Bring with you words—
Words sound almost trivial.
“O Israel, return to the LORD your God,
for you have stumbled because of iniquity” —Hosea 14:2
HE SINNER must return to the Lord, but what must he bring to the Lord? It is not as Israel sarcastically replied to Micah: With what shall I come before the LORD…? with burnt offerings? …with thousands of rams, ten thousand rivers of oil? …my firstborn .. for the sin of my soul?
(Micah6:6-). The demand sounds almost trivial: ?take with you words.
Before Words— It is easy enough to lament the sin, but that is not enough. First: ?rend your heart,..not your garment s ; return to the LORD” (Joel.2:13) Do not pull out you hair, tear your clothes, cry and wail. Forget demonstrations; work on the heart! A sinner may cry til he needs a bucket for tears, yet not be sorry for sin. Leaving Egypt, Israel ?wept before the Lord, —as they rebelled. And their tears did not impress God (Num.11:4,18 14:1). Godly sorrow and resulting repentance –not tears—prepares words for God. Say not a word except from a broken and contrite heart! The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18).
Bring the Hard Words— These words are short but terribly hard to say: ?I sinned. No other words will suffice. Resist softening them: Maybe I made a mistake. If I offended. Do not hide in the crowd: ?We all sin.Voice no excuse. The prodical son’s password to his father’s grace began with: I have sinned and am no longer worthy to be called your son (Luke15:21). Say nothing to God until you say, I have sinned.
Offer the Imploring Words— No pleas for justice, but it is pleading time. Before the bar of the judge of all earth, plead: ?Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously?(14:2). With sin confessed, we are at the judge’s mercy. If we are ever declared righteous, it is grace —and nothing else. We deserve no pardon; God owes us nothing. Yet, speak softly —humbly your imploring words in the ear of God.
Bring the Covenant Words — For we will offer the sacrifices of out lips
? (14:2) Promise God nothing; expect from God nothing. And: ?Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands “You are our gods
?(14:3). Commitment to never repeat the sin is the voice of repentance freely offered without coercion. I promise to do what you want and say. I promise not to sin any more.
Declare plainly, firmly the covenant words.
Now What? The sinner brings the words –all the words. Is there no response? Must he slink away in shame? No! God answers: I will heal their backsliding? (14:4). Pardon sought; mercy freely granted! Again, I will love them freely. No sin destroys God’s love for sinners. My anger has turned away from him. Sin makes God angry –angry with sinners. But when God forgives, his anger is dismissed. I will be like the dew to Israel? The floodgates are open and all spiritual blessings flow —even to this sinner.
Sinner, return to God! And bring with you words.
Bible Comments, 8, a publication by Joe Fitch originally intended for distribution among small congregations in Texas.
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