Let Us Press On to Know the Lord
Listen to the word of the LORD, O sons of Israel, for the LORD has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing and adultery. They employ violence, so that bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes along with the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky, and also the fish of the sea disappear.
When there is no knowledge of God in the land, there is no limit to the evil into which God’s people can sink. In fact, the repeated failure in the book of Judges began when “there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel” (2:10). While this was partly due to error in the leadership, the ultimate error was individual autonomy: “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (21:25). This is the fruit of a generation that forgets God.
God has a very clear estimation of such a generation: “For My people are foolish, they know Me not; They are stupid children and have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, but to do good they do not know” (Jeremiah 4:22). Israel had no knowledge nor wisdom because they had no fear of God. Just as ignorant children contribute nothing to society in carefree immaturity, so Israel contributed nothing to the spiritual purposes of God. They forgot the primary thing. They forgot God Himself. Oh, Israel may have kept certain forms of religion, but God’s true delight was “in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).
How would God summarize our generation? With our ignorance of Biblical history, and even church history, have we forgotten the work which God has done for us? With rampant denominationalism, is everyone simply doing what is right in his own eyes? With our capitulation to liberalism, modernism, culturalism, and other devastating “-isms,” have we given God outward sacrifice without true heart loyalty? Perhaps we should be completely honest and ask ourselves if we have forgotten to do good and have become shrewd in our evil. Of course, we maintain the Christian forms—that is easy to imitate—but are we really objective in our standard of morality? These are piercing questions. Doubtless, if we let them sink into our hearts, we would cry out for a true knowledge of God among His people. Even we who are conservative in our theology and faithful in our assemblies are part of the greater need for revival. May we be as Daniel, including ourselves in the blame as we pray for God’s hand to restore a true knowledge of Himself.
God, of course, has a purpose in spite of His people’s failure. Israel is His masterpiece in this regard. In Hosea 2, He speaks of a day when He will betroth Israel to Himself again, and He says, “Then you will know the Lord.” This looks to a future day at the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus, before the initiation of the Millennial Kingdom. He takes it up in greater detail through Jeremiah.
I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and now overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart.
He speaks again,
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
What, then, is the secret of Israel’s restoration to the knowledge of God? It first begins in the sovereign purpose of God. God will be the object of glory in this. He says, “I will set My eyes on them for good.” That is where all blessing starts. What we need, then, in our day is a God-originated work. You may say, “So then, do we simply wait for Him to revive us?” Ah, but this is the mystery of God, for He administers His sovereign will through prayer. Such was the case in Daniel 9, and such will be our case today. As it stands, we have no idea what God’s purposes are, but we do know that He answers prayer. God answers persistent faith, and He will set His eyes upon us if we but draw near that He might bless.
When God begins a work of revival, He addresses the main issue: the heart. This alone will be sufficient for Israel’s restoration in a coming day. So naturally corrupt is man’s heart that God must give him a new one, and so blind is man’s mind that God must write His law within. The principle is this: there is no collective revival without personal revival. There is no outward revival without inward revival. No program, no project, no institution can restore a true knowledge of God among His people. We need transformation.
Note what happens when God gives His people a heart to know Him: “I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. . . They will not teach again, every man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me from the least of them to the greatest of them.” If this is the ideal for Israel, surely it is the ideal for us who have this heart in the new birth. Though we are not Israel and though we would not strip the New Covenant of its original context, we must be faithful to Hebrews 8 and 10 and see the blessings of the New Covenant as being ours through Christ’s blood. The ideal of knowing God is more within reach for us than it was for Israel, for we have new hearts and the mind of Christ. What is our response? “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hosea 6:3). Indeed, let us press on to know the Lord!
 Hosea 4:1-3, emphasis mine.
 See Daniel 9:1-19
 Jeremiah 24:6-7
 Jeremiah 31:33-34