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In verses 4-6 of Hosea 4, the prophet delves a little deeper in to the indictment and into the lack of knowledge. 4 “Now let no man contend, or rebuke another; for your people are like those who contend with the priest. 5 Therefore you shall stumble in the day; the prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”

To contend or rebuke here in verse 4 means to seek to excuse. It is fighting to justify our actions. God proclaims them guilty and says that they have no excuse, no rationalization. He has said that the people are unfaithful and it is like they reply, “Yes, but…” There is no but, there is no reason, there is no escape. They are unfaithful and have no grounds to protest the charges.

He says that they are like those who contend with the priest. This is best understood as a word picture. Imagine if you will, a priest or a pastor standing to teach God’s Word so that the people are instructed in what to believe and how to act and in the middle of that someone stands up to argue or debate or deny what is being taught. Instead of submitting to the truth and to the teacher they stiffen their necks and want to fight about it. They resist. And this can only lead to one thing – to a fall. Therefore you shall stumble in the day. There is also going to be darkness – when the light of truth is obscured by the darkness of false teaching and false doctrine, people, even the prophets, will stumble. Therefore you shall stumble in the day; the prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother. Mother here is a reference to the nation. The people, the prophets and priests, and the nation are all going to suffer the consequences of the sinfulness that has been described.

How does this destruction come about? Verse 6 tells us, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” What lack of knowledge is this? Is this theological knowledge? Doctrinal knowledge? Again, God is saying here that the people do not know Him. It is not as if there are facts missing and if someone would just teach them what to fill in the blanks then they would be spared. No. This is not about learning information. It is about walking in communion! They don’t know God. The only outcome we can expect in a life with no knowledge of God is indeed destruction. And remember, they do not know because they have chosen not to know – they have actively repressed the knowledge of the truth, the knowledge of God. Again, from Romans 1, “they suppress the truth in unrighteousness” and “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge.”

Think about this now, as we have heard Hosea tell the people about the love of God and about the lengths to which He will go to redeem them, and even still people willfully rebel, reject, and rebuff the truth about God.

The result is that the people are being rejected. “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” To reject them from being a priest means that they will no longer speak for Him or minister or serve before Him. They are going to be rejected and removed.

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