I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.
Two different types of ignorance in relation to two different methods of Divine dealings. Look —
1. At the words uttered by the Lord to Cyrus, the Persian king — "I girded thee, though thou hast not known Me" (Isaiah 45:5). From these words we learn that while God uses His own people for a gracious purpose, they are not the only people that He uses for the furtherance of His designs. He places men in high positions, and by their instrumentality He often brings about the fulfilment of His own purpose, though they themselves have had no conscious part in the accomplishment of such a glorious end.
2. Our text points to a very different dealing, namely, God's .treatment of the Jewish people. The ignorance of Cyrus, as a heathen, was not the culpable thing that ignorance of God on the part of any king of Israel or Judah would have been. God had granted Israel a special revelation, and admitted them into an exceptional relationship with Himself as His people. Notwithstanding all God's goodness to Israel, Hosea says, in God's name, "They knew not that I healed them." Thus we have two types of ignorance. That of the man who has never been brought under godly influence; and the wilful ignorance of those who sin against the light, and in spite of gracious influences. The latter is the only ignorance possible to us. The surprising thing about Israel was that they could be so ignorant of God's goodness after all that He had done for them. Knowledge of God they had, but it had formed no part of their being, had not permeated their character and life, and had not given a bent to their conduct. Their attitude Godward was atheistic. They talked flippantly enough about their history, but there was no gratitude in the heart that would mould and fashion life into submissive obedience to the law of God. Thus their ignorance was all the worse for being so wilful and persistent. "Ye are weary of Me," exclaimed God to them. I know of no charge more pathetic than that. This ignorance is the result of the blinding power of a sinful passion; an ignorance which will not let a man know the truth because he is too closely wedded to his evil.
Parallel VersesKJV: I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.