The ox knows his owner,
and the donkey his master’s feeding trough;
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.” Bible other translations

“Israel does not know.” The Hebrew text of Isaiah 1:3 does not supply an object to the word “know,” and thus answer the question, “does not know what?” Instead it simply states that Israel “does not know.” From the first phrase, that the ox knows “its owner,” an implied object is “does not know ‘their God.’” However, Israel is ignorant of more than just their God. They do not understand the things of God or their dire situation, so the simple phrase “does not know” is appropriate because it includes all the things that Israel does not know. Furthermore, the word “know” can also have the meaning of “consider,” and that is true also. Not only does Israel not know their God, He does not come into their minds in a meaningful way—they do not consider Him. Furthermore, Israel is a microcosm of the world, because most people do not give serious thought to God and the things of God.

It is a fact that most people are not hostile towards God, but instead they are indifferent towards Him; they ignore Him. It is as if God does not exist. In that, humans are not as wise as the animals that God created. “The ox knows his owner.” The ox knows where his food and shelter come from, and he obeys the owner and receives his desired reward. Humans, on the other hand, though so much greater in intellectual capacity than an ox, strangely ignore what should be the most important and profound questions in life: “Where did I come from?” “Why am I here?” And, “Where am I going.”

We came from God, who created us for His good pleasure to fellowship with Him and with each other. We are here to love and serve God and each other, and in doing that we will find true fulfillment in life. The last question, “Where am I going,” totally depends on one’s own choices. Those people who are prideful and will not obey God or live in a godly way with other humans end up rejecting God and His offer of everlasting life, and so they will end up being annihilated in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15). But for those people who obey God and get saved, the question, “Where am I going” is answered by, “To a wonderful place with wonderful people who will enjoy everlasting life together.”

No one needs to, or should, miss everlasting life. God, in His love and mercy, has made it available for every person to be saved through Jesus Christ. However, because natural people tend to ignore God and their future life, those people who have found salvation in Christ should do what they can to keep people who are not saved from staying at a level of awareness that is lower than the dumb ox that God created. As ambassadors for Christ, Christians must help people awaken from their lackadaisical state of mind and overcome their natural pride and rebellion and humbly come to Christ and get saved so they too can enjoy everlasting life in a wonderful place. [For more on the wonderful future kingdom of Christ on earth, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on how the future will unfold from this present age to the Millennial Kingdom to the Everlasting Kingdom, see commentary on Rev. 21:1. For more on the unsaved being annihilated in the Lake of Fire, see Appendix 5, “Annihilation in the Lake of Fire”].

“feeding trough.” The place where the food is placed. Also called a crib or manger.

Commentary for: Isaiah 1:3