Hosea 5:15-6:2 I will return again to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. In their distress they will beg my favor: "Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him."
In the 3rd Article of the creed we learn that the Holy Spirit calls, enlightens, sanctifies and keeps in the one true faith. In other words, God does go out to seek the lost, that is God finds us and rescues us from peril. Its something we expect of a good shepherd, but it is not something we should take for granted. Our text for this day asks, Where would we be if God returned to heaven and didnít seek out the lost until they would repent of their sins? What if God didnít do anything until we repented of, confessed our sins, and begged God for mercy?
Well, what does everyone have a chance of knowing? 1st, we know that there is a God, Christians know this from the scriptures which reveal who he is, but all people can know that there is a God, from the existence of the world, and from the testimony of their conscience. 2nd, we know that God expects something from us. Christians know this from the Bible, and in particular the 10 commandments. All people know from the law that God has written on every heart. Anyone who hears and listens to what God has made available to all, will know the 1st time that they break that God given law, and the task from then on is how we might make peace with God.
This is where most people try to work out some sort of deal with God. They make all sorts of promises, if only God will help them now. Sadly most of the promises are never kept. Perhaps even worse, is that there is nothing we can do that will ever be enough to pay the debt owed for one sin. And its not just one sin, for we all sin much, daily. What can we do?
Well we can learn from the scriptures, or we can learn from the scriptures as they are lived out in the lives of Christians. For example, many children misbehave. They know that when they are bad, that it makes their parents unhappy. So children will often do thinks to make up for being bad, extra things, not just the ordinary things like making beds and cleaning up their room, something extra, something which says I love you, and also says, Iím sorry. Most children know that it is not these things which make their parents forgive them. This does stop them from trying to please. And this is how we begin to understand Godís love for us; for it is not in the things we promise, or in the things we do, but God in love looks at us in mercy and gives us the forgiveness we need, but are unable by our efforts to earn.
And this is what brings us back to our text, because Jesus did pay the price to forgive us for all our sins, what God said could happen to us, did happen to Jesus. Stricken, smitten, and afflicted, not because of his sin, but because of ours. Forsaken by God and abandoned, not because of any wrong he had done, but because he took the burden of all our sins upon himself. He paid our debts and gave us forgiveness we had not earned, and salvation, which we could not have obtained.
And if that were not enough, he comes seeking us, bring us a message of comfort and hope:
"Come, let us return to the LORD; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him."
Here is the promise of healing. Here is the promise of a new creation. Here is the promise of salvation. Here is the promise of forgiveness. Here is the promise of life everlasting. All these are ours in Jesus name, because he was abandoned, forsaken by God, stricken smiiten and afflicted in our place. And the assurance of all these promises is this, that Jesus did rise on the 3rd day, just as the scriptures had said he would. Jesus did all this that we might be his own.
It is right for us to do good works. They are an expression of our sorrow and sincere reptenace for our sins. But as a child who by nature does good to show his love for his parents, so we when we do good are not earning Godís love, or securing our own forgiveness, it is not something which we have earned, for this rich treasure which we call salvation was purchased and won for us because the sinless son of God was stricken smitten and afflicted, forsaken by God, all on account of ous sins, that we might be forgiven, and this not of our merit or worthiness, but simply because of the mercy and pity of our gracious heavenly Father who loves us, and gave his Son that we might live.