To know and not to know YHWH : Jeremiah's understanding and its relevance for the church in DR Congo.
This thesis consists of a detailed exegetical and contextual study of passages that contain the term "to know YHWH" in the book of Jeremiah. The goal of the thesis was to define the meaning of the term "to know YHWH" as Jeremiah understood it and to find out its relevance for the Church in DR Congo. The study demonstrates that the life of Judah as a nation was conditioned by the knowledge of YHWH. According to Jeremiah, to know YHWH is to recognize covenantal traditions as normative and to accept to follow them for a harmonious relationship with YHWH and with one another in the society. These covenantal traditions were rooted in YHWH's mighty acts of liberation of Israel in history, in YHWH's prerogative as the sole God of Israel, and in the necessity for Israel to establish a just society as witness of YHWH's justice, righteousness and steadfast love. Jeremiah demonstrates that it is the abandonment of this knowledge that caused the disintegration of Judah as a nation. This abandonment of the knowledge of YHWH is manifested in two areas. The first is the area of social justice (4:19-22; 5:1-6; 9:1-8; 9:22-23; 22:13-19). Several passages in Jeremiah link the lack of the knowledge of YHWH with the perversion of justice in terms of not encouraging the oppressed, not defending the cause of the fatherless, not pleading the cause of the widow, and not maintaining justice in the court. This lack of social justice is also manifested in terms of falsehood, adultery, abuse of human speech and the abuse of power by those who possess it. The second is the area of idolatry (2:4-13). The prophet Jeremiah accuses the people of Judah (Israel) of not having called upon YHWH during their time of need. Instead, they chose to go after foreign nations and their idols. In this way, they broke the covenant with YHWH and brought judgment upon the nation. For Jeremiah, the blame of the failure to know YHWH is to be placed upon the entire nation, but particularly upon two groups of people: religious and political leaders. These two groups worked for their own interest and failed to maintain a society according to the requirements set in the covenant. YHWH responded to this failure in two different ways (24:4-7; 31:31-34): he punished his people by sending them into exile, and promised to restore them. This restoration will consist of bringing Israelites back to their land, of making a new covenant with them, and of giving them a new heart that will enable them to fully know him. I used my Congolese context to understand the meaning of some passages in Jeremiah where I could not agree (or where I was not sure) with other scholars' interpretation. At the same time, the book of Jeremiah helped me to realize that it is because our Congolese Christianity (or our knowledge of YHWH) is still superficial that it has not yet been able to help us build a coherent and unified nation. This is why the DR Congo has collapsed in spite of its claim to have the largest Roman Catholic community in the continent, the world's most influential francophone Protestant movement and the continent's biggest independent Churches. This researcher argues that the crisis in DR Congo may find a solution if the Church reorganizes her ministries and views her mission as the implementation of Jesus' mission for the world: the announcement 1f the coming of the Kingdom of God with its vision of the new heaven and new earth. This vision of new earth and new heaven would lead the Church to a new understanding of our salvation in Christ as a constant restoration of our relationship with God, with one another and 'a new understandiJOl9 of our life and ministry as responsible citizens, striving to reconcile every aspect of our life as individuals and community with Christ. In this way, the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of each Christian would not be understood only in terms of leading us to heaven but also as the power that enables us to transform our society now and here.