"And they fortified Jerusalem unto the broad wall." — Nehemiah 3:8 "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." — Hosea 4:6
"The Broad Wall Must Be Rebuilt"
The Lord must in some way find our life that He may either reward it or punish it. In this case He will get at the parents through the children. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." There is a word omitted here which gives accent and force to the impeachment. We should literally read, "My people are destroyed for lack of THE KNOWLEDGE." There is only one knowledge worth acquiring. We must reject any information that takes the place of inspiration. Information is useful within narrow limits, for information is a changeable quantity, changing by the very fact of enlargement and self correction. But inspiration is the Spirit, the genius that unites all things, interprets all things, and in a sense governs and directs all things. The Bible is consistent in its claim, it never lowers its spiritual tone; under no circumstance will it modify the claims and challenges of God. If God is not first, then there will be no settlement of the contention. But, with God at the right place, all other considerations and ministries and interactions assume their right relation and process. There is no question, God is addressing His people. Not ancient Israel, but the Church of the twenty first century. Having rejected the knowledge of God, men have changed that which was meant to be "The Holy of Holies", the dwelling place of God, into a purpose driven, user friendly, worldly religious institution. Because it is of the world the world hears it. So we have the so-called mega church, whose faith is not in God, but in the number of people who attend. The driving purpose of the purpose driven is not to produce Saints of the Most High God, but religious people who never really come to know God in His sanctifying, life changing experience, of truly being born again. This is evident in the message preached. You must not mention the cross, or sin, this would be a terrible offense to these religious Ishmaels. Every message preached must be carefully edited, every word must be weighed, lest some poor soul be convicted of his sin and leave the service broken, and weeping. "And they fortified Jerusalem unto a broad wall," Cities well fortified have broad walls, and so had Jerusalem in her glory. The New Jerusalem must in like manner, be surrounded and preserved by a broad wall of nonconformity to the world, and separation from its customs and spirit. The tendency of these days is to break down the holy barrier, and make the distinction between the Church and the world merely nominal. It will be an ill day for Church and the world when the proposed amalgamation is complete. and the sons of God and the daughters of men are as one: then shall another deluge of wrath be ushered in. (Charles H. Spurgeon). The amalgamation spoken of by Mr. Spurgeon in the nineteenth century has become complete in the twenty first century. "Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend: and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, the LORD liveth," (Hosea 4:15). Bethel has become Beth-aven. Bethel means the House of God, but it has so changed its character that it is no longer Bethel, but Beth-aven, house of vanity. So, the sanctuary can become a stable, and the altar be sold for bread to minister to the hunger of wickedness. The glory is turned into shame, and over the Temple door is written Ichabod, the glory has departed. Bethel has become Beth-aven, thus we lose our character, and the names in which we were baptized become associated with every form of shame, debasement, and disgrace. How is the fine gold become dim? Verse eight tells it all. "They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity." Here God speaks of the priest. They live upon it, they pander to people rather than expose their sins, and so long as those sins are profitable the priests seize the produce, (the tithes and offerings), and spend it upon their own lusts, vanity and ambition. These are supposedly anointed men who are living on the produce of sin and shame. So the priests are made fat
by the iniquity of the people, and the lord was moved in Heaven in direction of judgment, and He shook Heaven in His wrath, and condemned those whom He called My People It is something to have a righteous God, whoever invented Him. There are those who say these prophets were inventors of a God, it was a noble God they dreamed. His moral character disposes of the theory of invention; it does not lie within the scope of iniquity to dream holiness. It is not within the power of diseased corrupt humanity to invent a spotless God, walking in righteousness, and judging the earth in iniquity. The Lord inquires about our gains, our produce, and our enjoyments, and He will not tolerate upon His altar the result of sin. A man who has gained his wealth by evil means may bring it to the Church, and the Church will ease its conscience by saying, The end justifies the means. The Lord will not receive such sacrifice. He loves righteousness, truth. honesty, and reality. He will not turn His head when iniquity would seek to bribe the altar. "And there shall be, like people, like priest." (v.9). The people will do what they want to do, and have what they like, and the priest will say, "you could not help it." The priest will reproduce what the people are doing, and the people taking encouragement from the priest and become more wicked. It is difficult to believe that the holiest institutions can be dragged to this degree of corruption. The priest, meaning by that word teacher, preacher, minister, apostle, should always be strong enough to condemn that which is not holy. There are Ministers who have no consciousness of sin at all, in such men's sight nothing is wrong. While on the other hand there are others who can condemn sin generally, but not particularly. He can damn the distant, but he must pet, flatter, and gratify the near. Under no circumstance will he offend the tares. He will only outgrow this, when he knows Christ better, when he is enabled to complete his faith by feeling that it is not necessary for him to live, but it is necessary for him to speak the truth. When he comes to the point of feeling that it is not necessary that he have a roof over his head, but it is necessary that he have an approving conscience. When he completes his theology by this most excellent morality, he will be a rare man in the earth, with a great voice thundering its judgments, and with a tender voice uttering its benediction and solaces where hearts are broken with real contrition. "For Israel has forgotten his Maker..." (Hosea 8:14) We must remind ourselves, that though we are using the type, we are actually speaking of the twenty first century church. Israel had not only forgotten the law, but had forgotten the law giver. Though still very religious, Israel has actually forgotten his maker, and has come to believe himself to be made by his own hands. The Holy Spirit is no longer the source, He has been reduced to a helper. Rejecting the Holy Spirit's lordship, the church has the audacity to ask His help in its effort to produce spiritual beings by fornicating with worldly religious programs. It's hard to believe that the mind of man could sink to such abasement. The steps are simple. First the mind surrenders a doctrinal position, then it gives up a practical duty, then it denies a moral obligation, then it dismisses God from the higher ranges of thought, and finally the mind forgets that it ever had a Maker at all! This is the downward path. Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall! Men do not generally give up their convictions instantly, little by little it slips from them, a line at a time, but the end of the process is depletion, famine, death. The end results are a religious system, called a church, without conviction, and a creed without conviction is a corpse. What does it mean to "reject the knowledge of God?" It means that the people never come to know God, they never have that intimate relationship which God has provided, and intended. They perhaps know something of God, but to know God they do not. When a man rejects God he rejects all things good. He may not know it, he may even deny it, but he must he brought by consideration or by experience to know, that to cast off the fountain is to cast away the stream, to shut out the sun is to shut out the light, to forsake God is to accept the sovereignty of evil and darkness. This is the true picture of most of what we call Christians today. The man who knows every thing but God is a fool. He who knows God knows the totality of the Universe. He may be ignorant of details, but he has that peculiar spiritual faculty which grasps the whole, and hears a solemn music in the march which is not heard by persons who take the organ to pieces trying to find where the music comes from. Who would not give up all that he has for one sight of the invisible? Who would not consider all possessions worthless as compared with one face to face interview with the Almighty?
We may belittle the very conception of knowing God. But all the while, we are called upon to enter into a large conception of that fact, and the larger the conception of what is meant by knowing God, the more important will that knowledge become in actual reality. We do not know God because we can spell His name; we know nothing of God simply because we have heard of Him; he only knows God who has lived with Him. We live and move and have our being in God. Even this is insufficient, for there is needed one who can reveal God, in all the fullness of His Character and being. The only Begotten of the Father who dwells in the Father's bosom, He has revealed Him. Only Jesus can tell us what God is. The Hebrew piled its epithets that it might scale the height of God's throne, but Jesus operated in the opposite direction. Instead of scaling the heights, He proceeded forth and came from God, and when He arrived, we called Him God with us, God incarnate, God the Son, God the Savior.