Day 5

God’s Case Against Israel

from the Hosea reading plan


Hosea 4:1-19, Proverbs 19:2, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

BY Guest Writer

Text: Hosea 4:1-19, Proverbs 19:2, 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

I was raised in the church, which means I speak “Christian” rather fluently.

Terms like “quiet time” and “sinner’s prayer,” or cautionary calls to “guard your heart” and “pray for a hedge of protection”—I know all the buzz words. When I went to seminary, I learned even bigger words like “sanctification” and “justification.” Between my background and my education, you could say I know a lot about the Bible.

However, I need to confess something about all that “knowledge.” Sometimes, I coast on it. Sometimes, I rely on my familiarity with Scripture, instead of actually opening up God’s Word. Sometimes, I assume what Jesus’ response would be, instead of looking it up for myself. Sometimes, I quote verses that fit the situation, instead of exploring Scripture for a fresh perspective. And sometimes, I substitute vague, scattered prayers for intentional time in God’s Word.

I can go weeks without actually reading the Bible, and no one will ever know. I can mask my neglected faith as a flourishing one, simply because I know the right answers.

But I can’t do it for long because I am a human being, and human beings forget. We forget God’s faithfulness and we forget His truths, which means we must return to His Word daily. Like water, like food, we must consume Scripture day after day, because our broken minds will struggle to recall it. No matter how familiar we are with God’s Word, we will forget it.

This is exactly what happened to the Israelites in Hosea. Israel was a people whose history was intertwined with God. His Word and His truth were written into their very identity. And yet, God had this against them:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).

According to Old Testament scholar David Allan Hubbard, this “knowledge” refers specifically to the knowledge of God, a knowledge the Israelite priests had failed to pass on. The people of Israel had, collectively, forgotten who they were. They had forgotten whose they were. And throughout chapter 4, we see the terrible consequences of their forgetting.

When you know a lot about God, it’s tempting to take that knowledge for granted. It’s easy to treat your soul like a hard drive, as if you can download the data and click “save.” But our hearts and our minds are more like leaky buckets. Given enough time away from the source, all the water eventually drains out.

Proverbs 19:2 tells us, “Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.” This verse discourages us from rushing to judgment, or letting our emotions carry us away, but it also has something larger in view. This verse is about the entirety of the Christian life. No matter your upbringing, no matter your desire to serve God, your soul requires daily doses of the knowledge of God. Without it, your heart will slowly wander astray.

In that sense, the story of the Israelites is a cautionary tale. The Israelites weren’t any different from you and me. They simply forgot. The truth of God, which gives freedom and life, was not a part of their daily diet, so their souls began to stray, and their lifestyles followed.

I am always amazed at how easily we forget. No matter what God does, we forget. Without the “daily bread” of His Word, we can’t remember how to live. That is why, I suspect, there is a deeper invitation behind the simple words, “Hear the word of the Lord.” It’s not just a call to listen, but a call to life.

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Sharon Hodde Miller is a writer, speaker, pastor’s wife, and mom of two boys. She is a regular contributor to Christianity Today and recently completed her Ph.D, which focused on cultivating the gifts of women in the church.

Post Comments (98)

98 thoughts on "God’s Case Against Israel"

  1. Christine says:

    I am in high school and this felt so applicable in my life. I take for granted the Word of God and always forget that if my heart is not anchored in the Word, my life is then shackled to this world. There is freedom in God but there is renewal in His Word.

  2. RACHEL MILLER says:

    So good. The Lord knows how to give exactly what we need to fill our hearts and remind us of the gift we have of His living word.

  3. Carly says:

    This explained what I have been feeling for months! I was basically born in the sanctuary and have grown up surrounded by these terms and prayers. So much so that I have to stop and remind myself of why I believe what I believe. Most of the time, I believe because it’s what I’ve been essentially forced to believe. Returning to scripture daily helps me understand why we pray before we eat, why we love each other unconditionally, why we serve, why we lead, why we do everything we do. I’m learning day by day to serve God not just because it’s how I’ve been taught, but because He is worthy. Thankful for this sweet encouragement today!

  4. Paris says:

    This hit home!

  5. Lindsey says:

    As a busy mom of three young children, quiet time sometimes seemed insignificant in the midst of dirty dishes and crying. It almost irritated me that I had to check off This task to stay on God’s good side. Recently, I’ve discovered God’s grace. For someone who grew up in church, it is high time that I got a revelation. I had hit a wall and I just didn’t have enough of anything to give. Not enough patience, not enough time, not enough of me. The words ‘not enough’ rolled around my mind daily as I would lose my temper or the house would be a wreck. In came grace. God showed me that taking time in His Word and praying each morning was like opening a gift. He would provide all of the love, grace and patience that I needed for that particular day. Now, I see this time so differently. It is life sustaining. Just like the Israelites couldn’t gather more manna than what they needed for the day, my time in God’s presence is a gift for that day. It won’t last until tomorrow and the next day. Daily time in God’s word is the gift I get to open, so I can be enough for the ministry God has called me.

  6. Mandy S says:

    This one hit home today. I am behind on reading these but God knows what we need to hear and when. What she wrote is so me! I can coast by and no one knows it’s been weeks since I read my bible. I grew up in the church and have heard it all my life. I know all the stories but I human minds fail us and we start to forget. Out of sight out of mind as I was told. A great encouragement to try hard to stay in the word. Difficult since I am a stay at home mom of two small, very active boys. I try to get up before them but then they get up early… I try to do it at nap and then they refuse to go to sleep or picking up the house takes priority. Then I try to do it before bed and fall asleep with my son… All the more reason to try harder . I am so glad I found this place!

  7. Whitney says:

    For me it’s so so easy to stray away from the word so it was nice seeing this!

  8. Heather says:

    This touched me deeply. How often I have fallen in and out of the habit of reading. Praising Him for these words.

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