God’s Case Against Israel
Open Your Bible
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.
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.