My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge I will reject you from priestly service for me. You have forgotten the instruction of your God; so I too will forget your children. Hosea 4:6 (translation J. A. Dearman)
Reject you – We feel good about the love story of Hosea. In spite of Gomer’s unfaithfulness, Hosea redeems her and restores her. As a metaphor for Israel, we rejoice that God’s faithfulness wins in the end. But maybe we are too quick to rush to the conclusion. Maybe the process of redemption is so painful, so full of risk and warning that we gloss over the terror in the text. That would be a mistake. All the words are God’s words. So, sit down. Take a deep breath and listen to the alarm. The bell tolls for you and me.
Whom does God reject? We could opt for the easy answer. God rejects the false priests. God rejects those who teach heresy or lead His people astray. God rejects those who fail to act upon His instructions. Of course, that’s not us. We are the good people of God. We can dismiss this verse. It doesn’t apply.
But what if there is more in mind here? What if God is rejecting the leaders of His people who reject His instruction and, as a result, God is also rejecting those who follow them? Take one step back and ask yourself why God established Israel in the first place. Didn’t God constitute Israel to be a royal priesthood to the nations? Doesn’t that mean that everyone who claims to be called by His name but rejects His instruction is rejected as a priest to the nations? It’s not just the leaders who are in the crosshairs. We who claim to follow are also targets of God’s rejection. We cannot be priests if our leaders do not remember (bring to mind for action) and we do not fulfill His instructions.
“I will reject you” (em-aska) encompasses both the leadership and the followers. The root (ma’an) describes the refusal of an offer. In pictograph, chaos confronts life – and wins. God’s order is withdrawn. Life devolves. The people of God collectively stumble and fall. No one escapes the consequences of a failure of leadership. If you thought that your obedience would keep you safe in a community that fails to bring God’s instructions into action, be warned. The bell tolls for you.
Why does God reject? Hosea is a story of recovery. Why would God pronounce rejection? The answer is obvious: measure for measure. The leaders reject God’s wisdom. They refuse God’s offer of order. The rejection might come as a result of forgetting or ignoring or rebellion. It doesn’t matter. Measure for measure. The leaders bring the consequences upon themselves. God refuses them. The real tragedy is that the leaders carry the people. They literally hold the welfare of the people in their hands. Rejection of God’s ways has direct consequences on all the followers. The people are rejected by God, not because they are immediately responsible, but because their leadership has failed. No man can survive the judgment of God once he enlists in the service of leaders who reject the wisdom of the King. I guess the important question is this: Who am I following?
Topical Index: reject, ma’an, measure for measure, Hosea 4:6