Leadership is the vehicle through which God disperses inner knowledge of Himself in the man of God. It is but an empty shell if not driven by a man who knows his God. Thus, we meet the priests of Samuel’s day: “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men; they did not know the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:12). This combination of leadership with no knowledge of God led to the basest forms of debauchery, including fornication with the women who served at the tabernacle. Their notable sin is identified in verse 17, “The sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for the men despised the offering of the Lord.” They abused their position and went beyond the portion of the offering allocated to the priest. They went so far as to take the fat for themselves, though specifically forbidden in Leviticus 7. Indeed, worthless men!
When we come to the priests in Jeremiah’s day, the same problem persisted. “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ And those who handle the law did not know Me; the rulers also transgressed against Me, and the prophets prophesied by Baal and walked after things that did not profit.” The tragedy of Judah’s decline is that even the leaders could not identify when the Lord had withdrawn Himself. They could not protect the people because they could not see danger. Their problem was that they did not know the God Whose words they possessed. They handled the Law without knowing the Lawgiver.
For each of these times of departure, God had an answer. It was not to raise up a warrior to overthrow the priestly system. It was not to raise up an orator to persuade the people unto Himself. When God wanted to raise up a worthy leader, He had but to give a man the knowledge of God. So, in the days of Eli’s sons, God had His eye on a tender heart: “Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him” (1 Samuel 3:7). But this would soon change. In verse 10 we find him yielding to the call of God, and at the end of the chapter we read,
Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail. All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD. Thus the word of Samuel came to all Israel.
God’s answer was simple: give a man the knowledge of God through the word of God. This will be the man fitted for days of departure.
Jeremiah is no different. God put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth and His fear in Jeremiah’s heart (see Jeremiah 1). Such was the man to whom God committed an entire generation.
The knowledge of God is polar in its effects. On the one hand, to lack the knowledge of God in leadership is to be an abomination to Him. On the other, to possess the knowledge of God in leadership is to be entrusted with a great ministry and much accountability. If we will see revival in our day, it will be at the hands of unlikely men who are fit because they know God in their heart and through His Word. While revival tarries, decline accelerates as men who fill the pulpits find more joy in preaching a sermon than in speaking for God. Few leaders have noticed the departure of the Lord because they are too caught up in church projects, man-made ministries, and theological dainties. This is so because they do not know God.
The answer for our day is not in outward attempts to refine ourselves. God has no interest in our attempts to make His house a place where the world that crucified His Son feels comfortable. God has no interest in musical distractions that some would call worship. God has no interest in more projects and plans. Well could we repeat Paul’s words: “Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” This would be true honour to God in our day.
The leaders that will see God’s hand at work will doubtless be no more than unlikely men whose weaknesses were overwhelmed by a deep grasp of the Almighty. Conversely, the destroyers of our day will doubtless be those with the popular attention of Christendom yet have no handle on God’s Word nor appreciation for His glory. Men of God know their God. It was so in Samuel’s day. It was so in Jeremiah’s day. It is so in our day. Let us no longer despise the offering of the Lord nor handle the Law with no knowledge of its Giver. Let us cling to the cross. Let us pursue our God.
 Jeremiah 2:8 in the context of Israel’s departure from the Lord and his withdrawal of blessing from their community.
 1 Corinthians 15:34