seek meThe final picture then from the end of verse 14 through verse 16 of Hosea 7 shows us A Faulty Bow. “They assemble together for grain and new wine (this is a reference to gathering for worship), they rebel against Me (their worship is an act of rebellion!); 15 Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me (God is saying here that He has told them what to do, He has cared for them and made provision for them and they repay Him with evil, literally trying to harm Him! O the foolishness.); 16 They return, but not to the Most High; they are like a treacherous bow. The term treacherous refers to a bow that doesn’t work. What happens if you are hunting or are at war with a  bow and arrow and when you pull that arrow back on that bowstring there is a malfunction? At best you go home hungry, at worst you go home dead.

Here God is calling His people to repent and return to Him so that they might be useful to Him and they refuse, run the other way, and prove themselves useless. Of course in the event that a bow fails, what usually happens to the archer? Injury. It hurts when a bow malfunctions. It can be deadly in fact.

He closes then in verse 16, “Their princes shall fall by the sword for the cursings of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.” Judgment is certain, sure, swift, and devastating. God tells His people that they are an overheated oven, a half-baked cake, a senseless dove, and a faulty bow. But let’s not leave it there this morning, shall we?

We see here that the people “Return, but not to the Most High.” So let’s answer a pertinent question. What is repentance? God keeps telling His people to return to Him, to repent, to come back, to call, and He will bring healing and restoration and pardon. But the people will not come, they will not return, they will go anywhere but back to Him. The run the other way instead of repenting. So what is true repentance?

Here are a few verses to instruct us:

Joel 2:12 is a call to repentance. It says, “Now, therefore,” says the Lord, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” True repentance is sorrow, it is mourning over our sin. Not merely the consequences, but the sin itself. It is to be grieved over sin, changing our mind about the way we think about sin. Confessing it is sin and not something we should pursue or desire.  Repentance then is a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior. We turn around, away from sin in grief and to God in faith and hope.

Amos 5:4 says, “For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: ‘Seek Me and live.’” Repentance manifests itself by our seeking God. Seeking to come back. Seeking to find Him and be faithful to Him. It is seeking Him instead of our sin and self. Do we seek after God because we want Him, because we want fellowship with Him? Or do we seek God for what we can get from Him?

In Matthew 3:8, John the Baptist preaches, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance.” Simply put, if our repentance is genuine there will be fruit in our life as a result and that fruit will prove our repentance.

Romans 10:9-10 reminds us “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” True repentance is one side of the coin of conversion – we turn away from sin and to Christ in faith. The fruit of repentance then is faith. We seek Him and we believe Him and His promises!

1 John 1:8-9 then tells us, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Repentance includes confession, an admission of our sinfulness.

True repentance then is a change of mind that produces a sorrow over sin as we have a corrected view of sin and self, leads to seeking God and rejecting sin, produces the fruit of faith, and leads to confession and forgiveness.

Perhaps then the most important thing to know about true repentance, it is this: we cannot generate it on our own. We cannot be sorry enough, grief deeply enough, or take the right steps in rejection of our sin without being given repentance as a gift from God! That’s right, just like grace and faith, repentance is a gift, a work of the Spirit through us. Listen to these verses: Acts 5:31 says that “God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” And when the Gentiles were saved at Cornelius’ house in Acts 10 and 11, the response of the Jewish Christians was to proclaim, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:18). Knowing this, we must ask, have we repented? If not, seek the Lord to grant you repentance – to produce this fruit in your heart and mind. It is His work, not a work we conjure up or manufacture. It requires spiritual life and the working of the Spirit to bear this fruit through us. So if we are sorry for the consequences of sin, but not for the sin itself, then we need to seek God for repentance, so that we might turn to Him, and live!