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     As for Eli’s own sons, grown-up and priests themselves, sadly they did not know the LORD (1 Sam. 2:12), even though they were trained and active in His service!  They as priests had to know all the correct rituals of God’s house, the laws regarding the sacrifices and the worship of God.  And yet it was possible for them not to know God Himself!  Their lives of wickedness demonstrated to everyone that they had no personal experience of God or friendship with Him (1 Sam. 2:13-25; 3:11-13).

     Many of the Jewish religious leaders at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry were in the same condition.  He told them, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing.  My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me.  Though you do not know him, I know him.  If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word” (John 8:54,55).  These leaders prided themselves on being the guardians of the truth of God, the experts in the Scriptures and their interpretation, and God’s authorized spokesmen to the world.  But Jesus declared that these men, for all their knowledge, did not know God!

     The Apostle Paul, when visiting Athens, saw that the city had an altar “to an unknown God” (Acts 17:23).  The Athenians were worshiping this God along with their idols, but at least they were honest in admitting their ignorance of Him!  Paul used that fact to  introduce them to some of the truths about God and His Son.  Paul later foretold, however, a less excusable ignorance among some living in the last days, those having “a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:5).  Such would be “ever learning, but never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (v.7).  The expression “having a form of godliness” seems to imply that they would be professing Christians, church members, and yet would be lacking the vital personal knowledge of God that brings power and life!  Even in Paul’s own day, there were some in the Corinthian church who were “ignorant of God” (1 Cor. 15:34 NIV) or without “the knowledge of God” (KJV).  Since they did not really know God, we can understand how they could say that “there is no resurrection of the dead” (v.12).  There may be some professing Christians today who have the same problem!

     What are the results of not knowing God, especially among religious people, profess- ing to know Him, but who do not?  Jesus warned His followers to expect persecution at the hands of those “who do not know the One who sent me” (John 15:21).  The believers would be “put out of the synagogue” by the religious leaders, and even killed, because such leaders “have not known the Father or me” (John 16:1-3).

    Even Paul himself, as Saul, was one of these persecutors and leaders; but after he came to know God, through Christ, he wrote that those who are born of the Spirit, who do know God, are persecuted by those who have only been born of the flesh (Gal. 4:28,29).  Church history is filled with the horror stories of “Christians” persecuting and killing for religious reasons.  By such violence, they only proved that they did not know God, no matter what they professed to be as members and leaders in the churches!

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