How to Know God

Pray with the right perspective.

Hosea 6:1-6 (NKJV)

“Come, and let us return to the LORD;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the 
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

“O Ephraim, what shall I do to you?
O Judah, what shall I do to you?
For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud,
And like the early dew it goes away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”

One of the more advanced lessons of Christianity is that the essence of being a Christian is in the being, not the doing. Our works are evidence of our faith, but they aren’t the essence of what faith is. The LORD concludes today’s passage with this concept.

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Of course, we don’t do burnt offerings anymore. Our offerings are acts of service and mercy. Good.

But knowing God is what matters.

This connects to Jesus’ statement, “I never knew you.” Since Jesus knows everything and everyone, this must be a statement about personal connection. Matthew 7:21-23 and Hosea 6:6 teach the same lesson.

Our relationship with God is the key. Everything else is, at most, a sign of how the key is doing.

In Hosea’s time, Israel was committing all kinds of sins, but thought that “buying indulgences” by slaughtering animals on the altar would fix it. God was not impressed.

In Jesus’ day, and in ours, people think that good works prove holiness. Maybe, but they can all be an act or even just a habit. Disciplining myself to do all the right things is useless if my connection to the master is broken. Only He knows which of the things that look good are the ones that advance His agenda.

So, how do we make that connection?

Mainly by not trying to make the wrong connection. When we pray (which is the act of connecting) how do we view our relationship with the person on the other end of the line? Are we there to get help? Or to get directions from the boss?

But boss isn’t a strong enough word. Even King or Lord is simplistic. He invented Kings.

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Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.