If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 11–12, 2 Timothy 2, Hosea 3–4, Psalm 119:121–144. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Hosea 3-4.
Hosea 4:6a is probably the best known saying from the book of Hosea: “…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” That passage is often quoted like a proverb even in our secular world. They way that it is used in the secular world suggests that more education is the answer for every human problem. If people were just more knowledgable, they would not be “destroyed.”
I do think that knowledge is important and, perhaps, you could extend the application of this verse into a principle that ignorance in general is damaging. But that is not the immediate message the Lord was sending through Hosea. The knowledge God's people lacked was the knowledge of him, their God. This verse comes in the larger context of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and their covenant with him (3:1, 4:1b-2). Toward the end of verse 1, the phrase “no acknowledgment of God in the land” could (should) be translated, “no knowledge of God in the land” as in the ESV. One of the charges the Lord brings against his people, then, is that they do not know him (v. 1). The consequence of not knowing him in v. 5 is that “my people are destroyed.”
And why did the people lack knowledge? Verse 6b says, “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” The Lord traced the ignorance of his people back to the unfaithful teaching of the priests. One of the role of the priests was to teach God’s law to his people but the priests had “ignored” God’s law. Whatever they were teaching was so much less than the greatness of God for verse 7 says, “they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.”
I don’t talk much about church history, but tomorrow is October 31 which is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. These 95 theses were points of debate that Luther, a committed Catholic monk at that point in his life, wanted to discuss. You can see the 95 Theses, translated into English here. They were mostly about the sale of indulgences. Instead of seeking true repentance from the heart, the church was teaching that people had to do penance for their sins and that penance could be done by buying indulgences. Some of Luther’s theses complained that the church was neglecting the teaching of God’s word in order to teach about indulgences. Some of his language echoes the thoughts we read here in Hosea 4:6-8. Theses 53 and 54 read, “53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others. 54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.”
It seems that spiritual leaders in all ages and eras can be tempted to move away from teaching about God to teaching something else—idolatry, indulgences, relational skills, health & wealth, psychology, or whatever. The result is that God’s people no longer know him; having been deprived of his word, they have no means by which to know what he is truly like.
This is why it is important to teach God’s word in our churches and to read God’s word on our own. I hope these daily readings (most importantly) and my devotionals have helped you know God better. I hope today’s message will do that, too. Are you planning to be here to hear it?
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.