O israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.
2 Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.
3 Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.
4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.
5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
6 His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.
7 They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From me is thy fruit found.
9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.
What makes an acceptable sacrifice? Cain offered fruit and his sacrifice was rejected while Abel offered a lamb which was accepted. (see Genesis 4:3-7). Apparently, the answer lies in the fact that it is no real sacrifice to offer fruit: Nothing has to die, nothing gives its lifeblood to make an atonement. Harvesting fruit really doesn’t even hurt the tree or plant in any way. It’s a sacrifice that costs nothing.
That is why the wording of Hosea 14:2 is so interesting, “Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.” (KJV) Here, the allusion is that there is a sacrifice of words that the Lord will find acceptable. It’s not implying that words have the power to atone for sins. Rather, it is saying that when we turn to the Lord, we should make a confession that costs us something. We need to say the words of repentance that will change everything. A heartfelt “I’m sorry” is a good place to start, along with a “Thy will be done.” This is a prayer the Lord finds acceptable.
Karen D. Lifshay
Church Communications Secretary, Hermiston, Oregon USA