For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice. The knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Last Monday, I wrote in regard to Joel 2:11-13. I explored the attributes by which God identifies himself in those verses. I am following that post about memorization with this one because this brief line from the prophet Hosea provides some additional insight into God that I believe is excellent "icing on the cake" for the revelations discussed last week.
First, let me provide a little context. In the Old Testament system, sacrifices and offerings were completed as symbolic and meaningful gestures of thanksgiving, repentance, and acknowledgment of sin. The practice of conducting regular, necessary sacrifices and offerings would have been a normal part of the spirituality of a Jewish believer. This would have been a means by which those original believers maintained relationship with God.
But do you see how the Lord informs the Israelites of that relationship's importance above and beyond the practice itself. He does not simply want the them to "go through the motions". He wants committed love. He wants them to know him. And I believe he wants those two ideas to be cyclical--the more we love him, the more we want to know him; the more we come to know him, the more we love him. What a rewarding process into which he invites believers!
Note that these practices in and of themselves are not bad. God does not say "Stop it with sacrificies and offerings" (at least not here anyway. Here he does, though. Oh how he does!). The practices have value, but if mere practices and activities are the basis for your interaction with God, without a desire for intimacy and relationship, they are inadequate. He wants more, and he rewards you with the greatest reward he can give a human being, himself! Love him. Know him. If you do, you'll grow in the former and embrace the latter by default!
That being said, what are the practices that we modern believers conduct regularly to which God may respond the same? Here are mine:
Blogging about Christ (rather than Blogging becuase of Love of Christ)
Yeah, I do these, but without a desire for steadfast love for God and others as well as a true thirst for the knowledge of the Lord himself, they are lacking, indeed. How about you?
Thanks for reading,
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.