J. K. Joseph
Daniel the prophet spoke about the time when an evil ruler would arise and trouble the people of God. This prophecy was fulfilled during the Grecian empire when Antiochus Epiphanes ruled from B.C. 175-164. He forced people to worship him and even set up his own image in the temple. A great number of Jewish people who did not worship him or his image were cruelly martyred. He is known as the anti-Christ of the Old Testament. Thinking about that terrible time, Daniel spoke concerning the people who really knew their God who would be strong enough to do great things. God wants everyone to know Him.
We can know something or someone in two ways:
Intellectual or head knowledge can be acquired by reading or hearing about something or someone. The Greek word 'oida', which means 'know', refers to intellectual knowledge. We can know something about God by reading the Bible. We may also know much about God by reading books written on biblical truths. One can teach in Bible seminaries, write theological books, preach and be a pastor or bishop of a church with the acquired knowledge.
Experiential knowledge is gained through personal experience. The Greek word 'gnosis' (ginoskw-vb) in the New Testament refers to this type of knowledge. I may know a lot about our prime minister by reading the newspaper and watching him on the TV But his wife does not have to depend on the newspaper or the TV to know about him. Her knowledge about him is an experiential knowledge because she is closely related to him and lives with him. Knowing a person experientially means knowing him personally. This is the biblical concept of 'knowing God.'
In John 17:3 Jesus prayed to the Father for all those whom His Father had given Him, "And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent." In both the Old and New Testaments the word 'know' is used in a deeper sense that indicates RELATIONSHIP. "Adam knew his wife, and she conceived" (Gen.4:1). "(Joseph) knew her (Mary) not till she brought forth her first born Son" (Matt.1:25). In both the cases the word 'know' indicates physical or sexual relationship between husband and wife. Therefore, for me to know God means to have spiritual relationship with Him. When does it happen? My spiritual relationship with God begins when I receive Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour (Jn.1:12). God becomes my heavenly Father. Apostle Paul said, "But I know whom I have believed" (2Tim.1:12). A two-way relationship is established: I know Him, and He knows me. "The Lord knows them that are His" (2Tim.2:19). Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know me" (Jn.10:14).
We visualise a dreadful scene in Matthew 7:21-23 where Jesus says, Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' The Lord's "I never knew you" indicates that He did not have a personal relationship with them! They were not 'born again.' This is the picture of the present day nominal Christians. They may go to church, have prayer meetings, perform religious rituals, even 'serve' the Lord, and yet not know Him personally. Your knowledge about God will not take you to heaven. You need to experience Him and His presence in your heart by taking the step of faith in His Son Jesus Christ who gave His life for you on the cross to release you from sin's bondage. Sadly, the devil deceives many millions and leads them to eternal hell by giving them a mental satisfaction through their religious ritualistic practice.
RELATIONSHIP and FELLOWSHIP are closely connected. Once we know God in salvation, we need to know Him continually in close communion or fellowship with Him. This is what the apostle Paul is referring to in Philippians 3:7-10, where he considers his earthly achievements, his religious zeal and legalistic righteousness as rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus. Here the apostle is not referring to his knowledge of God in salvation, for he had that experience many years before. Rather, he is expressing his thrill of knowing Christ intimately day after day.
As believers in Christ, what are the hindrances that affect our daily walk with Him? Is it our attitude towards money and material things, friends, relatives, hobbies, education career, drugs, liquor, pornography, porn websites etc., etc.? Are we willing to consider these as rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus more intimately day by day?
Imitate Him. "Be imitators of God as dearly loved children" (Eph. 5:1). By knowing God, we become His children. When we make conscious efforts to allow the nature of God the Father to reflect in us, we will exhibit godly traits, some of which the Apostle Peter has listed in 2 Pet.1:3-7. Be strong (Dan. 11:32). Daniel reminds us that those who know their God shall be strong. Constant fellowship with the Lord is the secret of spiritual strength. Our fight is against the invisible forces of the devil, against the visible and tangible things of the world, and against our own sin nature. Paul says in Eph. 6:10, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in His might." The Lord through the Holy Spirit strengthens us, gives us victory over the evil forces, and enables us to bear witness for Him as we stand true to Him and to His word. We derive this power by waiting upon the Lord constantly (Isa.40:31).
Do Exploits (Dan. 11:32)
Knowing God makes us strong to do great things for Him. We are saved to serve God. Great men and women of God in the Bible and in the history of the church could accomplish great things for God because they knew their God. Moses, Elijah, Daniel, apostles are just a few of those who could accomplish great things for God, because they knew their God. D. L. Moody did not hold a high theological degree, yet he turned America upside down through his preaching, because he knew his God. William Carey knew his God and therefore he could accomplish great things in India in the face of intense struggles and oppositions; his words still ring in our ears, "Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God." Do you really know God? Do you have a personal relationship with Him by receiving Christ into your heart? Do you have an unbroken fellowship with Him? If yes, then you really know Him, and He knows you.