No knowledge of God
Changed glory to shame and sin
–The Gendai Bible (each chapter summarized in a haiku)
by Rev. Frederick K. Boyle
The Charge Against Israel
Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.
It is an indisputable fact that we live in a society that is completely set against the idea of restraint. Instead the message seems to be: You make your own rules, you do what you want. And it is so strong in our culture that it even comes from, among others, restaurants and sneaker companies!
4 “But let no one bring a charge,
let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother—
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
We have time to watch television, to mindlessly surf the internet, to read novels, to go to movies, to go out for dinner, to spend evenings in conversations with friends, to shop for a long list of Christmas presents, to attend sports events, to take a weekend get away vacation and so on and so on — but oh, my, we are too busy to teach a Sunday School class! We are too busy to participate in a weekly Bible Study! We are too busy to spend 15 minutes each day in Bible reading and prayer! Thus we are well-versed in temporal things, but suffering terribly from a lack of godly, holy, transforming knowledge that comes from God’s Word as the Holy Spirit points us to Jesus Christ.
“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.
7 The more priests there were,
the more they sinned against me;
they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
Romans 1:21-23 (ESV)
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
8 They feed on the sins of my people
and relish their wickedness.
9 And it will be: Like people, like priests.
I will punish both of them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
Teaching was an important duty of the priests (Deuteronomy 33:10, Ezekiel 44:23, Malachi 2:7). Their neglect of this demonstrates what an important place ministers, pastors, and preachers have in presenting God and His Word to the people. If they neglect their duty to preach the word (2 Timothy 4:2), then they can’t lead the people into the true knowledge of God, and so will lead them into destruction.
10 “They will eat but not have enough;
they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
and your daughters-in-law to adultery.
We can easily be careless, thinking more about political correctness than about faithfulness. We don’t want to offend. We don’t like to talk about sin, our own or anybody else’s. We look down in silence rather than looking up to God and asking for help to speak the truth in love. And so we live surrounded by idols.
14 “I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
a people without understanding will come to ruin!
“Those who are not disturbed in their sin, will be destroyed for their sin.”
–Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary
15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
do not let Judah become guilty.
“Do not go to Gilgal;
do not go up to Beth Aven.
And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn,
like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
like lambs in a meadow?
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Are we absolutely confident in God’s care and goodness towards us? Or do we doubt His concern?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
they continue their prostitution;
their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
and their sacrifices will bring them shame.
Sometimes we feel helpless and hopeless — have we forgotten God’s mighty power to save?
HERE Maranantha sings to remind us that as we confess and turn from our sins, the Lord is faithful to forgive us.