Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 15, 1951

"My People Are Destroyed For Lack Of Knowledge"

John T. Overbey, Austin, Texas

The above statement is from Hosea who was a prophet in Israel during the days of the Divided Kingdom. Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah (the southern kingdom), while Jeroboam II was the king over Israel (the northern kingdom). The statement was uttered during a time of moral and spiritual decay. The people were rapidly moving toward the customs and traditions of nations around them. Hosea, like the other prophets of his day, was doing all he could to turn back the tide of apostasy, but seemingly to no avail. There are Hosea's in our time—men of strong moral and spiritual stamina who are doing the very thing in principle that Hosea did, and like him, are finding themselves very much in the minority; and are finding the tide rather heavy to turn back. Can it be true that history is repeating itself—that God's people today may be "destroyed for lack of knowledge?"

We read much in the religious papers about the "trends," and almost everytime a group of the preaching brethren get together the subject invariably turns to the problems confronting the church today. There are many solutions offered—some wise and some otherwise—but this writer thinks many time we fail to grasp the real cause of our troubles. Someone has said, "We need to get at the little end of the tap-root of the trouble." That is exactly right. We often find ourselves fighting the disease and never giving attention to the cause of the disease. Doctors sometime say, "Remove the cause, and nature, with perhaps a little help from medicine, will cure the disease." Perhaps that would work pretty well in curing that awful disease—sin. We need to fight the "trends," but should we be successful in turning them back, it will only be for a time, unless we get at the cause and remove it.

Israel's apostasy did not occur over night. There was a "trend" toward such for many years before it occurred. Amos, another prophet during the days of Uzziah and Jeroboam, prophesied of a great famine—hear him, "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of breed, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11) Amos, too, was aware of the coming of apostasy and did all he could to stem the tide; but like Hosea, found the going pretty rough.

Lack Of Knowledge Is Itself Destruction

Hosea's diagnosis of the trouble of his day was, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." (Hosea 4:6) Lack of knowledge was the cause of destruction in Hosea's day; and if the people of God are destroyed today, the cause will be the same. Christianity is a taught religion —"And they shall be all taught of God." (John 6:45) Now, don't get the idea that I think people are ignorant—to the contrary, indeed we live in an intellectual age. The people of Hosea's day were no ignoramuses—they had "forgotten the law of God."

Paul, in writing to the churches in Galatia said, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ." (Gal. 1:6, 7) The priests of Hosea's day like "some" of Paul's day had perverted the law of God. It was this perversion of the Law that Hosea was concerned about, and prophesied of their destruction, "I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings." (Hosea 4:9) A similar curse is pronounced upon those who would mutilate or pervert the gospel of Christ, "though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed." (Gal. 1:8, 9) If those entrusted with the responsibility to teach the people wander astray from the pure Word of God, what may we expect of those whom they teach? Is not their guilt greater? Shall they not receive a sorer condemnation? These are serious questions.

A Very Definite Trend

There is a disposition among those who are entrusted with the responsibility of teaching God's word to wink at sin in general. No longer do we hear sermons on those things which threaten the sanctity of the church. A lot of the sermons we hear remind me of this little line I read somewhere, "Unless you repent, in a measure, and are saved, so to speak, you are, I am sorry to say, in danger of hell-fire and damnation, to a certain extent." We need to tell the people in no uncertain terms what the church is; how it functions; the responsibilities of its members; its purpose in the world; etc.

We could do a lot less "surveying," "sponsoring" and "promoting," and with a lot more teaching—of God's will and way, that is. If people are taught God's will and way, "missionaries" will need no "sponsors" or "promoters." Their zeal for saving lost souls will be spontaneous and the support will be forthcoming. It is said that the disciples, after the death of Stephen, "went everywhere preaching the word." The reason is obvious: they had "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" while in the city of Jerusalem; and had become so thoroughly indoctrinated that when they through persecution, were thrown among strangers, it just began to come out. No one went to Samaria to "survey" the land. The Jerusalem church did not "sponsor" them, nor was there any need for "promotion." They just did that which was natural.