Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Other Side of God

 “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 forsaken the law of God, I will also forget thy children.” (Hosea 4:6) 

         Phillip Yancey wrote a book entitled, The God I Never Knew, which I must confess, I have not read. But whatever it was about God that he came to learn late, it is not an uncommon phenomenon. Our perception of God is nearly always biased in one way or another. We are prone to single out certain of His attributes depending on things such as how we saw our own fathers and what we are personally looking for in a god. Both preconceptions are unreasonable and self-deceptive.

         Personally (and perhaps for the stated reasons), I tend to see God, first and foremost, as a God of love; which is not altogether bad, for He surely is. But I am reminded by such passages as Psalm 2:4-5, and the cited one in Hosea, that God is not only three-dimensional in His Person, He is multifaceted in His Personality. For instance, the verse in Hosea presents two actions on our part that can call forth a reaction from God that might surprise us.

When We Reject Knowledge, God Rejects Us

       The operative word here is “reject.” The lack of knowledge is always destructive, says the verse; but when the lack is the result of deliberate rejection, the consequences are even direr. Failure to take advantage of a God-given opportunity to learn truth—especially eternal truth—is inexcusable. Allowing someone else to do our Bible study, when we have a Bible of our own, is nothing less than spiritual “welfare.” In most cases, our lack of knowledge has more to do with our will than our intelligence. Settling for surface answers, and refusal to consider all sides of an honest argument, are characteristics of prejudice and willful ignorance. And according to this verse, when you and I turn our backs on knowledge, God turns His back on us. This is surely a side of God seldom contemplated.

When We Forsake God’s Law, He Forgets Our Children 

       The first time I really read the final phrase in this verse, it struck me with such force, I had to stop reading to try to assimilate it. To me, it is so sobering—breath-taking even—that I honestly hesitate to comment on it for fear of either going beyond its meaning or cushioning its severity. I know what it says, and while it may not hang over me like a threat, it does come to me as a warning. Forsaking the Law of God, as defined by the Word of God, can bring horrendous, generational consequences; and the man or woman who takes it lightly is not only foolish, but malicious. When were you last confronted with this side of God?

       What an awesome God we have, in every way. He says of Himself in Malachi 3:6, “I am the LORD, I change not.” He cannot change who He is; but from our perspective, he can change His mind. Ask Hezekiah (2 Kings 20). You and I can be encouraged by the words in Psalm 138:8. “The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me.” And whatever “side” of God is needed to accomplish this perfecting, at any given time, is the side He will display. The God who chastens and prunes and purges, is the same God who comforts and heals and prospers. “For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole” (Job 5:18). 

       And just for the record, any side of God is His best side.







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