This devotional is about 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. The 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 message the Lord was sending through Hosea.
The “lack of knowledge” God decries here is a lack of knowing 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 4:1, 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.”
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, 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.
Churches today are filled with big entertainment and therapeutic messages but very little content about God. When people do not know God, their worship becomes shallow and self-centered and their desire to learn and obey his commands dries up.
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.