By Scott Hayes, Crosswalk.com
We operate under the tagline, “The Bible. We want everyone to get it.” According to statistics from Wycliffe Global Alliance, 1.51 billion people, speaking 6,661 languages, do not have a full Bible in their first language. The journey to know God cannot progress far without access to God’s Word. Access to His truth is one of the most important steps in a lifetime journey, but there are other facts that determine whether the journey ends in the Kingdom of God.
The fruit of our work depends deeply on the movement of God’s Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit depends deeply upon the condition of the individual heart. We can give people Bibles, but we cannot force them to have “seeking hearts.” We cannot go on their journey for them, nor can we put them on an escalator to speed up their search for truth. Trying to fast-forward the knowing of God is as dangerous as helping a chick break free of an egg.
The chick has an inborn desire to break free from its eggshell, but they do not simply step out of the egg based upon decision alone. The chick must peck its way out. At this moment, it is critical that they do it on their own. In this instance, to help them means death because they need the time to grow and gain the strength to face the outside world.
Even those who have access to a Bible and possibly the blessing of a teacher cannot skip listening to God. They cannot skip the “search.” They must learn to seek and knock. They must learn to search for God’s wisdom and search to know him. Whenever Christians face disruptions and difficulties from warfare, pandemic, heartache, and grief, we look to the Bible for wisdom, guidance, and perspective. Two Bible verses give us a great perspective on this concept:
The “wise” man is the one who understands and knows God – who intimately knows God’s steadfast love, justice, and righteousness (Jeremiah 9:23-24, ESV).
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10, NIV).
Understanding God’s Steadfast Love, Justice, and Righteousness
Two people read the same text. One’s life is transformed and the other remains unchanged. Two people hear the same lesson, one repents, but the other is indifferent or mocks.
How can the response be so different? The inner condition is the difference. God “reveals” himself to “seekers.” A “seeker” is one driven by a passionate inner desire to better understand and know God. God promises that those who search with all their hearts will find Him.
To know God is more than knowledge of biblical teaching. It is a life journey and not a short day-hike. It is not about reaching the summit of Mount Everest, but day-to-day experiences that deepen the knowledge, understanding, and personal relationship. There is always more to learn.
Job was on a similar journey. He was blameless and upright, he feared God and shunned evil. Yet, he did not “know” God intimately. In a moment, Job lost his family, his wealth, his possessions, and then his health. His situation was catastrophic. His level of pain was off the charts.
Job debated his horrible situation with his friends and insisted that God had made a mistake. Job was convinced, “I am righteous and therefore, I should not be suffering.” A few of Job’s friends came and shared with him their theological knowledge and opinions. They interpreted Job’s condition from the same theological perspective, but with a different conclusion: since you are suffering so greatly, you must have sinned greatly. Repent, and God will change your circumstances. To his friends, Job stood his ground. I am righteous, I should not be suffering, therefore God made a mistake.
A young man named Elihu was listening to the four men debate. Elihu had something the three friends did not have. His words revealed that he knew God. God spoke to Job through Elihu, but the words of Elihu were not enough. Job needed more. Job still did not know God. God confronted Job. God emphasized that He does not make mistakes.
Finding the Hidden Treasure
As God revealed Himself, Job’s intimate knowledge and understanding of God was deepened. Job found the hidden treasure. Then Job said to God,
“I (now) know that You can do all things and that no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this who conceals My counsel without knowledge?’ Surely, I (Job) spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak. I will question you, and you shall inform Me. My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore, I retract my words, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:1-6, NIV)
Job’s suffering initiated a journey of searching and questioning, but it was only after his personal confrontation with God that Job spoke the words, “now I know you.” After Job repented, God restored his health and wealth and even gave him a new family.
The journey to knowing God takes a true seeker. The only way to know God is to want to know Him and to act on curiosity by searching. The spiritual condition of the heart is of utmost importance. God will reveal Himself when we have a repentant heart and earnestly seek.
The Bible states that the Lord searches every heart and understands every desire and every thought (1 Chronicles 28:9, NIV). If you seek Him, He will be found by you. We are not the only ones seeking. God is also seeking our hearts.
EEM’s (Eastern European Mission) passion is to make obtaining a Bible easier. As we distribute Bibles, we realize there is a mystery in our work. There is a mystery about the journey to God and the journey with God. We cannot control the search of others. To receive deeper wisdom, knowledge, and understanding from God requires a searching heart. God waits for us to search for Him with the same intensity as if we are searching for a buried treasure or a gold mine.
“Seekers” need to know God’s revealed words. For many, the first step of the search is to obtain a Bible. This element is irreplaceable, and we are committed to doing our part to ensure that everyone who needs one receives a copy of God’s Word.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Bohdan Bevz
Scott Hayes is the Publishing Director for EEM (Eastern European Mission), which has been delivering God’s Word to the people of Eastern Europe since 1961, now reaching 32 countries in 25 languages. They provided 1.5 million Bibles and Bible-based materials free of charge in the region in 2021, including in public schools in Croatia, Romania and Ukraine. Learn more at www.eem.org.