Press on to Know the Lord

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6)

“They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord” (Hosea 5:4).

“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).

“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

“To me they cry, ‘My God, we—Israel—know you.’ For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces, and Judah has multiplied fortified cities; so I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour her strongholds” (Hosea 8:2, 14).

One frequent theme you will come across when reading the book of Hosea, is the importance of the knowledge of God. Of all the minor prophets, the knowledge of God is spoken of the most in Hosea. The knowledge of God is so important that people are destroyed and rejected for not having it. It’s more important than burnt offerings. The knowledge of God, as Jeremiah says and Paul quotes twice, is the one thing a man may boast in.

If this is true, the question then arrises, how important is the knowledge of God to you? Is it something you treasure above all else? Do you make a great effort in getting to know Him more? Do you just go through the motions of the Christian life, thinking that if you perform all the outward Christian acts, that’s pleasing to God? And is your knowledge of Him demonic (John 2:19) or intimate?

Reading through this book again made me ponder what has helped me know God the most. I’ve read many books on the attributes of God, many sections of systematic theologies and reformed dogmatics on His attributes as well. Yet as much as I love studying God’s attributes in a bunch of theological books, the number one thing that has truly made me know the Lord the most, is Old Testament narrative and prophetic literature.

There’s just something special about walking with God throughout history and seeing the way He deals with His people. You get to see the mind of God in such an intimate way. You see from His perspective, though not entirely because of the limitations of the human mind, how sinful man is. You get to see how good and gracious He is. You get to see how wise He is and how foolish we are and how we constantly fall to our own destruction by not following in that wisdom.

The sad part is, most Christians don’t know their Old Testament. Many who profess Christianity hate the Old Testament and view the God of the Old Testament as mean and harsh. Many only skim the Old Testament for cute little moral lessons every now and then and never go deep into it’s context. And the result is that many don’t know God. Many Christians also view intimacy with God as the fuzzy feelings they get in a fake manufactured environment where the lights and the music is manipulated to stir their emotions.

Instead, true closeness with the Lord comes through the word of God and prayer (that’s informed by the word of God).  And in having that deep intimate knowledge you will be blessed abundantly. The chief blessing being the knowledge of God itself. And with that knowledge you get to walk in wisdom’s way on a path that leads to life everlasting. So as Hosea 6:3 says “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord”

Mike Murrell

Book Review: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin

I received a book as a gift entitled “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin. The author is a speaker and writer of women’s Bible studies and brings so much insight into studying the Bible in this book. It made me take a minute to stop and realize what studying the Bible was to me. I asked myself why I was studying the Bible. Was it to satisfy my own conscience? Was it to make myself feel good? Was I reading it looking for verses that spoke to me? Or was I reading it to find out more about who God was?   2 Timothy 2:15 “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Wilkin said something that was true of me. She says: “I got it backwards, I failed to realize that the Bible is a book about God. The Bible is a book that clearly reveals who God is on every page…or perhaps I really did know that the Bible was a book about God, but I didn’t realize that I wasn’t reading it as if it were. I approached my study time asking the wrong questions. I read the Bible asking ‘Who am I’ and ‘What should I do?’ We must read the Bible with our ears trained on hearing God’s declaration of himself.”

Wilkin begins the book talking about her own life and experience, telling about her growing passion for studying the Bible. She then goes on to explain how she began to turn her study time in a different direction: rather than asking herself what the Bible could do for her, she asked herself “what am I learning about God in my study, since this book is about Him?”  She also explains how before she had often let her heart lead her in her study. I think a lot of modern Christianity today asks, “How is this making me feel?” instead of “What am I learning about God and my walk with Him?” But remember, we cannot love what our minds do not know; we first have to have the knowledge. Psalm 119: 125 “I am thy servant, give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.”

Wilkin explains that the book’s purpose is “to teach you not merely a doctrine, concept, or story line, but a study method that will allow you to open up the Bible on your own. It intends to challenge you to think and to grow, using tools accessible to all of us, whether we hold a high school diploma or a seminary degree, whether we have minutes or hours to give to it each day.”

After talking about her failures and changes in study, Wilkin talks about a desire for Bible literacy.  Bible literacy is “when a person has access to a Bible in a language they understand and is steadily moving toward knowledge and understanding of the text.” She lists a few different approaches of studying the Bible, explaining what they are, and the problems she has with them. She then begins to give her readers a different guide for studying the Bible, talking about the “Five P’s” of study. Here she teaches her readers to study with Purpose, Perspective, Patience, Process, and Prayer.  She goes through each one of these in great detail, giving a what, how, and why for each. This takes up most of the book and is a simple way of going about studying the Bible, which brings forth valuable findings.

I loved how throughout her book Wilkin shows her great love for God and because of that love, her love for His Word. She says quite a few times how she loves the Bible because it teaches her about God.  The way she speaks of and describes the Bible proves her words to be true. I also found that I really liked the way she told her readers that our minds should be trained before our hearts so that we can understand before letting our emotions take over our study.

As part of the objective audience for this book, being a woman, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I highly recommend it for women, but I know that men could find it beneficial as well. She is a very good writer, easy to understand and uses great examples and Scripture to back up her points. As always we must read with great discretion, especially when it comes to books that are popular mainstream by Christian publishers, but I wholeheartedly think that this is a great book to read and to help start a foundation for studying God’s Word.  She simply states a humble way of studying the Bible and I have found it to be very helpful in my own personal study time.

Lisa Heystek

Book quotations taken from: Wilkin, Jen. Women of the Word, Crossway 2014.

 

 

Samples from Seminary – What is Mercy?

At seminary, the professors stress the importance of coming up with clear definitions whenever we develop a concept. Recently, we had a discussion over the idea of mercy.

The question arises: what exactly is mercy?

Some speak of mercy as it relates to grace. Grace is God’s undeserved favor toward those who deserve the opposite. In other words, because God is gracious toward us, we receive something we do not deserve. Some assert that mercy is just the opposite. Namely, that out of his mercy for us, God withholds what we rightly deserve. For example, while we deserve to be condemned for ours sins, in his mercy, God withholds that condemnation from us.

While this is an attractive way to keep these two concepts straight, I’m not sure that it gets at the heart of mercy. Certainly this explanation is not unbiblical; however, it is more of an example of mercy rather than a definition.

So what is mercy? Well let’s look at an example of mercy from the Bible.

Matthew 20:30-34 records the instance of Jesus healing two blind men who cried out for mercy. As Jesus was departing from the city of Jericho, two blind men heard that Jesus was passing by. Scripture indicates that they “cried out, saying, have mercy upon us, O Lord, thou Son of David.” When the multitude rebuked them for shouting, they cried out all the more: “Have mercy upon us.”

In the following verses, Scripture records that Jesus approached these men and asked them what they wanted him to do. They replied: “that our eyes may open.” Then in Matthew 20:34, we read –  “So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight.”

So how does this help us understand the meaning of mercy, you may ask. Well, Jesus showed mercy to these men. Importantly, prior to Jesus restoring their sight, these men were in a miserable state: they were blind. Thus, we can say mercy is something shown toward those who are in a state of misery.

In addition, in this example mercy consists of two things. First, Matthew 20:34 indicates that Jesus had compassion on these men. In other words, he was conscious of their miserable state and desired to deliver them from it. He had pity on them. Second, Jesus took action. He actually healed them so that they received their sight. In other words, he delivered them from the state of misery that they were in and unto a state of blessedness.

If we take all of this together, we can say that mercy is compassion on those who are in misery and the subsequent action of delivering them from a state of misery unto a state of blessedness.

Perhaps that is a mouthful to remember though. If so, remember two key words: compassion and action. And then, remember that the action part of mercy delivers from a state of misery and unto a state of blessedness.

So why is it so important to have all of this straight. Well, remember that we are the objects of God’s mercy. On account of our sin, we are in a miserable state. However, in his mercy, God looks upon us with compassion. But he does more than merely pity us. His mercy takes action, delivering us from our sin and misery and unto a state of blessedness, namely, unto covenant fellowship with him as our God.

Matt Kortus