Jesus Came to Call Sinners

Hosea is an interesting prophet. God told him to take a wife who was unfaithful, which he did. God said, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord” (Hosea 1:2 ESV). Throughout the book of Hosea, God shows him what it is like when the Israelites forsake God for other gods. They had turned their back on God even though he loved them as his own bride.

In a strange twist, she leaves Hosea after having children and Hosea is told to take her back and love her. Even though Israel sold herself to the Baals, God reveals His heart for his people: “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Jesus quotes this passage when he was criticized for eating with tax collectors and sinners: “Go and learn, what this means: ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).

The heart of the gospel is repentance, a theme that is dominant throughout the entire Bible. God’s plea to Israel is to return to him: “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity” (Hosea 14:1). He makes a promise that he will love his people and will heal their iniquity when they repent. We need to be reminded of God’s mercy for his people. It changes the way we treat “sinner and tax collectors,” the people who God calls to righteousness!