The message in today’s chapter in Hosea is given when God was about to send the ten northern tribes into captivity in Assyria. Several points made by God through Hosea are helpful for us. Note the line of thought that starts from Hosea 6:4 where the chapter break is in an inconvenient place.

“What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? (the leading tribe in the northern kingdom). What shall I do with you Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.” How true this is of human love. The rising sun and the dew on the ground with mist hovering above it is an altogether peaceful and tranquil scene. But the dew doesn’t last, rather like human expressions of love which can be fleeting.

The Jews made a great show of worship and sacrificing in their temple, especially on the appointed feast days. Jesus saw much self-exaltation in their worship. Hosea states God’s attitude, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

When considering “steadfast love” it is useful to note the context which sometimes includes “knowledge” (as it does here). Steadfast love contains a sense of ‘knowing’, as in a true relationship between two people. Isaiah 53:11 is an outstanding example. It foretells the work of Christ, “… by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous and he shall bear their iniquities”. Jesus had an intimate “knowing” relationship with God and with the strength of mind that relationship produced he was able to overcome all the fleshly inclinations of his human nature.

Let us aim to follow his example as closely as we can and develop a ‘knowing’ relationship with God. It is valuable to bear in mind the prayer of our Lord, “… this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God” (John 17:3).