“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 28, NO. 11&12 – THE MYSTERY THAT IS GOD
Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” That translates to the more common, “God’s ways are not our ways.”
So how is that helpful to me to know? And, how do I know that unless I know what God’s ways are? Are God’s ways always opposite of mine? I don’t think that’s what Isaiah is saying.
It’s always a good thing to read the context. The context is a Messianic vision of the future. Verse nine, in a poetic echo of verse eight says, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways.” Verse 11 says, “…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire…” (Let me say here, “God” is the English word for deity. Different languages refer to the same concept using other words.)
If God’s word goes out and accomplishes what was intended, it has to be understood. So at some point, what is said to be God’s ways and thoughts have to become our ways and thoughts.
The normal view of the prophetic writings is that they spoke the thoughts of God. Their message usually was loud and clear. “The Lord said…!” Isaiah and the others certainly wanted God’s thoughts understood.
So how might we imagine understanding something beyond our understanding? How do we understand anything beyond our understanding? How does a child learn to read, write and everything else that maturity requires? They don’t start with a book on physics. It’s cat and dog stuff. Would understanding the concept and power we call “God” be any different? As humankind learns about the world around it, so too it learns about the power behind it known as God.
Look at the text from Isaiah. What cannot be understood by Isaiah and the world at that time, is the universe as we know it today. The “heavens are higher than the earth” expresses the world as it was known then. A flat earth covered by “heavens.” By the way, the word Isaiah used for heavens was a Hebrew word that meant “heaved up things.” Did the power (God) behind what we understand to be the universe, know it was more than that? Yes. Could Isaiah, or anyone in his time even begin to imagin the universe as we understand it today? No. No more than the infant understands peek a boo. Studies show the child actually thinks the person playing is gone. The reasoning power is not yet developed to understand the experience.
Since that is true with human development and reasoning, is that not also the way we understand God? Can we imagine a God who hands Moses a book on cosmology and expect him to understand it and teach it to the Israelites?
As we read the Bible and any historical book, we are reading about a specific time in history and culture. We know very little about the prehistoric period. But what we do know is they had a different understanding of the earth than those who came later. It is easy to understand the attention (worship) they gave to the sun and the moon, or as Genesis says, “the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.”
The image of the sun going down, or setting, and the moon rising and setting would become such a strong idea that we still use those terms. At the same time, we know the sun does not rise and set, nor does the moon. We know it is the earth that moves. And yet, there are educated people who still maintain Earth is the center of the universe.
In reading the Old Testament on Sunday morning, we talked about the importance of blood found there. It was seen as life. Breath was seen as even more important than blood. It was the “nephesh” soul, breath of life. There was no firm knowledge of the brain. The “heart,” “mind” or emotion of man was centered in the “bowels.” That’s where they were on the scale of human development and knowledge. And, if they hadn’t been there at that level, we would not be where we are today.
I think the same has to be true of God, the energy and dynamic power of the universe. We should not limit the yet unknown ways of God by what we do know. God is too great for that. If we limit our understanding of God to a particular time and culture, we take away the divine inspiration that moves us forward in our development and understanding of God.
I don’t want to stretch a text too much, but In I Cor. 3:2 Paul says, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. In deed, you are still not ready.” My point is this, they had to be ready, spiritually and otherwise, to get what he wanted them to understand. They had to move past a former way of thinking.
In I Cor. 13:11 are Paul’s famous words, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.” What were those things? Within the context he seems to be talking about his understanding of God based on his former understanding of the Law, God’s law. What would have happened if Paul had not been willing to see God though a different lens than the one he said he had faithfully followed? (Phil. 3:6)
For Paul, the difference was Jesus. And Jesus had such a different understanding of God that it got him killed. Again, I don’t want to misuse scripture, but what did Paul mean when he said, But when the time had fully come, God sent his son…” (Gal. 4:4) Whatever you make of it, Paul said there was a time when it wasn’t time.
Part of the mystery of God knowing what we don’t, is that God is not content with that, but wants us to keep on knowing more and more about what God knows.
CONCERNS: Betty Foy’s health is rapidly failing. Kevin Cornett’s wife’s pregnancy may have to be terminated due to complications from a car accident. They will be going to UVA Medical Center next week for a final opinion. Stephanie Dixon had successful surgery on her nose and is now mending. The medicine is helping Judy Hall with her eyesight problems. More tests are being done on the Hall’s grandson, J. R. concerning his eyesight. Roxie Eanes has died of complications from pancreatitis. She was the great aunt of Nick Bolin’s girlfriend. Philip Pierce’s mother is at home under hospice care. Jim White as he recovers. Remember the following people in prayer as well, Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjorie Wilson, (cancer) Melanie Gentry, Joni Beach’s parents as well as her aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter, David Albert, Wayne Phlegar, Lee Nicklas, Sandy Blanchard and those caring for her. She lives in Pa. where Del Bolin grew up. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary, (MS) Darnel Ray Barns, Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson, (MS) Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum and her friend, Sean, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder
OUR DAILY BREAD: MARCH 21-26
Monday: Exodus 1:15-2:10
Tuesday: Mark 1:16-34
Wednesday: Genesis 17:1-21
Thursday: Job 42:1-17
Friday: Luke 4:1-13
Saturday: Psalm 63:1-11
OUR DAILY BREAD: Mar. 28-APR. 1
Monday: John 10:1-18
Tuesday: Matthew 13:24-43
Wednesday: Psalm 90:1-17
Thursday: Luke 4:1-13
Friday: Amos 5:18-6:1
Saturday: Psalm 71:1-24
Jim was riding his new bike to work on Wednesday morning while it was still dark and three dear ran in from of him on the Grandin Road Extension and he struck one of them sending him over the handlebars. He ended up with five broken ribs, a punctured lung and to hairline hip fractures. After a night in the hospital he is home quickly mending. Martha may need some help as she deals with this and her mothers condition. Give her a call.
Today we will have a special song and devotional service rather than a sermon. It has been developed and conducted by Del Bolin. We thank him for the praise service today
This is also Super Sunday. That means we will have the opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of eating together following the service. The weather looks as if we will have perhaps the last fire in the fireplace as we bid goodbye to winter. Plan to stay.
Keep in mind that whenever someone moves away it often leaves the service they rendered to the church open. If you see something you are willing to start doing that you have not yet done, see Erma Williams. It will be a big help to her as she develops the service roster.
Easter is next Sunday. For those children who come, there will be an Easter Egg Hunt in the yard behind the annex. Bring cameras and take pictures of the fun. Holly Wagner will be in charge of the event. See her about things she may need.
If you came in the front door today you noticed the shrubbery along the building has been trimmed back. We van thank Lyn Jordan for doing that. The shrubs had grown higher than the windows and really needed the care. Thanks Lyn
A brief meeting following the meal.