Ignorance is bliss. So they say, anyway. Actually, according to God, that’s not exactly true. As we saw in chapters 1 and 2, judgment was coming to the nations around Israel. What was the reason?
“They do not know how to do right,” declares the Lord (3:10).
In other words, they didn’t know better. But ignorance of God’s law was no excuse. Why not? Because deep in their hearts, they knew they were wrong. As Romans puts it,
Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law (of God), do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts, now accusing, now even defending them. (Romans 2:14-15)
But while the nations around Israel had the excuse of ignorance, Israel and Judah had no excuse. They were specifically chosen out from among the nations by God. God had revealed himself to them directly. And because of that, their responsibility was so much greater.
You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins. (3:2)
In other words God was saying, “You have no excuse for your actions. You know better.
“I gave you the law through Moses. And I’ve warned you time and again through the prophets. I haven’t made any secret of the fact that judgment is coming, and yet you continue to sin. (3:7-8)
“You show that you know the law by offering sacrifices, tithes, thank offerings, and freewill offerings. But you’ve ignored all the warnings that I’ve given saying these things are not enough. (4:4-11).
“And so now judgment is coming. Prepare to meet your God. You will stand before me. You will give an account for all of your actions (4:12).”
So what do we take from this?
Jesus said, That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. (Luke 12:47-48)
Notice here that it doesn’t matter whether you are ignorant of God’s will or not. If you do things deserving punishment, punishment will come. The only difference between the two is that the one who knows more will be punished more.
So ignorance is clearly not bliss. We need to be seeking God’s will and asking what he wants of us. But to know is not enough. We also need to obey and follow him.
How about you? Do you know what God’s word says? If you don’t, then you need to find out. God told the Israelites, and he tells us,
“Seek me and live; do not seek [false gods and false truth]” (5:4-5). “Seek the Lord and live, or [judgment will come.]” (5:6)
If you do know God’s word, then you need to take the next step and obey it. God said,
Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is. Hate evil; love good. (5:14-15)
As Jesus said,
He who has ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 8:8).
And I would add, “Obey him.”