“For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6
The nation of Israel wanted a “quick fix” to their problems. Their repentance was not genuine, and God knew it. Their desire was for healing and restoration of the land and the good times, but they did not desire eternal cleansing of the heart and soul. The did not come with “broken hearts and surrendered wills.” As one man rightly said, “they wanted happiness, not holiness, a change of circumstances, but not change in character.” To make themselves feel “holy” and like they were approaching God correctly, they performed rituals, chants, and prayers that were empty. They were repetitious and meaningless words from empty hearts. They thought God would see their routines and not their sincere hearts.
Jesus quotes this passage of Hosea twice during His ministry (Matt. 9:13; 12:7). Like Israel in Hosea’s day, the religious people in Jesus’ day missed the real heart of God. God wants relationship and obedience, not the spiritual activity that makes you feel holy one moment and then empty the next.
I was speaking to an acquaintance recently who attends a very ritualistic church. She stated that going makes her “feel holy” and she cannot wait to go back the following Sunday to “feel holy” again. That is what religion does to us. Fills us one moment but then leaves us completely empty the next. In a relationship with God, we are always filled.
God desires relationship and not an empty religious activity. He wants to be connected with Him daily, not when we perform customs and traditions. He desired that in Hosea’s day, in Jesus’ day and desires that from us today. Today, may our hearts be full of sincere love and obedience towards our Lord and Savior, Jesus the Messiah!