The prophet Hosea describes the response of truly penitent people who have been turned from their sin by the chastening hand of the Lord. Though he speaks at some length, he distills the attitude in one memorable clause—one that should describe the intention of every redeemed child of God: “let us press on to know the Lord” (Hos. 6:3).
“Let us press on.” The verb is striking. It occurs frequently in the Old Testament. But one additional citation will be sufficient to give the sense of it. When a federation of kings attacked Sodom and Gomorrah, confiscated their food and other goods, and took many captives, including Abraham’s nephew, Lot, we read, “When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. He divided his forces against them by night, he and his servants, and defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people” (Gen. 14:14-16). The noun pursuit and the verb pursued are forms of the word translated press on in our text.
Note several things about the nature of Abraham’s actions.
(1) It was a prompt pursuit (as soon as he heard).
(2) It was a personal pursuit (“he [Abraham] led men born in his own house).
(3) It was a prepared pursuit (“he led out his trained men”).
(4) It was a plenary pursuit (all the trained servants, 318 of them, were enlisted in the effort).
(5) It was a planned pursuit (“He divided his forces against them by night”).
(6) It was a purposeful pursuit (he “defeated them”).
(7) It was a positive pursuit (“He brought back all the goods, and also brought back his relative Lot with his possessions, and also the women, and the people”).
Those seven characteristics describe what it means “to press on.” Put succinctly, this “pressing on” is to be pursued with every fiber of our being. And what is it that a redeemed and chastened people or individual will pursue?
“To know the Lord.” The natural man is consumed with the acquisition of many things: wealth, security, relationships, acclaim, etc. But all are temporal and perish with this present world. Sadly, many believers appear to have no higher ambition than does the natural man, spending their most precious personal resources—time, energy, talents, opportunities—on things that will pass away in a moment. Far too many of us pursue the merely temporal with the same single-minded energy and devotion that Abraham exercised in the rescue of Lot, but we do it for an ignoble purpose.
Hosea would have us understand that our sole pursuit should be to know the Lord. Certainly, in order to survive in this world, we must perform certain natural activities. But what we are to pursue, what we are to press on toward, is “to know the Lord.” Are we prompt to seek the Lord? Are we and our family truly personally engaged in cultivating a relationship with the Lord? Do we prepare to know the Lord by taking time in the Word, in prayer, and in faithfully attending the preaching of the Word? Is our pursuit plenary, involving all we are and have? Do we consciously plan to know the Lord even more assiduously than we plan the other interests in our lives? Is our pursuit purposeful, that is, is our relationship with the Lord better today than it was yesterday? Is it positive: is all that we have under the Lord’s control? Let us press on.
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