How important is the daily study of God’s Word to my life? What benefit is there of having a thorough understanding of God’s laws? How does a lack of knowledge of God’s Word affect me?
These are questions that we can get answered as we look at the ministry of the prophet Hosea to God’s people. Hosea prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel during a time of economic prosperity for God’s people, but a time of spiritual decay and corruption. In fact, things in the northern kingdom of Israel were so bad that God warns the southern kingdom of Judah not to have anything to do with their northern brethren: “Though you, Israel, play the harlot, let not Judah offend…” (Hosea 4:15). Furthermore, God adds, “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone” (Hosea 4:17). How had the people of God turned into such a degenerate people in rebellion against God?
During His ministry Jesus had warned, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). Unfortunately, God’s people of Hosea’s day are an example of how people are enslaved in sin. Through Hosea, God said, “Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart. My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God” (Hosea 4:11-12). How had a people who had gained liberty from the Egyptians becoming enslaved again, this time to sin?
As the opening verses above indicate, of His people God said, “They break off all restraint” (Hosea 4:2). What does this mean? The law of God points out what is sin. The apostle Paul wrote, “…I would not have known sin except through the law…” ( Romans 7:7). Sin is a violation of the boundaries which God has set up for our lives. John wrote, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). God’s people were not walking within the boundaries God had set up for them to live within as contained in His Word. Instead, everyone felt there were no boundaries in which they had to live. They were not only hurting God by violating His boundaries for them, but also they were not respecting boundaries in each other’s lives as they stole from one another, committed adultery with one another, and even killed one another (Hosea 4:2).
They had forgotten God’s law. There was no knowledge of God in the land (Hosea 4:1). They had become ignorant of the boundaries God had set up for them to live within, as contained in His Word. As God condemned the priest for failing to instruct God’s people, 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; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6).
It is essential for me to understand the boundaries in which God has set up for me to live within as contained in His Word. Striving to live within these boundaries does not mean I am trying to earn my way to Heaven, but simply that I know that God knows what is best for me and in love gives me His guidance so that I will not hurt myself or others. Today, I rejoice that God has given me these boundaries and I will diligently study His Word and live according to God’s instructions found therein!
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’ ” (John 8:31-32).