The Primacy of Knowing God
“Thus says the LORD, ‘Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,’ declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
While societies have had many gods by name, the subtle gods named Intellect, Strength, and Wealth have always been the three most prominent. They have held the primacy because they reflect the worth of man—wisdom from his mind, strength from his abilities, riches from his accomplishments. Yet the Lord calls men to something far higher. So high is this calling that He does not even call these men to forsake their wisdom, strength, and riches, for He is confident that the calling itself will persuade men beyond the hold of their possessions. He calls them to the knowledge of God, something so high that it makes having or not having non-consequential. It is something the rich and the poor, the wise and uneducated, the strong and the weak, have had alike; yet they did not consider themselves as such in that their one concern was the knowledge of God. Such made their earthly distinctions meager and vain. They are drawn rather to the wisdom, might, and worth of God Himself. This is the power of knowing God. What is it, then, to know God? He brings us to three realities.
He, first of all, tells us Who He is. He is Yahweh. It was insufficient to know Him as the Creator merely; they needed to know Him as the covenant God Who personally reveals Himself. He reveals Himself by what follows. The lesson is this: we do not choose the God we worship. God is one, unchanging, and complete in Himself. If we do not worship Him as He really is, we have nothing to worship. Let us beware of self-originated concepts of God, for we cannot change Him by our thoughts. We must bow to Him for Who He eternally is.
He tells us also what He does. He exercises lovingkindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth. This climaxes in the cross. In Galatians 6:14 we read, “But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So then, Jeremiah tells us to boast in nothing but God Himself, and Galatians tells us to boast in nothing but the cross. How is it possible to have two exclusive objects of boasting? Ah, but therein lies the beauty of God: we have come to know Him in the cross, making both into our single boast. We have seen Him exercise perfect lovingkindness in the One Who took our place, yet we have seen Him exercise perfect justice by crushing Him for our sins. Yes, let us rejoice in the general kindness of God to His creation, for He sends rain upon the good and the evil. Yes, let us rejoice in the righteous dealings of God in His providence. But may we never forget the supreme work of God: it is in the cross that we find true knowledge of Him.
He thirdly tells us His very heart, for He says, “I delight in these things.” When we know Who God is and what He accomplishes, we will know better how He thinks and what He feels. What a lofty occupation to feel God’s very heart strains with Him, to be emotionally joined with His heart, to know not only what He commands but what pleases Him in all aspects of life. It is a deep thing to know and understand God. When a man sees God’s heart, he goes far beyond the standard set by religion. He does not pray merely, but prayer becomes his breath. He does not read Scripture merely, but he hears the voice of God speaking to Him. He does not think of God merely, but God becomes the terms in which he thinks. He does not serve merely, but he pursues the pleasure of God. Believer, do you know God’s heart?