There is a pretty simple “formula” all the way through the Bible. People do not fear (hold in awe) God. Therefore, they do not have knowledge (experiential knowledge) of him. Because they do not know God, they die.
As I was reading Hosea 4-9 this morning, the word knowledge really stood out. In the Hebrew culture, knowledge went beyond knowing about something. To have real knowledge meant you had to experience the thing, you had interacted with it. I could read a book about Thomas Jefferson and say I know him. On the one hand, I would know all sorts of things about him. On the other hand, I wouldn’t know “him” at all. I would know just a few selected stories about him without knowing how he truly thinks, feels, moves, lives, eats, walks, etc.
But, can a few selected stories really describe the fullness of a person? Or, how can the Bible, even as a book inspired by the Holy Spirit, give me a true knowledge of God if I never experience God?
John says in his gospel that the world couldn’t contain the books that would be written if we tried to write down everything Jesus did during his brief time on earth. Let alone trying to recount all that God has done since he created the universe.
Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.” The knowledge they are lacking is that it is God alone who provides for them and protects them. Instead of knowing this and acting on it, they turn to anything and everything else to provide for them and protect them.
What am I turning to instead of God?
Hosea says that even when we see our sickness we still turn to the world for help. So, God goes back to heaven until we acknowledge our guilt and seek him in our distress. He allows distress in our life to drive us to him. Because when we turn to him, he will provide for us and protect us. Then, we will know him.