KNOWING THE LORD
by WILLIAM WACHTEL
We live in the so-called “age of science.” Marvels unknown to our ancestors surround us on every side, and we take them for granted. Men have walked on the moon, a feat some of us only dreamed of as children, when we looked at the full moon and wondered what it would be like to be there! These marvels are the result of the advance of human knowledge, and of course the word “science” itself is merely the English form of the Latin word for “knowledge.” Truly, man’s knowledge has been increasing at an amazing rate in recent decades—doubling every few years, it is said. In fact, it seems that the Bible foretold, in Daniel 12:4, that there would be such an increase of knowledge at “the time of the end.”
With all this increase in what might be called “factual knowledge”—a better under-standing of how things work and what are the characteristics of our universe and of our environment—it seems to many Christian believers that the most important knowledge of all—that of God, His Son, His Word, and His plan for our lives—is sadly lacking, even among many who profess to follow Him!
The Bible itself gives us some examples from long ago to demonstrate that this is not a new problem. The expression “knowing the Lord” is one that may be used to describe or define the problem that we wish to address. In Judges 2:10, the writer speaks of the generation of Israelites who had gone through the Wilderness with Moses and Joshua, but who had now died. He goes on to describe the following generation as one “who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.” As we look at this statement, it is hard to imagine that the writer is saying that they did not know about the LORD or the facts regarding Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and preservation throughout those fateful forty years in the Wilderness of Sinai!
It seems obvious that the Bible is telling us here that the kind of “knowledge” in view is that of personal acquaintanceship, personal relationship. The new generation knew only what they had heard from their parents and grandparents; they had a second-hand knowledge of God and His ways, not an intimate, personal familiarity with the One who had been so manifest in the daily experience of their parents and grandparents.
A similar example is found in the history of the child Samuel, taken by his parents to serve in the house of God, under Eli the priest. One night the LORD spoke to the young lad, waking him up. We are told that “Samuel did not yet know the LORD: the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him” (1 Sam. 3:7). Again, we realize that this cannot mean that Samuel was ignorant of all the things of the LORD or the facts about Him. He simply as yet did not have any personal experience with the LORD. He did not “know” the LORD for himself. His knowledge was still “second-hand”!