Come, let us return to the Lord; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and 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 before Him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. (Hosea 6:1-3 ESV)
This wonderful Scripture encourages all of us to return to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) no matter how we have provoked Him, recently or long ago. Only God can heal and revive us from spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional wounds.
Ono and Lennon
In 2006, Yoko Ono placed a full-page ad in the New York Times urging that December 8 (the anniversary of John Lennon’s death) be a global day of healing. Ono promised, “One day we will be able to say that we healed ourselves, and by healing ourselves, we healed the world.” Ono’s words are cruel, because we cannot heal ourselves of sickness, death, sorrow, or pain. In reality we can’t heal ourselves of anything. Back in 1969, Lennon and Ono protested against the unpopular Vietnam War, renting billboards worldwide that read: “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It).” They wished that good vibrations and positive thinking would change the world. Ono asserted, “If one billion people think peace, we’re gonna get it….The power works in delicate and mysterious ways. Visualize the domino effect….Thoughts are infectious.”
God’s prophet Hosea (writing circa 750–725 BC) is more realistic, hopeful, and helpful, calling us to look for relief to Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the Maker and Master of heaven and earth, the Prince of Peace. Human beings don’t have the necessary resources within us, even with nearly 8 billion of us put together.1 We need the supernatural help of God our Creator and Sustainer! So we must get out of ourselves and run to the Lord for aid, returning home to Him in trust, prayer, and repentance.
In the book of Hosea, God likens His Old Testament (OT) people to an adulterous wife who gets no satisfaction from chasing other lovers and always feels dirty and empty. So the Lord will give her over to her sin’s consequences, literally sending Israel into exile in Babylon for seventy years, letting her feel ashamed, unhappy, and wasted because she forgot the Lord her husband and took His kindness for granted. God was tough on OT Israel so that He might then be tender to them later on by sending Jesus.
Christ also disciplines New Testament believers and urges us not to be discouraged by His deprivations. God tells us to see His chastening as a proof of His love for us, evidence that we truly are His adopted sons and daughters. Christ sends hardships to shape us, never to smash us, to help us respect and resemble Him in His holiness. The Lord sends unpleasant and painful predicaments to train us in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.2
Pastor John Piper, a survivor of prostate cancer surgery, wrote: Life is not a straight line leading from one blessing to the next and then finally to Heaven. Life is a winding and troubled road. The biblical stories like Joseph, Job, Esther, and Ruth help us feel in our bones (not just know in our heads) that the Lord is for us in all these strange twists and turns. He doesn’t just show up after the trouble and clean it up. Jesus is plotting the course and managing the troubles with far-reaching purposes for our good and for His own glory….The most dangerous thing in the world is the sin of self-reliance and the stupor of worldliness. The news of cancer has had a wonderfully blasting effect on these wrongs for me. I thank God for that. The times with Christ in those days were unusually sweet.3
Lessons for Us
In the Scripture above, God through Hosea teaches us at least three things:
1. The Lord is merciful so we should run back home to Him, not away from Him. Jesus makes this point in His Prodigal Son parable. That parable is really more about God’s generosity toward repenting sinners, than about how badly we ruin our lives. This is Jesus’ good news! Because of Christ’s sinless life, substitutionary death on the cross, His bodily resurrection from the grave, and His guaranteed return, God pardons our transgressions. He doesn’t stay angry at us forever because He delights in mercy. The Lord shows us compassion and takes our sins (past, present, and future) and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that that reads, “No Fishing Allowed.”4 So Christians must accept our acceptance in Jesus and accept one another just as Christ accepted us, in order to bring praise to God.5
2. Our suffering in this life is relatively brief compared to the eternal blessing that Christ prepares for His followers. The Apostle Peter encourages, “There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.”6
3. The Lord gives us recovery from bad habits so that we grow in knowing Him. Jesus said the way to eternal life is knowing the only true God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) through the Messiah God sent to earth.7 Ignorance of God is ultimately the source of all our sin and misery while knowing and walking with Him is the source of all joy and blessing. When we return home to the Lord, He refreshes us.
St. Augustine (354–430 AD) was a Roman African and early Christian theologian. He wisely reminds us: “Because God has made us for Himself, our hearts are restless until we rest in Him.”
Scripture says: Seek the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and He will have mercy on them, and to our God, for He will freely pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, you took the pain of the cross and rose from the grave to give us new life. Help us walk in the light, as you are in the light. Restore to us the joy of your salvation, to fellowship with you and with one another. Pardon us and purify us from all our wrongs. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and with His assurance of God’s love, His peace of conscience, His gladness, and His growing in grace. Help us to follow and serve you all our lives. We praise you, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Notes (various translations): 1 World Population Clock in October 2019. 2 See Hebrews 12:5-11. 3 John Piper, A Sweet and Bitter Providence (2010, p. 101-102). 4 See Micah 7:18-19 and comments by Corrie Ten Boom. 5 Rom 15:7. 6 1 Peter 1:6. 7 John 17:3.