The danger of a little knowledge

19 Feb

Numbers 13-14 provides a sad case study and a stern warning of the danger of knowledge, or rather a little knowledge without application. Knowledge without obedience leads to pride and disaster.

In Numbers 13:2, God instructed Moses, “Send men to spy out the land of Canaan.” The twelve men Moses chose shared the same characteristics. Each man was a leader in their respective tribe (13:2). Each man had seen God’s glory and the display of his power (14:22). Each of the men had witnessed the 10 plagues in Egypt. They saw how the Red Sea parted and they walked through on dry ground. They were present at Mt. Sinai when the cloud covered the mountain and God gave the Law to Moses. When they were hungry and thirsty, they saw how God provided water from the rock and manna and quail in the wilderness.

Yet, for 10 of those men, that knowledge of God and his wonders made absolutely no difference in how they lived their lives. They did not make the connection between what God did in the past and how they were to live in the present. Though they remembered how God delivered them from Egypt, they quailed in fear at the sight of the giants in the land (13:32). Though God prevailed over the supposed gods of Egypt, they viewed themselves as mere grasshoppers compared to their next challenge (13:33). While they could answer every question of Bible trivia, they stopped short of obedience (14:22).

The two exceptions were Joshua and Caleb. They acted in faith and believed God’s promises. While they too saw the giants, they also saw that God was with them and would deliver the giants into their hands (14:9). In their minds, the conquest was as good as done (14:8). Because of their faith, they chose to follow God wholeheartedly (14:24).

When Bible knowledge stops at the head and never makes it to the heart, all kinds of problems can ensue. The smartest theologian can cuss the bluest streak when he doesn’t get his way. The one who reads “a chapter a day to keep the devil away” can still react with road rage when someone cuts them off on I-5. A Bible College graduate can stun his friends by leaving his wife and having an affair. A pastor can quit at the first sign of opposition. A missionary can sink into deep depression when no one responds to his ministry. The Bible scholar can think he is impervious to temptation.

A little knowledge (alone) can lead to BIG problems. Don’t become educated beyond your level of obedience.

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Posted by on February 19, 2009 in Personal growth, Scripture, Theology


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