Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” What was it that Israel did not know, and why was that lack of knowledge so dangerous?
The rest of verse 6 helps explain: “Because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (KJV). It’s important to note the structure of the verse: “rejected knowledge” is parallel to “forgotten the law.” This fits the context of the opening verse of the chapter, which states that Israel failed to acknowledge the LORD as their God (Hosea 4:1). The people did not simply lack knowledge; they actively rejected it.
Another parallel offers a deeper understanding of the passage. Because Israel had “rejected” knowledge (God’s Law), God would “reject” them. Because Israel had “forgotten” God’s Law, He would “forget” their children (He would remove His future blessing from the nation). As a result of God “rejecting” and “forgetting” Israel, they would be destroyed. Hosea’s message is in line with Moses’ warning to the nation that God would remove His blessing from a disobedient people (Deuteronomy 28).
Hosea 4:1-2 emphasize that Israel’s lack of knowledge was not mere ignorance, but active sin against God: “There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.” The people were only ignorant of the Law because they actively ignored it.
Hosea’s warnings went unheeded, and Israel was conquered by Assyria during his ministry. Yet, even in judgment, God spares a remnant and restores His relationship with them. The prophecies of Hosea reflect this pattern. Israel was judged, yet the Lord would later restore His people whom He loved.
The coming of Jesus Christ illustrates God’s love to the fullest degree. Jesus died for the sins of all people, offering every person the opportunity to come to faith in Him (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9). To those who do believe, Jesus is “wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30). Because of Christ, there is no need for anyone ever again to be “destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”