“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6).
There is a reason people reject information that is new or different; they love to be left alone in their comfortable deceit than to have to deal with all the changes required by the light.
Ignorance is bliss, they say.
The problem–whether with mankind or the redeemed–isn’t exactly a lack of knowledge. If that were the case, we could remedy the situation by sending everyone back to school.
God would send educators to the church. Instead, He sent prophets and shepherds. He sent light-bringers. He sent a Savior.
Neither is the problem that people do not know the truth. Nor that no one has come to tell them the truth. The problem is not that they have never heard the truth. The problem is that they have rejected truth when it did come.
They are ignorant because they rejected true knowledge. This is the judgement, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. (John 3:19).
Not knowing something and rejecting the knowledge of something are two different animals.
Over here is someone in darkness who yearns for the light. It comes and he awakens and all is well. The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live (John 5:25).
Stumbling in the darkness, they spurn the light offered.
The speaker of Truth comes and they run him out of town. Or scoff and jeer and mock him.
They crucify Him.
“Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.” (John 3:19)
It’s the story of life in Old Testament Israel, New Testament Jerusalem, and so many people in our churches.
God help us. And if that were not bad enough, our people–those who sit in darkness, those rejecting the light–enjoy their misery.
They like it this way.
God said, “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority, and my people love it so!” (Jeremiah 5:31).
They love their darkness, their deceit, their false doctrine.
We know that’s true of so many heresies, those aberrations of the Christian faith which dispute the clear teachings of Scripture and then produce their own versions of the Word in which they have made the necessary (ahem) corrections to have it say what they wished it did. Tell them the truth and they grow rabid in their anger. They love their darkness.
There’s more to it than this, however.
Unfortunately, some who call themselves Bible-believers and born-again Christians are in the same boat. They know a little scripture, have their pet doctrines, and reject anything that upsets that arrangement.
I’ve known church members to say, “I don’t care what the Bible says; this is what I believe.” One said to me one time, “I have my convictions.” (I answered, “That’s well and good. But what if those convictions go against what God’s word says?” She had no answer.)
We in the Deep South can remember when preachers were harassed and fought and run out of town for preaching that God loves all races and colors. Something that simple and basic set off the willfully blind.
Willfully blind. They chose their darkness and fought against anything that contradicted it.
Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see; and that those who see may become blind” (John 9:39). How’s that last statement? Jesus is saying the first step toward sight is admitting one is blind. Only those who come as little children can be taught. Those proud of their knowledge, though it be false, are stumblingblocks to everyone around them.
First things first. What is this knowledge, the lack of which is killing God’s people?
Here are some clues found across the scriptural spectrum…
–Jesus wept over Jerusalem. He saw its coming destruction, which would take place in A.D. 70, and saw how completely unnecessary that was. He lamented, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42).
They no longer knew how to get back to God since they had rejected that knowledge when it was offered. And now, Jesus said, that knowledge has been hidden from your eyes.
–There is Isaiah’s denunciation in Isaiah 1:3. “The ox knows its owner. A donkey knows its master’s manger. But Israel does not know; my people do not understand.” They no longer knew the way home.
They are lost. Utterably lost. Sickeningly lost. And sadder than that, these are the leaders. They are blind leaders of the blind, Jesus said (Matthew 15:14). Think of that. You’re on a safari, an expedition. You pay good money for guides. You presume they know the way. But they don’t. Not only are they clueless, but they reject the map offered to them. You investigate and discover they are blind. What in the world were you thinking, employing as guides the willfully blind.
So, the first question we would want to know of our guides is: “Do our leaders know the Word of God?” Or do they know only choice phrases and favorite passages of it?
–Jesus said the religious leaders of His day did not “know the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). I suspect He could apply that same sad analysis to a lot of churches these days. God, help your church.
–From the cross, our Lord prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23. They thought they knew exactly what they were doing, but they didn’t.
I Corinthians 2:8 says if the rulers of this world had known what they were doing, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.
They simply did not know. They thought they did. They didn’t want to be told they were wrong.
And secondly, in what ways are they “destroyed” as a result of their beloved darkness?
Answer: In every way there is. They are lost in this life and in the world to come.
Read the 23rd chapter of Matthew where the Lord lets the Pharisees have both barrels. They shut off the kingdom of Heaven from people. Not only do they themselves remain outside, but they block those trying to enter. (23:13).
He ends this blistering denunciation of these enemies of all that is righteous with this: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” (23:33).
Same chapter. Jerusalem will be destroyed (23:37-39). For lack of knowledge. See Luke 19:41-44.
Thirdly, how would one know if he/she is guilty of the sin of the Pharisees (willfully turning from the light and blocking it for others)?
The answer is by asking oneself a simple question: If the Truth is different from what I’m now doing, do I want to know it? Am I open to the Light?
Am I teachable?
Only children are teachable. And we must become as little children to enter the Kingdom.
Beware the know-it-alls among us. No one knows it all. No one knows all the Scripture, not even the most learned professor and scholar.
If I were looking for a teacher or trying to make a decision about a prospective pastor, I would look for one who knows t he basics of the Christian faith upon which we all are in agreement and one more thing: a hunger for more. Does he have a spiritual thirst to learn more of what God has said in Scripture?
I fear the pastor who “is not always right but never in doubt.” I pull away from the teacher who scoffs at those whose interpretations of Scripture differ from his. No one knows it all. No one is going to make 100 percent on the final test. All have sinned and come short was spoken of all of us, not just the unbelievers.
Only a Godly person could write this prayer: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxious thoughts. And see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23-24).
Only the truly humble can pray it today.