“There is no truth or mercy
Or knowledge of God in the land.” Hos 4:1
Truth and mercy are always found together in the Scriptures. The misconception we often have about God or His Word or His Law, is that if truth, then not mercy. Mercy is not the opposite of truth but the sister of truth. His Law itself commands mercy; it commands the altar and the sacrifices for sin, which are a prophetic picture of the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua, by which the LORD poured His mercy out on us. When we do not see God or His commandments as they really are — the expression of truth AND mercy — then we lose the knowledge of God.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.” Hos 4:6
“Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment,
Because he willingly walked by human precept.” Hos 5:11
So Israel and Ephraim fell into that trap, they bought the lie the enemy is so eager to sell us: God and His Word and His Law and His commandments and ultimately, His righteousness (for the commandments are the description of what His righteousness looks like put into practice) express truth without mercy, and once someone accepts that one- sided or distorted picture of God, they reject Him; they reject His knowledge. Please note that the knowledge of God includes knowing and walking in the Law or Torah of God!
A bunny trail note to parents: do not forget the Law of God, because there is nothing worse in this life than God forgetting your children. You do not want your children out in this world alone and without God. Yes, let us teach the Law to our children, and not just with head knowledge, but in Hebrew thought they have not learned it until they are walking in it. And this is what God means, parents: do not let the parents forget the Law of God – do not let the parents stop walking in the Law of God themselves. I am talking about resting on the seventh day and not the first day, and everything else the Law commands. We must let the Word of God be our only rule for faith and practice, and not the word of man or the traditions of man.
“They eat up the sin of My people;
They set their heart on their iniquity.” Hos 4:8
That Ephraim set his heart on iniquity and not on the LORD God (Deu 6:5) is the root of Ephraim’s problem. A spirit of harlotry has no effect on someone whose heart is set in love on the LORD their God.
“I know Ephraim,
And Israel is not hidden from Me;
For now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry;
Israel is defiled.
They do not direct their deeds
Toward turning to their God,
For the spirit of harlotry is in their midst,
And they do not know the LORD.” Hos 5:3-4
They did not know the LORD – they did not understand not only His truth but also His mercy. If we know that the LORD is merciful, then we are not slow to return and repent to Him. But the LORD knew Ephraim, and knows us — He knows what the root of whatever besetting sin is in our life, and exactly how to purge that root from us.
“With their flocks and herds
They shall go to seek the LORD,
But they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn Himself from them.” Hos 5:6
We learned in Isaiah that He withdraws from us when our unrepented sins have offended His holiness (Isa 59:2). That we get caught in a sin does not offend Him. That we do not repent of that sin, and so continue to walk in it, is what offends Him.
“I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense.
Then they will seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” Hos 5:15
This is why the LORD brought affliction on them: as a loving Father, He was chastising them for their good, so that they would return and seek Him. Now notice the amazing thing that the LORD says here — in the Old Testament — His desire for them is that they acknowledge their offense. Just admit that they sinned and did not measure up to the righteous requirement of His Law — His truth. Why? So that then, He might pour out His mercy on them. Truth and mercy are sisters, remember.
God is not a perfectionist! He knows that perfect obedience to His Law is beyond us; and that is why an entire book of Torah is dedicated almost solely to the Law of sacrifices and atonement for sin. But the enemy is a perfectionist: if we cannot obey everything perfectly, then he encourages us to give up altogether and reject God and His knowledge. No, God desires us to love Him because He loves us; out of that love we obey Him; when we miss the mark every once in a while, He desires that we acknowledge our sin, that He might forgive us.
Truth AND mercy, walking arm in arm!