Proverbs 24:11,12, If thou forbear (to refrain or abstain from) to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?
Near the end of WW II, as the Allied forces drove deep into Germany, they came upon the first concentration camps that revealed the depravity of Adolph Hitler's Third Reich.
At Buchenwald, battle hardened solders found bodies piled in heaps with those barely living with bodies little more than skin drawn over skeletons.
They found the gas chambers, they found the crematoriums that had burned night and day changing bodies to dust.
Buchenwald was only four miles from Weimar, a cultural center of Germany.
The townspeople of Weimar had for months, even years, seen corpses littering their landscape.
They had seen trainloads of human cargo come to the camp.
The stench of the concentration camp near their town and the odor of the crematories had carried far over the countryside and throughout the town.
When Buchenwald was liberated the residents of Weimar were forced by the Allies to tour the camp.
As they viewed the depraved results of the camp they insisted that they had not the slightest idea of the enormous horror that was taking place on their doorsteps.
Behold, we knew it not, they exclaimed!
This denial was repeated by townspeople nearby to concentration camp after concentration camp as liberation occurred.
I don't know what the townspeople really knew.
Only God knows their heart.
Their outward response to the plight of those that were being drawn unto death was a response hidden by the cloak of ignorance.
Their outward response to those that were ready to be slain was surprise at the very possibility of these things happening.
They sought innocence in ignorance, even feigned or pretended ignorance.
Behold, we knew it not.
Jesus Christ told us of the certain man who went down to Jericho, and fell among thieves who stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him leaving him half dead.
Remember a certain priest when he saw him, he passed by on the other side of the road.
His heart told him to go to the other side of the road and if on the other side of the road he could then plead ignorance.
In his heart he denied he saw the man and therefore there was no need to satisfy a need to be delivered from death.
How could I be expected to do anything if I know nothing?
And likewise the Levite came and looked on him, and also passed by on the other side of the road pretending ignorance of the need.
But also remember the certain Samaritan who admitted to himself that he saw the man and this admission compelled him to act.
He did not deny the need of the man and go to the other side of the road pretending that he had not seen the traveler.
He did not try to cover self-centeredness and self interest by feigned ignorance of a need.
The priest and the Levite not only saw the man but their heart told them to go to the other side of the road to appear as if they did not know the man's plight!
Go to the other side of the road so you do not have to hear the man's cries and moans.
If I do not hear him he is not there and there is no need.
They took cover in feigned ignorance of a need.
Now they could appear innocent if confronted by their lack of compassion.
I know nothing! as Sergeant Schultz of Stalag 17 fame would say!
Don't we know by our own experience that our heart is excellent at inventing excuses for not doing right?
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not!
This is an exclamation of surprise!
Goodness gracious, "I didn't know of that need," comes forth from the mouth when the heart clearly knows.
Ignorance is used as a cover up for shunning responsibility for the brethren or the stranger.
We walk to the other side so we do not have to do anything.
We take cover in ignorance and then when the need is made know we say, Behold, we knew it not!
Isn't ignorance bliss?
Well, feigned ignorance is just as much bliss!
Who is going to challenge ignorance?
Isn't this what our heart convinces us of?
But praise God for His word!
We do not have to be a servant of our heart and its deceitful ways.
If you are in Christ you have liberty to serve Him and not serve your heart.
We do not have to be enslaved by a heart that convinces us of the false way.
The word of God in this very proverb reminds us that excuses for the neglect of duty may be acceptable in our own minds but we are to remember that:
God pondereth the heart, God keepeth the soul, God knows the soul and he renders perfectly to every man according to his works.
We may easily invent acceptable excuses based on feigned ignorance but God knows the real reason why we did not do our duty.
God's judgment will not be affected by pretending falsely on our part.
We can blind the eyes of men, we can blind our own eyes: but Thou God seest me!
God renders to every man according to his works, not according to his words.
And man's works are found in the heart.
That is where God does business with you and me.
He pondereth your heart and he pondereth my heart.
He is not impressed by your look of surprise feigning ignorance for not doing your duty.
Most of us are never called upon to deliver them that are drawn unto physical death.
But God uses this example to show that even though we may be required to risk our life in performing our duty
he expects us to be honest to him and to ourselves whether we perform it or whether we neglect to perform it.
We are not to feign ignorance of our duty if we are not ignorant.
We may not be called upon to deliver them that are drawn unto physical death but what about those who are drawn unto spiritual death?
Do we forbear or refuse their deliverance by pleading ignorance of the need?
Do we refuse to face the fact that the lost are truly lost and bound for eternity in Hell? Behold, we knew it not!
How often do we forbear one word of truth to another who is in need of the Saviour which we worship today?
Has not God committed their souls to our care?
To men, we may plead ignorance of the need but our proverb reminds us that God pondereth the heart and renders to every man according to his works!