“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me…” Hosea 4:6
The Hebrew word for “destroyed” in the text above is damah and means to be cut off at sight of the theophany. Essentially, it is talking about people who loose or lack in the perception of the essential nature of God manifested. Theophany is the appearance of God in visible form to a human being and interesting enough the Hebrew word for “knowledge” (daat) is not talking about knowledge one gains from study, but is defined as having skill in perception, discernment and understanding. “daat” comes from the verb ‘yada‘, meaning “to know” occurring more than 90 times in the Old Testament. The lack of the knowledge of God, that is, the peoples lack of discernment shows us that their ignorance was willful, they ought to have known God having had the opportunity. In effect, the people’s lack of knowledge was more than just neglect, they rejected it choosing false gods in place of the God of Israel and the priests had been poor examples, leading the people of Israel into apostasy. You’ve heard the saying, “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Those that rebel against the truth can expect nothing other than to perish in the dark. A close examination of current events reveals that history is indeed repeating itself. Today there is very little Godly example to be found in church leadership, and very little real spiritual knowledge with God’s people. Truthfully, false teachers have had a heyday over the last generation or so amassing huge numbers of unregenerate, unrepentant, biblically challenged and morally apathetic followers. Much of our leadership is intimidated by others maturity in their churches, the very thing they are to nurture and cultivate. they promote the illiteracy and immaturity of their congregants for their own benefit, it strokes their ego to have people dependent on them.
Sound doctrine is simply correct teaching, in keeping with that of the apostles (1 Tim 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim 1:13; 4:3). The teaching is called ‘sound’ not only because it builds up in the faith, but also because it protects against the corrupting influence of false teachers, prophets, and apostles. In 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus the use of the word ‘sound’ occurs eight times (Titus 1:9,13; 2:1-2; 1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3), and in the Greek it means “to have sound health, to be uncorrupt.” Clean, healthy teaching is to be the core of what we call, doctrine. Everything taught is to be judged by its harmony with the words of our Lord Jesus Christ; “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth…” 1 Tim. 6:3-5. Sound doctrine which conforms to the teachings of the Apostles fulfills two purposes, it instructs believers in matters of faith and godliness, and it is used to prove conclusively the heresy of false teachers.
There are several characteristics which contribute to the biblical illiteracy of our time, all of which have become an epidemic to church orthodoxy. Unbiblical worldviews have infected biblical teaching in that the majority of Christians in America have developed their own faith system. Division has never been as apparent as it is today. All denominations have their pet doctrines dividing them from the rest of Christ’s body. Today you have to be politically correct and culturally sensitive resulting in a watered down version of the Gospel message. Spirituality is being built on private emotional attachments rather than on clear concise biblical teachings. And lastly, false prophets and apostles are flooding into the church with teachings contrary to that of Jesus and the founding Apostles. These characteristics are so blatant today that those who do adhere to ‘sound doctrine’ and by faith follow the teachings of Scripture are criticized, denounced, and ostracized by mainstream Christianity. Church culture today is dramatically captured in the distorted mirrors of contemporary art and the media. Destructive worldly thinking has now turned the professing church in general to pervasive heresy and compromise. Christians choose to capitulate rather than suffer criticism for standing on Biblical values and exposing the false corrupt teachings of liars. The majority lack the commitment to maintain doctrinal purity, consequently condone and even promote every sort of false teaching and practice imaginable, all in the name of Jesus Christ.
It was told to me by my daughter of two girls who went to Seminary. In Seminary they discovered that the doctrines they believed in were wrong. So instead of embracing new found truth, they both left Seminary to continue in their belief system. Sadly, this is the norm today, I have spoken to many Christians challenging them in Scripture to adhere to Biblical truth. In every case both myself and the Word of God was rejected. To most Christians today, ignorance is bliss, it’s easier to get caught up in the emotion of the moment. To those who love truth, adhere to sound biblical teaching, none of the above should come as a shock as Scripture is clear that this time would come. “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” 2 Peter 1:19. We are witnessing prophetic Scripture come to pass before our very eyes. One such Scripture is 2 Timothy 4:3-4; “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.“
Paul was describing a time in the future when “they” (Paul was referring back to chapter 3), the church collective, would no longer view doctrine as valid or true but would gravitate to the dictates of their own hearts. A time when the professing church would have a propensity for falsehood. He describes them as having itching ears, desirous of hearing something pleasant and positive. A time when they will accumulate a great number of teachers who will have no problem scratching their itch. A time when the church will turn away from hearing the truth having a preference for myths/fables. A time when illiteracy to Biblical truth will replace ‘sound doctrine,’ a time of apostasy, a time like today. A time when Christians will have no foundation in the Word of God. Professing Christianity today flourishes in the mega-church because both sides of the transaction cooperates. The people want the feel good, and the teachers love to give it. Those who despise sound teaching have sought out teachers like themselves, both suit their depraved tastes. The people want teachers who will give them pleasure and the teachers do not offend by teaching truths that would be rasping to their ears. Novelty is the passion of the present Church Structure as entertainment peeks the interest bringing the next wave of excitement to the crowd. Thus, Biblical illiteracy reigns over the shepherd and the sheep, or should I say, over the wolves and the goats. It seems it’s hard to discern these days between the two.
Right or wrong, good or bad, our lives are influenced by what we believe! Paul exhorted the Corinthians to “Awake to righteousness, and do not sin, for some do not have the knowledge of God...” 1 Cor. 15:34. The phrase “do not have the knowledge of God” express ignorance of God in the Greek. The Corinthians ignorance was enveloped in a wrong belief of the resurrection which lead them to deny there was a resurrection. Illiteracy leads to a skewed view of the Word of God which always leads into error. Paul finished his exhortation by saying to the Corinthians, “I speak this to your shame.” Worse yet, to remain illiterate to Spiritual truth is both unrighteous and sinful. Illiteracy is an intoxication of carnality as those who remain ignorant to Spiritual truth are over thrown by the influences of false teachers who would keep them there. Many who identify themselves as Christians today have an habitual ignorance, a willful ignorance of God in that they prefer to keep their false teachings, rather than part with them in order to know God. It is prideful, selfish, and fleshly to cling to false teachings and to remain illiterate to truth only to appease one’s own interpretation of Spirituality.
In 1 Corinthians 15:34, ignorance of God is a critical miscalculation and misapprehension of God’s moral character and of His redemptive scheme (disbelieving the resurrection) which leads to a libertine and hedonistic ethic.1 The Corinthians often boasted of their knowledge and wisdom yet we find Paul correcting them for their illiteracy in Spiritual matters. As it turns out, like today, the Corinthian Christians were freethinking in religious matters and sought self-gratification in their view of God, and this Paul says, is to their shame. Sounds a lot like what Hosea dealt with when he said “ My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me…” Hosea 4:6. Just as the children of Israel lacked in their perception of the essential nature of God, and the Corinthians were missing God altogether, we see today it’s a free-for-all when it concerns God Word and Will. What it all comes down to is both Hosea and Paul are describing a people who really don’t know God at all. Their view of God Himself was not only partial, but slanted. This in itself will lead into all sorts of abnormal practices and deviant behavior, all in the name of Jesus Christ.
1 Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible New International Version; Copyright 1996 AMG International, Inc. p1574 Number 57.