My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I will reject you from serving as My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I will also forget your sons.
The first line of this verse is probably quite familiar to most of you. In fact, these words have become a familiar refrain among Evangelicals and those who believe that we are in the End Times. The "lack of knowledge" has been seen as the reason that God seems to have turned His face from us ... It is discerned that His people are consumed with their status in this world, rather than their future in the next; that the desires of the flesh rule the yearning of the spirit, and there is no longing to know more of our God. And our "destruction" is the sad and inevitable result.
But what exactly does God mean in this passage... that we are "destroyed"? The Hebrew word here is dâmâh, and it means to be "cut off" or "brought to silence". That's probably a little milder meaning that what we in the West ascribe to being destroyed. But why would we be silenced? Scripture says for "lack of knowledge" and because we "rejected knowledge". In other words, the Lord is telling us that because of our ignorance of Him, we are rendered as useless in His kingdom, and we are not worthy to serve as priests in His kingdom on earth.
It is important for us to understand the role we are purposed to play as the priesthood of believers. I ask you to recall the following admonition: "You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:5-9).
We must see what a privilege it is to be chosen as a priest of God in the New Covenant, just as it was to be chosen a priest by God in the Old Testament. But we know that the Old Testament priesthood is no longer necessary. Now people can come directly to God through our great High Priest, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). There are now no earthly mediators between God and man as existed in the Old Testament priesthood (1 Timothy 2:5). But, as I said, all believers have been chosen by God: a "chosen generation...His own special people"; and it will be a privilege to serve God face-to-face in the Millennial Kingdom and for eternity.
In the meantime, we are called to serve Him in the here and now, but we only deserve that privilege if we seek knowledge of Him and offer living sacrifices of praise for the power of Jesus in our lives.
And here's what I love so much about studying the Bible, and digging deep, and receiving new revelations of Him every day ... there's a parallel verse in Isaiah 5:13 that says the same thing: "Therefore My people go into captivity [to their enemies] without knowing it and because they have no knowledge [of God]. And their honorable men [their glory] are famished, and their common people are parched with thirst."
The interesting thing is that this verse lies in the heart of what is referred to as The Parable of the Vineyard. The sense that I derive from this parable is that The Lord carefully planted His vineyard, choosing the nation of Israel to bring forth righteous fruit, but they yielded "wild grapes" instead (poison fruit). The result was God's favored people did not seek Him nor justice, but became oppressed by the poison fruit that spread throughout them. This further resulted in them going into captivity by their enemies (both of the flesh and spiritual), leaving the people hungry and thirsting for knowledge of their God. God ultimately prophecies their destruction.
Can you see the parallel with our generation? We believers have been chosen to yield fruit for the Kingdom, but we have rejected knowledge of God, and have become oppressed and taken into captivity by the Enemy. Therefore, we are not fit to serve as priests, and cannot claim victory by the power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, and have been silenced. By receiving God's mercy and the gift of salvation, we should be zealous for good works to praise Him and proclaim His glory. We should be growing in our faith and producing fruit and helping others to come out of their captivity in darkness and into the Light.
But as Hosea 4:6 tells us, it comes back to an ignorance issue. We have access to the knowledge that we are in a spiritual war and God has given us ways to effectively win that war (through the authority of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit). But we remain ignorant and refuse to learn and apply the knowledge.
The rest of Hosea tells us that since we have forgotten the law of our God (His teaching and instruction), He will forget our sons. What I believe this means is that God will hold us accountable for rejecting the knowledge He has offered us. If we fail to take advantage of it, then we are unable to fulfill His purpose for our lives. He tells us in Jeremiah 29:11 that He has a purpose and a plan for each one of us, and the common purpose is the Great Commission; to spread the Good News of Jesus's authority and power to deliver us from evil and our sinful nature.
If we fail to learn or apply that knowledge in our roles as the priesthood of believers, then how many of our fellow souls will be lost to Satan's grip? How many will be forgotten by God because He does not know them? As Ecclesiastes 7:12 says, "For wisdom is protection just as money is protection, But the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the lives of its possessors."
That brings us back to the first admonition .... lives cannot be preserved if we lack the knowledge of how to preserve them. If we do not acknowledge the authority of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to conquer the enemy and free us from his schemes and captivity, then we are unqualified to serve as priests of the Holy God. We have lost a huge part of our effectiveness in the Kingdom and our vineyards will bear considerably less fruit. I don't know about you, but I want to serve Him in any role I can, and I want to praise Him for the deliverance and freedom I have seen Him bestow on those who trust Him to set them free. How I pray that He will raise up a mighty remnant in these last days that have pure and authentic knowledge of Him, and are zealous to share it with the world. Just think of the fruit that would be produced for His Holy Kingdom!