Destroyed from Lack of Knowledge

by LA UBF   12/07/2008     0 reads



 My People Are Destroyed from Lack of Knowledge

Hosea 1:1-14:9

Key Verse 4:6a

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”

Welcome to the study of the book of Hosea. Hosea was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah. The Hebrew meaning of the name Hosea is "saved" or "salvation." The meaning of his name is similar to that of the Prophet Isaiah’s which is "Yahweh is my salvation." 

This raises a question: "The Lord God already granted a great prophet in Isaiah for the people of his day, yet why did the Lord find it necessary to establish another prophet? The visions contained in Isaiah are quite extensive. Yet, what additional message or messages did the Lord intend to convey through Hosea?" 

We can find the answer to this question from the way each of the two books begins. In the case of Isaiah, the book begins with the "vision" whereas the book of Hosea the prophet begins with "The word [of the Lord].” Isaiah states that the book contains the vision which "Isaiah" saw, indicating that the emphasis is on the "role" of the prophet. However, in the case of Hosea, the book begins, saying, "The word of the Lord that came to Hosea," which suggests that the emphasis is on the "source" of the prophecy, that is, the Lord. We can better understand Hosea's emphasis on the "source" of the prophecy, that is, the Lord himself, because the book includes commands which are very difficult for anyone to believe that they indeed came from the Lord. One of such examples is the call for Hosea to marry a prostitute. Yet as unbelievable as it is, Hosea maintains that according to the word of the Lord he married Gomer, a loose woman. Then the message that is even more unbelievable than this is the testimony that the Lord God still chose to love the Israelites who are compared to an unfaithful woman. So let us begin the study noting that the source of the prophecy written in Hosea [as unbelievable as it might be] is indeed the Lord. 

When it is indeed the Lord who asked a holy prophet to marry a prostitute, we can rest assured that the Lord indeed had messages to convey even through such a harsh arrangement. What then is the message for us? Obviously, the answer is found in the “arranged marriage between Hosea and Gomer.” 

The Lord used this arrangement as a device (or tool) to deliver messages. In this marriage, Hosea plays the role of the Lord God, for the Lord compares himself to a “husband” (as in saying, “I am not her husband”[2:2], whereas Gomer plays the role of the Israelites, for the Lord compares the nation Israel to a “wife” (as in saying, “she is not my wife”[2:2]).  Obviously, this marriage went “dysfunctional”: it took a destructive course [that is, resulting in the Lord’s temple being destroyed, with his people being exiled to a foreign nation]. The true question that really matters to all of us then is this: why is it that a woman would be unfaithful to a husband (who is infinitely perfect) and thereby suffer from all the ill consequences of her unfaithfulness? If any husband is ever so imperfect or insufficient or incompetent, however slightly, then it makes some sense when the woman starts considering going for another husband (who is better, no matter how slightly). But in the case of the Israelites, they had the Lord God who is totally graceful, totally powerful, and totally resourceful, that no matter how much they ever searched, they would never be able to find a better husband than the Lord. Yet, as the Prophet Hosea ever so painfully describes, the Israelites were unfaithful to the Lord. They became like a prostitute who abandoned Prince Charming (in the true sense of the words), and went for Mr. Totally Good For Nothing, and thereby exchanged life and prosperity for death and destruction. Question: Why?  

In the key verse the Prophet Hosea offers the answer to the question: "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." Hosea's answer comes to us as trustworthy for, unlike other prophets, he himself had the opportunity to live together with prostitute, so he better understands the way (or psychology, if you will) of a prostitute. It is not improbable that as a husband Hosea must have done his best to get Gomer to come to know him (particularly all of his good intention for her, for he was quite capable of fulfilling all of the good desires deeply seated within her), and yet she still failed to get to know him. This might have prompted Hosea to ask himself, "What is wrong with her? Why does she operate the way she operates? What is her real problem?" 

The Scriptures says that the way of the unfaithful is hard (Proverbs 13:15). Hosea saw that Gomer walked this way. Perhaps Gomer knew the hardness of the life of an adulteress far better than anyone else. Yet why did she choose a life that is "hard"? Without a doubt, like everyone else, she too must have desired to see her life flowing with the cup of joy, peace and comfort. Yet why did she reject the way of ease and comfort and choose the way of thorns and thistles? 

When Hosea asked questions like these, he was able to better understand the Lord in dealing with the Israelites, for the position of the Lord was that of Hosea, whereas the position of the Israelites were no different than that of Gomer (cf. Hoses 2:2,7,16).

Let us then focus on the answer the Lord revealed to Hosea: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” 

First, my people.

As used here in Hosea, "my people" refers to those who already know the Lord. They are so-called "believers". Unlike all other nations, it was only the Israelites whom the Lord chose and trained. 

Today they are comparable to those who go to church every Sunday. They call God, "Lord, Lord." Yet, it was these people whom the Lord says, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." 

This observation tells us that not all who participate in church activities, not all who know how to recite the Apostles' Creed or the Lord's prayer, are immune from the problem that causes destruction to them. It is very probable that even those who preach at the pulpit intentionally reject or ignore the Lord, all in sheer blindness (or ignorance, i.e., lack of true knowledge of the Lord). They may recite Bible verses or expound on them beautifully on Sundays or in public gatherings, but it is possible that in their practical life they stumble and grope in darkness as the Prophet Hosea says in 4:5, "You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you." 

One pastor thought that his teenage son was a good (born-again) Christian for he used to attend the church. But one day the boy stood up and said, "Dad, I am gay. Since your church does not welcome gays I would like to attend another church." Since then the son no longer attends the father’s church. 

Dr. Marvin Newwell of the Moody Bible Institute mentioned that about 80% of the missionaries working overseas are called in due to their addiction to internet pornography. 

Ed Haggard, a pastor of New Life Church of Colorado Springs, with a congregation of more than 10,000 members, and a leader of the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals), used to condemn homosexual activity. Yet, it turned out that he used to see a gay prostitute regularly. 

These examples are nothing new. In the book of Hosea we see the exact same problems. Hosea employs such expressions as, "A spirit of prostitution leads them away..." (4:10), "They are all adulterers, burning like an oven." (7:4), "Their hearts are like an oven...Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire." (7:6), "Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over." (7:8) "Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless--" (7:10) "I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me." (7:15) Why?

Second, my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." According to this passage, lack of knowledge is the cause for God’s people taking a destructive course. This means that we cannot afford to go on without knowledge. 

“Knowledge” as used here is the knowledge of the Lord. According to [the general flow of the book of] Hosea, knowledge of the Lord begins with acknowledging Him. In Hosea the word "acknowledge" is repeated seven times. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "acknowledge" means "to confess, avow, or admit the existence, reality, or truth of; to recognize as being valid or having force or power; to express recognition of; to express thanks or gratitude for...; to accept or certify as legally binding." As the dictionary states, acknowledging the Lord means to confess, avow, or admit the existence, reality, and truth of the Lord. Acknowledging the Lord denotes the life that recognizes the Lord as being valid, having force and power; it refers to the life that is thankful to the Lord. It stands for the life that accepts the word of the Lord as legally binding. 

Aside from the dictionary definition, the Bible itself affirms the truth that acknowledging the Lord is the source of the body of all the knowledge that helps man to have life and have it to the full. In Genesis 1-2 we are told that the Lord God created man in his image. Imbedded in each parson is the image of God. One of the features of the image of God built in a man is the ability for man to come to know God, have fellowship with God, and produce fruit out of the fellowship with Him. 

According to the Bible (such as Hosea) the relationship between God and man is meant to be intimate, even as intimate as the relationship between a husband and a wife ought to be, so that in many places of the Scriptures the Lord calls himself the husband and the people Israel his wife. But the problem with Israel was that they were not faithful to the Lord. So Hosea was asked to go and marry an adulterous woman. 

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” While the lack of knowledge of the Lord leads man to destruction, the increase in and the fullness of the knowledge of the Lord leads man to life and prosperity. Speaking of the same truth, the Apostle Isaiah says in Isaiah 11:9, "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea." 

In Hebrews 1:3 it is written: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." This passage tells us that in Jesus Christ we can find all we need to know God. God loaded up in Jesus all we need to know about Him that we can call Jesus the Storehouse of God, or the Living Encyclopedia on the knowledge of God. [Read also John 1:1, 14, 18, and 14:9]  

When Jesus came he saw many suffering from all kinds of problems, such as diseases. Knowing that they are destroyed from the lack of knowledge, he taught them many things to enlighten them to know the way of life and prosperity. The four gospels record his teachings and good deeds. 

Our day to day experience shows us that when we go by his words (that is, the knowledge of him), we thrive; when we go against them, we are walking on the way of destruction. 

In the book of Hosea, the Israelites were shown as resembling a loose woman. A loose woman or a loose man becomes unfaithful to one's marriage partner. Then they end up breaking the hearts of many, particularly their children. 

This is true not only on an individual level but on a collective level. The Israelites were unfaithful to the Lord. They flirted with foreign nations such as Assyria or Egypt. Had they asked the Lord for help, the Lord could have led them to the way of peace and comfort. But since they abandoned the Lord and asked these heathen nations for help, instead of offering the necessary help, they came and violated the land and her people (5:13; 7:11; 8:9; cf. Isaiah 7:18-25).

Just as the lack of knowledge of the Lord is responsible for the destruction of man's life, so also the abundance of knowledge of the Lord fosters the environment in which man's life thrives. This is true on all levels of man's existence. Physically, when one adopts the way of the Lord, like loving the Lord and loving one's neighbor as oneself, the Lord blesses him and all who come to him. As one meditates on the word of the Lord and obeys his word despite counter influence, the Lord fills him with His Spirit who in turn enables him to bear good fruit. 

In conclusion, we have learned that God gave us Jesus Christ who represents the sum total of the incarnate knowledge of God, so that by coming to know him and copying his example we can live a life that is prosperous. Hosea also teaches us that we need to spread the knowledge of the Son, so many would know the Lord and walk the way of life and prosperity. 

One word: my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge 


Class Exercise:

1. Among the following, who is (are) not Hosea's contemporaries: Isaiah; Amos; Micah; Ezekiel? _____________ 

2. “Ephraim” as used in the book of Hosea refers to: ____________.

3. When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, "Go, take to yourself an _____ wife and children of ________, because ___________________________." 

4. True or false? _________ 

Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi were born between Hosea and Gomer.

5. Which of the following Bible passages is not included in the book of Hosea?

1) I desire mercy, not sacrifice

2) Do not rejoice, O Israel

3) Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.

4) I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.

5) Where, O death is your sting?

6) Where, O grave is your destruction?

The end