3 min 31 sec reading time
My friends, the whole power of faith/faithfulness (emunah) is that it brings you into a knowledge of God.
In the same way that we have distorted faith, we have similarly distorted the concept of knowing God. The phrase knowledge of God (da'at Elohim) in the Bible does not refer to intellectual information accumulated about God. It is not data. In Hebrew, da’at Elohim is an intimacy, a relationship.
To know God biblically is to do as God does. It is not the equivalent of knowing things about God; we are talking here about intimate knowledge. Da’at comes from the root yada which is used for sexual intimacy between a husband and a wife. "Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain."
When the Bible speaks of the knowledge of God, it means coming into an intimate relationship that is characterized by submission to his authority, faithfulness to his will, and obedience to his commandments.
This is why the psalmist writes, "The fool says in his heart, 'There is no God.'" The way we translate it reflects the way we think, that it is talking about someone else, an atheist who doesn’t believe in God. But that is not what the psalmist had in mind at all. There were no atheists in the biblical period; everybody believed in a god or gods, they were just different gods.
No, what the psalmist is saying is that the fool is the one who says, "No, God." It is not that he says there is no God, he says to God, "No, I am not going to do it your way." That is the one the Bible identifies as the fool. He may know (data) about God: what he is like, what he has commanded, and what he has done. But he says no to the intimacy of knowing (da'at) that comes in a covenant relationship.
Now listen, this is very important. The quest for knowledge, biblically, is always a quest for relationships. It is not a quest for information, for status, for degrees, for power or position. To come into a knowledge of the truth means you come into a relationship with the One who is Truth. This is radically opposed to how the world around us thinks.
We must be on our guard against modern-day Gnosticism in all its various forms.
First, beware of secrecy.
Neo-gnosticism still tempts us today, offering salvation or liberation by having the right data, a secret knowledge (i.e. how to meditate, how to balance your aura, how to inner energize your kundalini). If you are given the secret knowledge in a secret ceremony, you are given the sacred names of God and you repeat it as a mantra as you meditate, then you come into salvation, into peace and wholeness.
That is nonsense because biblically speaking the quest for truth is not a quest for data, it is a quest for a PERSON. Not a philosophy, not a principle, not a technique—it is a desire to come into an intimate union, fellowship, and counsel with the One who is Faithful and True. And he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The true knowledge of God (da'at Elohim) can be discerned by whether it brings you closer to him or not.
Second, beware of pride.
The kind of knowledge that the Gnostics have is what Paul refers to as the knowledge that puffs up; you become wise in your own eyes. It is the kind of knowledge that makes you proud and haughty about being a medical doctor, or a lawyer, or a professor, or a Bible teacher.
The kind of knowledge the Bible talks about doesn’t puff you up, it cuts your feet right out from under you. The result is you fall on your face and say, "Woe is me, I am psychologically disintegrated. Woe is me in the presence of the One who is true and faithful, in whom there is no shadow — he is pure light and radiance and glory from his face cannot be gazed upon lest I die!"
That is the kind of knowledge of God we are seeking. That is the kind of knowledge worth a holy journey from the confusion, egotism, selfishness, and worldliness of Babylon up to the mountain of the Lord. Ours is a pilgrimage to Zion, entering into the holy place to dwell, bask, and rejoice in his holy presence, the very Shekhinah of the LORD God Almighty.
That is what biblical knowledge summons us all to—submission to God’s authority and obedience to his holy will.
When it comes right down to it, you and I are kindergarteners when it comes to the Word of God. You may think I know a lot about the Bible, but my friends I am incredibly ignorant when it comes to da’at Elohim. I can tell you all about it, but my experience of it is far from what it should be.
The reason I share this is so you can come to a recognition that there is more for you. So that you can come completely under the shelter of his wings, into the holy place of our good Father in order to KNOW HIM. For that is what this kingdom journey is all about.
This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice. Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore his audio seminars.