A Call to Return
The commands have two elements. The first has the idea to wake up. The second is the idea to return to God. The return is not to a physical location but to the proper and right relationships with God. Just as Gomer was called to return to Hosea, so the prophet calls Israel to return to her proper and blessed relationship with God.
God has allowed difficulty but he holds out the hope for a reversal of the heart and the brokenness. God’s discipline has an end goal in mind: to bring the heart back to a healed relationship.
The prophet encourages the people to know God. This knowledge of God includes knowing what God desires and acknowledging Him through obedience. This is the primary act of repentance.
God’s Desire and Will
God’s people at the time had a short live faithfulness. Their faithfulness had a beginning but ended just as quickly. God would let His people know the true condition of their relationship. What does God think of my faithfulness? Would He approve or correct my faithfulness?
Just like Adam
Sin has always been the issue that destroys our relationship with God. Sin includes actions, choices, beliefs, and desires. The first sin is still lived today – what I want vs. what God wants. The result of choosing my way over God’s becomes the fertile ground for a self-destructive community. God consistently calls to return to a blessed relationship.
Jesus and the Call to Return
The ministry of Jesus continued the prophetic call to return to God. His call to return to God always invited a change from sinful action to righteous action. Jesus was often criticized for eating and hanging out with sinners. His meeting with sinners was never to simply accept them as they were but to receive them as repentant sinners and transform them into sons and daughters.
Understanding and Responding to the Call to Repent
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day misunderstood true repentance. Holiness would be defined by their own guidelines which appeared holy but developed into a false obedience, a sacrifice without obedience. Today the legalistic and liberal approach to holiness share much with the Pharisee. They are based upon a self-directed view of holiness. God will always call us to align our actions, thoughts, beliefs, and desires to His word.