28 March 2014

Hosea 5:15 – 6:6

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings’ (v. 6)


Israel is impenitent and is called upon to return to the Lord! The transition between the last verse of chapter 5 and the first six verses of Hosea 6, describe God's attempt to urge Israel to acknowledge that (in all her torn and troubled life) only God can heal them. Only God can bound up her wounds as God is sure and reliable as the sun and seasonal rains on which Israel depended for her very life.

The mood change in verses 4-6 describe how enduring is God's love and understanding of Israel. Even if Israel declares her love for God, her commitment and faithfulness does not last long. Your "steadfast love" is like the morning mist and dew, which disappears easily in the day (verse 4). Prophets came with words that expose people's sin and call them to repentance. But when they did not repent, there was always a message of judgement announced by the prophet 'in the name of the Lord'. This judgment is sure to happen.  The "steadfast love" signifies God's love shown in God's own covenant with Israel, and requires Israel's steadfast love to be the real thing and not put sacrifice in its place. God does not want whole burnt offerings rather than a genuine personal relationship.

To Ponder

  • What are the modern day equivalents sacrifices and burnt offerings of which you are aware, that are so easy to keep but prevent Christians developing a personal relationship with God?
  • How might you express "a steadfast love"?

Bible notes author

Tevita and Meleane Siuhengalu

Tevita Maliepo Siuhengalu is an ordained minister with the Methodist Church in Tonga, who taught at Sia'atoutai Theological College for seven years. Tevita and his wife Meleane were mission partners with the World Church in Britain Partnership Programme between 1996 and 2001, and Tevita continued as minister in the High Wycombe Circuit, until 2004.