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What if God brought America into a courtroom and accused our nation of wrongdoing? What issues would be paramount in his case?
His case may be similar to the one that Hosea brought against the Northern Kingdom (Israel) in the mid-700s B.C.
His opening argument might read like this.
Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel;
for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land.
There is no faithfulness or loyalty,
and no knowledge of God in the land.
Swearing, lying, and murder,
and stealing and adultery break out;
bloodshed follows bloodshed.
Therefore the land mourns,
and all who live in it languish . . . (Hosea 4.1-3)
Suppose the people threw up their hands in innocence and said, “When have we ever been unfaithful or disloyal to you?”
The evidence would show swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery. The result was that the nation suffered daily under deteriorating circumstances.
Knowledge of God
In God’s courtroom the phrase, “no knowledge of God in the land,” would be hammered home with repeated emphasis.
“Knowledge of God” carries a similar meaning to the “fear of the Lord” in the Psalms and books of Moses. They both are essential to our relationship with our heavenly Father.
The essence of the “fear of the Lord” is not that people cringe or cower before an Almighty God. Deuteronomy states that the fear of the Lord is best understood by following this command:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6.5).
When we understand the “fear of the Lord” as described in Deuteronomy, we discover that the “knowledge of God” is quite similar to it.
A simple illustration will capture the meaning of the “knowledge of God.” Suppose 43 years ago I had discovered a book called, “The Biography of Toni.” Suppose I read pages of information about her and even memorized her famous sour dough bread recipe.
If my knowledge of Toni stopped with the book and facts about her, I really couldn’t say that I knew her.
However, I didn’t just know about Toni. I loved her then and I love her now. We have lived as friends, lovers, and parents through great times and some difficult ones for almost 43 years. That is real knowledge of Toni.
When God brings a nation into the courtroom and declares that there is “no knowledge of God in the land,” he means that the people have left their friendship and love relationship with him.
They may know about him, but the don’t really know him. Like a prosecuting attorney, God drives home this fact against the nation.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge . . . (Hosea 4.6)
They have forsaken the Lord
to devote themselves to whoredom. (Hosea 4.10)
Suppose the defendant rises and says, “I object. We have not rejected God.”
The evidence tells a different story. According to God’s testimony,
The more they increased,
the more they sinned against me;
they changed their glory into shame.
They feed on the sin of my people;
they are greedy for their iniquity. (Hosea 4.7-8)
The greatest glory any human could experience is to have a personal relationship with God.
The rejection of God is plain to see in our behavior. Instead of avidly pursuing a friendship and love relationship with God, we are greedy for all manner of sin.
Our unfaithfulness is described as exchanging a relationship with God for a god that we can control and have fulfill our desires.
My people consult a piece of wood,
and their divining rod gives them oracles.
For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray,
and they have played the whore, forsaking their God. (Hosea 4.12)
There is a great temptation to attempt to use God for our own needs and wants. Think about the relationship that you have with a close friend or your spouse.
Is the sole essence of the relationship based on what your friend wants you to give them? If you answer is “No,” then you understand God’s indictment of the nation.
When people turn from a friendship and love relationship with God, they will turn to anything. These substitutes for God rob us of our glory, that is being able to live in a love relationship with the Greatest Being of All.
Instead of a relationship with God, we turn to a “piece of wood” (verse 12) or in America a dollar bill.
Idolatry is harmful, because it opens the door to oppress the vulnerable of our earth. If God were to bring witnesses to our nation, he may include these extreme examples.
— When money becomes more important than people, human trafficking is one of the many results. “Forbes” magazine estimated that human trafficking in America was a $150 billion business in 2020.
— Various kinds of addictions “own” people, just as the idol Baal literally means “owner.”
— Hosea declared that the idol worshipers of his day were “People are kissing calves!” (Hosea 13.2). Americans don’t kiss calves, but we kiss trophies and awards.
I am guilty of shedding tears of joy over the Chief’s Super Bowl victory last year, but not weeping over the deaths of 470,000 Americans since they won the big game.
Judgment is not the last word.
Hosea, possibly more than any other Old Testament prophet, revealed the inner workings of the heart of God.
There was no doubt that God was angry at his people. God loves people and he becomes angry when the strong are so self-centered that they oppress the weak and vulnerable.
God’s anger is contrasted with his compassion and love. His desire is not to punish his people, but that people return to a love and friendship relationship with him.
As people of all ages live in love and friendship with God, he knows that this will be reflected in how we treat other people.
Here is God’s promise to us, “Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 1.3).
Let’s do just that!
May We Pray for You?
The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church is honored to pray for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. We will pray for you.