The Real Reason the Israelites Sinned
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”
Hosea 4:6 (ESV)
Scripture can often be very encouraging. It can also be very frightening. During the time of Hosea, the people of Israel were disobedient to God. Earlier in the context in verse 2, God says “there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” A pretty grim list of sinful activities. I could not help but notice how “swearing” is listed alongside of sins we would consider today to be much more “serious” such as murder, stealing, and adultery.
Israel had moved so far away from God, that they had completely separated themselves from Him and His protection, taking after idol worship, and the previously mentioned sins from 4:2 (I’m sure that was an abridged list.) God would no longer allow them to exist as a nation, using the Assyrians, who had essentially become a world superpower, to enact his justice. This process began by 740 B.C.
A Lack of Knowledge
Interestingly, we see that sin was not the reason that these judgements from God took place. The sin was merely a symptom. The real problem is explained in verse 6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The Israelites did not retain the knowledge of God and His law. They had failed to pass this knowledge from generation to generation, and this is what ultimately caused their rebellion. The end of verse 1 also emphasizes this saying, “There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land.”
This illuminates a crucial concept for application in our lives today. That is, the importance of continually growing in knowledge of the Truth, the Word of God, His law. I must express, however, that this knowledge spoken of in Hosea 4 is not like any other knowledge of the world. It is not a greater understanding of our laws of nature, physics, or mathematics. It is not a knowledge of biology, or economics. The knowledge here is the knowledge of God. It is the kind of knowledge that can only come from a deeper study of the Bible, His Word.
There is nothing wrong with learning and gaining a deeper knowledge of worldly things. Problems arise, however, when striving after this kind of knowledge becomes our only focus. Individuals with this kind of focus become like those spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:7, who are so easily led astray, “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.” Worldly knowledge benefits some, but the knowledge of Truth, the Word, is eternal.
Knowledge Builds Faith
Godly knowledge may be an even deeper cornerstone for your life than you even realize. From reading Romans 10:17, we understand that, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Knowledge of the Truth is the foundation of our faith. Knowledge is what builds our faith.
This is why Israel failed. Because of their lack of knowledge, their hearts ultimately turned away from God; they stopped believing and trusting in Him, and they stopped following His laws. The very same thing happens to us today. When God’s word is no longer “written on our hearts,” our faith, which is the thing that causes us to take action in belief, suffers.
2 Peter 3:17-18
“17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
More knowledge can directly translate into more faith, and the more faith we have, the better our lives and the more pleasing we are to God. (Hebrews 11:6)
- Skyler Meek