the context was hosea, chapter six.
“What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears…
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:4,6
sacrifice was central to their lives as god’s people. it was how right relationship with god was maintained. it was how hearts were cleansed and priorities were re-established. it was not an empty ritual, but a life-giving expression of their love and devotion to god.
but it had been reduced to religious ritual. it had become a soul-less act of empty tradition. it did not come from the heart…rather, it came from a hollow expectation that if they simply did their part, then god was required to do his. it was not about love. it was about law.
and it had the shelf life of morning dew.
god has never wanted religion, but that’s what he got. and what he still gets.
“i desire mercy, not sacrifice.” he doesn’t want our religious ritual or our sunday traditions or our empty acts of spirituality. he wants us to treat people the way he treats us. with mercy.
mercy is action. mercy sees the human mess and doesn’t run. mercy embraces the dysfunction and distress and hurt and pain of others, and brings relief. mercy treats people the way god treats us.
in life, there’s gonna be offenses, sins, abuse, oppression, atrocities. things will happen to people who never should happen. and because of that, there will be poor people, suffering people, miserable people, broken people, as long as we are in this world.
but that’s why we’re here. to be the samaritans…to be the merciful…to be the lights and the doors that point people to jesus.
leave your religious stuff behind.