Commentary: Is Education the Answer? (Part 3)

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Given 25-May-13; 11 minutes

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John Ritenbaugh, comparing the behavior of ancient Israel with modern Israel, marvels that not much has changed through the millennia. Ancient Israel had a preponderance of constituents who were forgetful and stubborn, forgetting the God who parted the Red Sea, provided manna, and gave water out of a barren rock. Only the families of Joshua and Caleb passed muster, qualifying to enter the Promised Land. Modern Israel has the same problem with forgetfulness and stubbornness. Sixty million people (termed Nones by pollsters and sociologists) claim no affiliation with any religion. A large number of people attend services, but have a minuscule education in Christianity, taking part only in annual Christmas and Easter services. Consequently, Modern Israel (America, Britain, Australia, United Kingdom) is following the same pattern that doomed their ancestors. Few ascribe sovereignty to God Almighty, seeing no connection between natural disasters and His limitless powers. Modern Israel is perishing for lack of knowledge.

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This is my third commentary asking the question, "Is education the answer?" The question revolves around reaching solutions to this age's multitude of problems, and each commentary has taken us in a somewhat different direction, and this one is similar.

We would like to just wish the problems away, but we know in reality this cannot be done. It has taken this nation many decades to get into this dangerous, and wearying condition. It is not going to be solved overnight, and we will not be the initial problem-solvers.

Education is the answer, and God is in the process of educating in a way that He knows is going to work. The first step is going to be very painful, and I am sure that you know that when Israel was trudging through the wilderness, they could not keep themselves on the straight and narrow. They did a great deal of complaining, and at times they attempted a major rebellion, and thus all those over the age of 20 who left Egypt (except Joshua and Caleb) died in the wilderness without reaching their destination. The major problem, Paul tells us, was a lack of faith, and faith comes by hearing God's word.

One of the conclusions we reach regarding this is that Israel was very forgetful and stubborn. On top of that, they kept forgetting things like God devastating Egypt so they could leave, God parting the Red Sea so they would be safe, God descending on Mount Sinai so that He could give them their law, God giving them manna so they could eat, God bringing water out of the rock, and God being constantly present in the cloud and the pillar of fire.

Compare this with modern Israel. In my previous commentary, I mentioned the Nones. This is the group name for those who say that they have no church affiliation, and they are now 20% of the American population and that is 60 million people. This does not mean, though, that they never set foot in a church. Actually, polls show that about 5% of that group does attend church occasionally, but they still claim no affiliation.

It is obvious that there is a large number of people besides those 60 million Nones who do claim church affiliation but still lack a steady, spiritually education in Christianity. A lot of these are people who do show up a church on special occasions like Christmas and Easter. I can only wonder how many of these people take the Bible of the shelf and study it regularly.

Then there is the hardcore group of people that pollsters say are attending regularly and participate regularly in one of the mainline Catholic/Protestant denominations, like the Baptists, the Methodists, Presbyterians, Church of Christ, Pentecostals, and Lutheran groups. But then again, a question comes to mind: How many of these people really and truly know God? That they are sincerely aware of Him, I am sure. But do they sincerely know God or truly know God—the God of the Bible? Would they recognize any of His possible attitudes or actions if they were involved in one?

That begs a serious question: How can one have faith in somebody they do not know? In a distant relationship—if one can even call that a relationship—it is very easy to forget God except as a name or a title.

Israel in our time is following the same pattern that doomed ancient Israel to die in the wilderness. It is following the same pattern as God charges in Hosea 4 when God says Israel was failing at that time because of a lack of knowledge of Him that existed then.

This commentary was written partly as a reflection on the tornado that ripped through Moore, Oklahoma. As far as I know, not one single news report said anything about God actually causing the tornado as a punishing reaction to our national immorality. What this is showing me is that as a nation, hardly anybody thinks of God's second-by-second observation and actions as sovereign ruler, managing His creation. By means of news reports, we should thoroughly understand—know—that this nation's people do not know God. The tornado is reported as simply a natural disaster and not as the sovereign God ruling and punishing. And if somebody, let's say, like a Pat Robertson, does say something like that, he is immediately ridiculed by the press. The sovereign God as ruler gets no respect. What does that result in? More disasters.

I'm going to read to you from Amos 4:6-11. I want you to listen to God's testimony against Israel at that time. This is in the 700s BC.

Amos 4:6-11 Also I gave you cleanness of teeth in all your cities. And lack of bread in all your places; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD. “I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered. So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, but they were not satisfied; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD. “I blasted you with blight and mildew. When your gardens increased, your vineyards, your fig trees, and your olive trees, the locust devoured them; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD. “I sent among you a plague after the manner of Egypt; your young men I killed with a sword, along with your captive horses; I made the stench of your camps come up into your nostrils; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD. “I overthrew some of you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning; yet you have not returned to Me,” says the LORD. “Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”

Do you see the possibilities there? I greatly fear that this pattern is being repeated. Our nation does not stand in awe of God. A very high percentage barely ever think of Him, and yet when they do, their knowledge of Him is so inadequate, it is almost like being on a desert with no food or water. They do not know what to think because there is virtually nothing to provide true spiritual knowledge, faith, and strength. They are so ethically deficient, they hardly know right from wrong anymore. Their ethical level can rise no higher than what the common culture teaches. And what it means in practical application is we can expect that God's instruction through the disasters will probably continue unabated as a precursor, sort of like the kindergarten, readying them for Christ's return. And it is only then that they will go on to really come to know the Lord.

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