But What if the Bible Doesn’t Seem to Make Sense?

Most of us want to think of ourselves as reasonable people. When need be, we can think logically and rationally about things and come to reasonable conclusions. We know at the least the basics of how to recognize fallacies in other people’s arguments and how to put our own thoughts together.

For those of us living in Western nations (and I’m guessing some other locations that have been influenced by Western ideas), the education we received in relation to logical reasoning is based in Grecian and Roman philosophies. This system of reasoning and logic laid the groundwork for our scientific method and our ideas about how to figure out if something makes sense.

When we apply our modern human reasoning to the Bible, sometimes there are things which seem odd to us. We might notice contradictions in the text. We might wonder why God would tell people to do certain things, or why He makes some of the choices He does. We might look at some of the connections New Testament writers make to the Old Testament and think their conclusions seem far-fetched. And when we look at the Bible and it doesn’t make sense, we might become frustrated with our own limitations or we could become skeptical of God’s word.

The first of those problems has a fairly simple answer: pray for wisdom and understanding. James says that if anyone asks for wisdom in faith, God will give it to them (James 1:5-6). Paul adds that if we’re off-the-mark in our views, God can reveal the truth to us (Phi. 3:14-16). When we’re in a relationship with God, He also gives us His holy spirit that Jesus said “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13, WEB). When we’re frustrated with our own lack of knowledge or understanding, we can take those frustrations to God. He might not give us the exact answer we’re looking for right away, but He will always help those who keep asking and seeking (Luke 11:9-10).

It can also help to keep in mind the things that I’ll suggest people consider if they think God’s word doesn’t make sense. There’s a dangerous sort of arrogance in thinking there’s something wrong with God just because He doesn’t make sense to us. Similarly, there’s danger in dismissing God’s word because we’re not sure how to wrap our heads around it or we think it’s just a good book rather than His divine revelation. There’s a lot we could say on this subject, but for today’s post I want to focus on just two things we can think about if we’re struggling with the idea that things in the Bible don’t make sense.

Image of a girl reading the bible, with text from Romans 11:33 and 1 Corinthians 2:16, NET version.
Image by José Roberto Roquel from Lightstock

The Wrong System of Measurement

Suppose you come across a woodworking project, like a little birdhouse, at a resale shop. You like the way it looks so you take it home and plan to use it as a pattern for your next project. You get out your tape measure and start making notes. The roof is just shy of 7-7/8 inches long, and not quite 4-3/4 inches wide. You keep taking measurements and it gets more and more frustrating. Why didn’t the builder use nice, even, sensible numbers instead of all these not-quite-right fractions?

Then suppose you turn the tape measure around to the side with centimeters. Suddenly, the roof is exactly 20 by 12 cm. The problem wasn’t with the person making the birdhouse. The problem is you didn’t understand what system of measurement they used in the first place.

This is very similar to what happens when people approach the Bible with a cultural mindset different than the one the original writers use. The Bible is a text from the ancient Middle East. Even though we believe God is the ultimate author of the Bible, He still used people in that culture to write His word. When Jesus spoke to people of His day, He used examples and analogies they could understand. Those of us who are far removed from that original context (in terms of both time and cultural philosophies) often have a hard time figuring out the Bible. That’s not because there’s something wrong with the Bible or we’re incapable of understanding; it’s just that we need more contextualizing information.

For example, in Western culture we like having reliable rules and we think they ought to apply to everyone in the same way. If a rule is bent or broken for one person and not others, we call that “unfair” and complain about a lack of justice. If we see what looks like a rule in the Bible and then God does something different, we might think He’s unjust or that there’s some kind of hidden rule system that He’s unfairly keeping from us. But things are different in non-Western cultures where “rules apply except when the one in charge says otherwise. Westerners might consider this arbitrary; many non-Western Christians consider this grace (Richards & O’Brien, p. 174). That’s how Paul can (arguably) call Junia an apostle in Rom. 16:7 even though women don’t typically hold that office (p. 172).

That example comes from Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes–a book I highly recommend to anyone who wants to understand the Bible better. Reading the Bible with Rabbi Jesus is also a great help with that. These books are excellent “tools” for making sure you’re using the right system of measurement when interpreting God’s word. You might be able to find one or both of these books in your local library, and here are the Amazon links if you want to check them out:

God’s a Lot Smarter Than You

There’s another truth that we need to acknowledge if we want to work through parts of scripture that don’t make sense to us. God is smarter than us. And when someone is a lot smarter than you, plus they have a perfectly clear perspective on everything going on, sometimes you won’t be able to make sense of what they’re doing.

For some people, it’s easy to admit that they’re not the smartest person in the room. For others, our intellect can be a stumbling block that gets in the way of a close relationship with God. This latter one is something I can struggle with. I get prickly when someone insults my intelligence or implies that I don’t understand what I’m talking about. I rely heavily on my ability to research things thoroughly and find good answers. I preen inside when a professor complements my writing or calls me an “academic.”

However, an academic understanding of scripture isn’t how we have a relationship with God. Our spiritual temperament might lean more on logic, reason, and knowledge (as Gary Thomas discusses in “Sacred Pathways”), but intellect isn’t enough to have a relationship with God. We also need humility and love. We need to admit that no matter how much we study, we’re not going to learn everything about God because the depths of His knowledge are unfathomable. We need to humbly marvel at–and love–the God who is way smarter than us, and ask Him for help when we’re struggling to understand something in His word.

My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and complete, not deficient in anything. But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.

James 1:2-8, NET

Sometimes, the “testing of our faith” is an internal struggle rather than an external trial. We might wrestle with our own doubts, questions, or fears related to God’s word. We’re not abandoned during those struggles, though. Sometimes I think we worry if our trials are doubt-related then we don’t deserve to ask for God’s help, but the truth is that He’s is eager to help everyone seeking His kingdom to understand and know Him more fully. Even the tiniest spark of faith is enough for Him work with if only we’ll come to Him and say, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24, WEB).

Shifting Our Focus

Image of a woman studying her Bible with the blog's title text and the words "We can eagerly seek knowledge of God while also humbly admitting that we don't yet know everything (and that's okay)."
Image by MarrCreative from Lightsock

There are still parts of the Bible that don’t quite make sense to me. But I think now I’ve reached a point where I trust that God knows what He’s doing even if I don’t understand it. I can also trust that someday He’ll help me understand those things, even if that “someday” doesn’t happen in this physical life.

I can also shift my focus off trying to make sense of everything and onto following Christ’s example. When Paul and Peter say we should have Christ’s mind, they aren’t focused on knowledge so much as on peaceful relationships (Rom. 15:5), God’s wisdom inside us (1 Cor. 2), service (Phil. 2:5-7), suffering, and freedom from sin (1 Pet. 4:1-2). There are far more important things to focus on than trying to make sense of everything in the Bible or put God into neat little categories. There is great value in knowing the Bible and understanding doctrine, but that’s all secondary to knowing God.

“Don’t let the wise man glory in his wisdom.
Don’t let the mighty man glory in his might.
Don’t let the rich man glory in his riches.
But let him who glories glory in this,
that he has understanding, and knows me,
that I am Yahweh who exercises loving kindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth,
for I delight in these things,” says Yahweh.

Jeremiah 9:23-24, WEB

Paul quotes these verses at the beginning of 1 Corinthians when he’s counseling his readers not to let disputes and pride get in the way of peaceful relationships in the church or following Christ. Even the smartest among us don’t have anything to boast of when we compare ourselves to the wisdom, goodness, and glory of God. With this shift in mindset, we can pursue a closer relationship with God and eagerly learn more about Him while also humbly admitting that we don’t yet know everything (and that’s okay).

Featured image by Matt Vasquez from Lightstock

Let Us Press On To Know The Lord

Are you settling for salvation?

This interesting phrase is one I’ve heard used by the Rabbi in my local Messianic congregation to describe those who accept Jesus as their savior and then don’t really pursue a deeper relationship with Him. Maybe they go to church most weeks and go through the motions of being a “good Christian,” but they don’t tap-in to the fullness and depth of their faith.

Shallow faith has been a problem throughout God’s history with His people. Evidently it will be a problem to the end, for Jesus questions if He’ll really “find faith on the earth” when He returns (Luke 18:8). But we want to be found faithful. I don’t think any Christian would say they don’t want to know Jesus better or strengthen their faith (and if they would we should pray for them!). So how do we get to deeper faith?

The Problem of Inconsistent Faith

For many of us, our faith waxes and wanes. We’re excited about God when we first meet Him and we turn to Him when things get bad, but the rest of the time it’s easy to become complacent. In a sense, we set Him on a shelf until we want/need Him.

Come! Let’s return to Yahweh; for he has torn us to pieces, and he will heal us; he has injured us, and he will bind up our wounds. … Let’s acknowledge Yahweh. Let’s press on to know Yahweh. As surely as the sun rises, Yahweh will appear. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain that waters the earth.” (Hosea 6:1, 3, WEB)

Hosea records these as Israel’s words when they turned back to God once again after a season of punishment. This was a cycle for them — they’d fall away from God, bad things would happen, they’d turn back to God, and then the whole thing would repeat. God forgave each time they repented, but He got tired of the cycle. Read more

Unveiled

How many people do you really open up to? Even if you’re an “open book,” there are probably things you don’t share with everyone. There are secrets, aspects of our personality, and thoughts that we only show closest friends, family or a spouse. You may have parts of you hidden so deep no one sees them.

not sure who to credit; found on Pinterest

What about in your relationship with God? Even though He knows everything about us, we can still chose to hold things back from Him. We can tell Him to stay away, keeping Him at arms length and refusing to let go and surrender to His work in us.

Opening up and letting myself be seen is a challenge I face in human relationships, and in this fall holy day season I’ve been thinking about whether I try to do the same thing with God. I think that I’m more open with Him than with anyone else, but are there still things that I’m trying to hold back or hide?

Open To Me

Jesus is supposed to be our friend and lover. He wants to know you more thoroughly than anyone else ever will, but He wants you to chose that relationship. He won’t force Himself into your life, though He will knock.

I sleep, but my heart is awake; it is the voice of my beloved! He knocks, saying, “Open for me, my sister, my love, my dove, my perfect one; for my head is covered with dew, my locks with the drops of the night.” (Song 5:2)

The woman in this part of the Song of Songs has “slumbered and slept,” and now Christ is outside asking to come in. “He sues for entrance who may demand it; he knocks who could easily knock the door down” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary). He doesn’t upbraid her for shutting Him out — He just wants her to let Him in. Have we also locked Him out? perhaps through carelessness if not deliberately?

she did not say, I will not open, but, How shall I? Note, Frivolous excuses are the language of prevailing slothfulness in religion; Christ calls to us to open to him, but we pretend we have no mind, or we have no strength, or we have no time (Matthew Henry)

Matthew Henry talks about this as “The slights which careless souls put upon Jesus Christ,” and which actually demonstrate “a great contempt” for their savior. When we ignore Jesus’ request to come into our lives, we reject His work in us.

Here, in the Song, the woman finally opens the door when she sees His hand at the door. Unfortunately, she waited too long for welcoming Christ in to be easy.

I opened for my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and was gone. My heart leaped up when he spoke. I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The watchmen who went about the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took my veil away from me. (Song 5:6-7)

If we aren’t willing to open ourselves up to Christ when He knocks, He will be harder to find. If we don’t unveil ourselves to Him, we might find ourselves lost, alone and stripped of our covering pretenses before we find Him again. This can happen multiple times in a Christian’s life, just as this pattern is repeated in the Song (Song 3:1-4). Our lives are often a dance of drifting away and coming back to Christ.

Torn Veils

Unveiled | marissabaker.wordpress.comVeils keep us from fully experiencing God. The veil in the temple separated the Holy of Holies — where God’s spirit appeared — from the rest of the temple complex. Prior to Christ’s sacrifice, only the High Priest could enter, and only once a year (Heb. 9:1-8). The moment Jesus died, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51). His death removed the most visible separation between God and His people.

There was another veil mentioned in the Old Testament that Paul talks about in the New. After Moses spoke to God, he shone so much with God’s reflected glory that Israel feared him. Moses wore a veil to hide his shining face before everyone but God (Ex. 34:29-35). Paul wrote about this veil in his second letter to Corinth.

But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor. 3:14-16)

Christ has torn away all the veils between the Lord and His people. The temple veil which tore at His death opened the way into His sanctuary, and when we turn our hearts to Him He takes away the veil shielding true understanding of the Torah.

But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18)

We have to unveil our faces if we want to see His unvelied face. To know Him, we must want to be known. He took the first step — will we be equally open with Him?

Being Seen

Psalm 139 talks about God knowing us thoroughly — all our thoughts, every part of our personality. It also includes a very important line where David invites God into this deep, intimate relationship.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Ps. 139:23-24)

David’s willingness to be seen by God, and his request that God know him, are key to the sort of closeness described earlier in Psalm 139. Today, we can have that same sort of intimacy with our Lord if we let Him in.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Rev. 3:20)

Our Beloved is knocking on our doors, asking us to let Him in. Turn your face to Him, take off the barriers you’re putting up between you and Jesus. See, and be seen.

Unveiled | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Credits for photos used in blog images this week:

  • Veil” by Dan Thoburn, CC BY via Flickr
  • Red Drapery” by Sherrie Thai, CC BY via Flickr
  • Diamond Samples” by Seth Lemmons, CC BY via Flickr
  • Song 7:5” by Raffaele Esposito, CC BY via Flickr

Choose God (Lessons from Hosea, part two)

Last week, we began a study of Hosea, and covered the first three chapters. We looked at how Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute pictured God’s covenant with unfaithful Israel in the Old Testament, and how that serves as a warning to us. We need to learn from Israel’s example and not follow their pattern of repeatedly rejecting God, but rather hold fast to Him as He fulfills His promises to reestablish a marriage covenant with His people.

As we continue in Hosea, we see God addressing the reasons for Israel’s unfaithfulness. Everything that separated Israel from God was Israel’s fault.  God never let down His side of the bargain — Israel got into trouble because they walked away from Him. This holds true for the New Testament as well.

If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. (2 Tim 2:12-13)

God is always faithful to His promises, including His promise that sin will be punished. Like with Israel, it is still up to us to choose between life and death, blessings and cursing (Deut. 30:9).

Lack of Knowledge

Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.” (Hos 4:1)

God gives three reasons for His “controversy” with Israel. They lacked truth, did not show mercy, and had no knowledge of Him. This resulted in “swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery” (Hos. 4:2). The farther they strayed from God, the more corrupt and destructive they became.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hos 4:6)

This verse specifically refers to knowledge about God and His ways. The New Testament tells us that “the wisdom of this age” — knowledge that the world esteems — is coming to nothing (1 Cor. 2:6), but that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden for us to find in the Father and Christ (Co. 2:2-3).

Chapters 4 and 5 cover punishments for Israel, and deal with prophecies of an Assyrian invasion and Judah’s alliances with Egypt and Syria. In chapter 6, the people say, “Come, and let us return to the Lord,” but they are not sincere (Hos. 6:1, 4).  Their sham repentance is not what God was looking for.

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But like men they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt treacherously with Me. (Hos. 6:6-7)

God is all about relationship. He wants to know the people we’ll become when we learn to know Him. All the religious services and laws given to Israel weren’t the “point” of the Old Covenant. They were supposed to be an outward sign of an inward condition — a heart full of truth, mercy, and the knowledge of God.

Because of Unbelief

Israel’s lack of relationship with God was a result of choices they make to walk away from Him.

When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, and the wickedness of Samaria. For they have committed fraud; a thief comes in; a band of robbers takes spoil outside. They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before My face. (Hos. 7:1-2)

Wickedness, lies, adulteries (Hos. 7:3-4) — their sins kept piling up until God could say of the people that “none among them calls upon Me” (Hos 7:7). The entire nation rejected the One who they had entered into a covenant with.

Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds.
They assemble together for grain and new wine, they rebel against Me; though I disciplined and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me; they return, but not to the Most High; they are like a treacherous bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the cursings of their tongue.  (Hos. 7:13-16)

quotescover-JPG-96Israel did this continually in the Old Testament. Psalm 78 records that even though “their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant” that God was “full of compassion” and held back His anger many times (Ps. 78:37-38). He was grieved by their sins, because they would not let Him be their God. Though He acted as their Redeemer, Deliverer, and Rock, “again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 78:35, 41-42). By not believing in Him, they rejected His good works in their lives.

This rejection of God continued into the New Testament as well. Matthew 13:58 records that Jesus “did not do many mighty works” in His hometown “because of their unbelief.” Mark’s account of this incident phrases it, “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” (Mark 6:4-6). Where there was belief, simply touching the edge of Christ’s garments brought healing (Mark 5:27-29, 34). Where there was no faith, He was actually limited in how many miracles He could perform.

Make A Choice

Israel was given a choice whether or not to follow God and welcome His involvement in their lives. Many of them made the wrong choice, as Paul describes in Romans 11 when comparing God’s people to an olive tree where some of the natural branches were removed. In this analogy, Gentile New Testament Christians are wild olive branches grafted into the Rootstock. Once there, we also have a choice to make.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.  And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Rom. 11:19-23)

Like so many serious warnings in the Bible, this contains hope as well as caution. The Bible provides us with records of Israel rejecting God, being punished, and returning to Him again and again. God leaves as many doors open as possible for people to come back to Him, and He’s eager to “graft them in again” if they repent. These doors are open to us as well. But God still wants us to learn from Israel’s mistakes and choose not to leave Him at all, because even though He is a God of enormous mercy there is a point where we can go too far away to get back to Him.

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

Like He did in Deuteronomy 30 with Israel, today God sets before His people a choice between life or death, blessings or cursing, and good or evil. He wants us — pleads with us — to choose life, blessings, and good, but the choice is still ours to make.

Forgetting God

I was reading Hosea early this week when two phrases jumped out at me from this verse:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hos. 4:6)

The phrases were “rejected knowledge” and “thou hast forgotten the law of God.” I also accidentally loaded an NIV translation which renders the word “forgotten” as “ignored.” I’m not sure which translation I like better — forgetting makes me think of gradually letting something slip your mind because you don’t think about it, while ignoring sounds more like a conscious choice. Either way, it is a dangerous thing to do with God’s law.

Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.” (Hos. 4:1)

Destruction comes upon those who reject knowledge of God, and who forget God’s law. It is so very important that we continue to grow in knowledge of God and keep His commandments.

Knowledge of God

According to my study Bible, the Hebrew word translated “knowledge” is H1847 dha’ath. it refers to knowledge gained through the senses, and is the opposite of “folly.” Meanings include knowledge, insight, intelligence, understanding, and wisdom. “Knowledge of God,” Zodhiates writes, “describes the proper relationship between God and a man who truly obeys Him.”

"Forgetting God" by marissabaker.wordpress.comAnd this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:23)

Knowledge of God increases as we grow into a closer relationship with Him. They are inseparably connected. If we reject knowledge of God, we reject a relationship with Him. As pointed out in the definition of dha’ath, a relationship with Him is dependent on keeping His laws. God cannot be in fellowship with a person who is walking contrary to Him.

And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk contrary to Me,then I also will walk contrary to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins. (Lev. 26:27-28)

Do Not Forget

Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. (Deut. 4:23)

The Israelites were commanded, multiple times, to remember all God had done for them, and to teach their children His laws “That they may set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments” (Ps. 78:7). But “they forgot God their Savior,” and did not teach His laws to their children (Ps. 106:21). This set up generational cycles of forsaking God, punishment, repentance and forgiveness, and then forgetting God again.

Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number. (Jer. 2:32)

"Forgetting God" by marissabaker.wordpress.comCan you feel God’s heartbreak in this verse? His presence is what made His people beautiful and His grace clothed them in dignity, yet they cast Him away (Ezk. 16:8-14). It’s as unthinkable as a bride forgetting to put on her wedding dress before walking down the aisle, but it happened over and over again.

In Psalm 50, God addresses the wicked who “hate instruction” and  “cast My words behind you,” asking them “What right have you to declare My statutes, or take My covenant in your mouth?” (Ps. 50:16, 17). These people were thieves, adulterers, liars, slanderers, and evil supporters of others who committed sin (Ps. 50:18-20). Though they knew God’s law, they thought He would overlook their sins — an error He corrects.

These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes. “Now consider this, you who forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver: whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright I will show the salvation of God.” (Ps. 50:21-23)

As this last verse hints, there is an antidote to forgetting God. On the night of His betrayal, Jesus promised His disciples that He would send them the Holy Spirit, which would “teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). Keeping God’s commandments puts us into a right relationship with Him, and gives us access to aid through the Holy Spirit.

The Law of God

To recap (since this has become a long post), God says in Hosea 4:6, “because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Keeping God’s law close to our hearts and minds, holding it in remembrance, is key to knowing Him and maintaining a lasting relationship.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps. 19:7-11)

"Forgetting God" by marissabaker.wordpress.comThis is why it makes no sense to say Jesus Christ did away with the law under the New Covenant. Keeping the commandments is how we show God and Jesus that we love Them (John 14:15, 21, 23; 15:10, 14). We can’t pick-and-choose which parts of the commandments we want to obey, either: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:17-19)

Jesus warns that breaking “the least of these commandments” will make us “least in the kingdom of heaven.” Other scriptures reveal that a pattern of sin will block us from the kingdom all together (Gal. 5:19-21). Forgetting and rejecting God by turning our backs on keeping His laws is like asking Him to forget about and reject us. But, thankfully for us, the flip-side of this is that showing our love for God by obeying Him puts us into a personal relationship with Him that has incredible, lasting rewards.

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him. … If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. (John 14:21, 23)