I raised a few fishes as pets at home. Recently I bought a Betta fish. The fatal weakness of this beautiful fish is too aggressive to live others. My son took care of a Betta fish before, but it died soon. At that time, it was a winter season and we were out of town for a while. We assumed that the fish needed some care. One day I observed the fish leaning on a small tree that was in the clear glass bottle. I thought, 'Is the fish resting?' Later, it seemed to sleep between branches of the tree. Next day, my youngest daughter said that the fish was strange. The fish could not balance himself and his body was twisted. I thought, "is it going to die?” Because of some worries, I tried several things for the fish. First I changed the water, but the condition of fish didn’t improve at all. Then, I thought, "Is it cold?" My wife turned on the heater for fish. Later, something interesting happened: the strange gesture of the fish was disappeared. He became normal. Yeah! Temperature was the key! I didn’t know how sensitive fish is to the water temperature. I completely ignored that Bettas are tropical fish. I learned that the temperature of a fish tank is fatal to Bettas. In addition, I found and bought a fish-tank heater and put it there. Now a certain temperature was set right now. Do you know what happened? Then, the fish becomes normal and moves fast and asks for more food. One thing what I learn from the Betta is that knowledge is important; the wrong knowledge can kill something. On the other hand, I taught myself that correct knowledge can save people and animals whenever I see a Betta.
Lack of knowledge will cause the destruction.
And the word what I remembered was Hosea 4. The Lord spoke to the people of Israel.
"..my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. "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. " (Hos. 4: 6).
The Lord's assessment for God's people was "lack of knowledge." There was no knowledge of God nor knowledge of who God is. Today, Lord may say the same to us. It will be scare to hear: we don’t have knowledge of God although we have been in church for a long time. ‘My people are destroyed because they have no knowledge.' Further reading of Hosea says that the priests who served the Lord had no knowledge of God. However, you might not understand why God said it like this. This may be our assumption or something called by faith: If you were a people of Israel, you might know God very well. If you were a priest, you might have a lot of knowledge about God. Thus, Lord’s evaluation was not easy to understand. It will be understood if He said this to people who serve a gentile god.
How do we understand the Lord’s evaluation to the Israel or to modern believers?
Nowadays, we can easily gain knowledge about God if you are willing to do so. Even if you search the internet only, you can easily access the knowledge about God. The knowledge of God is also vast. The Bible has also been translated into various versions. How does the Lord evaluate the modern churches? Maybe, the Lord would evaluate us like the Israelites in Hosea. 'My people are destroyed because they have no knowledge.'
How should we understand the words of God? In today's text, I want to find the answer to this question.
Today's text begins with a question by an expert in the law who wanted to test Jesus.
"Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Then the Lord asks a questions instead of the answer. 'What is written in the law, and how do you read it?'
The Lord asks the teacher of the laws how he reads the Bible. Now, it is your turn. How do you read the Bible? Many people including me may read the Bible this way: we read what touches our hearts only. We read main stories of the bible for power, comfort, and blessings. Some people may use a highlighter or a red ballpoint pen or leave a note for memories. However, when we look at ourselves carefully, we may know who we are. I tend to read only what I like, and just pass what I don’t like. This is the same with knowledge of God. We only want to know what we want to know. We do not want to hear what we do not like to hear in our ears. We like to hear stories that move our hearts, but not burden to our hearts. Therefore, the question "How do I read the Bible" is a question of what kind of knowledge was obtained through the Bible. How do you read the Bible? And what knowledge did you gain from the Bible? This question can be a very important question for us. It is also a question related to eternal life.
Hosea 4:12 describes the life of the people of Israel.
They consult a wooden idol and are answered by a stick of wood. A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.
The people of Israel seemed to know God very well. Indeed, in their lives, we can see that the god they served was a tree. They said that they should know God well in their head, but their bodies were living regardless of God. They might have knowledge of God, but they didn’t do what they know. Knowledge that has nothing to do with our lives is dead knowledge. It just seemed to be knowledgeable. So the people of Israel actually fell.
The teacher of the law answer was this: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
His answer is correct. Jesus agreed his answer.
Jesus answered, "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
How do you read the Bible? Could you tell the right answer to the Lord’s question? Is that correct? That should be wonderful! It should be a good job! But then we must pay attention to what the Lord said. 'Do this and you will live’. It is also important to know the correct answer, but this is not the end. We have to do what we know, which leads us to life.
Knowledge means action!
We may not know if we don’t take an action. We may pretend to know something if we don’t anything that we know. The meaning of knowledge in Bible is related to “knowing “and also “doing”. This is true in our daily lives as well. It is natural to do something it if you know it. If you have a knowledge of health, you may know what to do based on your knowledge. If not, you may pretend to know what you know about it, which leads to sick.
The Israelites were mistakenly aware of God, which made them bow to the tree. That was a reason of the evaluation of the Lord to them. For example, I know that fish live in warm water. If I put the fish in cold water and say, 'Fish, you can do it, you have to overcome it. If you persevere and train, you can survive in any environment.' If I do this, I may have no knowledge of fish. Putting tropical fish in very cold water will make it die quickly. If you read the Bible and may not do anything, we will be destroyed. Knowledge is not to be in our ideas, but to be expressed in our lives.
Then the teacher of the law seemed to be good mode in Jesus' praise. In verse 29, he said to him, "Who then is my neighbor?” he asked. Then Jesus' answer was about a man who was robbed and someone who helped him. After the story is finished, Jesus asks the teacher of the Law again, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" The teacher of the law replies, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."
The teacher of the law asked the question "eternal life," in the beginning and the Lord asked him to do what he know. The definition of “Knowledge” is the coincidence of our action.
The Word of Jesus is also the same as that of Deuteronomy 4.
Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. (Deut. 4: 1)"
Deuteronomy 4: 6 “Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, "Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people."
If you do not have knowledge, you will perish. In particular, without God's knowledge, we cannot live but die. “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17: 3).
If there is no knowledge of God's word, it is ruined. We must have knowledge of God. I hope that knowledge you have is the correct one. Please, keep the words of God. Then you will live. This is not mine, but Jesus. If we have understood God's Word, you and I should be willing to do it. It is said that we should do it until our bodies know the knowledge. This is real knowledge. I pray that the knowledge of the Lord will fill our community and our lives.