It was a conversation after our small group meeting this past Sunday night. One of our group was talking about the struggle it is to read the Bible . . . especially those parts that simply don’t make sense. A few tips and techniques were swapped on how others sought to read intentionally and consistently through the bible, but, at the end of the day, there was an acknowledgment that sometimes making sense of God’s word is kind of hard.
Something I read this morning brought that conversation to mind. Something that says to me, “Ya’ think?”
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid?”
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be glory forever. Amen.
(Romans 11:33-36 ESV)
Now this spontaneous burst of divine declaration by Paul comes at the end of a discussion about God’s purposes for Israel, but really, it is an uncontainable response of wonder at all Paul has penned so far concerning the power of God for salvation, the gospel. Indeed, pick almost any place where you might be reading the Scriptures and having such an “Aha!” moment is probably appropriate.
No wonder the Bible can be a bit mind boggling at times. We’re searching the unsearchable and scrutinizing the inscrutable. We’re seeking to plumb the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God. Say that again, we’re trying to take in the depths of what God knows and how God thinks!
Incredible? No. Unsearchable! Inscrutable!
For a people who are used to everything being searchable, we’re just not accustomed to encounters of the divine kind with things that are beyond our ability to comprehend. After all, we can explore the inner workings of the atom. And we’re able to take pictures of galaxies far, far away. All very awe-inspiring but, let’s face it, it’s kind of common place, too. But when it comes to what’s at the bottom of our oceans, that’s still somewhat of a mystery . . . hasn’t been as easy to do. Thinking that’s why the Spirit moves Paul to talk about the depth of the abundance of God’s wisdom and knowledge. You can’t fully plumb the depths. They cannot be searched out. They are past finding out.
To quote one of my favorite songs, it’s like “trying to fit the ocean in a cup” (“Three Minute Song” by Josh Wilson).
No wonder that sometimes reading the Bible–the inspired word of God, the revelation of the mind of God–can be a bit difficult. What would we expect?
Sure we have the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16), but we still “see in a mirror dimly” (1Cor. 13:12). At our best, we know in part. We’re only putting together some of the pieces. After all, we’re trying to explore the dimensions of a God who is love and know the love of God which “surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18-19). Did I mention the ocean in a cup thing?
Praise God the Bible is hard to understand sometimes. Do we really want a God that we can fully figure out? A God who fits within our cognitive capabilities? A God of our understanding is a God cast in our own image. Instead, our God is unsearchable. And His ways are inscrutable.
But we have the Word. And we have the Spirit. And so we open the Book with the expectation that we’re going to increase, at least a bit, in our wisdom and understanding of our God, and that we’ll grow in the grace and knowledge of our Savior.
So, let’s not be surprised when the going gets a little tough. Instead, let’s sit back and praise Him for His unsearchablity.
And then, let’s search some more.
Because of grace. For his glory!