Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.”
Right after urging Israel to return to the Lord, Hosea continues here with some advice− Israel needs to confess their sins to God. As we discussed last time, Israel was in a bad way after reaping the consequences of their sins. Yet even though God had turned away from them and allowed events they created to progress without any intervention on His part, there was still an opportunity to repent.
Actually, what it means to repent is illustrated in these verses. All too often we think of repenting as feeling bad, or showing remorse, of having guilt. Yet that really isn’t what the word means; it means to turn away from something. They should first acknowledge that they have sinned, and then acknowledge what their sins were and turn away from them, and this is found in verse 3. Israel had embroiled itself in a disastrous alliance with its enemy Assyria, even joining the Assyrians in attacking Judah. As one might expect however, when Israel had served Assyria’s purposes, the Assyrians then turned on Israel and gobbled it up, taking the people into captivity. No, Assyria cannot save Israel!
No longer would Israel worship false gods, for they would rely only on their true God, the God of their forefathers, the patriarchs. This is the part that God was waiting to hear, for the Assyrian adventure came about as a result of their rebellion against God, their idolatry had led them into some very strange territory.
Isn’t that really the way things work out in our own lives? First, we turn away from God as we find other things or people so very fascinating. Then our standards begin to slip and we find ourselves doing things we know we shouldn’t be doing. Knowing we’re doing wrong, we find ourselves in the company of people we need to help us forget what we’ve turned our backs on, and sooner or later we either repent and turn back to God… or we take a fall.
Israel took a very long fall.
So, will God have them back? We’ll find that out next time…