Following the Nazi’s surrender ending World War II in Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered his troops to round up the civilians living around the German prison camps. Ike wanted nearby residents to take in the Holocaust’s horrors that had been carried out in their backyard. As soldiers escorted neighbors around, they saw the evidence of mass murder, starvation and other heinous crimes.
Afterward, conscience-stricken residents were reported to have said, “We did not know,” then they added, “because we did not want to know.” The term for this is “willful ignorance.”
Is “we did not know” an excuse? It is so often used, one would think it effectively absolves us from guilt. (“Officer, I didn’t know the speed limit” or “I didn’t know it was loaded.”)
Do we really think “We did not know” will work with God?
Rescue those being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter. If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? (Proverbs 24:11-12 ESV)
Do we have a responsibility to protect those in danger, to feed the hungry, or assist those in trouble? Only those we could help if, rather than be apathetic, we had opted to take action (cf. Luke 10:33-37, 6:31, James 1:27).
“Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?” Then he will answer, “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:44-46)
Do not know if it is true, but I saw a survey that 17% of evangelical Christians read their Bible daily. If this low percentage is accurate, it means 83% elect to do something else with their time–like sleep for example. (That was me.)
We have this thing called excuses. The story was told of a man who asked to borrow his neighbor’s ax. “No,” he was told, “I have to make soup.”
Confused, the man asked “What does making soup have to do with me borrowing your ax?”
“Nothing,” his neighbor answered, “but if I don’t want to lend you my ax, one excuse is as good as the next.”
Do we really want to know what is in our Bible? There is no shortage of excuses when it comes to willful ignorance. We have teachers who say the 39 books of the Old Testament are no longer relevant, so why read them? In other words, ignore two-thirds of our Bible.
How well did the “follow the leader” excuse work at the Nuremburg trials? When Nazi’s were charged with war crimes, did their alibi “We were only following orders” earn any acquittals? The answer is always, “You should have known. The order was unlawful. It was your duty to reject it.”
Recently a friend was lamenting his son’s poor attitude. He shared that the young man refuses to read his Bible. He won’t open God’s Word because he wants “to have fun” like others in his peer group. The idea is that if he doesn’t read it then he cannot know what’s in it. Then, ignorance is bliss. He can then sin with a clear conscience, right? Wrong!
Isn’t that the bottom line? We don’t know what is inside the Word of God, because we know it will condemn us.
If we had hopes of being an attorney, would we leave unopened our text books on the law? Not if we wanted to pass the bar exam. Then why refuse to Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (cf. 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)? Why willfully reject that which pleases God (Ephesians 5:10)? We don’t know what’s inside because we don’t want to know.
Now about Bible prophecy. Why the disinterest in prophecy in general and, specifically, Old Testament prophets? Read on in Part 2.