Thursday, 30 April 2009

Why don't I understand?

In the book of Isaiah God tells his people that he is about to 'catch their attention'. He will do 'out of the ordinary things'; The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, Their tongues fail for thirst. I, the LORD, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, The myrtle and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine And the box tree together, That they may see and know, And consider and understand together, That the hand of the LORD has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it. Isaiah 41:17-20 NKJV

He still does 'out of the ordinary' things and for a purpose. They are intended to create a cycle of processes which will bring us to 'understanding'. Notice the sequences. First there is a list of things that God does; I will open rivers... I will make... I will plant... I will set... All these are way beyond our control, only God can initiate this process... but to what purpose? That's the significance of the little word 'that' or 'in order that'. Divine steps are taken first so that human steps can follow.

Man's steps are a interesting cycle too. We are to see and know and consider and understand. I have long been convinced that there is a pattern here. First we 'see'. God captures our attention by something 'out of the ordinary'. It may be a miracle, or a Bible verse or a sermon. But somehow it breaks into our consciousness and we 'see' it. Secondly we 'know' it. The Bible often uses 'know' in the sense of 'recognise'; we see something and we 'know' it is significant. Something within us is bearing witness to the truth of what we have 'seen'. The next step is the most crucial. Many see and know and promptly turn their mind to something else and the moment and the movement is lost. If we pause and 'consider', that is, contemplate or meditate or give thought to the thing where we 'saw God at work' it opens the way to the final step 'understanding'.

In the parable of the Sower, in Matthew 13, Christ held people responsible for 'not understanding'. To many it has seemed grossly unfair, but not if we see the pattern. God does not hold us responsible for getting the revelation but he does hold us responsible for the way in which we respond to the revelation.

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