When I was reading Hosea today, I noticed a curious thing. First, there was this verse:
With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find him; he has withdrawn from them
The gist of this verse basically being, they went somewhere expecting to find God, but he was not there! If you spend a significant amount of time in scripture I can promise you two things: 1) You will never see Scripture contradicting itself. 2) You will think you have seen just that.
This is a paradox. A paradox is something that seems to be a contradiction, but is actually true. Scripture is riddled with these. Just look at the call of a Christian life, to gain our lives, we must lose them.
Many times when we see a paradox, the clarification is contained within the verse, or follows it closely.
The paradox we see here is this: this verse says that people are seeking God, but he is not there. How does this jive with “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7)? How is it that they are seeking God, yet not finding him? We get the answer in verse 15:
I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt, and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.
Judah is seeking God, but it is not earnestly. The do not want him. They are expecting to find him, but not for the purpose of finding him. They want what God gives them, namely, deliverance. They do not want God himself.
God says, “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt.” So they first must know that they are guilty. Then he says, “and seek my face.” Next they must want God himself, not just the things he give. And then, the coupling of the two, “and in their distress earnestly seek me.” God wants us to see our desperate need, acknowledge that our problems are our own fault (not his), and finally, see that only he can satisfy our needs.
How often do you find yourself “seeking God,” only so that he will give you a gift, and hopefully send you away? May we be a people who seeks God earnestly.