Lack of Knowledge the Destruction of a People
Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you…

The tide of human affairs is ever throwing up upon the surface of society some one particular subject of special and engrossing interest. One of the prominent subjects of our time is education. It has been forced on the minds of thoughtful men by the lamentable results of allowing an exuberant population to outgrow the means of their moral and religious training, bequeathed by the wisdom and piety of their forefathers. Hosea the prophet was commissioned to denounce God's just displeasure, and His determination to inflict punishment upon a people that refused to be reformed. God had a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there was no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. It is a serious question how far such language may befit ourselves. It is certain that there is a fearful lack of "knowledge of God" in our times.

I. WHAT IS THE KNOWLEDGE, THE LACK OF WHICH DESTROYS A PEOPLE? The question is analogous to another, What is education? Are we agreed among ourselves as to what is to be understood by this expression? There is a class of men whose ideas of knowledge and education are almost confined to the acquisition and communication of the facts and principles of physical and general science. Education, in their estimation, is training up the young to be in mature life well-informed and philosophical men: men who can keep pace with and help on the forward movements of an inquiring and intellectual age. But this is not knowledge, in the true and full sense of the term, neither is this education. We are still short of the truth if we define knowledge to be acquaintance with duties as well as facts, with the world within a man, as well as the world without him; and education to be a process of training for the moral as well as the intellectual part of man, the discipline of the will as well as that of the mind. This is well as far as it goes; but it is not the whole truth. It is indeed based upon a false principle, that the inculcation of moral truths, and cultivation of moral habits will suffice to regulate and control the heart and will of man. It dreams of a moral regeneration without an adequate regenerating principle, of moral obedience without a sufficiently constraining motive. It assumes that a man may be lifted up above the influence of evil by presenting to his mind the cold abstraction of goodness. The advocates of these moral systems are ignorant of the materials upon which they would work. They do not know the nature of man. They forget that he is corrupt and depraved. The moral sense of man is so beclouded by sin that to behold the beauty of virtue is neither to love nor to embrace it. Education, in its primary idea, is the knowledge of God in His relation to man: the communication of this knowledge to the heart, through the medium of the understanding. Education is training as well as teaching. It teaches moral duties based upon the knowledge of God as a reconciled Father in Christ Jesus. Education is worthless when severed from religion. Lay the foundation deeply in the principles of true religion, and you may then proceed to build up a goodly superstructure of all that is worthy of the name of useful knowledge.

II. THE ANXIOUS CONDITIONS OF SOCIETY ARE EXPLAINED BY THE LACK OF THIS KNOWLEDGE. Reflecting minds have serious thoughts upon the present aspect of our domestic national affairs. We have been appalled by the frightful statistics of ignorance and vice, of the mass of corruption fermenting amidst our overgrown population. While the prodigious multiplication of human beings has been advancing, there has been no corresponding multiplication cf appliances for the moral and religious training of their souls, either as children or adults. Can it be wondered at that irreligion and infidelity, and principles of anarchy and insubordination, and vice in some of its most revolting forms have overspread these densely peopled districts? We cannot shut our eyes to what is going on around us. A population has grown up unlearned in true knowledge. The demoralising process is going on. It is a self-propagating evil. One uneducated generation begets another, and probably a worse. Our fathers did much for national education, according to the exigencies of their own times. We must follow along their line in this, that religion entered, as a component element, into all their foundations.

(W. Nicholson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you, that you may be no priest to me. Because you have forgotten your God's law, I will also forget your children.

Lack of Knowledge
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