Matt. 9:13 But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Two times in the New Testament Jesus quotes this verse from Hosea 6:6 and He does so in relationship to the Pharisees who thought they had it all together in upholding not only the law given through Moses, but all the additional laws they had added to the Levitical law. They were serving their religion and missing the most important point of what God wanted all along, a relationship with man.
This continues today where many get caught up in serving different types of religions, a man-made way to get to God, instead of experiencing through Jesus Christ what He provided as the only way to the Father. Whenever we miss this point about our relationship with God, we are missing the whole point of why God created us. Man-made religion is going to try to change you from the outside in. A relationship with God is in fact designed to still bring about change in your life, but it comes from the inside out.
Today, just as in Jesus’ day, we have people who are thinking that by serving their religion they will be okay with God, and there are others who think that getting to know God requires nothing on their part other than accepting Jesus into their life, but in fact receiving Christ is just the start. Jesus in this verse from Matthew is now bringing a quote from the Father to the children of Israel in Hosea’s time to apply to us. God still desires what the English translation here calls mercy; He does not want our sacrifices. But to fully understand what it is God desire of us as Jesus said here we need to know what this means. So let’s go to Hosea and find out.
Hos. 6:6 I want your loyalty, not your sacrifices. I want you to know me, not to give me burnt offerings.
The translation I have chosen here is known as GWORD translation, which defines in the English language what is more so being said here from the original Hebrew language. May of our English translations of the Bible come not from the original Hebrew language, but from a Greek translation of the Hebrew known as the Septuagint. This is important to understand because what God actually desires from man here is one of the most important words used in the entire Old Testament. Because a different word is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament it has in fact lost it’s original meaning. The word for mercy that is in most English translations of Hosea 6:6 is a word called Hesed.
This word Hesed is very difficult to translate into English because there are three ingredients to the word. They are: Strength, Steadfastness, and Love. There isn’t really a single English word that fully describes this word. What God is looking for is loyalty, and our devotion, out of a heart of love. God does not want us to live out our lives as if we are making a sacrifice of our time or money for Him. The reason that God wants our loyalty is because He wants us to experience all of who He is, and all of what He has for us. Loyalty to God will cause us to experience this in our life.
If you look back at the latter part of Hosea 6:6 you will see this revealed in the verse of scripture. God wants us to know Him. God does not want our burnt offerings, which again refers to the attitude that what we do for God we do because we feel we have to. That does not bless man and that certainly does not bless God. God is love and God wants us to not only know the love He has for us, but for us to then share that love with others. For us to do so we must know God, and getting to know God comes from a heart that is loyal to Him.
Acts 13:21 And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years.
Acts 13:22 And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will.’
David is a great example of what it means to have a heart loyal to God. God looked for a king to replace Saul and in 1 Samuel 13:14 we find out that God was looking for a man who would be loyal to Him. King David was that man whom God chose. Here in the book of Acts we read of this very truth revealed as it states that David was a man after God’s own heart. Notice what is says after that. It states that he would do all of God’s will. You see Hesed (loyalty) toward God will not allow you to walk away from what God’s will is for your life, even if you have missed it at some point in your life.
This is where the word strength comes in as one of the elements of Hesed. This loyalty of heart is what causes one to push beyond the desires and limits of the flesh to carry out God’s will. We know that does not mean you may never miss God’s will, but if you do you will turn things around and continue to pursue what God has for your life. Hesed won’t let you quit and give up on God. There are areas of our life when it comes to doing the will of God that your flesh does not like, but that loyalty to God will help you to overcome the flesh. This is why there is great strength in having a heart loyal to God.
We know even in the life of David that he did get into sin even though he had a loyal heart. When David committed sin with Bathsheba he was certainly not in the will of God. After she became pregnant he even had her husband sent to the front lines to have him die in battle. When the prophet Nathan came to David and confronted him on his sin David immediately replied to the Lord that he had sinned against Him. David did not deny nor try to cover up or make excuses for the wrong he had done. The reason David got into sin is because he had sent his men out to a battle and David stayed home. David was a warrior and should have been with his men in the battle. Whenever we are somewhere we don’t belong we open up the opportunity for our enemy to take advantage of us.
Saul on the other hand when asked by God through Samuel to wipe out everything that belonged to the Amalekites, including all the people, did not do so. When Samuel came to him after the battle he confronted Saul and asked him if he had obeyed the Lord. Saul said he had. Samuel then questioned him about where all these sheep and cattle had come from. Saul responds by saying the people wanted to keep them to offer them as a sacrifice to God. There is that sacrifice mentality instead of a loyal heart. Saul continues to tell Samuel he had obeyed the commandment of God even though he had spared king Agag as well, and he continues to tell Samuel that it was the people who wanted to spare the sheep and cattle to offer unto the Lord. This is the difference in one who saw themselves as faithful to the Lord, and David whose heart was loyal to God.
When we have a heart that is loyal to God, being faithful is not an issue. For example, you could have a husband or wife who may have been faithful to their spouse, having never committed adultery, but yet they may have not been loyal to that person and chose to divorce them. I know there are many different circumstances to deal with when it comes to marriage; my point is to say that loyalty is the key. Loyalty is what helps us to overcome the challenges in marriage.
1 Chr. 29:7 They gave for the work of the house of God five thousand talents and ten thousand darics of gold, ten thousand talents of silver, eighteen thousand talents of bronze, and one hundred thousand talents of iron.
1 Chr. 29:8 And whoever had precious stones gave them to the treasury of the house of the LORD, into the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite.
1 Chr. 29:9 Then the people rejoiced, for they had offered willingly, because with a loyal heart they had offered willingly to the LORD; and King David also rejoiced greatly.
People who have a heart loyal to God will do what they do willingly, not because they feel they have to because of some obligation, nor because of fear or intimidation. They will offer freely to the house of the Lord their time, their money, and their talents. They will be willing to do the work of the Lord both in and out of the house of God. Notice here in verse 9 it tells us that the people rejoiced for they had offered willingly because they did so with a loyal heart. When you heart is set on God and not on the things of this life you see things the way God does and you are willingly going to offer what you have unto Him.
So remember, God does not delight in anyone living their lives with the mentality that they are making sacrifices for Him. Doing the will of the Lord should not be something we consider a sacrifice, but an honor that we get to serve along side of God in helping change the lives of others. He desires our loyalty and devotion motivated by love. When our hearts are loyal to Him, we are going to get to know Him because then it will be about our relationship with God, not a man-made religion. Set your heart on Him, and you will never regret it.
See You Again Next Week For More “Weekly Wisdom”
May God’s Best Be Yours!
Pastor Darryl Baker