“So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually.” -Hosea 12:6
Israel was a mess.
They were indulging in sin: idols, immoral pleasures and ultimately a complete rejection of the true and living God.
Throughout the entire book of Hosea we see God reaching out His hand of mercy to the nation of Israel, but they simply would not grab ahold of Him. They were not interested in returning to God, and because of that we discover that the book of Hosea is full of warnings of judgment and wrath.
It’s quite a terrifying book to read.
Yet, God never stops reaching out His hands of mercy in hopes that the nation of Israel would return to Him.
In Hosea 12:6, we discover 3 very clear and vital signs of true repentance.
1. In the first place, we must realize that we need God’s help to return to God.
“So you, by the help of your God, return…”
Our ability to return to God in any way must be empowered by God Himself.
Yes, the choice is yours, but the strength to do so is not.
Do not try in your own strength. Not only will you fail in returning God, but you may very well fall further away from Him than you were before.
Much like a man unfit to climb a wall, he may appear to be making progress only to lose strength and crash hard at the bottom only to be left in a worse condition than before.
Jesus warned us of this in a parable:
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” -Matthew 12:43–45
Jesus describes a man who appears to have made himself clean by driving out the evils in his life, but it was still void of God. It was only a matter of time before that evil came back seven times stronger -making the last state of the man worse than the first.
You can return to God, but you need His help!
Do not think for a moment that going to church and cleaning up your act is returning to Him. It’s not.
A truly repentant person is exhausted of their own efforts to please God and realizes they must fully rely on His grace and mercy for repentance.
Think about it.
How you return to God shows if you really are returning to God.
This may or may not sound profound, but returning to God is returning to God, not to works and things we think please God.
2. In the second place, true repentance brings a shift in thinking and living.
“So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice…”
Before returning to God, we were caught up in comparing ourselves with others. We compared our bank accounts, our marriages, our morality… you name it. We did this judgmentally to justify our lives without God.
But once a man returns to God, the way he observes life will shift.
We will observe life through the lens of mercy and justice.
That is, rather than comparing yourself to the poor you begin to have mercy on the poor. Rather than judging the immorality of a sinner, you mourn their sin that has them trapped in bondage.
A man who nominally repents doesn’t have this shift in thinking -and it sooner or later becomes obvious. They begin to compare their spiritual lives against others, and overlook their own sins only to judge others’ sins.
The truly repentant man will find a new found compassion in his heart for other sinners and saints, because he realizes that he is only where he’s at because of the mercy and justice of God on his own life.
3. In the last place, we must wait on God if we are to live in repentance.
“So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually.”
Wait on God continually.
By waiting, Hosea doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting for God to do something. Hosea is referring to an intentional and continual relationship with God.
A life of repentance reflects a life of relationship with God.
In the words of the Psalmist:
“Be still, and know that I am God…” -Psalm 46:10
Waiting on God also contains a series of implications for our lives, like prayer, bible study, fellowship, spirit-led actions and works.
To bring more clarity, other translations of Hosea 12:6 are written this way:
“So now, come back to your God. Act with love and justice, and always depend on him.” -Hosea 12:6 (New Living Translation)
“But you must return to your God. Maintain love and justice, and always put your hope in God.” -Hosea 12:6 (Holman Bible)
Are you waiting on God continually?
Are you putting your trust and faith and hope in Him?
A life of repentance is not just a life away from sin, but a life close to God.
“Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!” -Psalm 27:14
“But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” -Isaiah 40:31