Hosea 2:20 And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.
When someone meets our youngest son and finds out that he is a decathlete, the questions vary depending on their knowledge of the event. Some have no idea of what it is, while most at least understand that it is an athletic competition made up of ten events. Usually people ask what the ten events are and the order of competition. Having watched Nathaniel compete since he was quite young, beginning with a pentathlon (5 events), then heptathlon (8 events) and now a decathlon (10 events), I would say I know the event well. I know of most of the past decathlon stars, whether that be Daley Thompson from Great Britain or more recently Ashton Eaton from the U.S. or Kevin Mayer from France. I know how each event works, what the order of competition is, and I know what a great mark is in each event and the strengths and weaknesses of current elite competitors. Most people would say that I know the decathlon, but I don’t feel I do, because I’ve never competed in a decathlon. I don’t know what it is like to run a 400m at the end of day 1 after toiling out in the sun for many hours as you complete the previous four events. I don’t know what it is like to try to pole vault on day 2 after seven events are now completed with the fear of “no-heighting” and effectively being out of the competition. And I most certainly have no idea what it feels like to run the 1500m race as the last event after completing nine previous events over two long days. Watching strong men littered all over the track just past the finish line gives me an idea, but I don’t really know. Nathaniel knows the decathlon in a way I will never know the decathlon. He knows through personal experience.
In today’s scripture, Hosea penned poetry that was inspired by God as he spoke to the nation of Israel. He used the analogy of the bride and groom and said: “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:19-20). The word “know” in Hebrew is yada` and it means much more than knowing of something or someone, but rather it is much deeper than that; it is “to know by experience”. God comes to us as the perfect groom and he loves us perfectly – righteously, lovingly, in compassion and faithfully. Where we accept his invitation, we will yada` him.
But knowing God personally and by experience, is a decision. We become Christians by understanding God loves us personally (John 3:16), by understanding and admitting we are separated from him through sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23), by recognizing that Jesus is the only provision for that sin (Romans 5:8, John 14:6), and finally by individually receiving Jesus Christ as our Saviour (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8,9). If we wholeheartedly do the above, then we are children of God. But the depth of our knowledge of God will depend on the depth of our sacrifice, the degree to which we decide to die to ourselves. Jesus said: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16: 24-25). If you truly want to KNOW God, you need to deny yourself and make yourself fully available to God. In that place, God can fully reveal himself to you and you can fully participate in what he is doing (Ephesians 2:10).