By Sue Becker
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” Hosea 4:6
Recently in my daily Bible reading I came across a most sobering truth. In chapter 10 of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives the Jews a strong warning. Not wanting them to be presumptuous, Paul reminds the Jews that although their forefathers were all brought out of Egypt and all passed safely through the Red Sea, protected by God’s cloud of His presence, they did not all make it to the promised land. He continues by warning them that even though they all ate of the supernaturally given manna and all drank water from the same “Rock”, “a rock that followed them”, God was not pleased with the great majority of them and they died along the way. Not wanting the Jews to be ignorant, Paul reminds them of several specific events experienced by the Jews in the wilderness and the punishment they incurred. He states in verse 6 that these events are warnings and examples “for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did.” If these incidences are for warnings and examples, I wanted to take heed. I was familiar with each incident mentioned and its consequence except for one.
Verse 7 speaks of not worshipping false gods (i.e. the golden calf) and verse 8 warns not to indulge in immorality as some of them did and 23,000 fell dead in a single day. This is some pretty serious stuff! Verse 9 then tells of the time when God sent upon them the poisonous snakes. You probably remember the story as well as I. Moses was told by God to make a bronze snake and lift it up on a pole and all who looked at it, even though bitten, would not die but live.
I remembered these details well, but unlike the other incidences recounted here, I could not remember the specific trespass that had brought this judgment of poisonous snakes from God. I therefore looked up the account in Numbers 21:5&6 and was shocked to read these words:
“And the people said against God and against Moses, why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread, neither is there any water, and we loathe the light (contemptible, unsubstantial) manna.” (Amplified version)
Did you just hear what they said?! Though God had given them supernatural bread from heaven, which they did not even have to toil for, and supernatural water from a rock, they now complain they have no bread and water at all! They even go so far as to say they hate it!
God’s response to their complaints is sobering to say the least!
“And God sent fiery serpents among the people: and they bit the people, and many Israelites died.” (Numbers 21:6)
Psalm 78:18 sheds even more light on the situation. ” And they tempted God in their hearts by asking for food according to their selfish desire and appetite.”
Wow! Paul reminds the people of this story and of God’s judgement as a warning.
At first I was appalled that the Israelites would say such a thing to God, then I realized how often we do the same thing.
We often crave the food that satisfies our fleshly appetites; the sweets and the dainties. How often do we hear ourselves, or someone else, say, “I don’t like water”, or “I don’t like whole wheat bread”? Yet these are God’s perfect provisions for us to nourish and sustain our bodies. The Bible refers to these sweets and dainties as “deceitful food”, that rob our bodies of health and bring serious food addictions and cravings. (Proverbs 23:3) We now have sickness overwhelming our land as we have received our food according to our selfish desires and appetites.
Isn’t it interesting that today the symbol of pharmacy is the bronze snake supposedly representing the bronze snake that brought healing to the people of Moses’ day? As the people of that day had to look to the bronze snake for healing, we are now forced to look to drugs and medication for our healing, because we have turned away and “loathed” God’s provision.
This is not the last we hear of this bronze snake. Interestingly, hundreds of years later, in the days of King Hezekiah, the bronze snake has become a snare for the Israelites.
“Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his forefather had done.
He removed the high places, broke the images, cut down the Asherim, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until then the Israelites had burned incense to it; but he called it Nehushtan (a bronze trifle).” II Kings 18:3-4
What God had sent for healing, the people were now worshipping; forgetting the true Source of its healing power.
How much like the Israelites we have become! We often forget to seek God and His wisdom and turn quickly to doctors and medicines, unquestioningly, as our only hope.
This, however, was never God’s intention. Paul says that these events are recorded as warnings and examples, and so let us heed these warnings. Let us not continue to reject God’s provisions and continue to crave the food according to our selfish desires and appetites. Let us once again assume our responsibility of preparing food for our own families.
With over 600 dietary laws in God’s word, it must become clear to us that God is concerned about what we eat, and the health of our bodies. He lovingly promises to give us wisdom when we are lacking if we will just ask.
Exodus 15:26 says “If you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon you which I brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the Lord who heals you.”
This is a powerful promise from God, but we must carefully look at our part in receiving this promise. We must see that God is requiring us to take the action. We must “listen and do”. We must pay attention to and keep His commandments.
Hosea 4:6 declares that God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. The Hebrew word for destroyed in this verse means to be made dumb or silent, hence to fail or perish, also to die needlessly!
Out of His overwhelming love and infinite wisdom, God gave His people His law. He knows what is best and knows what will work. He knew then and knows now that obedience will bring health, prosperity and blessing. His desire then was that His people be a blessing and testimony to the people around them. As all the nations saw Israel’s health, protection, and well being they would come to know that the God of Israel was the one true God.
The same is true of us today. We are called to be a blessing and a testimony to this lost and dying world. Instead, however, we too are held captive by physical disease and infirmities. We too die needlessly and are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Our testimony to the world is “silenced” and “made dumb” as the world sees no difference in God’s people and themselves.
Let us then return to God’s word and find out what He has to say about healthy living, then we can boldly claim the promises of God and become the blessing and testimony to a lost and dying world. May the truth of Isaiah 8:18 truly be fulfilled in our nation this day: “Here I am, and the children the Lord has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the Lord Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion.”
DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this article should be construed as medical advice. Consult you health care provider for your individual nutritional and medical needs. The opinions are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily those of any professional group or other individual.