Meditating on the Will of God: 6: Seeing but not seeing
Isa 6:9,10 He said, “Go and tell this people: ” `Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Perhaps we should remind ourselves or at least clarify, that when we are talking about the will of God, we are talking about what God wants and how He goes about getting it. That latter part is all about the ways of God, the ways He works, how He does things, and of course it is all about how He interacts with us human beings, and therefore a part of this has to be examining how we work – or don’t – and seeing how what He is weaves in with what we are, and what He does weaves in with what we do.
We have been considering already some of these things both from the side of God, the ways He works, and from the side of man, which seems more variable. God doesn’t vary in who He is and how He works but we as individuals do and individual varies from individual.
When we come to Isaiah 6 we find the Lord laying down a process and a principle. Perhaps to break free from familiarity, let’s consider these verses in the Living Bible: “And he said, “Yes, go. But tell my people this: ‘Though you hear my words repeatedly, you won’t understand them. Though you watch and watch as I perform my miracles, still you won’t know what they mean. Dull their understanding, close their ears, and shut their eyes. I don’t want them to see or to hear or to understand, or to turn to me to heal them.” Or perhaps the Message Version: “He said, “Go and tell this people: ‘Listen hard, but you aren’t going to get it; look hard, but you won’t catch on.’ Make these people blockheads, with fingers in their ears and blindfolds on their eyes, so they won’t see a thing, won’t hear a word, so they won’t have a clue about what’s going on and, yes, so they won’t turn around and be made whole.”
Amazingly the Lord says to Isaiah, speak to these people in such a way that they won’t understand and get cheap salvation. The fact was that Isaiah made very clear the message from God but the message was direct and not explanatory and so the hardness of people’s hearts reacted against being told to repent.
This comes even more clearly when Jesus takes this prophecy and uses it to partly explain why he used parables so often: “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” (Mt 13:12-14) So often the listeners, for example the Pharisees, heard the words being spoken but did not accept them or understand them; they saw the miracles but did not realise the origins of them and therefore failed to accept Jesus.
The apparent mystery of all this is compounded in the beginning of that quote, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.” (v.12). To the ignorant and the spiritually blind this is a mystery but it all goes back to the human heart. The one who goes seeking God with all their heart will find Him and finding Him they will be blessed. Once they have found the source of all truth, then it will flow in them in abundance if they continue seeking Him. There is this condition but once it is fulfilled, then the outcome will always be the same. When people say, “I don’t understand Scripture,” the reason is because they are not seeking with all their heart. When you seek Him with all your heart then He reveals truth to you. He knows that until you come to that point of seeking Him with all your heart, then you will remain blind to any truth He shows you.
The other side of the coin is the person who does not have this source of truth. Any little truth they might have gleaned from life will be taken from them and become meaningless and God does that so that we might realise our poverty and in desperation go seeking Him with all our heart. We thought we knew some things but the more we thought out of our self-centredness, the more we realised we know nothing and that frustration laid there, waiting for the Spirit of God to prod it and stir it until it rose up and cried out and then He brought conviction that drove us ever more strongly into crying out for Him. It was only when we surrendered and gave ourselves to Him, that He recreated us by the power of His Spirit and the source of life and light opened our understanding. Suddenly we ‘saw’.
So often we who are preachers seek to make everything so simple and straight forward, but the truth is that people will not ‘see’ until their hearts are stirred to seek Him with all their hearts. Perhaps this is why God doesn’t lay out the Bible as a text book with headings and subjects and themes that can be easily followed because He knows that if He did, people might approach it with their intellect and study it in a self-centred manner and take on a form of religion and an appearance of spiritual life but it would be lacking the key issue – a living relationship with the Lord, out of which all supply comes.
This perhaps is one of the fundamental basics of the will of God in respect of mankind: He hides Himself (Isa 45:15) from all who will remain self-centred and godless. Yes, He will call out in their darkness to them, to see who will respond, and when there is a glimmer of response, He will call some more and draw and draw the one who will allow himself to be drawn to the place of truth and surrender, and there He will do that marvellous work of recreation by His Spirit. This is how He works.