Yada, yada, yada

Hosea’s main complaint against God’s people is that they do not know God. And it was this lack of the knowledge of God (or daath elohim) that is destroying them; not the lack of the knowledge of doctrines or of any other matter (Hosea 6:9).

In what way did the Israelites not know God. They knew His name; they knew of His deeds; and they knew His laws and words. But, yet, they did not know God in the way God wants to be known by His people.

Heschel says that “the verb yada does not always mean simply “to know,” “to be acquainted with.” In most Semitic languages it signifies sexual union as well as mental and spiritual activity. In Hebrew, yada means more than the possession of abstract concepts. Knowledge compasses inner appropriation, feeling, a reception into the soul. It involves both an intellectual and an emotional act.”[1]

It also means to have sympathy, pity, or affection for someone. When God heard the groanings of His people and remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, God had pity (Ex 2:24-25). He was affected by their suffering because of the taskmasters (Ex 3:7). After their deliverance from bondage in Egypt, they were told by God not to oppress a stranger but to have sympathy because they were once strangers in the land of Egypt (Ex 23:9).

The type of relationship with God that Hosea is calling Israel to “calls not only for right action, but also for a feeling for each other on the part of those involved. It implies not only legal obligations, but also inner attitudes.”[2] It was “steadfast love and not sacrifice” that God desires, “daath of God, rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). What is desired is an inner identification with God rather than a mere dedication to ceremonies.

To have an inner identification with what God was feeling at that point of time, God instructs Hosea to marry a girl named Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, whom he loved. They had three children together. Subsequently, Hosea discovered that Gomer had been unfaithful more than once. So he sent her away. This was the legal way of dealing with an adulterous wife. But God’s way is higher than the legal way. The Lord said to Hosea: “Bring Gomer back to your home, renew your love for her, even as the Lord loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods” (Hosea 3:1). Hosea obeyed. Gomer was rescued from the slavery into which she had fallen, and the marriage was renewed. God did this so that Hosea would know (both intellectually and emotionally) that He cannot abandon Israel and will not forsake her in spite of her faithlessness.

In the light of this, what do you now think about how well you know God? There is a reason why the Holy Spirit is given to us. He is the “spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph 1:17). We would not only be privy to the superficial things about God (what most Christians know of God at this time) but even the “deep things of God” (1 Cor 2:10). What’s more, “we have the mind of Christ” (verse 16). And after He has taken up residence in us, He bears witness with our spirits (not our minds) so that we would yada (know that we know) that we are the children of God (Rom 8:16).

[1] Abraham J. Heschel. The Prophets. p. 70

[2] ibid p. 73

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