Calvary Road Baptist Church


Hosea 4.6


I cannot help but think that the United States of America is at a spiritual crossroads. Four years ago at the Democratic national convention, the assembled delegates actually booed God or seemed to boo the idea of restoring any mention of God to the Democrat party platform.[1] Not a great surprise when you consider that the Democrats have been at the forefront of removing Bible reading and prayer from public schools, unborn babies murder since 1973, and defending adulterer-in-chief Bill Clinton when he was president. Astonishing, as well, is the successful presidential candidacy as the Democrat party front-runner of Hillary Clinton, whose complicity in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and the four CIA operators in Benghazi while she was Secretary of State, brought on by her repeated denials of their pleas for protection in the face of grave danger, is now admitted even by left-leaning news sources like CNN.[2] Then there are the tens of thousands of classified emails sent and received by Hillary Clinton during her four years as Secretary of State on a private server, in clear violation of Federal national security laws that are under current FBI criminal investigation.[3] For far less former CIA Director and General David Petraeus pleaded guilty to a criminal charge.[4]

On the other side of the aisle, during our present election cycle we see in the front runner for the Republican party nomination a three-times married gambling casino and strip clubs owner, who has claimed that he has never asked God for forgiveness because he has never done anything that needs forgiving while claiming to be a Christian, all the while bragging about his sexual exploits with who he claims were some of the most beautiful women (some of them married) in the world.[5] I am convinced Mitt Romney lost his presidential run four years ago because huge numbers of professing Christians stayed home rather than cast their votes for a Mormon cultist. However, we presently see voters turning out in record numbers for a Republican candidate who is profane, immoral, and astonishingly arrogant, eager to criticize and ridicule any group except the KKK. Many voters seem to be willing to vote for him based solely on both his and their own anger.

After eight years of an administration that featured repeated criticisms of the Christian faith, while pushing a historical revisionism about the supposed contributions of Islam to our American way of life, and a man who the Western Center For Journalism fears is moving to criminalize any criticism of Islam, one wonders.[6] Can our nation survive four more years of unconstitutional presidential overreach and intentionally bypassing the other two branches of the federal government? Can we long survive as a nation whilst continuing to murder unborn children, and now supporting same-sex marriage and the jack boots of government coercion requiring Christians to support such practices in violation of their religious convictions?

Please do not think I am a pastor intruding into the arena of politics. My concern as a pastor is about politicians intruding into the arena of spiritual issues. And my great concern for our country is its increasing similarity to the kingdom of Israel in Old Testament times when that nation was subject to the prophet Hosea’s unheard cries for repentance. I will not take the time to examine a large passage this morning, but will seek to focus your attention on a single verse, and most particularly a single phrase within our text.

Turn to the Old Testament prophetical book of Hosea, fixing your attention on Hosea 4.6. I invite you to stand for the reading of God’s Word when you have found the text:


“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”


The verse naturally falls into two parts. The first phrase is the declaration:


“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”


Here the prophet relates to his readers the LORD’s simple statement of fact. After the declaration comes the explanation:


“because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”


Second Timothy 3.16 reads,


“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”


Thus, it is entirely appropriate for us to look for and to find doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness from such places as the text we are dealing with today.

There are three lines of thought I urge you to reflect seriously on with me:




Regarding chronology, the prophet Hosea is placed by conservative scholars in eighth century B.C.[7] You will remember that the twelve tribes of Israel were united under their first king, Saul, but were divided by civil war after the death of the third king, Solomon, David’s son. The northern kingdom of Israel consisted primarily of the ten tribes, dominated by the tribe of Ephraim, and the southern kingdom of Judah consisted primarily of the largest of the tribes, Judah, and the smallest of the tribes, Benjamin.

The book of Hosea begins around 770-780 B.C. and seems to conclude around 723 B.C.[8] Chapter four, and our text seems to refer to historical events that took place about 726 B.C. when Jeroboam died, and his son Zachariah succeeded him as king over Israel.[9] About this time, Uzziah was king of Judah, Assyria was a rising world power, and Israel was sliding ever deeper into sin and no wonder. A series of idolatrous kings, the impact of wicked Jezebel undermining the social institutions of the nation, and the people effectively cut off from the Temple in Jerusalem, had each taken its toll.

A careful reading of Hosea will show that God not only held the spiritual leaders of the people responsible for their unspiritual leadership, but He also held the people responsible for not following spiritual leadership.[10] Allow me to rehearse to you what can be found on the back of the bulletin, a listing of fifty-five sins (and corresponding passages) the people were found to be guilty of in Hosea.


55 sins of Israel in Hosea (Hos.4:2) 

1       Whoredom,·including all forms of sex perversion before idols (1:2; 2:2-4; 4:10-18; 5:3-4; 6:10)

2       Adultery (2:2; 3:1; 4:2; 7:4)

3       Unfaithfulness (2:3, 13; 6:7: 8:11)

4       Willful ignorance (2:8; 4:1; 5:4; 6:6; 11:3)

5       Idolatry (2:8-13;4:12-17; 5:11; 6:8; 8:4-11; 9:1; 10:1-9; 11:2; 13:1-2)

6       Hypocrisy (2:11; 4:8; 6:6; 8:13-14; 9:4)

7       Forgetting God (2:13; 8:14; 13:6)

8       Lustfulness (2:5; 9:1)

9       Unthankfulness (2:8; 11:3-4)

10     Swearing (4:2)

11     Lying (4:2; 7:1, 3, 13; 10:13; 11:12)

12     Murder (4:2; 6:9)

13     Stealing (4:2)

14     Forgetting God’s law (4:6)

15     Rebellion (4:6: 7:13; 8:3; 13:16)

16     Backsliding and apostasy (4:7 8, 16; 5:2; 7:10; 9:1, 15; 11:7)

17     Unmerciful (4:1; 6:6)

18     Eating the sin offering (4:8)

19     Setting the heart on sin (4:8)

20     Inquiring of idols (4:12)

21     Divining with rods (4:12)

22     Treachery (5:7; 6:7)

23     Pride (5:5; 7:10; 10:13; 13:6)

24     Lewdness (6:9-10)

25     Injustice (7:7)

26     Prayerlessness (7:7, 10, 14)

27     Hardness of heart (7:6)

28     Scorning (7:5)

29     Drunkenness (7:5)

30     Indifference (7:2: 10:12)

31     Hating God (7:13, 15; 9:7-9)

32     Plunder (7:1)

33     Surmising (7:15)

34     Deceit (7:16: 11:12)

35     Having an unruly tongue (7:16)

36     Being past feeling (7:11)

37     Being obstinate (7:10, 14; 11:5)

38     Unbelief (8:14)

39     Irreverence (8:12; 10:3)

40     Making altars to sin (8:11)

41     Being self-willed (8:4; 10:13)

42     Bribery (9:1)

43     Eating unclean things (9:3)

44     Sodomy (9:9)

45     Allowing themselves to be misled (9:7-9)

46     Selfishness (10:11, 13)

47     Fruitlessness (10:1)

48     Double mindedness (10:2)

49     Perjury (10:4)

50     Ignoring God (11:7)

51     Making unholy alliances (12:1)

52     Provoking God (12:14)

53     Covetousness (12:8)

54     Self destruction (13:9)

55     Acting unwisely (13:13)


How does this list of sins correspond to our text,


“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”?


The Jewish people did not know and did not want to know. They did not know God. They did not know God’s Word. They did not know God’s will. They did not know God’s power. They did not know God’s holy and righteous nature. They did not know the consequences of sinning against Him, for betraying their covenant relationship with Him, and their eventual doom as a nation in direct consequence of their profound spiritual ignorance. To be sure, God held the spiritual leaders responsible for their faulty conduct while leading God’s people. However, He also held the people responsible for resisting spiritual leadership in the first place. This shows us the mutual responsibility of both leaders and followers, the leaders with respect to their fidelity to the truth and God as leaders, and the followers with respect to their fidelity to the truth and to God as followers. Mark it down. None was innocent. In time, the Assyrians swooped down and swallowed Israel whole.[11]




We recognize that the Jewish people have a special relationship with God that is unlike God’s relationship with the Gentile nations. With Abraham, the first of the Jewish people, God made a covenant, known as the Abrahamic Covenant.[12] Then, at Mount Sinai, through His servant Moses, God established the Mosaic Covenant.[13] Though the Abrahamic Covenant is an unconditional covenant through which all nations will be blessed,


“and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,”


the Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant established with Jewish people only, as the Apostle Paul reminds his readers in Romans 3.19:


“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law.”


With these things understood, we recognize that we must be very cautious when lifting a passage from the Old Testament for use in this dispensation in which we live. We must be mindful that though all scripture is inspired, and though all scripture is profitable, great care must be exercised so that Christians of our era are not inadvertently taught that they are subject to the authority of the Law of Moses, when in fact we have been liberated from law.[14]

With these cautions in mind, let us reconsider Hosea 4.6:


“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”


Does this statement seem to you to be a legal statute? Or does it suggest to you an eternal spiritual principle that relates to the reader a recognition of the great danger to someone who is missing a fundamental component of meaningful, fulfilling, delightful, and useful existence?

Consider that the Law of Moses was never given by God to His people as an end, but rather as a means to an end. According to the Apostle Paul, the Law of Moses had a custodial function in the lives of the Jewish people until the coming of Christ, Galatians 3.24. Thus, if the Jewish people had known the Law, they could have then known great and wonderful truths about the God of the Law. Rejecting the Law given to them, they correspondingly rejected their opportunity to know then about the God, Who gave them the Law.

Salvation, then, has never been about knowing or not knowing the Law. Salvation has always been about knowing or not knowing God. Thus, the destruction that came upon the Israelites at the hands of the Assyrians was actually a consequence of not knowing the God, Who gave them the Law. Ignorant of God’s Law, they, therefore, knew nothing of the character of the God Who gave the Law, whose righteousness was reflected by the Law, and the consequences of rejecting the One Who gave the Law.

Here, then, is the universal and timeless principle that is mentioned in Hosea 4.6, but which is equally applicable to you and me and everyone else, because it is true of everyone: It does not bode well for you should you not know about God and should you not know God. This is the “knowledge of the holy” referred to in Proverbs.[15]




To be sure, those of us who are not Jewish, with no heritage associated with those to whom the Law of Moses was given, are in no way subject to the Law of Moses. It was not given to us or any of our ancestors.[16] Nevertheless, Hosea 4.6 is a very important verse in God’s Word, and is of particular application to each of us as individuals, as well as our nation, because it is not a statement of law but rather a declaration of timeless spiritual principle.

Consider, first, how this spiritual principle applies to our nation. Can anyone familiar with our nation’s founding question its uniqueness? Certainly not all, but the most influential of the earliest settlers were devout Christians who came to the East coast to worship God according to the dictates of their consciences. And while the first settlers were not favorable toward religious liberty for those who disagreed with them in any way, religious liberty outside the Word of God found its first expressions among settlers in the New England colonies. And less than a hundred years later a bloody civil war was fought to end the institution of slavery. We live in a fallen world. But in all the countries that have ever existed in this fallen world, there has never been a nation in which devotion to and the worship of God played so central a role in its founding, besides Israel. Ours was the first of nations to be formed by devotion to principles, actually religious principles, and to date is the only nation so formed. Where else in the world could Protestants and Catholics, Baptists and Jews, live and worship according to the dictates of their own consciences without the application of force to enforce conformity? The religious wars experienced in other nations are unknown in our land. Granted, we do not live in Christ’s millennial kingdom, and inconsistencies in spiritual zeal always abounded throughout our history. However, we enjoyed God-given prosperity and protection from foreign danger as the gospel was preached openly and freely throughout the land for 165 years. Not a single person in the nation was obstructed with respect to the worship of God as he saw fit, except for the laws against Baptists. But the Baptists pushed back with civil disobedience, court cases, and lobbying until there was religious freedom for all. God sent religious revival in the form of the First Great Awakening in the 1730s and 40s, the Second Great Awakening in the 1790s through 1820s, and the Third Great Awakening in the 1850s, with each one being significantly weaker than the previous awakening. After the first our nation was born. After the second our nation learned to function as a democratic republic. And after the third came the civil war to begin the arduous process of seeing all men treated equally under the law. It was during the 20th century that the organized assault on our nation’s spiritual values began. While so many who professed to be Christians slumbered, attacks against Bible reading in school, prayer in school, abortion on demand, and the weakening of the traditional family unit began. Even within the Christian community, there began on a number of fronts a turn to entertainment rather than doctrine in worship, and an imitation of worldliness as reverence toward God in worship was abandoned. The result? Throughout the so-called Christian community in our nation we have professing Christians who condone abortion, professing Christians who condone sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, and even same sex marriage, professing Christians who condone gambling and drinking beverage alcohol, and professing Christians who seem to think no kind of attire is immodest or unbecoming. It is no surprise that such people come to church with no interest in real worship or spiritual service to God. Do you think judgment will not fall on our nation? Do you think judgment has not already fallen on our nation? We do so resemble in our practices the sins of Israel listed by Hosea.

Consider, as well, how this spiritual principle applies to you as an individual. Would you say that you know about God, that you have knowledge of the things of God? Do you claim to have knowledge of the holy? Would you say that you know God, that you have knowledge of God? Do you claim to have knowledge of the Holy One? You can’t say you haven’t had opportunity, can you? In Isaiah 5.13, the LORD said to Isaiah,


“Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge.”


Though the entire nation of Judah was later taken into Babylonian captivity, were there not those who were blessed with spiritual liberty even while they were slaves to the Babylonians? I think of Daniel. I think of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I think of Ezekiel. I think of Mordecai. I think of Esther. I think of Nehemiah and Ezra. I also think of you. To be sure, you are owned by no man, you are in bondage to no man. However, you are in bondage to sin. You are a slave to sin. It was because of this that the Lord Jesus Christ declared in John 8.32,


“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”


Free from sin. Then, in John 8.34,


“Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.”


A. T. Robertson reminds us that the word “committeth” here refers to continuous practice or habit,[17] and the word servant translates the Greek word for slave. Your continuous practice or habit of sin reveals that you are a slave to sin. God is true. God’s Word is true. The Lord Jesus Christ is true. That said, do you actually grasp such truth? Such truth, the Savior said, will make you free if such truth is known. Therefore, if your conduct shows you to be ignorant of the truth, or to be enslaved to sin (which is the same thing, after all), then you do not know the truth. With you, there is a lack of knowledge. You are destroyed.


Hosea 4.6 reads,


“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”


It would be years before the Assyrians actually invaded and carried the men of Israel off to foreign lands and replaced them with captured Gentile men. Yet the prophet still wrote,


“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”


The fact of the matter is that their destruction was assured because of their lack of knowledge though the execution of God’s sentence upon them was not immediately undertaken. The same, of course, is true of you. John 3.18 declares,


“He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”


So you see, you are condemned already. You are simply awaiting execution of God’s sentence. And this is because of your lack of knowledge. You are destroyed for lack of knowledge, knowledge of the truth. God is true. Jesus Christ is true. God’s Word is true. Yet you persist in a catastrophic and soul-damning lack of knowledge by your refusal to take advantage of your many opportunities.

You do not know about God, not really.

You do not know God.

You do not know about Jesus Christ, not really.

You do not know Jesus Christ.

You do not know about God’s Word, not really.

You do not know God’s Word.

Thus, not knowing the truth, you are not set free. You are yet in bondage to sin since only Jesus Christ can set you free.

So, in the words of the LORD in Hosea, you are destroyed.



[1] 3/3/2016

[2] 3/4/2016

[3] 3/4/2016

[4] 3/4/2016

[5] Let me warn you about Ben Shapiro’s occasional use of vulgarisms as he describes Donald Trump’s history of lies on YouTube

[6] 3/3/2016

[7] C.F. Keil & F. Delitzsch, COMMENTARY ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, Vol 10, (Peabody, MA: reprinted by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1996), page 3.

[8] Edward Reese, The Reese Chronological Bible, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1977), pages 799, 885.

[9] Ibid., page 823.

[10] Hosea 4.4, 9

[11] 2 Kings 17.6

[12] Genesis 12.1-3

[13] Deuteronomy 5.1-3

[14] Romans 7.4; 8.2; Galatians 2.19; 5.22; Ephesians 2.15; Colossians 2.14

[15] Proverbs 9.10; 30.3

[16] Deuteronomy 5.1-3; Romans 3.19

[17] A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures In The New Testament, Vol V, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1932), page 150.

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