But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ Matthew 9:13
A year ago, I was so impassioned by Micah 6:8 that I felt compelled to write a book about it. At that time, I didn’t remember having read it before. But that I did, as evidenced by my own handwriting from August 30, 2010. However, I was using a different version of the Bible then. In 2010, I wrote down: He has told you what is good and what it is the LORD requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God. And this sounds somewhat different than the version that I’m most familiar with, which says to love mercy. It was not long ago that I discovered the difference, and was prompted to dig deeper. Because through the book of Hosea, I see there’s more to mercy than meets the eye. I see that mercy goes beyond kindness and goodness and forgiveness. And the book of Hosea paints the picture for us.
God’s chosen people were the Israelites, and He spoke to them through His prophets. Throughout the years, God’s people left Him again and again. They turned their back on Him over and over, and every time God had mercy on them. God loyally loved His chosen people. However, they definitely suffered the consequences of their actions more than one time. God spoke to Hosea, and told him to marry a harlot. And so Hosea took Gomer as his wife and had children. I find it fascinating that God told Hosea to name his daughter Lo-Ruhamah (means No Mercy) and his second son Lo-Ammi (Not My People). This was judgment from the Judge. God was saying that He will no longer have mercy on His chosen people… and furthermore, they were not His people and He would not be their God.
God’s people were being punished for spiritual adultery. Despite His rescuing them from slavery in Egypt, they soon forgot Him when they reached the promised land. They adapted to the surrounding peoples’ ways and accepted false gods as their own. And God called them harlots. He uses Hosea and Gomer to depict His own relationship with His chosen people. See, Gomer was not faithful to Hosea. But God told him to go again and love her, the woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery… just like the children of Israel, who looked to other gods. This is called idolatry… and God called His people harlots. But the good news is God promised to restore Israel. The good news is God told Hosea to go and retrieve Gomer, even after she took lovers. The good news is Hosea was faithful to Gomer, even though she wasn’t faithful to him. And that’s exactly how it works today. We’re unfaithful to God again and again, but He remains faithful to us. Because He loves us. And we have a promise:
“And it shall be, in that day,” says the LORD, “that you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘My Master…’ “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD.” “And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, You are My people!’ and they shall say, ‘You are my God!'” Hosea chapter 2
Yes, God desires mercy. He longs to be merciful to us, and He wants for us to have mercy on others. But it’s our faithfulness that God desires. Because whether we realize it or not, He’s husband to us: “For your husband is your Maker, whose name is the Lord of hosts; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, who is called the God of all the earth.” Isaiah 54:4-5. See, I have not been faithful to God. I did the same thing His chosen people of long ago did. He brought me into my promised land in the fall of 2010, but I soon forgot Him. For nearly a year, I barely thought about Him as I took other lovers in the form of work, busyness, idleness and play. But in His mercy and through His faithfulness, He brought me back to Him. And from the summer of 2011 until now, I have been seeking Him. And yet, He’s bringing all this to the forefront of my mind. And so I have to ask myself anew, “Am I being faithful to Him? Or have a taken a new lover?” And the truth is, I have been seduced. Because writing consumes me. I burn with passion to write about Him… and yet, it pulls me away from Him. It’s apparent that I no longer am in love with Him, my husband who is my Maker, but rather I’m obsessed with my newest love, which is writing.
A funny thing… after God revived my heart during the summer of 2011, I wanted to pay tribute to Him. It was then that the coals of desire began to smolder deep inside… I began to burn with a need to write. And so, I wrote out my testimony and entitled it, “From darkness to light, that they may know.” I wanted that book to be a standing stone for God, a memorial and testament to His greatness. I wanted my family to see how He brought me from darkness to light, and brought me into my personal promised land. I wanted them to know that the LORD God is real and active and right here among us. I wanted them to know that God is faithful to answer prayer. My intentions at first were noble and true. But then the lure of status seduced me. I entertained another lover who distracted me from God. Once again, unfaithful. The funniest thing is the title. I’ve since changed it, because quite clearly darkness did not dispel upon my return home. If anything, it intensified. Because 1 Peter 2:9 references darkness and light, it was included in the manuscript. However, now it’s the verse immediately following that captures my eye:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10.
This is a follow up to Hosea and his children of harlotry, Lo-Ruhamah (No Mercy) and his second son Lo-Ammi (Not My People)! There’s an everlasting promise here. See, because of His Son, Jesus Christ, we have become the people of God. Because of Jesus, we have obtained mercy. And although we turn our back on Him again and again, He remains ever merciful. He remains ever faithful to us, even when we’re not! But nevertheless, He desires our mercy, not sacrifice. Nevertheless, He desires our faithfulness.
How then, can we, the people of God, deny Him the one thing asks? Lord, may we, Your people, remain faithful to You… as You ask us to. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.