Knowing Truth, Knowing God
March 1, 2007 - Kay Arthur has taught the Bible for more than three decades, and this month we are pleased to welcome her to the pages of Decision as our regular Bible study author. Kay’s organization, Precept Ministries International, is committed to teaching the Bible inductively, and we believe these studies will help you to grow strong in your faith.
by Kay Arthur
How important is it to know God? To know the truth about Him for yourself? Is it something you can “take or leave” without it having an effect on your life? Most would say, “Yes,” but are they right?
God ought to know. Let’s see what His Book, the Bible, says about knowing Him. Hosea 4:1-3, 6 is printed out below. Read it aloud so you hear every word.
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. … My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.
How to Discover Truth for Yourself
If you want to discover truth for yourself, you need to learn and practice the skills of inductive Bible study: observation, interpretation and application. And today, dear reader, that is what we are about! Observation is discovering “What does it say?” Interpretation is finding out “What does it mean?” And application is embracing truth, lining up your beliefs and behavior according to the Word of God. Where does all this lead? To transformation! To your being changed by truth. To your becoming an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:15-17. Look it up.
The Five Ws and an H
In the light of these things, let’s observe Hosea 4:1-3, 6 and see what we can learn about the value of knowing God. When you read Scripture, ask the five Ws and an H: who, what, when, where, why and how. These are observation questions, and since people are the easiest to identify, start with who. Who are the main characters? Who is speaking? To whom is the writer speaking? Write down your answers.
Now ask what. What is being dealt with, talked about in these verses? What is the subject? Write it down.
Is there any thing that tells you when? Not in these verses. But if there were I would mark that with a green circle. I mark all references to time this way.
When I come to anything that tells me where— a geographical location—I double underline it in green. I mark the text and use colors for quick identification. Double underline all the references to “the land” including the pronoun “it.” The land in this passage is the land of Israel given by God in covenant to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel) and Jacob’s 12 sons.
A Note on Tools
I suggest you get some fine point colored pens and pencils and use them when studying the Bible. You’ll see what a difference it makes. And remember there is nothing sinful about marking your Bible. God wants you to know and understand His Word, and this is a great way to learn and remember what you read. It works!
Read Hosea 4:1-3 again. This time, mark the word knowledge with a rectangle, or color knowledge a specific color. You are marking a key word, which is an important word that helps you unlock the meaning of the text. Because it is key, it is repeated.
After you mark a key word, list what you learn from marking it. Look at each place it is used and write down what you learn. Do it now, before you go any further.
Since I’m not sitting right there with you (although I would count it a privilege to do so!), let me ask you some five Ws and an H about knowledge. See how many of these questions you have already answered strictly from your first observations of Hosea 4:1-3.
- What is God’s concern about Israel’s knowledge?
- Knowledge of what or whom?
- Who is saying this and to whom? (You have already seen this, but it’s good to review.)
- What is happening because there is no faithfulness, kindness or knowledge? (Answer this from verses 1-3.)
- Does this sound like any other country you know? How so? Now read Hosea 4:6 aloud. Mark the other two uses of knowledge. According to verse 6 …
- What is happening because of a lack of knowledge?
- Why the lack?
- Who is being affected?
- How will this affect their children?
God tells us in Romans 15:4 that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” So what can we learn? What can we apply to our lives?
Do you think people are being destroyed or ruined for a lack of knowledge of God? How? What would be the cure?
How has your knowledge of God helped you? What circumstances might you have handled differently had you known God’s Word better?
Do you have children? According to Hosea, what might happen to them if you reject knowledge?
What have you learned that you need to believe or do?
Until Next Month
Now, my new friend in the Word, let me give you something to do until next month. Read through 2 Peter. Color every reference to Peter in one color and every reference to the recipients in another. Then list everything you observe from marking each one. You’ll be awed at the knowledge you gain. Then color code every reference to knowledge, know and knowing and see what you discover for yourself. Colossians 1:9-12 is my prayer for you:
For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.