Today’s readings.. (Ezra 3,4), (Hosea 6), (Acts 23,24).

Today’s chapter in Hosea is a message given when God was about to send the 10 northern tribes into captivity in Assyria.  There are several points made by God through this prophet which are helpful for us to think about. Notice the line of thought that starts from verse 4 of ch. 6, – where the chapter break is in the wrong 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 remarkably true this is, the course human love so often takes these days!  If we live in a rural area and wake to the rising of the sun and see the dew on the ground and the mist hovering above it, we accept it is an altogether peaceful and tranquil scene.  But all too often these days, human expressions of love for each other can be like this.
The Jews made a great show of worship and sacrificing in their temple, especially on the appointed feast days – but Jesus saw much self-exaltation in their worship.   Two verses further on Hosea states God’s attitude, “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings”
There is no difficult in understanding “steadfast love” but it is valuable to realize that sometimes the context in which the word “knowledge” occurs shows it has the sense of ‘knowing’ as in a true relationship between two people.
Isaiah 53 v.11 is an outstanding example.  It forecasts 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 a total “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 really ‘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 v.3]

* Click verse text to see cross references.
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