Hosea 6-7 God Desires Mercy Not Sacrifice

There is a disposition in every man to substitute external observances for the devotion of the heart; and to rest satisfied with rendering to God some easy services, while they are utterly averse to those duties which are more difficult and self-denying. But God cannot be deceived, nor will he be mocked. He will look at the heart, and not at the outward appearance only; and will mark with indignation the partial obedience of the hypocrite, no less than the open disobedience of the profane. It was thus that he dealt with his people of old, “hewing them by his prophets, and slaying them by the words of his mouth,” because they rested in their sacrifices and burnt-offerings, when he desired the more acceptable services of faith and love.

The words of the text are not to be considered as importing that God did not require sacrifices at all, but as declaring his decided preference for spiritual obedience…. But the acceptableness of such services depends on the manner in which they are performed. God looks rather to the disposition of the worshipper than the matter of his offering; and, if a contrite spirit be wanting, he values nothing that such a worshipper can present. This is repeatedly and strongly declared; and is as true under the Gospel as under the Law. To this all the Scriptures bear witness.

The view here given of vital godliness deserves attention. True religion, as it is experienced in the heart, consists in faith and love, or in such a “knowledge of God” as produces “mercy” both to the bodies and the souls of men. Our blessed Lord twice quotes the words of our text, and explains them in this very manner. He was vindicating on one occasion the conduct of his disciples, for plucking some ears of corn on the Sabbath-day. What they had done was certainly allowable on any other day, but probably not on the Sabbath without some urgent necessity. Such a necessity existed in the present case: and as that plea was sufficient to vindicate David in a far more exceptionable violation of the law, and as it was acknowledged to be a full justification of the priests whose labours on the Sabbath were very great, so it was a sufficient excuse for the disciples, as their accusers would have known, if they had understood the meaning of the declaration in the text.

A “knowledge of God,” and a delight in the exercise of ” mercy” to the bodies and the souls of men, renders us conformable to the image of Christ: it constitutes our meetness for heaven, where both our knowledge and our love will be perfected. But the performance of ceremonies, as has already been shewn, is worthless, if it be not instrumental to the production of humiliation and affiance, of purity and zeal. Duties which do not bring us to God, and God to us, are good for nothing.

Charles Simeon

Heart Preparation
Read Hosea 6-7. Does your worship of God consist of vain offerings? Do you sing praises unto God without considering the words? Is your service unto others merely duty? Do you read the Scriptures purely for knowledge or even just out of a sense of obligation? Do you strive to live the Christian life by your own strength when the full grace and glory of Christ is offered to you? If so, how does the gospel and the grace of Christ influence your struggle and transform these areas of your life?

Posted on: September 18, 2014 - 10:00PM

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