God desires…………

Has it ever crossed your mind, “What does God desire of me?” Our minds can go in many different directions. The best answer isn’t what we think or feel, but what does the Tanach say. The Prophet Hosea in chapter 6 gives us the answer.

It is so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and feelings thinking we know what God desires. There are 613 commandments given in the Torah to guide us along the way. The Torah in Leviticus goes into great detail describing the “sacrificial system”, and it even lays out the procedure for forgiveness in case of an “unintentional sin”, and the “intentional” sin. But all that is in the Torah losses its meaning, if it doesn’t become a part of us. Is it a guide to live my life by, or is it an obligation to obey hoping to have favor with my Creator. Why do I follow Torah? Is it a part of me, or am I striving to be a part of it?

The book of Hosea is the first of the Prophetic books in a group called “The Twelve”.1 Hosea prophesied during the 40 years preceding the Kingdom of Israels fall.2 The country had drifted away from God and fallen into sin. Hosea prophecies to the Northern Kingdom warning them, giving them opportunity to repent and return to righteousness. However this does not happen, and the Northern Kingdom is taken into captivity by Aseria.3

Hosea 6:6 actually begins several verses before. Hosea hears God say, “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you?” This should be the first clue that what is about to follow will probably be a correction. He goes on to say, “For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the morning due, it goes away.” Ephraim4 and Judah are seen by God as not being faithful, this would be very disappointing. In verse 5 God continues with, “Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And your judgments are like light that goes forth.” Using graphical words God is describing how He has tried to bring correction, by hewning using the prophets, and using words to slay them. After this effort by God to bring correction, the judgments they made was like a light. We can see a light, but there is no substance. This was the description of what God saw, summed up in a few words.

In verse 6 He tells them what He does desire. The New King James translates this as, “I desire mercy”. The word mercy can be understood in several ways. For me, when I think of the word “mercy”, I immediately think of having compassion on something, like a person, an animal, or an object. Similar to a person that has been convicted of a crime, asking/begging for mercy before a judge. The actual word that Hosea used was the Hebrew word, “chesed”5 (English – faithfulness). It is interesting to note that this same Hebrew word was used in verse 4 describing what God was disappointed about. He says in verse 4, “for your chesed is as a morning cloud,”. The New King James translates it as faithfulness in verse 4 and then translates it as mercy in verse 6. Why does the translator change “chesed” to a word that does not fit into the context of the verses? Faithfulness makes sense because it is “faithfulness” that was lacking and it is “faithfulness” that God desired. The question then arises, faithfulness to what? Was it faithfulness to a particular commandment, to our leaders, to the daily Levitate routine of Temple worship, or to what? My opinion, the answer to this question is, Faithfulness to God. Plain and simple, they were not faithful to Him on all accounts. God gave us the Torah as a guide on how He desires for us to live our lives. To be faithful to Torah is being faithful to God. However to be truly faithful is when the Torah becomes a part of our lives. It’s when it becomes natural or an integrate part of our life. God is more interested in that than the sacrificial system, of sacrifices, and offerings. Sacrifices and offerings are part of Torah, but an “olah” offering6 is an offering to God, not to those you live with and interact with. The offerings and sacrifices are important; their part of the Torah. But Gods desire in being faithful is for us to ultimately live a holy righteous life, before Him and with our interactions with others, as He describes in the Torah, not just doing the offerings and sacrifices. It may be viewed as, “lets get all the physical stuff done, and get on with our lives”, as opposed to studying all of Torah and adopting all of it to how we live.

The writer of Matthew uses this verse from Hosea, describing Jesus’ reply when he comments, pertaining to the Pharisees asking his disciples why does Jesus eat with the Publicans and sinners? Jesus heard the question and he commented back,

“They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick”.

I take this as rather than eating with the righteous, which in this case would be the Pharisee, he is choosing to eat with the non righteous. It is during a meal when very interesting conversations can take place. This gives Jesus a very good opportunity to present Torah to these people, as opposed to eating with the Pharisees where the conversation would probably be on topics that would not be life changing. But then in verse 13 he tells them to go learn what is meant by Hosea when he says,

“I will have mercy and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance.”7

Matt 9:13b

If you notice the colon after the word sacrifice, indicating the following explains what is previous to the colon. He is saying that, “I will have mercy and not sacrifice” means that he is there not for the righteous but for the sinners, to draw them to repentance. The writer uses the Greek word “eleos” that translates to English as: mercy, kindness or good will. This is not equivalent to the Hebrew word used by Hosea. I think it becomes obvious that the writer of Matthew misquotes Hosea, first by leaving out most of the passage, and then uses a Greek word that has a totally different meaning than the original Hebrew.

If the person translating the Hosea Scripture had used the original Hebrew text in Hosea 6:6 it would not have aligned with the passage in Matthew. It would have been been, “I desire faithfulness” contrasted to Matthew’s, “I will have mercy”. If the Christian translators translate to satisfy New Testament passages, than how trustworthy are their translations of the Holy Scriptures. I suggest checking out the Jewish translations of the Tanach. But we have to always be aware that what we are reading is a translation of the Scripture, it is always better to read the Hebrew. It’s never too late to start taking Hebrew lessons.

You may want to check out my article: Satin – whats in a name?

by, Jim Behnke


1The Twelve Prophets consist of: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah, & Malachi. They are sometimes referred to as the Minor Prophets, however the word “minor” is misleading. The word minor only distinguishes the twelve from the other prophetic books because of size, not content.

2760-720 BCE

3The Northern Kingdom (aka. Kingdom of Israel, Ephraim, Samaria) is taken into captivity by Assyria (a very powerful nation) began in 740 BCE

4Ephraim aka The Northern Tribes, Kingdom of Israel

5Chesed – transliterated – Hebrew word for faithfulness

6Olom offering is a burnt offering – meaning an ascending offering. It ascends up to God.

7Matthew 9:13b

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