Earlier today, I was reading Hosea, and something in the fourth chapter stood out to me. God accuses Israel of forgetting him and warns of a coming judgment (Hosea 4:1-11) and then directly links sinning against God to sinning against man by declaring that He will not punish the wives for their adultery and the daughters for their whoredom because of the men’s unfaithfulness to God (Hosea 4:12-14). I can almost visualize the prophet yelling to be heard while the people ignore him, too busy organizing community stonings, too focused on their own vengeance.
This passage reminded me of Jesus’ teachings about forgiveness and His “Parable of the Unmerciful Servant” discussed in Matthew 18:15-35. There’s a strong correlation between how we show forgiveness and mercy to each other and how God does the same for us. Like the men in Old Testament Israel and the debtor in Jesus’ story, it is wicked and foolish to expect compassion when there is none. It’s significant that our Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:2-4) suggests that having mercy on others plays a central role in our petitions to Him. To forgive means to be forgiven.