“In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him” (Ephesians 1:8b–9, NASB95)
There is nothing haphazard or accidental about what God does. He is not chasing his tail, or ours for that matter as we scramble all over the place. He is not piecing together last minute or overlooked details or even discovering new things and needs along the way. Paul wrote, God in “all wisdom and insight….” Think about this, there is nothing lacking in God’s knowledge and there is nothing lacking in His understanding of that knowledge (insight) or how to use it. There is nothing lacking in His understanding of us and how to respond to our needs. He knows absolutely everything, and is all wise. He is infinite in knowledge, wisdom, and insight.
Sometimes we are placed in situations where we know we would have responded differently if we knew a bit more about what was going on. As I read this passage I thought of an illustration I heard several years ago. I wish I knew the source or the details of the story and could give proper credit or relay it more accurately, but I am going to take a stab at it anyway. I’ll use quotes to set it apart, not to say that this is exactly as it went.
“A Father and his two young children boarded a crowded subway late in the evening, and as he sat there staring out the window the children bounced all over the place. They pushed against the seats. They ran up and down the aisle, and they made one kind of disturbance after another. Their energy seemed unlimited and unchecked. For an extended period of time, which seemed like hours to the passengers around them, the kids were a huge nuisance. As time went on some of the passengers began to talk among themselves, and make cutting remarks about the father and what a horrible parent he was for not controlling his kids. Some had even tried to get his attention, but he didn’t respond. He just kept looking out the window while tensions mounted and the estimation of the father and the children slid further and further in the minds of the other passengers. Then one of the passengers stood up and walked over to the man, tapping him on the shoulder and pointing out to him how much of a nuisance his children were to the other passengers who were all tired after a long day at work. The man looked away from the window, shook himself as if into reality, and responded to the passenger saying, “I’m so sorry. I should have done a better job with my children. My wife, their mother, just died and we are on our way home from the hospital.” As you might imagine, everything changed in that instant. The passengers were instantly silenced and their hearts were melted.”
Nothing had changed about the children’s behavior, but everything changed about the way the others felt about it. What they had gained was insight that they previously did not have. We read that God has perfect insight and that He is infinitely wise with what to do with His unlimited knowledge. And being infinitely wise and insightful He chose when and how to reveal His truth to us. He knows what we need to know and even what we need to not know and entrust to Him as the One who does know.
Scripture speaks of Him revealing mysteries, and this is indeed what He does as He shows us new truths. This particular mystery points to the revelation of His Son as our salvation. With the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Spirit there came a new understanding of what God had previously spoken of concerning our salvation. What man had previously looked forward to wondering, God had now shown so that we might know.
After His resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples, and at His first appearance Thomas was not there. When they told Him that Jesus was alive, Thomas responded saying that he would not believe unless he was able to physically touch the wounds in Jesus’ hands and the hole in His side. When Jesus next appeared to them with Thomas present, and after Thomas had believed, Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (John 20:29, NASB95) These men had walked with Jesus and they did not get what He had to say. But after the resurrection they did. This mystery had been revealed, and with coming of the Spirit to instruct them and to bring to mind all that had happened much more was to be revealed.
Paul went on to add that what God the Father had done in Christ was His revealed will according to His kind intention which He purposed in His Son. God being infinitely in control of all wisdom and insight revealed to us in His perfect time and in His perfect way what He intended for our welfare to be done in His Son. There are so many that argue angels on the head of a pin or the lost who have not heard. It is as if nothing that God did is acceptable unless it all made sense. The reality is that there are some things that do not make sense because we do not have the necessary insight or any of the surrounding knowledge or wisdom to respond properly. These same people seem to be the ones who deny that God is God and that His Son is the only means to salvation. They do not accept the truth because they do not understand the truth, or as one actor said in a movie, “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth?”
The answer for them is the same as it is for all who have believed, and that is God revealing this mystery by calling them and showing Himself to them. We read in 2 Corinthians 4, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:3–6, NASB95)
God is the superintendent of the dispersion of this knowledge, and He is totally in control of its timing. But even in this and with all that we know, we only know a miniscule amount of what God knows. It is for this reason that a long time ago I determined that Proverbs 3:5-6 were important instructions for my life. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NASB95) And in this I chose to trust Him, especially when things seem so unclear to me.