Summary: A look at perishing people groups.
We often sing "Rescue the Perishing" in our churches. It is normally sung as an invitation or during an evangelistic service. We think of the perishing people as the ones who do not believe in Christ and will perish in their sins should they die in unbelief. Indeed, that is what the author of the song had in mind. However, I have found in Scripture and in this present age some other people we need to see as perishing.
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. KJV
The word destroyed can also be translated as perished. God is speaking to the nation of Israel. They were established to be His priests. To come to God, the goyim or nations had to come to Israel and convert. They were the light of the world in the Old Testament. In the Book of Hosea, the light had gone out. So much so, that God removed them from their priesthood until they repented.
What brought them to this condition? The lack of knowledge is why they were destroyed and yet it was not that it was unavailable to them. They rejected it. Jeremiah 33:3 is the James 1:5 of the Old Testament. Sadly, they did not use it like we neglect the admonition of James.
The temple did not disappear. The Scripture did not vanish off the face of the earth. God did not take an extended vacation. They had every means of obtaining the knowledge they lacked. They willfully rejected it. They traded it in for the ways of the world, the lust of the flesh, and new and fun religions and theologies.
The forgetting of the law was not amnesia. It was not a momentary lapse of memory. It was again a willful tossing it into a back corner of the mind to be filed under obsolete things or Neanderthal thinking. Oh, they may have kept the copies of the law on their doorposts for tradition sake or as a good luck charm, but it had no real meaning to them. They may have moseyed down to the temple from time to time to see if anything new was happening, or to assuage some cloud of guilt caused by their upbringing, or to make their parents happy. It was all vain. They had lost the purpose of the temple and had no clue about the character of God. It was just something to do. It was just a ritual without reality. God and the truth were not really on their mind. They had other things to do and many ideas to titillate them.
As they purposely chose to reject God and forget Him, He rejected them as priests and forgot their children. Being rejected from being His priests may not have moved them, but you would have thought that the forgetting of their children would have made them consider their ways. It did not. That is how far gone they were. Most people will not care as much as what happens to them, but they will care about their children. They had gotten so far from God that they could not see the disaster this would be in the lives of their children.
How did He forget their children? When you forget someone, you do not do them either good or evil. You forget them. You do not even think evil or good of them. They are lost in your gray matter. God did the same thing to their children. He did not do anything evil to the children. The result of the parent’s sin would lead them into enough evil and pain. He could not bless them because they were in sin. He withdrew His hand from them completely. The word, forget comes from a word that also involves the lack of attention. He gave them no attention. That has to be the worst thing that can happen to a person other than being cast into Hell.
In the later verses of the chapter, it says that God would not punish the daughters when they committed whoredoms. He would not punish spouses who committed adultery. Why? Israel was playing the harlot with false gods and committing adultery against Him. The children did what they learned. He wanted the people to see what their sin would reap. They still did not repent.
He also says in verse eight that it shall come to pass that like people like priest. Eventually, they got what they wanted. They had priests that were like them. They committed the same spiritual adultery and whoredoms as they did which eased their conscience. No more killjoys like Hosea who burdened them with "Thou shalts and shalt nots." When they said, "Thus saith the Lord", it was always what the people wanted to hear, but the priests were hearing it from satan and their own wicked hearts and not from God. The priests of Baal were in the ministerium and the "priests" of YHWH would meet down at the temple of Baal once a month to discuss cooperative activities and partake of a temple "virgin" or two. Yes sir, just what the people ordered a priest that would give them warm fuzzies instead of conviction.