“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord….” (Romans 11:33-34)
I do not understand all the prophecies of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation.
Nor do you.
Nor is it necessary that we do.
Sorry if you find that offensive, friend. After a half-century of considering these things–what has been written and preached and declared as “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” from pulpits far and wide–I feel confident in saying that so far, no one expositor has gotten it all right.
That’s my opinion. You’re welcome to yours. But we will go on loving each other in Christ.
The list of other things we do not understand (or agree on!) is extensive.
What we must do is beware of that yearning inside us which cannot leave these matters alone, which cries out for solutions and explanations.
Something inside us does not want to walk by faith, in spite of Scripture’s emphasis on our doing just that (Habakkuk 2:4; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Luke 18:8; Hebrews 11:6).
To live by faith means, among other things, we leave the whys and wherefores with God, along with the outcomes and the incomes!
What about the Jews?
The wonderful little doxology found at the end of Romans 11 comes on the heels of Paul’s word about the Jews. The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable, he says, meaning they are in effect forever. But the apostle does not begin to explain how God is going to work out the disobedience of the Jews and bring them into the fullness of His plans. After making this claim, he bursts into praise for the wisdom and knowledge of God.
I take that as Paul saying, “I have no clue how or when this is going to work out. Only that it will.”
And he leaves the matter with the Lord.
Oh, that we could do that.
People then and now are always trying to help God out, to speak where God is silent, to explain what God left as mysterious.
The disciples afflicted with OCD cannot leave dangling ends anywhere; they must be dealt with, all questions settled, all loose ends tied up.
Jesus was not obsessive-compulsive, and we who are should not bring our malady into our discipleship.
Consider the Mount of Transfiguration. Overcome by the majesty of what he was seeing, the Apostle Peter burst out, “Lord! Let’s make three tabernacles up here. One for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah!” (Mark 9:5).
Good idea, huh? Well, apparently not. Mark says Peter said that because he did not know what to say! (Mark 9:6.) Just like us, isn’t it?
God did not allow them to build such tabernacles. However, a few years ago, when some of us were atop Mount Tabor, said by some to be the Mount in question, we learned that the Franciscans had indeed built chapels, three in number. What Jesus would not allow the disciples to do, the monks did.
Helping God out. Speaking where He is silent. Going where He did not send. Explaining what He left as mystery.
No wonder David prayed to be kept from presumptuous sins (Psalm 19:13).
Running ahead of God.
“Where were you, Job,” asked the Heavenly Father, “when I laid the foundations of the world? If you’re so smart, tell me how the planets are suspended in space with nothing to hold them up? If you’re so smart, have you ever commanded the morning to appear? And where does light dwell? Do you know how the constellations of stars work?”
The Lord’s questions to His little know-it-all went on for most of four chapters of Job (38-41), all to achieve one tiny little result in God’s man: to make him shut up.
There is a time to shut up. To be quiet before God, to serve Him with awe and humility and love.
When the Lord finally came to an end, Job said, “I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (Job 42:3).
He said, “Lord, I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear. But now, my eye sees Thee. Therefore, I repent in sackcloth and ashes.” (42:5-6).
The Lord wanted Job–as He wants you and me–to be willing to serve Him faithfully and believe in Him completely without knowing the whys and wherefores.
In his lifetime, Job never understood why God let him suffer as he did. He found out in Heaven. Just as we will.
The old-timers used to sing about this truth.
“Farther along, we’ll know all about it. Farther along, we’ll understand why. Cheer up my brother, live in the sunshine. We’ll understand it all by and by.”
“Known only to Him are the great hidden secrets. I’ll fear not the darkness when my plane shall dim. I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future. It’s a secret known only to Him.”
We’ve come this far by faith. And it would appear the rest of the journey will be made in the same manner.