I was reading Hosea early this week when two phrases jumped out at me from this verse:
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. (Hos. 4:6)
The phrases were “rejected knowledge” and “thou hast forgotten the law of God.” I also accidentally loaded an NIV translation which renders the word “forgotten” as “ignored.” I’m not sure which translation I like better — forgetting makes me think of gradually letting something slip your mind because you don’t think about it, while ignoring sounds more like a conscious choice. Either way, it is a dangerous thing to do with God’s law.
Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.” (Hos. 4:1)
Destruction comes upon those who reject knowledge of God, and who forget God’s law. It is so very important that we continue to grow in knowledge of God and keep His commandments.
Knowledge of God
According to my study Bible, the Hebrew word translated “knowledge” is H1847 dha’ath. it refers to knowledge gained through the senses, and is the opposite of “folly.” Meanings include knowledge, insight, intelligence, understanding, and wisdom. “Knowledge of God,” Zodhiates writes, “describes the proper relationship between God and a man who truly obeys Him.”
And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)
Knowledge of God increases as we grow into a closer relationship with Him. They are inseparably connected. If we reject knowledge of God, we reject a relationship with Him. As pointed out in the definition of dha’ath, a relationship with Him is dependent on keeping His laws. God cannot be in fellowship with a person who is walking contrary to Him.
And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. (Lev. 26:27-28)
Do Not Forget
Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. (Deut. 4:23)
The Israelites were commanded, multiple times, to remember all God had done for them, and to teach their children His laws “That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Ps. 78:7). But “they forgot God their Savior,” and did not teach His laws to their children (Ps. 106:21). This set up generational cycles of forsaking God, punishment, repentance and forgiveness, and then forgetting God again.
Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. (Jer. 2:32)
Can you feel God’s heartbreak in this verse? His presence is what made His people beautiful and His grace clothed them in dignity, yet they cast Him away (Ezk. 16:8-14). It’s as unthinkable as a bride forgetting to put on her wedding dress before walking down the aisle, but it happened over and over again.
In Psalm 50, God addresses the wicked who “hate instruction” and “cast My words behind you,” asking them “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth?” (Ps. 50:16, 17). These people were thieves, adulterers, liars, slanderers, and evil supporters of others who committed sin (Ps. 50:18-20). Though they knew God’s law, they thought He would overlook their sins — an error He corrects.
These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. “Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (Ps. 50:21-23)
As this last verse hints, there is an antidote to forgetting God. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit, which would “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). Keeping God’s commandments puts us into a right relationship with Him, and gives us access to aid through the Holy Spirit.
The Law of God
To recap (since this has become a long post), God says in Hosea 4:6, “because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Keeping God’s law close to our hearts and minds, holding it in remembrance, is key to knowing Him and maintaining a lasting relationship.
The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps. 19:7-11)
This is why it makes no sense to say Jesus Christ did away with the law under the New Covenant. Keeping the commandments is how we show God and Jesus that we love Them (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10, 14). We can’t pick-and-choose which parts of the commandments we want to obey, either: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-19)
Jesus warns that breaking “the least of these commandments” will make us “least in the kingdom of heaven.” Other scriptures reveal that a pattern of sin will block us from the kingdom all together (Gal. 5:19-21). Forgetting and rejecting God by turning our backs on keeping His laws is like asking Him to forget about and reject us. But, thankfully for us, the flip-side of this is that showing our love for God by obeying Him puts us into a personal relationship with Him that has incredible, lasting rewards.
He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:21, 23)