Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but 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 in His sight. Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3)
The Spirit Of Repentance
It is not in the nature of man to admit wrong. One of the most challenging parts of the human gene is a willingness to change the heart admitting failure and accepting the rule of a higher being. The Lord calls this repentance and without the desire to admit wrong, change the will of a stubborn spirit to allow the law of God to rule the heart, man is doomed. To accept the will of God a man must empty himself of his own will. The Lord requires this of everyone but it is not just because He wills it; rather it manifests the mercy of a loving Father willing to forgive and receive back the lost soul. Hosea pleads with the people to return to the Lord and while there will be severe consequences to those who refuse, the prophet shows how the mercy of a kind and benevolent Father is the motivation behind repentance. With every instance of sin the wrath of God is revealed. He tears, strikes down and destroys the unyielding heart bent on unrighteousness. Returning to the Lord is the message of grace that a man deserves the wrath of the Divine and through that same message of grace He will heal those He has torn away. The character of God is fierce but it is forgiving in ways too great for men to comprehend. Everything man has done from the paradise of Eden to the final day when the particles of the universe are destroyed, exemplify the righteous judgment of God because man is an enemy, sinner, disobedient and rebellious creature deserving of death. And then the word of God responds with the heavenly chorus of grace that seeks for the heart of man to return to the Lord and He will forgive. He has torn, but He will heal; He has stricken but He will bind again. Defining the nature of grace is to see the hand of a compassionate God who is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance so the loving hand of a merciful Father can soothe the troubled spirits of His children. The plea of Hosea is for the people of God to come and return to the Lord.
Repentance will come from a heart willing to submit to the kindness of a wrathful God who will revive, raise up and fill the mind of man with the knowledge of divine grace. It is the full intention of the Father for His children to live in His sight. It is sad to see that God is blamed for the failures of what man has done to himself and to others when the Father has no greater desire than to enjoy the presence of His creation. Grace does not come from the hand of God apart from the knowledge of the Lord. Knowing the word of God is what fills the heart with the comfort of hope, promise of salvation and the joy of forgiveness. Sin brings heartache, misery, and darkness but the grace of God brings the morning of joy and the cleansing of latter and former rains to the earth. There is something soothing in the gentle rains of a summer’s day that bring comfort, coolness, and consolation that all is well. Repentance is the measure of man seeking the joy of love extended by the Father reminding the soul that God still loves and He still forgives and His mercy endures forever. Stubborn pride hinders the joy of salvation. Humility exalts the glory of God. Coming to the Lord revives. Refusing to repent destroys. God will come to His people like the rain cleansing the broken spirits of grief, sorrow, and travail. No greater joy can a man enjoy in life than when he empties himself of his obstinate vanity and embraces the love of the merciful Father.
The measure of forgiveness is found in the mind of God but the action of repentance can only come from the willingness to come to the Lord. It is within the power of God to save all men but that is not the will of the Father to make men do what they do not will to do. Hosea seeks to bring the nation of Israel back to the one true God with promises of healing, binding up again, reviving the broken spirits and living in God’s presence but that is all dependent upon one measure: the people must return to the Lord. The grace of God knocks on the door of each man’s heart but there is only one way to open the door and that is from the inside. Grace, mercy, and love are offered by the Lord. What man does with that grace, mercy, and love is where humility and repentance move him in the direction of forgiveness. A call to repentance always comes with the first word: Come. The invitation of God is afforded to all men. Sadly, as Jesus taught, most will not accept His call taking the wide path to destruction. The Lord says come, take His yoke and learn from Him and He will give rest to the soul. That blessing of rest comes from hearts humbled by the grace of God and His promise of forgiveness.