Woe to those who rise early in the morning,
that they may run after strong drink,
who tarry late into the evening
as wine inflames them!
They have lyre and harp,
tambourine and flute and wine at their feasts,
but they do not regard the deeds of the LORD,
or see the work of his hands.
Therefore my people go into exile
for lack of knowledge;
their honored men go hungry,
and their multitude is parched with thirst. (Isa 5:11-13)
In the end, it was the lack of knowledge that caused the downfall of the Hebrews of Isaiah’s time.
And this is scary, because they identified themselves as God’s people. This was their heritage and their culture.
Yet they didn’t know God.
We’re in the same boat. We think of ourselves as Christians. But how much are we making sure we really know God? Jesus gave us warnings similar to that of Isaiah 5.
- “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matt 7:22-23)
So how can we know God better? We can start by looking at what the Jews of Isaiah’s time did wrong.
First, they didn’t regard the deeds of the Lord. They didn’t see how God had been abundantly active in their lives. They didn’t realize that everything they had — their land, wealth, possessions, health and wellbeing — was all due to the God. They didn’t see the grace and mercy of their Lord, that he had provided these things in spite of their behavior.
Second, they didn’t see the work of God’s hands in the natural world around them. Every plant, creature and vista should have been evidence of the awesomeness of God.
Thus, to know God, we need to see him more. We need to see how he has been abundantly active in our lives. We need to see his miracles in creation all around us. We need to see how his grace has been poured on us, time and time again.
And it should be easy to see these things. God makes them plain. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20)
But because people all through history have had such a hard time with it, God worked in amazing ways so we could have an even better vision of him.
- No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18)
- We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. (I John 5:20)
- But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. . . he will take what is mine and disclose it to you. (John 16:131. 15b)
We have Jesus. We have the Spirit. We have resources that can help us see right into the heart of God.
And, boy, does Satan not want this! His prime objective is to blind us.
As I’ve been studying life coaching, I’ve been working on my own character. One thing we assess is how much we “judge.” I’ve been appalled to discover that I frequently look at a person or situation and jump to a conclusion. I see someone on Facebook and I think, “They’re stuck up.” Someone says something and I decide, “They don’t like me.” Something bad happens, and I say to myself, “It’s going to go from bad to worse.” I develop beliefs based on these assumptions.
Yet if I found out more information, I’d probably see that my assumptions and beliefs are not true. How convicting that I get sucked into this so often!
The same thing applies to how I regard God. I go through a struggle, and my thoughts are, “God’s not going to work. He cares about others and helps them, but he’s not going to help me.”
Of course, this plays right into Satan’s hands. It’s exactly what he wants. He wants me to believe lies. He wants my pride, insecurities and emotional baggage to shape my beliefs.
Can you relate? How often do you jump to conclusions, instead of investigating what the truth is? As it says in James, we should be quick to listen and slow to speak.
Let’s engage in a daily battle to recognize the lies and discover the truth about God, so we can really KNOW him.
“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the LORD.” (Jer. 9:23)
The consequences for not knowing God are serious. Isaiah prophesied that the Hebrews would go into exile, and they did. The book of Revelations depicts seven churches that did many good deeds, and at the same time were way off base. These churches were given warnings of what would occur if they did not repent.
Let’s not fall into the same trap. Instead, may it be our prime objective to know him better by:
- Seeing him more in the world around us.
- Seeing how much he has done for us and had mercy on us.
- Studying the life of Jesus.
- Praying and listening for the voice of the Spirit.
- Refusing to jump to conclusions.
- Investigating what the truth really is.
Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. (Eph 5:10)
Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. (Romans 12:2 CEV)