercy on helpless orphans, and he would have mercy on them also.
We often trade our life with God for things that lead us away from God. It might be money or popularity or friends or many other things that we trust and care about more than we trust God. But God always calls us to turn back to him. He sent Jesus to die for us to bring us back when we had become separated from him because of our sins. Because Jesus died on the cross for us, we can be sure that God is always willing to have mercy on us and to bring us back to him. God is the only one who can really help us and take care of us, and he loves us and wants us to be his children now and always.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to bring us back to you. Please keep us as your children always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.