Summary: PENTECOST 3(A) - Our Lord desires mercy, not sacrifice: mercy not with lip service but mercy with faithful lives.
OUR LORD DESIRES MERCY, NOT SACRIFICE
Hosea 5:15-6:6 - June 20, 2004 - PENTECOST 3
15Then I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt. And they will seek my face; in their misery they will earnestly seek me."
61 "Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds.
2After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.
3Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth."
4"What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.
5Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.
6For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
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Dearest Fellow-Redeemed and Saints in the Lord:
Hypocrisy is a very dangerous and infectious disease. Hypocrisy means saying one thing and doing another or saying one thing and believing another. It’s a dangerous and infectious disease because it infects and affects each one of us from one time to another. It is an age-old problem for God’s people sometimes came to the temple just to worship out of a sense of duty. They came to offer sacrifices as an obligation. They came to do worship to just get it over and done with. God’s people had forgotten that love of God that was to motivate them to show their love to the Lord. The simple fact is when Jesus came and lived on the earth, he ran into that very same problem. Jesus came to the Scribes and Pharisees who were the religious leaders of the day and who were trained in religion and righteousness. Yet, they too liked to follow the law so much that they forgot the Lord’s Gospel of love and forgiveness. Finally, the Lord Jesus had to look at them and say: "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ’These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me’" (MATTHEW 15:7,8). The prophet Hosea talks about that very same problem in our text today. The hearts of the children of Israel were far from the Lord. So Hosea comes to the conclusion, as he reminds them and reminds us today as our theme:
OUR LORD DESIRES MERCY, NOT SACRIFICE. This divine mercy is --
I. Not with just a mere lip service
II. Which is seen in our faithful lives
I. MERCY – NOT WITH A LIP SERVICE
Hosea, who was a minor prophet, comes with the same message that the major prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah did. He came with a message of warning for repentance, because the children of Israel once again had slid into the valley of disobedience. They were turning away from the Lord instead of toward him. The Lord was gong to give them one more chance. The Lord says, "Here is my prophet." The Lord is coming to the end of his patience for them. 4"What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? In other words, "What can I do with you Israelites? What can I do with you my chosen people? My children, you do not listen." Hosea says that in the next verse: 5Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth. Over and over, the Lord had sent his prophets to his people and told them, "Turn away from those false gods." Over and over, the Lord had sent warnings to them and said they were going to be forsaken. God said they would be killed with his words and finally he said: My judgments flashed like lightning upon you. The Lord raised up throughout their history enemies who would defeat them. This was God’s judgment against their disobedience. This was God’s judgment against their unfaithfulness. Finally, as Hosea says, the Lord says, "What am I going to do?"
Then the Lord tells the people why he is at the end of his patience. The Lord tells them the problem that lies in their hearts. 4"What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears. The original has "mercy" for "their love" which is short-lived. God describes it like the morning mist which is blown away with the first breath of wind. God describes it like the early dew which disappears with the first rays of the sun. The Lord says that is their love, a love which is not a lasting love but is only an outward show. It is only a lip service. Then he comes to that conclusion which is our main thought today. The Lord says: 6For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. Over and over the children of Israel had come with their sense of duty to offer sacrifices. They had come to temple as an obligation to offer burnt offerings, and they simply had forgotten about God’s mercy. The Lord speaks the same warning to us today. He says, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice." It is easy for us to become distracted in this world. It becomes easy for us to think we too need to come and worship as a sense of duty or an obligation or as something we have to get out of the way. Worship can become meaningless because we are connected very closely with our sinful nature. We are born with a sinful nature that stands, not in a neutral position, but as an enemy of God. So at every turn and corner, it tries to make that which God wants us to do seem like something that is just our duty. Of course, Satan tempts us and distracts us, as does the world in which we live. This sickness and disease of hypocrisy infects us all. The Prophet Ezekiel says: "My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain" (EZEKIEL 33:31). Who among us at times haven’t been distracted, thinking of other things rather than just God’s Word during worship? Who of us haven’t been greedy for unjust gain? We may think that we are not greedy. We might think that we are not like everyone else in this world, but we are. When we look at our lives, we realize that sometimes our worship is a mere lip service. We can open up the bulletin and see what we need for our offerings, and we don’t meet that need every week. We are kind of greedy for unjust gain in other words.