Verse of the Day Devotion: Hosea 6:6
“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6
The prophet Hosea sees both Israel and Judah operating in sin and He tells them at the end of chapter 5 that they will soon experience God’s punishment. “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver. I will go away and return to My place Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face; In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Hosea 5:14-15. And the major sin they committed was idolatry, which they had chosen over the true God.. “Hear this, O priests! Give heed, O house of Israel! Listen, O house of the king! For the judgment applies to you, for you have been a snare at Mizpah And a net spread out on Tabor. The revolters have gone deep in depravity, But I will chastise all of them. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; For now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot, Israel has defiled itself. Their deeds will not allow them To return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know the LORD.” Hosea 5:1-4. Therefore, the prophet is calling them to return to the Lord. The prophet trying to encourage them that if they return to God, He will retore them, thus giving them a motive to return because things will be made good again.
However, in chapter six, we see that this was not acceptable, for more was required of them. “What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? For your loyalty is like a morning cloud And like the dew which goes away early.” Hosea 6:4. The problem stated here by the Lord was that they may put forth a form of loyalty, but it would not be true and thus would not last. This did seem to be the pattern of Israel through history. He declares to them this loyalty would not last. It would be temporary as it always was. He used the picture of the morning clouds which disappear when the sun rises, and like the due that falls in the night which quickly dries up when the heat of the morning sun comes.
And because of this, He has sharply reproved them through the prophets. “Therefore, I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.” Hosea 6:5. This is similar to wording used with Jeremiah where God tells him, “Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?” Jeremiah 23:29. The idea is that God’s word rouses and strengthens the conscience yet crushes within the heart everything that is evil. His word is used to shape and mold us, while destroying the evil that resides in us. And this judgement is as the light going forth, that others may see it and tremble. This is similar to what Matthew wrote when he said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden;” Matthew 5:14.
Then we come to our focus verse. “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6. God desires loyalty, love and a relationship with them above sacrifice and tradition. He desires them to learn about Him and know Him better, then to simply present burnt offerings.
And He desires the same from us today. He wants a loving relationship with us, where we seek Him with all we are, not just one where we simply follow the rules and when we do wrong, we perform some ritual that we believe will make all things right. Christianity is all about a relationship with God, and not simply rituals we perform. This is what God was telling Hosea in our focus verse. Rituals and customs are not bad in and of themselves, but if not done out of love or without giving God our all is simply works. Let us always focus on our relationship with Him, for this is what He desires.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.