Hosea 14:1-3

“Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all guilt; accept that which is good, and we will offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses; we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” Hosea 14:1-3

We’re going to begin this week by revisiting a very important word in the Christian vocabulary. Repentance.

This passage from Hosea begins with the words “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.” “Iniquity” basically means misbehavior. We can grab any of a host of adjectives to describe such misbehavior, ranging I suppose from “slight” to “gross” but the bottom line is that iniquity means we have messed up. Not just errors in our thinking but actual actions that have been hurtful to ourselves and others.

So what do we do with that information?

Our knee jerk reaction (OK, my own personal knee jerk reaction) when we mess up is either to cover it up or to blame someone else. We either want to keep it a secret and hope we don’t get caught, or, if we do get caught, we want to explain ourselves to justify our actions or to blame someone else for it. That knee jerk reaction reaches all the way back to Adam and Eve. It is the flight or fight mentality hardwired into our reptilian brain. And it doesn’t help.

Fight or flight might help us if we come across a bear in the woods but in the normal course of human events, fight or flight just makes things worse.

God’s alternative is called “repentance.” Repentance doesn’t fight, it confesses. It takes personal responsibility for our words and our actions, hurtful though they be. And repentance doesn’t “flight”, it stops, turns around, and faces up to what we have done.

Hosea says, “Return, O Israel [people of God, including us], to the Lord your God…” and as you do that, “Take words with you…” That’s repentance.

“I’m sorry. This is what I did that was hurtful. Please forgive me. I will work hard not to do that again.” That’s repentance.

I don’t know anything else in the world that holds the promise of restoration, reconciliation, and rebirth, as the power of repentance.

Let us pray: Thank you, Lord, that you don’t leave us wallowing in the pain that our rebelliousness and selfishness causes in our lives and the lives of others. Instead you invite us to get honest, to take the risk of our own vulnerability, and to make things right by facing the realities of our lives. Thank you for the invitation to return to you and the hope of forgiveness. Thank you for the gift of repentance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


One Response to “Hosea 14:1-3”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    Rev. Kerry, I like your powerful 3 R’s of Repentance: Restoration, Reconciliation, and Rebirth. Thank you Lord for this gift!

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