Sunday, April 11, 2010

Reading the Rule Book

Growing up, I lived for Saturday morning cartoons—the one day a week I could watch TV for hours (as long as I got up early enough). One of the more memorable images was the introductory segment to SchoolHouse Rock. In the clip, four cartoon kids stretch taller as the theme song plays, “As your body grows bigger…”

Then, the lanky-looking boy shouts, “It's great to learn 'Cause knowledge is power!” Suddenly, lightning flashes cover the screen. When the boy appears again, his head now rests atop an uber-muscular body dressed in a superhero costume.

The message is clear and simple—gaining knowledge is extremely important.

In one of Jesus’ parables, He states, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more” (Luke 12:48). One interpretation of this verse is that God's ultimate judgment will take into consideration the amount of knowledge the person has concerning God's will. In other words, “what you don’t know won’t hurt you.”

But whereas I’ve always looked at this verse as God judging based on how much knowledge a person does have, what if it actually means how much knowledge a person should have?

Consider the nation of Israel during the time of the prophet Hosea. God basically says, “Enough. I’ve had all I’m going to take from you people. Prepare for my judgment.”

In case the Israelites were unsure what the charges against them were, God presents them with a wealthy list of their sin, starting with “swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery” (Hos. 4:2). It’s almost like God was going down the “Breaking the 10 Commandments Checklist” and ticking off each one in turn.

Then, God explains why the sin is so rampant in the land: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hos. 4:6, my italics).

How is this possible? How could God’s chosen people not know the law He gave them? In the time of Moses, God had instructed the priests to, every seven years, “Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God” (Deut. 31:12-13).

One thought is the priests were so corrupt that they weren’t reading the law to the people so that they really didn’t know. Another thought is the people knew in their heads but rejected the law with their hearts because sin was more attractive.

Either way, what is important to note is the people were still responsible for knowing and obeying God’s law.

With this in mind, consider the Bible that sits on the shelf in your house, in my house.

The knowledge, the word of God, the truth of God—it is ours. Whether or not we do have the knowledge, we should.

In other words, when the time comes, saying, “I didn’t know…” or “My preacher didn’t tell me…” won’t cut it when the word of God rests in our possession.

Whether or not we choose to read it, we will still be held accountable for the knowledge stored within its pages.


  1. Yes, I believe we will be held accountable for our words and actions.

    I have to admit, I'm not very knowledgable. I have a hard time retaining what I just read or heard. But then again God will speak through a donkey if He wants to, or a man who stutters, or someone who's family was considered lowly and beneath the rest of society. I guess the only thing I can count on is as long as I love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, He will be able to use me.

    Great post Jen!

  2. Why does this make us think of... I'm just a bill, sittin here on capitol hill...

    Or, if you don't brush your teeth and keep them clean, you'll get the yuck mouth... Hmm... ha!??