Knowledge is the most important component in human survival. Unlike animals, humans need knowledge in order to handle all challenges of life. Most people suppose that the worst enemy of humanity is Satan. This is not accurately a truthful data. In the book of Hosea God revealed that lack of knowledge is the worst enemy, instead. Satan is only able to manipulate those without knowledge, leading them towards destruction.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being my priests. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6). (Study Bible)
God forgets His people, due to their lacking of knowledge. What this means is that there is nothing more important than the acquisition of knowledge, in this life. But, how can one acquire knowledge and what is knowledge, after all?
Knowledge needs to be understood in its triangular format. In other words, knowledge implies the adoption of the vital three components, namely, knowledge, understanding and wisdom.
You may know something very well. But without fully understanding its dynamics, you are as good as not having knowledge. At the same time, you may have knowledge of something and fully understand its dynamics, but without wisdom, you are as good as not having knowledge and understanding of it.
You may have good knowledge of the car in your possession. But without understanding its functionality, that car is as useless as you not having it in your possession. After understanding its functionality, you then need wisdom to operate it.
In our illustration, wisdom is two-pronged. Firstly, wisdom implies application, or ability to use what is known and clearly understood. Secondly, wisdom implies the right attitude, in handling what one knows and understands. The wrong attitude can lead to misuse, or developing pride that works against one.
Mark recorded a story of a group of people who rejected knowledge on reason of wrong attitude. Jesus gave them knowledge, about the things of God. They understood Jesus as fulfilling the concept of wisdom that they could take advantage of. But notice how wrong attitude negatively affected them:
“’Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him (Mark 6:2-3).”
While the acquisition of knowledge can be very expensive, these people were receiving it without any charge or obligation. There was no doubt in their minds that what Jesus provided was the desirable knowledge. But they took offence, only on reason that they despised Jesus’ background. Verse 5 shows that Jesus could not do more mighty works in that area.
This is the first typical example of how knowledge can be rejected. The second is revealed in the behavior of two gentlemen, on their way to Emmaus, after Jesus’ Crucifixion (Luke 24:13-27). Jesus caught up with them, while they were discussing the events that had taken place in Jerusalem. Their Master had been condemned and killed.
Unlike those who rejected Jesus on the basis of His assumed poor background, these were very clear in that Jesus had not been ordinary, but a great man of God. However, they could not recognize Jesus, even though He walked side by side with them. So, where was their problem? They even tried to criticize Jesus for appearing oblivious of the most terrible thing that had happened in Jerusalem. At which time Jesus responded:
“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Verses 25-27) (ESV).
These people loved Jesus, but were deficient in their knowledge of who Jesus was. Did not Jesus reveal to them that He was to be buried for three days and three nights and be resurrected? (Matthew 12:40). The scriptures, at their disposal, had also showed what would happen to the Christ.
Jesus said their problem had been caused by slowness of heart to believe, describing that as foolishness. The questions to ask are: How did they apply the scriptures? Also, how did they regard their Master? They loved Jesus, but how did they regard his instructions in view of what qualified Jesus to be their Master?
Obviously, other than attitude, another sign of lacking wisdom is carelessness in handling the information provided. But I suppose there is one key scripture that removes all misunderstanding of God’s word. When understood properly, the key scripture puts everything into perspective. That scripture makes the entire Bible understandable and a joy to read.
It removes folly in pride that causes the lackadaisical attitude towards scriptures. On several scriptures Jesus talked about Satan blinding the eyes and clogging the ears of those listening to the message of the Kingdom. Anything to do with pride and carelessness, instead of paying attention is from the devil.
The available knowledge cannot be taken advantage of, as long as the obstacle of pride blocks the way against God’s children. However, the key scripture should help those who genuinely love God and are willing to be guided by Him. Another cause of attitude problem is false data, in assuming that God’s truth comes from the educated elite, in this world.
However, truth is universal and cannot be owned by anyone, except God. By removing pride and wrong attitude, one can easily absorb knowledge, understanding and wisdom. God, who is the custodian of truth, is able to use anyone, anywhere and anytime to reveal it. It takes a person with a clear conscience to appreciate and understand Godly things. Otherwise, an ordinary person will always be hearing but not understanding, seeing, but not perceiving, as Jesus often said (Matthew 13:14).
The wrong assumption, as consuming those from Nazareth (Mark 6), is that knowledge is supposed to come from people of approved background. A lot of faith is therefore placed on renowned scholars, other than God who is the source of all knowledge. Yet God can use anyone, depending on His discretion, at any given time (1 Corinthians 2:6-16).
God’s knowledge is in abundance. But many people sit in the comfort that they are sufficiently educated to entertain strangers to tell them anything about God. Without realizing the arrogance inherent with that kind of behavior, they miss God’s knowledge. I suppose Christ grieves for such people. Scriptures are clear in that such people cannot be in God’s Kingdom.
The Key scripture that helps in understanding God’s mind is Genesis 1:26:
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” (ESV)
Here is, probably the most misunderstood scripture, yet profoundly being key to understand everything in the Bible, up to the book of Revelations. The misunderstanding generally lies in assuming that the said creation refers to Adam and Eve. Remember our principle that it is not possible to adopt knowledge without understanding and wisdom.
To carefully dissect the meaning of that scripture, let us approach it as if we are hearing it for the first time. (I just hope that, like those who took offence with Jesus, some people may not be offended by what is revealed?) In “Let us make man in our image,” two words need to be cleared first; ‘man’ and ‘image.’ The ‘Man’ being alluded to, is not referring to gender.
That man is the image, or likeness of God. An image is a replica of the original. That term is not singular, or applicable to gender, just as this is clarified in Genesis 1:27. It refers to humankind or humanity. Both male and female are accorded the term ‘Man’ and are in God’s image. God himself is neither male nor female. This is why Jesus corrected the ignorant Sadducees:
“You are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” (Matthew 22:29-30) (ESV).
Angels are sexless and they do not give birth. The man created in God’s image is also not consummated in sexual activities to reproduce children. That Man is spirit, just as God; in whose image this Man was created is Spirit. With that understanding, let us now go on to the formation of Adam (Genesis 2:7):
“Then the Lord God formed the man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature” (ESV).
The man of the dust is Adam, not created, but formed of the created dust of the ground. The dust of the ground is not the man. But the created man lives within the created dust of the ground. When a person dies we say he/she has left his body (dust of the ground). The body in a coffin is the body of so-and-so, who would have left the body. After the person has left, the body returns to the ground, from where it came.
The man formed of the dust of the ground is Adam, representing all humanity. In the loins of Adam existed every human being, whether male or female and this included Eve. The Bible only states that God performed some kind of anesthetic operation on Adam, extracting one of his ribs, in order to make Eve (not form this time) but build her (verse 22).
While Adam was formed of the dust of the ground, Eve was not formed of the dust of the ground, because she was part of Adam. Other translations say God built Eve. The variations in usage of words should be taken into account, if we are to obtain deeper understanding of such processes.
What is created is from nothing into something. What is formed comes from manipulation of something that is already there, into something. In Eve we see finishing touches that make Eve more attractive than Adam. What was formed from the dust of the ground is Adam, the source of humanity, while Eve was developed from Adam’s rib.
The declaration by Adam on verse 23 shows no consideration of separation between Adam and Eve. This, obviously, reveals the mystery of marriage. Adam, being a father figure, naturally assumes the protective role over Eve. Adam is the father of humanity, as known today, while God is father of humanity as revealed in Jesus. Paul clarifies this point in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49):
“Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’ the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (ESV).
In Christ we revert to the reality of what was created in God’s image. Just as Paul also says flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (verse 50). Apparently, failure to appreciate that which was created in God’s image causes people to misunderstand what is revealed in Christ.
All human beings were created in God’s image. What this means is that all human beings need to be respected in the same way that God needs respect. Disrespecting another fellow human being implies that you actually disrespect God. This is why John says it can only be a liar who claims to love God and yet not showing love to another person (1 John 4:20).
It is true that people are different. Others appear wiser and lovable than others. But all are created in God’s image. All humans are on earth to fulfill missions according to God’s design. It was not a mistake that a traitor like Judas Iscariot existed. He fulfilled his mission of betraying Jesus. And that betrayal, actually helped in facilitating Jesus’ death on the cross. Our salvation could not be possible without Judas’ betrayal.
One of the teachings of Jesus is that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). Why? “So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Verse 45).
In other words, one cannot be God’s child when treating people differently. People are different, for whatever reason, but they were created in God’s image, nevertheless. And there are special reasons why people are different; some good and others bad. But God uses their existence to develop us into becoming God’s children. In other words, there is no way we could develop to become God’s children, without the existence of those who give us hell on earth.
As long as we appreciate the significance of Genesis 1:26, we cannot categorize people, as though we created them. Our business is to love them, just as God loves them. In other words, what this entails is that you cannot love your own children better than the children next door.
Your love for other people changes to be in the same way as to love yourself. This is heavy responsibility, inviting persecution from those used to being selective in love application. It is very unpopular. But resembling Jesus’ behavior; showing no favoritism between his own family and other ordinary people. This happens to be one of the standards for being in God’s Kingdom (Matthew 19:29).
Genesis 1:26 helps us in appreciating that all are God’s children, created in God’s image. Each person was designed to be what God wanted that person to be (Jeremiah 1:5). There is no need for any person to aspire to be anything else, other than the purpose for which one was created.
Following after role models is like being copy-cat. Anything that is not original is not genuine and therefore counterfeit. This is why, as one of the Ten Commandments, God declares: “You shall not covet.”
The most important thing in this life is to first establish one’s true identity. Why were you born? The purpose for which one was created is according to the passion and calling that one is inclined towards, benefiting other fellow humans.
This is different from committing oneself to use one’s talent, with motive of making money and feeling good about oneself. With the Spirit of God one enjoys serving others to the best of his/her abilities, without necessarily anticipating rewards. Monetary rewards are just a bonus to a person committed to serving others, using God’s given talent.
We were all created with different talents and ambitions, to serve humanity. If we are not right with God, we would be used by Satan, like Judas Iscariot. Though, of course, that would serve to facilitate the spiritual development of those that God is nurturing through such persecutions. All things work together for good, for those who love God. (Romans 8:28).
In this world, success is measured by how much money one is making to benefit himself. Also, titles are given credence, so that a person feels good with a job title that assumes he would be superior to others. But that is folly and Satan’s scheme of deceiving people to entertain pride. All humans should be looked at as God’s children that need love by serving, feeding, clothing or teaching them to the best of one’s abilities.
This is why Jesus insinuated that He would separate people at His second-coming (Matthew 25:31-46). This knowledge may not be acceptable to most people, but acceptable to those who God is calling. Remember: “…….Narrow is the gate that leads to life, but….. wide is the gate that leads to destruction……. (Matthew 7:13-14). May God bless the attentive hearers, desiring to use the narrow, instead of the wide road?
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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