A few weeks ago I started teaching a summer session of my Old Testament class. One of my personal resolutions during that class is to read as much of the Old Testament to them as possible, and not just tell them about the Old Testament. This past weekend, as we were completing our study of the Torah, or the first five books of the Old Testament, I read Deuteronomy 29:29 (here it is in both the New American Standard and the Holman Christian Standard Bible):
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” (NASB)
“The hidden things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and our children forever, so that we may follow all the words of this law.” (HCSB)
I love this verse, but also marvel at it for a variety of reasons. For instance, it declares:
- We serve an infinite, awesome God whom we approach with our limited, finite minds.
- We will never fully understand God or all of his ways.
- We are expected to understand and obey what has been “revealed”.
Take a moment to dwell on those statements! I don’t know about you, but I’ve stumbled over these truths and failed to comprehend them too many times to mention. For starters, I want to know the “secret things”! At times, if I’m being honest, my questions for God (“Why this? Why that?”) are more numerous than my praises!
And not only that, but I’ve also noticed another curious fact about those “secret things.” For the longest time, I used to think that as I drew closer to God and meditated on his word more and more, I expected the “secret things” of God to decrease in size, but I’ve since learned collectively it actually enlarges! Why?
But as I slow down and truly reflect on all that God has revealed to me, I’m humbled and incredibly embarrassed by what I still don’t understand and fail to obey consistently. As an example, I know 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 by heart (the famous “Love Chapter”), but I’m still not always “patient” with my loved ones, or as “kind” to them as I should be, and so on as the rest of vv.4-8 unfolds.
All of this reminds me of a comment I came across by pastor and author Pete Wilson. In his book What Keeps You Up At Night? How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams, he wisely says:
“We think the more spiritually mature we are the more clarity we should have. The fact is, the more spiritually mature we are the less clarity we need.”
Why? Because as Deuteronomy 29:29 helps us to understand, the more mature we become and closer we draw to God, we discover how great and magnificent he truly is, and the tremendous task before us of being accountable simply for all he has already revealed! That should consume us, and not the “secret things”, for while that may enlarge as we truly comprehend how great and profound God is, so should our love and trust for God, as we marvel at how much he has already revealed and the manner in which he has loved us!
And that’s what people of faith should be occupied with.