Saturday, 23 February 2013

The Power of knowledge

“Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns,   and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens,    and even the fish of the sea are taken away. Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest. You shall stumble by day; the prophet also shall stumble with you by night; and I will destroy your mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge,   I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children...”(Hosea 4:1-6 ESV)

The context of this passage found in Hosea was spoken almost 3000 years ago; however, it reflects a principle that is just as applicable today as when it was written. People are destroyed for lack of knowledge because they have rejected the knowledge that God has made available to them through His Holy Scripture.  Let us consider the context of the text for better insight.

Before the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians (722 B.C.), the prophet Hosea focused upon one of the main causes of Israel’s impending destruction, Hosea said “People of Israel listen to the Lord’s message. The Lord has something to say against those who live in this land: “The people in this land are not honest or loyal. They don’t really know God. They are always cursing, lying, killing, stealing, and committing adultery. They murder one person after another.” (4:1-2)” Why? Ignorance was a fundamental problem “My people are destroyed for lack of Knowledge.” (4:6).

Clarke's Commentary put the text in this manner “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge - They have not the knowledge of God, or of sacred things, or of their own interest, or of the danger to which they are exposed. They walk on blindly, and perish. Because thou hast rejected knowledge - So they might have become wise, had they not rejected the means of improvement.”  Israel’s lack of knowledge was not mere ignorance, but active sin against God: The opening verse of the chapter4:1-2, states that Israel failed to acknowledge the LORD as their God, which offers a deeper understanding of the passage. They had “rejected” knowledge. (God’s Law), God would “reject” them. Because Israel had “forgotten” God’s Law, He would “forget” their children (He would remove His future blessing from the nation). As a result of God “rejecting” and “forgetting” Israel, they would be destroyed. Hosea’s message is in line with Moses’ warning to the nation that God would remove His blessing from a disobedient people (Deuteronomy 28).

In a similar line, Isaiah, speaking for the Lord, warned the southern kingdom of Judah of a coming time of punitive devastation: “My people are gone into captivity for lack of knowledge” (Isaiah 5:13). The prophetic curse was fulfilled in the Babylonian Captivity (606-536 B.C). Since the great truths of the Old Testament serve for our learning (“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”(Rom. 15:4), surely we can conclude that a sustained ignorance of God’s knowledge can bring nothing but disaster to the people. Hosea says O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help." Hos 13.9

In eternity past, God created everything with perfect order and  law to function most wisely for his own glory, whatever comes to pass in time: and in a most holy and infallible manner executes all his decrees, without being author of the sin of any creature. Bible says “The LORD is the one who made the world by his power, who established the earth by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” God originally made everything from nothing, perfect. He made our first parents, Adam and Eve, the root of mankind, both upright and able to keep the law written in their hearts. This law they were naturally bound to obey upon penalty of death. God was not bound to reward their service, till he entered into a covenant or contract with them, and their posterity in them. He promised to give them eternal life, upon condition of perfect personal obedience. If they failed they would die. This is the covenant of works. Both angels and men were subject to the change of their own free will. God alone is unchangeable. Many angels of their own accord fell by sin from their first estate, and became demons. Our first parents, being enticed by Satan, broke the covenant by eating the forbidden fruit. By this action, they, and their posterity, became not only liable to eternal death, but also lost all ability to please God. They became by nature enemies to God, and to all spiritual good, and were only inclined to do evil continually.
This is our original sin, the bitter root of all our actual transgressions, in thought, word, and deed.  So the first man having brought himself into this woeful condition, is neither able to help himself, nor willing to be helped by God out of it, but rather inclined to lie still, insensible of it, till he perish; yet God, for the glory of his rich grace, has revealed in his word a way to save sinners, that is, by faith in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, by virtue of, and according to the tenor of the covenant of redemption, made and agreed upon between God the Father and God the Son, in council of the Trinity, before the world began. For the accomplishment of this covenant of redemption, and making the elect partakers of the benefits of it in the covenant of grace, Christ Jesus was clothed with the threefold office of Prophet, Priest, and King: made a Prophet, to reveal all saving knowledge to his people, and persuade them to believe and obey the same; made a Priest, to offer up himself a sacrifice once for them all, and to intercede continually with the Father, for making their persons and services acceptable to him; and made a King, to subdue them to himself, to feed and rule them by his own appointed ordinances, and to defend them from their enemies.
The Bible is the story of God’s speaking to man to reveal His plan of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The writer of Hebrews wrote to Jewish Christians who were going through intense persecution.  Some of them were tempted to return to their past religion.   The writer of Hebrews encourages them and us today to listen to God’s final Word! “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” (Hebrews 1:1-3) Jesus Christ is God’s last word for us. Not only He is the creator and sustainer of all that is, He also made purification for sins. His life of total obedience and reverent fear of the Lord made Him the only one capable of being a sacrifice for our sins.  He willingly and obediently obeyed His Father and offered His body and blood to atone for sin.  His sacrifice was sufficient and provides the only way to be cleansed from sin.

Bible declares that “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16, 17)  Jesus said “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32.) Jesus himself, who is the way, the truth, and the life; and the sense is, that we should know more of him, of the dignity of his person, of the nature and usefulness of his offices; of the efficacy of his Death and resurrection, the Excellency of his righteousness, and the fullness of his grace, and that for themselves: and the truth shall make you free; from ignorance.

Today our world is changing rapidly. Long established foundational systems are changing in all over the world. This is the generation of knowledge and power. Man has been able to explore space, as well as the tiny invisible human cell. He has created “smart bombs” that destroy targets with pin-point accuracy, and he has developed technology to instantaneously transmit voices and images worldwide. At the touch of key, vast realms of knowledge that would fill thousands of volumes is available on the Internet to millions of people in their homes. Life on earth holds no greater challenge than the complicating daily demand of choosing among competing alternatives for our limited time. Our life is the sum total of all the decisions we make every day, and those decisions are determined by our priorities.

Most people in the world are driven by wrong priorities that occupy & control their whole lives. Psychologist Abraham Maslow, who after studying the motivations of human behavior, concluded that all human behavior is driven by the same basic “hierarchy of needs”: water, food, clothes, housing, protection, security, preservation, self-actualization, significance. However, Jesus affirmed God’s number-one priority for all human being. He said “…Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes...But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mat 6:25,33).

The word “first” is of utmost importance in this passage. To place something first means it must be the first in time and number, first in rank and value – the most important. Jesus’ first commandment to us is to seek first the kingdom of God (Mat 6:33). To seek is to be engrossed in the search, persevering and giving strenuous effort to obtain something. We must earnestly pursue that which God has promised us in order to fulfill our destinies and enjoy our lives. Kingdom of God" is usually God's active rule over his creation, especially in saving his people from their sins and the consequences of those sins. The kingdom of God is not only God's rule over his obedient subjects, but includes his victory over their spiritual adversaries. Jesus said to His disciples “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.” (Matthew 13:11)

God’s Kingdom is His invisible government over each of us and over the whole world. It addresses exclusively His Lordship over our lives. To Seek The Kingdom Of God above all else means to put God FIRST in our life, to fill our thoughts with HIS DESIRES, to take HIS CHARACTER for our pattern, and to SERVE and OBEY HIM in EVERYTHING! “Righteousness” means: To be in right-relationship with God or right standing with God. As people of faith, we do not live in the realm of unbelief, therefore, worry is unreasonable. Cease worrying by seeking God and trusting Him to provide for our needs. When we are walking in alignment with God, our appetite for spiritual things is constantly growing. Rightly an aligned believer has a hunger, a thirst, desire, passion, an appetite for the things of the Kingdom of God.
Kingdom Knowledge is a part of a never ending process for the individual success. Real Knowledge transforms the human heart and the transformed heart transforms the world. Knowledge empowers people and it is the true wealth of the community. Knowledge of God is hope for the future & destiny. If we can pick up the Bible and read and Ask question and learn all that we can about principles, laws, dogma and standards, then we can change our life and circumstances. By nature we are lazy and will do anything to avoid stretching our minds to seek study and read. If it’s not on iPod, mobile phone, TV or on the computer we avoid it. Most people want information spoon-fed to them and will not take steps to work for the information that can change their lives.

Remember everything in this world is liable to change! Health may give place to sickness, pleasure may give place to pain, plenty may give place to poverty, love may give place to enmity, honor may give place to disgrace, strength may give place to weakness, and life may give place to death. Change is inevitable. He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  If we don't like something, change it. If we can't change it, change our attitude. We must become the change we want to see in the world. To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. The best changes often start as single, simple thoughts of God’s word. Think God’s way, and discover how to make our vision real.

The apostle Paul charged the Ephesians in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus, that having professed the gospel, they should not be as the unconverted Gentiles, who walked in vain fancies and carnal affections. They were void of all saving knowledge; they sat in darkness, and loved it rather than light. So Paul said in Ephesians 4:22-32 - put off the old man. Put on the new man. Substitute Good Habits for Bad Ones. Putting off the old and putting on the new is the principle by which the possibilities that are in Christ can become evident in our experience. Note the examples: Speak truth instead of falsehood (v25), work and give to others instead of stealing (v28), speak good instead of evil (v29), show kindness and forgiveness instead of anger and bitterness (v31,32). Knowledge of God is the most powerful weapon which we can use to change ourselves and the world.

Paul says the former manner of life is corrupt—decayed, dead, foul, selfish, unhappy, restless. These are the things that have made life unhappy or miserable. He points out we can recognize these attitudes by the way they operate. They are deceitful lusts. When we believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him as our Lord and Savior, we are renewed in the attitudes of our minds. The new self is in the likeness of God: it is the life of God; it is the image of Jesus Christ; it is His life lived in you. So put on that kind of life, because it is available to you.

 The human mind is an amazing creation of God. Nothing on earth can match its capabilities or creativity. It controls feelings, thoughts, words, attitudes, and behavior. Who we become and what we achieve are largely due to how and what we think. Wouldn’t it make sense to let the One who created us guide our thought processes?  In our pride, we tend to think we’re able to manage without God. But With each passing year, the instability in the world seems more and more obvious. Natural and man-made catastrophes claim countless lives; political balance shifts; wealth and status come and go. It all causes us to ask, Is anything unshakeable? Consider what could happen to our next generation if we stopped sharing the truth about Jesus with our children: the next generation would exist with no biblical foundation. As we see in Psalm 78, we have been given divine instruction to teach the truth to our children. We do this by modeling a godly life, teaching the Word, and sharing our testimony of the Father’s provision and leading. Our obedience concerning the training of children will determine the future moral character of our nation.

God’s command is still relevant for us today. He has given us the work of telling all nations about redemption through Christ’s blood and resurrection. I recall 70’s and 80’s my childhood and my parents. It was common for people to take their children to church and read the Bible and family prayer aloud every morning and evening at home in Kerala, India. As time went on, though, most of the Christian families became affluent and busy, pushing the godly values and traditions aside. Are you a parent or grandparent? Or are there other children within your circle of influence? Think about ways that you are purposefully teaching them how to walk with God. There is no task quite as essential or fulfilling as investing in the lives of the next generation. All believers have an important role to play in this—from the Sunday school teachers who instruct directly in a classroom to the volunteers who drive children to youth group. Parents in particular have the enormous responsibility to train their daughters and sons in righteousness.

Instability can create feelings of insecurity and fear unless we focus on truths we can stand upon with certainty. The Bible refers to Jesus as a rock and firm foundation (1 Cor. 3:10-11; Eph. 2:20). And we know that God is unchangeable and sovereign; nothing can undermine or move Him. His Word is truth, and it will last forever. As Christians, we know that our eternal relationship with God is secure. We’ve been adopted as His children, and nothing can rob us of this position. What’s more, believers are assured of an eternal home with Him. Though we may at times feel unsettled by our circumstances, we can rejoice when trials bring us humbly to the cross of Jesus—there, we will find true peace and safety.

 The context of our text relates to the people of Israel and the failure of the priests. The knowledge which the nation of Israel so desperately lacked was the KNOWLEDGE OF GOD. To no surprise, this is exactly the same knowledge. God has clearly stated in the Bible that He is NO respecter of persons. God always honors repentance, whether it be an individual or a Nation. If a Nation is to be saved, then she must seek and regain the knowledge of God. Today people are increasingly walking in darkness. Most people live in darkness without the knowledge of God.  The knowledge of God is TRUTH. As people deteriorate spiritually, they naturally become more selfish and self-centered. No message or word of man has the power to change your life, but the Word of God, if it is heard and received and believed and acted on, has the power to change your life, for that is how you get or got saved to begin with. It was because you heard the Word and you were brought to conviction and repentance and so were born again by the Word of God. 1 Peter 1:23 says “For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.” In John 17:17 Jesus Prays for His Disciples “The power of God is in His Word.  Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.” When that logos becomes rhema in our spirit, then the Spirit of God uses it to make a change and transformation in us.

God says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” - i. e., the only knowledge, and the knowledge of the Creator. So Isaiah mourns in the same words, "therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge". They are destroyed for lack of it, for the true knowledge of God is the life of the soul, true life, eternal life, as our Lord Jesus said, " “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). The key, then, to eternal life is to know God the Father and Jesus Christ. To know Jesus Christ requires a different kind of knowledge. Knowing Him is more than knowing His doctrine and certainly more than professing His doctrine. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will love Him. The more we know of Jesus, the more we will trust Him. Bible says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27.)

To be continued…………