THE TRAGIC MISTAKE OF ISRAEL
Some seven hundred years after God delivered Israel from the land of Egypt, God said to the nation of Israel through Hosea the prophet, “ My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being a priest before Me. Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget you children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me. I will change their glory into shame. They eat up the sin of my people. They set their heart on their inquity, and it shall be like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways and reward them for their deeds.” This message will be an in-depth study of the prophet's statement in Hosea 4:6, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge. I also will forget your children.” Lack of knowledge of God was the tragic mistake of Israel, and it plagues the nation to this day. I invite you to consider with me a problem the nation of Israel had in the days of Moses, in the days of David and Solomon, in the days of Hosea and Isaiah and in the tragic times of the first century A.D. The problem of the nation has always been what Hosea called, “lack of knowledge.”
Not only did Israel have this problem, but all nations have had this same problem. Lack of knowledge of God was the number one problem of Israel; it is the number one problem of the Christian world, and it is the number one problem of the entire world. In discussing Israel's problem, let me assure you that I am not an antisemitic. I have the greatest regard for the Jewish race. The Jews have given the human race true religion, and that is an honor that cannot be taken away from them. With Jehovah's help, they gave the Jewish religion and the Christian religion to the world, and for that all mankind should be appreciative and grateful. The first tens of thousands of Christians were all Jews. Whether you believe in the Christian religion or not, it cannot be denied that it was Christian Jews who brought the Christian religion to both Jews and Gentiles, and it has been a better world ever since.
The first question Hosea's statement brings to mind is, “What kind of knowledge did Israel lack?” There are many kinds of knowledge. He was not speaking of reading, writing and arithmetic. There is no reference to secular knowledge. He did not charge the people of Israel with being stupid, illiterate and without the basics of secular education that was available in that day and time. The kind of knowledge Israel lacked is clearly stated in verse 6, “Because you have forgotten the law of God, I will also forget your children” What Israel lacked was a correct knowledge of God, as revealed in the law of Moses, the Psalms, and the prophets. It
was knowledge of the holy book, the word of God that Israel lacked. This is what the Christian nation lacks today and what the entire world lacks. Lack of knowledge of God is the greatest enemy any nation can have. In Hosea's time there was little knowledge of God in the land, and as a result, luxury, vice, oppression, injustice, drunkeness, immorality and idolatry prevailed; and every law of God was habitually broken. The people and the priests, the religious teachers of the day, were all to blame. Hosea said, “like people, like priests.” The priests did nothing to help the people; they let the people live the way they wanted to live. Neither the priests nor the people were engaged in the study of God's word. All classes of Israel were guilty of forsaking God and defecting from the truth laid down in the law of Moses. The blame for this situation is knowledge, that is, a lack of it. Not knowing God's word, they felt no disturbance of conscience for the bad life they were living.
Another truth we learn from Hosea is what it is that is destroyed by a lack of knowledge of God. By way of contrast the same truth teaches us that the knowledge of God is the most excellent of all sciences. Lack of knowledge destroys our relationship with God Lack of knowledge starves the soul through defect of spiritual nourishment. Knowledge unites us with God, but ignorance cuts us off from God. Hosea taught that a lack of knowledge cut Israel off from God's favor. It cuts us off from the source of life, like a branch is cut from a tree. For a lack of knowledge Israel was literally cut off out of their homeland of Canaan. In about 722 B.C., God rejected the ten tribes of Israel, punished them and sent them into a long captivity in a foreign land. The nation disintegrated and was swept off the land into Assyrian captivity for refusing to worship Jehovah and Jehovah alone. In 586 B.C. the rest of the nation was swept away into Babylonian captivity for the same sin of idolatry and false worship. It is the determination of God that willful ignorance and lack of revealed knowledge should result in moral and religious deterioration. It can be truly said the nation of Israel suffered destruction in those two captivities. The nation never truly recovered from that disaster, even to this day. But Israel is too proud to admit it. Their relationship with God has never been the same since that disaster. Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the beautiful Temple Solomon built, and today Jews meet and pray at the wailing wall which contains a little of the wall that surrounded Solomon's Temple. That is all that remains of their glorious Temple. Today, they still sorrow over that disaster, but strangely, . they make no effort to keep the law of Moses with its High Priest and priesthood , and sacrifice animals for the forgiveness of sins. They make no effort to worship God through either a Tabernacle or Temple system of worship. For all practical purposes, the Jewish religion
has been destroyed. Even the Jews do not practice all things written in the law. Their tragic history was caused by a lack of knowledge. After 70 years of captivity in Babylon, a few of the Jews returned to
Palestine and rebuilt the temple, but it was sadly inferior to the one Solomon built. Herod the Great, an evil Roman ruler, restored that second temple to a measure of its ancient greatness to please the Jews.
Moreover, another disaster happened in the history of Israel in the first century A.D. Their Messiah or Anointed One, predicted by all their prophets, and the One that Abraham predicted would bring eternal life to all nations made His appearance in Palestine. . Because of a lack of knowledge of the Messianic predictions, , Israel did not know that their Messiah was to be a heavenly being sent by God from heaven to earth. Jehovah so loved Israel and the whole world that He sent to earth a mysterious heavenly Being called THE WORD. The knowledge of God says this about that mysterious person, “ In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by Him and without nothing was made that was made.” We are further informed that this One called the Word became flesh and dwelled among us(John 1:1-14). The Jehovah of the Old Testament visited this earth in the person of the Messiah. The Divine-human nature of the Messiah was clearly predicted by the prophet Isaiah, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace..(Isaiah 9:6,7). God gave this description of the Messiah to Israel but because of lack of knowledge of God they rejected their heavenly Messiah.
Jehovah so loved the human race that He sent this heavenly Being to this earth to save the human race and to make the gift of eternal life available to all mankind., both Jews and Gentiles. In this way God fulfilled the promise He made to Abraham to bless all nations of the earth through Abraham and his seed(Genesis 12:1-3} In leaving heaven to come to earth He had to give up the form and glory He had enjoyed in heaven. Scripture describes the change He made in these words, “Though He was rich in heaven, He became poor that we humans might be rich through His poverty.” Israel, your Messiah did this to save you and also the Gentile world. Such was the difference between His heavenly existence and His earthly existence. In coming here, He gave up His heavenly form and glory and took on the likeness of a man. He transformed Himself into a man of the Jewish race, born of a woman, born under the law of Moses. He was given the name Jesus because He was the world's Savior, and He was given the name Christ which means Messiah or God's anointed One. He went about doing good and performed miracles and wonders that far surpassed anything
Moses did in the land of Egypt. Israel is without excuse for rejecting the miraculous evidence that attended the coming of Jesus. There is far ore evidence for the miracles Jesus performed than Moses performed. During His life on earth, He went about doing good, lived a perfect life, revealed secrets about Jehovah and heaven never known before, and willingly allowed the religious leaders of Israel to crucify Him. Jehovah used His death as ransom, a sacrifice for the sins of the entire human race, including the nation that asked Pilate to crucify Him. . God laid on Him the sins of all mankind, as our representative, so that He would not have to punish mankind. He arose from the dead on the third day, and remained on earth forty days to prove the fact of His resurrection. The evidence is indisputable. He then returned to heaven from whence He came and now sits at the right hand of God. All power in heaven and earth has been given to Him, and He has in His hands the gift of eternal life. Jehovah has authorized Him to give eternal life to all who render obedience to His only begotten son. No one can go to heaven who is not willing to believe this story. . This is the greatest story that has ever been or ever will be told. This is the greatest discovery a human being can make in this life. . Eternal life is now available only through Jesus Christ.
Finally, the rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as the promised Messiah of the Jews is the greatest of all disasters in the history of Israel, and the cause is the lack of knowledge of God. For rejecting this story and for rejecting Christ as their divinely appointed Messiah, in 70 A.D God allowed their temple to be destroyed and the city of Jerusalem to be leveled to the ground. They have never had a temple since. The nation of Israel should ask their Rabbis to explain this disaster. The destruction of their temple and Jerusalem was predicted in Daniel 9:24-27. Daniel 9:26 predicted Israel would kill their Messiah, and for that crime a Prince would come and destroy the city and the temple. That Prince was the Roman General Titus as all historians know. Israel should demand their religious leaders to study and explain this great prophecy in Daniel and other clear prophecies about the coming Messiah. This lack of knowledge is inexcusable.
If the Jewish nation wants to know the truth about their tragic history since the destruction of Jerusalem and Temple in 70 A.D. and why the nation thinks that God has forsaken them, and why God has not made even one communication with the nation since 70 A.D, and why Israel has not had another prophet since 70 A.D. there is a man of your own race who can give you true answer to all these troubling questions. .He called himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews and was educated by Gamaliel, the greatest teacher of the law of Moses in the first century A.D. He is an expert on both the religion of the Jews and the religion of Christ. His name is Saul of Tarsus,
more commonly called Paul, one of Christ's chosen apostles. The most important historical document regarding Israel's present relationship to God is documented in the eleventh chapter of the book of Romans in the New Testament. The author is Paul, the Hebrew of the Hebrews. In this chapter he gives the Jewish nation a true account of their relationship to God in the past two thousand years when they have been without a temple and without a prophet. I would encourage every Jewish person in the world to obtain a copy of the New Testament and read Romans 11 with an open mind. I would like to share a few things Paul said in this chapter in regard to the relationship that present day Israel has with Jehovah.
Furthermore, the same Hebrew declares that in rejecting Jesus as the promised Messiah, this unbelief has changed the relationship Israel had with Jehovah for 1500 years. He has given the Jewish nation a true account of their relationship to God for the past two thousand years, with out a temple and without a prophet. The most important historical document in existence on Israel's present relationship to God is the eleventh chapter in the book of Romans in the New Testament.
. The first thing Paul reveals about the present status of Israel with Jehovah God is there has been a change in their relationship since the coming of the Christian religion. For 1500 years the entire Jewish nation was the chosen people of God, but that is no longer true. For their disobedience, God has cast away from Him many Israelites, and no longer recognizes them as His chosen people. But God did not cast away all Jews but only disobedient Jews. Some Jews are still God's chosen people and some Jews are not. You might say, “But how could some of them still be chosen and others not chosen. Jeremiah the prophet made this prediction in Jeremiah 31:31,32, “Behold the days are coming says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant with their fathers...when I led them out of the land of Egypt.” All Jews who received the New Covenant God made with Israel continued to be His chosen people, but all who re refused to become a part of this New Covenant ceased to be God's chosen people, lost God's favor, and God cut them from being His chosen people. God made this New Covenant with Israel in Jerusalem about 33 A.D. shortly after Christ arose from the dead and returned to heaven. The New Covenant was the Christian religion first made with Israel and then was extended to all nations of the world. A lack of knowledge has caused multitudes of Israelites to lose the chosen relationsip and favor they once had with Jehovah.
Paul explained Israel's change of relationship in Romans 11:1, “I say, has God cast away His people? Certianly not. For I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast way His people whom He foreknew..” What he means is that God did not cast away Jews who became Christians, whom God foreknew would become His new chosen people in the world. God always planned to make a New Covenant with Israel, and predicted the same by the prophet Jeremiah. God did not cast away any Jews who became Christians, but He did cast away all Jews who did not become Christians and refused to enter the New Covenant. Thus the first truth Paul states about Israel's religious condition since the coming of Christ is that the nation Israel, per se, is no longer the chosen people of God. The Christian nation has replaced Israel as the chosen nation.
Paul explained this great change by comparing Jews and Gentiles to two Olive trees, one wild, one cultivated. Explaining to Gentiles how they became God's chosen people Paul said in Romans 11:17-24, “If some of the branches were broken off, and you(Gentiles) being a wild Olive tree were grafted in among them, and with them became partakers of the root and fatness of the tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, branches were cut off that I might be grafted in. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. And they also if they do not continue in unbelief will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of a wild Olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated Olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches be grafted into their own Olive tree.”
The good Olive tree stands for the chosen people of God The branches represent the Jewish people, but when they rejected Christ and the New Covenant, they were broken off because of unbelief. For 1500 years they were the chosen people. But when they rejected their Messiah God cut them off the tree, and they ceased to be God's chosen people. All Gentiles who accepted Christ and became Christians were grafted into this tree of God's chosen people, but Paul states the Jews can be grafted in again if they turn to Christ obey the gospel. Romans 11:25 says, “For I do not desire that you should be ignorant if this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles have come in, and so all Israel will be saved.” Many think this predicts there will be a great turning of the Jews to Christianity some time in the remote future.