The Book of the Twelve (Minor Prophets) 08: Hosea (6) - Faithfulness and True Worship
Covenant Faithfulness and True Worship. Hosea 6:6-7
The Origin of Covenant Breaking - Hosea chapters 6-9 diagnose the covenant-breaking of Israel explicitly: (6:7) “But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant.” (7:10) “They have not returned to the LORD their God, Nor have they sought Him, for all this.” (8:1) “Because they have transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law.” Hosea 6:7 is an important text which expressly states a covenant relationship with Adam. In Adam, we are by nature covenant breakers and only by the work of the Spirit can they be resurrected into being part of the faithful (Eph. 2).
The Means of Covenant Breaking - Forsaking the knowledge of God, breaking His commands, leading to all-out idolatry was the slippery-slope down to apostasy. Among many sins enumerated (cf ch. 4-5), such as the Land being “tracked with bloody footprints” (6:8) and “harlotry” (6:10), state-sponsored idolatry is referenced directly, (8:4f) “With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves . . . He has rejected your calf, O Samaria, saying, “My anger burns against them!” The result of apostasy is Israel’s scattering (at the hands of Assyria). So “they will return to Egypt” (8:13). The result is “My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him; and they will be wanderers among the nations” (9:17). This happened historically when Assyria conquered and scattered Israel (722 B.C.). We break our covenant relationship with our Lord when we persist in sin and abandon worshiping the true God.
The Core of Covenant Keeping - Among the many lessons in Hosea, we are shown the core of covenant keeping is about being loyal or faithful to the true God: “For your loyalty is like a morning cloud And like the dew which goes away early” (6:4). God says, (6:6) “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” God desires true faith and faithfulness, rather than empty sacrifice or ritual (cf. Matt 9:13; 12:7). The term for “loyalty” or “faithfulness” here is hesed (Heb.). It is a loyal love. Such love motivates true worship. In Hosea idolatry is condemned so vividly because when we worship the true God in the way He prescribes we can fix other sins. However, when we abandon right worship, we abandon the means to address other sins. Then wickedness is not constrained and generations will suffer. Right worship exalts God’s Holy character, the Law of God, forgiveness for sins, the promises of dominion and peace with God. True worship is the fount for renewing all others aspects of life. Thus, covenant fidelity centers on right worship.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more