“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge,” by Louis A. Dole

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“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6

Readings

Genesis 4:1-15 · John 6:53-69 · Psalm 119:1-16

Sermon

In the church calendar this week is noted as “Education Week.” To the modern mind education means the acquisition of knowledges concerning the world and the development of human life upon it, and also preparation for one’s trade or profession. So we have our histories, and studies in the sciences and manual arts, in philosophy, psychology, and the humanities. Yet there is one Book which has had more influence in forming, directing, and determining human life than all other books combined which is often passed over today. This Book is, of course, the Word.

No one who has observed the tendency of the popular religious literature of today can have failed to note the widespread doubt that prevails as to the Divine authority of the Bible, and this doubt even pervades the various divisions of the church, though it no longer takes the form of attack and ridicule common during the last century. Men of the highest culture and upright life have been swept into this current of doubt, not because the Scriptures stand in the way of sensual indulgence but because they cannot see them to be true. So by many the Bible is passed by because it is not understood.

We speak of the educated and uneducated classes. This leads to misconceptions. Life is through and through an educational process. It is not a question whether we shall be educated or not but only what kind of education we shall receive in the course of our life. The purpose of education is to develop the capacities that we have, and our greatest capacities for life and for enjoyment are our spiritual capacities. It is for the development of these that the Bible was given.

In general we recognize the importance of education. We know that we are born in ignorance – we have to be educated. Whatever we accomplish in the world is the result of our education. We were created and placed in a world designed to call forth and to develop both our bodies and our minds. We are commanded to “have dominion.” It is a hard world for those who wish only to play. It was purposely created so. We do not need the Bible to teach us about this world and how to get on in it. But we do need it to teach us about the Lord, about what life here is for, and what are the Divine purposes for us.

The Bible is the record of the Lord’s revelation to mankind. It is the abiding witness to the fact that God has spoken to us. It is a revelation of the Divine mercy and the Divine purposes toward mankind.

And why has God spoken to us? Unless the Lord had revealed Himself and His will, men would never have known Him. The Bible is the means of communicating the Divine life to the human race. There are different levels of meaning within its literal story. In it is the spiritual history of the human race from the beginning of creation. Next is the history of the development of the human soul, and in its inmost sense it treats of the Divine life itself. It begins with the statement that God created the heavens and the earth, and then we find the words, “Let there be light.” That is the starting point. It is this light that we need.

In the fourth chapter of Genesis it is written concerning Cain after he had slain his brother Abel: “a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.” This pictures the state of those who have no settled convictions. A fugitive is one who will not make up his mind; he is afraid of accepting any system of truth. So he becomes a wanderer with no spiritual home. He who has no knowledge of the Divine looks out upon the world with its multitude of forms, its changing seasons and surging life, and asks, “Who made all this? Who created the earth with its varied beauties?” and he can find no rational or satisfying answer. The human mind needs settled convictions and to find rest.

Every person seeks rest. The Lord said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The rest promised is peace of mind, the feeling that the purpose of life is known and that it is being attained. In the light of the opened Word we can have settled convictions, a sure and stable faith. We can have the feeling of solid ground under our feet; the days of wandering and drifting are over. The truth is available to direct and guide us. We do not find ourselves in a world of mysteries of which we ourselves are the greatest mystery of all. We do not look out upon a world the final purposes of which we do not know.

The Lord speaks to us directly in His Word. It brings Him down to us and keeps Him ever before us, making Him visible to our minds and enabling us to recognize Him as our Father in the heavens. And the Word teaches us about ourselves, that we are created to become His children. We are not His children by natural birth; we become His children as far as we choose to be such, as we seek to learn and do His will.

Also we are taught that His purpose for us is that when this life is finished, we shall find our homes in heaven, where we shall be set wholly free from everything that stands in the way of a full and happy life. Thus this world takes its proper place as a preparatory world, not a world in which our life finds fulfillment.

Among many today there is much doubt about the Word. To a large extent it is regarded as human literature, with the most important parts of it of very uncertain origin and of doubtful value. If the Word is thus taken away, the only recourse is to our own intellects, and we may well ask, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” For there is no other place of rest for the mind, and no other basis for a stable faith.

As we study the Word, we find that it touches us at every point, it solves for us the difficult problems of life, and it interprets for us all the experiences through which we pass.

The Lord said, “the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” And Hosea writes, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Men, women, and children everywhere are suffering from lack of knowledge. All progress is dependent upon knowledge. Human comfort and happiness are made difficult if not impossible of attainment by the lack of a properly educated childhood and youth. There are many things that a secular education gives us, but the one purpose in which are included all minor aims is to know and serve the Lord, that through Him we may serve our fellow men.

The question is, “What shall we make of ourselves?” On our answer to this question depends our happiness and our usefulness. It is a matter of the development of character. As we learn and keep the commandments and precepts of the Word, the Lord builds a heavenly character in us. By the Word the heart is cleansed. “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.”

There is indeed need for a wider education on the natural plane. Men, women, and children everywhere and under all imaginable circumstances are suffering from a lack of knowledge in the most ordinary requirements of right living. But there is a higher realm than the natural. Natural achievements alone will never bring happiness, however great they may be. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” In the long run it is well with the good and ill with the evil.

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

Amen

Read the original sermon in PDF format

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