THE BLINDNESS OF ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS
I. FAMINE OF THE WORD OF GOD FORETOLD BY AMOS
ACCORDING to the Scriptures, man was created in the image of his Maker and had unbroken fellowship and communion with Him. By the disobedience of Adam and Eve, the human family fell and was expelled from God's presence. After the Fall (Genesis, chapter 3) man soon refused to retain God in his knowledge. The Lord, therefore, gave him up to do the base things which his depraved nature craved. This revelation is found in Romans 1:18-32. Thus all people of the earth with few exceptions, became blinded and ever since, have been walking in darkness.
In the process of time, however, the Lord sent the light of His Word to Israel in order that it might shine through that nation to the world. At Sinai He deposited with the Chosen People this marvelous revelation. From time to time He raised up prophets through whom He gave additional messages to Israel and to the world. Thus the light of revelation was flashing forth in a limited way until the close of the Old Testament Canon. As the Old Testament age drew nearer to its close, the flashes of new light grew dimmer and finally ceased. The nation of Israel, of course, had the Word of God that had already been written up to that time; but the prophetic voice ceased with the passing of the Prophet Malachi.
Through Amos, one of the earliest writing prophets in Israel God foretold the complete cessation of the prophetic voice in Israel. In this prediction, however, Amos did not think of the Word of God in terms of light but of food. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovah, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah" (Amos 8:11). This famine of the word of God began after Malachi had delivered his last message. Israel was, therefore, without the fresh bread of life, new revelations from God, after Malachi's day till John the Baptist in the first century of the present era electrified the nation by his clarion call to repentance.II. JUDICIAL BLINDNESS THREATENED ISRAEL FORETOLD BY ISAIAH
Corroborative evidence and further light on this most important theme is found in Isaiah 29:9-14:A. The Blinding Effect of Pleasure Seeking
9 Tarry ye and wonder; take your pleasure and be blind: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10 For Jehovah hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers, hath he covered. 11 And all vision is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I cannot, for it is sealed: 12 and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned.
13 And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them; 14 therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.
Note these momentous words: "Tarry ye and wonder: take your pleasure and be blind. ..." The marginal reading of these lines is "Be ye amazed and wonder; blind yourselves and be blind ..." Both renderings are grammatically correct. The prophet puts his prediction in the form of a commanda practice frequently adopted by the prophets in making their predictions forceful. By putting the thought in this form, he emphasizes human agency as a determining factor in life's activities. Man, of his own volition, frequently stops, tarries, wonders about a given situation; and, by so doing, he often blinds himself. One who is self-centered and is seeking only for pleasure blinds himself. Pharaoh hardened his heart against God and the evidence which Moses brought him. God then hardened the heart of Pharaoh because of his attitude toward God and truth. The result was that his heart was irrevocably hardened. What was true of Pharaoh is also true of any and all men who are living for the gratification of the flesh, and who constantly seek their own pleasure.B. The Deadening Effect of Intellectual Formal Worship
When men take this attitude, God hardens their hearts, as shown in the following words: "9 … they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. 10 For Jehovah hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers, hath he covered." When the people of Israel, according to Isaiah, fritter away their time, take their own pleasure, God punishes them for this attitude. Isaiah thinks of the nation of Israel as an intoxicated man whose mental faculties are so stupefied by drink that he cannot understand the situation in which he finds himself and cannot walk normally. The drunkenness of which Isaiah speaks is not from drinking liquor, but it is the result of God's pouring out upon the pleasure-seekers the spirit of deep sleep and His closing their eyes, "the prophets." The spirit of deep sleep is the spirit that causes spiritual slumber and insensibility. The one who is thus spiritually asleep is thoroughly oblivious to the spiritual environment in which he lives. Hence he is irresponsive to the calls and appeals of God.
In this passage God foretells that He will stop the prophetic voice in Israel, just as He has warned in the Amos passage examined above. Isaiah, therefore, declares that Jehovah "hath closed your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers, hath he covered." This part of the prediction was fulfilled with the cessation of the prophetic spirit in Israel from the days of Malachi and onward. For approximately four hundred years God did not speak to the people of Israel, but covered their heads, "the seers."
When God punished Israel with judicial blindness, which rendered the people incapable of seeing truth as it is and caused them to stagger like a drunken man, spiritually speaking, the written Word was unintelligible to them: "11 And all vision is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith I cannot, for it is sealed: 12 and the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee; and he saith, I am not learned." When the spirit of stupor is poured upon the nation, the people cannot understand the message of the Word that has been delivered by Moses or the Prophets. The Word of God through any of His servants, the prophets, is absolutely unintelligible to them. On being asked to read the message and interpret it, the learned claim that the Word is a sealed bookit is unintelligible to them. The unlearned admit that they cannot understand it, but attribute their inability to their lack of learning. With few exceptionsthat is, those who are earnestly seeking Godthe nation, as a whole, does not understand the message when this deep sleep comes upon it in fulfillment of this prophecy.
For a person to choose his own way and to follow his own ideas in preference to accepting God's way is one of the most dangerous steps that he can take. Isaiah the Prophet foretold Israel's reinauguration of the temple serviceyet in the future. Moreover he saw great activities in connection with the restored worship. He, therefore, said: "3 ... Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations: 4 I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did that which was evil in mine eyes, and chose that wherein I delighted not" (Isa. 66:3,4).
Ezekiel was a prophet of the Exile in Babylon. On one occasion the elders of Israel came to him to inquire concerning a message from God.
2 And the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, 3 Son of man, these men have taken their idols into their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be inquired of at all by them? 4 Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Every man of the house of Israel that taketh his idols into his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I Jehovah will answer him therein according to the multitude of his idols; 5 that I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols (Ezek. 14:2-5).
From this passage it is clear that God will answer a person according to the dominant idea of his heart.
The nation, nevertheless, after being blinded, continued with its worship in a formal, perfunctory manner, as the prophet declares in Isaiah 29:13,14: "... Forasmuch as this people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them; 14 therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." According to these verses, when God pours out this deep sleep upon the nation of Israel and the people are utterly unable to comprehend the message of the written word which is in their hands, they continue in their worship and divine services. They hold on tenaciously to that which they have been taught by rote. They draw nigh unto God with their mouths and honor Him with their lips; but their hearts, being hardened, are far removed from Him. Their worship is a cold, formal, lifeless observance of religious rites and ceremonies.C. God Working a Wonder, a Marvel, Before the Eyes of Blinded Israel
What Isaiah foretold concerning Israel in his blindness is also true of all people who are solely intellectual and formal in their religious life, who take their own pleasure, and who thus blind themselves. When people have the truth and do not appreciate it, but fritter away their time with material, earthly things, and do not take spiritual and eternal matters seriously, the shades of spiritual darkness descend upon them. They cannot see truth, but wander and grope like people in the darkness.
While Israel is thus blinded and groping in the darkness, declared Isaiah, the Lord proceeds "to do a marvellous work among this people [the Jewish people], even a marvellous work and a wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid." The marginal reading of this passage is "I will again do a marvellous work, even a marvelous work and a wonder among this people." What is the significance of this statement? Isaiah looked back over the history of the nation and saw a time that God did marvelous works and wonders among the people. Then, looking toward the future, he said that God would do a marvelous work again, for and among the Hebrew people. Undoubtedly the thing at which he looked when he glanced at their past was the marvelous work which God performed in delivering Israel from Egyptian bondage, because the miracles wrought when Israel was delivered from Egypt loomed higher in their thinking than any others. For forty years He also intervened in their behalf, performed one miracle after another, and finally brought His people into the liberty of the promised land. But the Hebrews took His miraculous intervention as a matter of course and constantly departed from Him and were punished.D. God Awaiting Israel's Return to Him
Looking forward into the future, the prophet sees another time when God will step into the arena of Jewish life and activity and will perform a marvel"even a marvellous work and a wonder." The implication, drawn from the parallel between the two cases, is that He will perform this future marvel or miracle of redemption for their good.¹ But, being blinded, they are not able to realize or to appreciate the situation.
In the first century of the present era, John the Baptist appeared and stirred the nation of Israel by the startling announcement "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." The people, from Dan to Beersheba and from the East to the West, were momentarily shaken out of their lethargy of spiritual sleep and indifference. John made the announcement that he was not the Messiah, nor the Prophet, nor Elijah, but was simply a voice calling attention to the Lord who was coming after him, and whose sandals he was not worthy to unloose. When, according to this prediction, God performs this miracle in the midst of the people of Israel and for their benefit, their wise men and sages are so blinded that they cannot interpret the signs of the times or discern spiritual phenomena and God's special activity in their behalf.
This prediction should have been a clarion call to the nation of Israel, from that day and onward, to be alert, looking forward to the time that God would perform this wonder of wondersthis miracle of deliverance. God always sounds a warning so that people can flee from the wrath to come, but He does not force them to forsake their evil wicked ways and to turn to Him.
God always has to wait for His disobedient people to return to Him in order to bless them. This fact is clearly shown in Isaiah 30:15-22. The occasion of God's making this revelation was the situation created by the Jewish-Assyrian crisis. At that time the Assyrian Empire was threatening the kingdom of Judah. The pro-Egyptian party in Jerusalem insisted that Hezekiah make a military alliance with Egypt. While the ambassadors of both countries were sitting at the conference table, God revealed to Isaiah Judah's plans of procuring military assistance from Egypt. Isaiah, therefore, urged the officials of the government to break off the negotiations and to recall their ambassadors, assuring them that the only solution to the problem was to trust in the Lord for deliverance. The government of Judah refused to break off negotiations and to trust God alone. When the Lord said, "In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength," the officials at Jerusalem spurned the divine instructions with an emphatic no and went their own way. The prophet, therefore, laid down the general principles of God's dealing with His rebellious people under such conditions.III. THE CONTINUANCE OF ISRAEL'S BLINDNESS
15 For thus said the Lord Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength. And ye would not: 16 but ye said, No, for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and, We will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. 17 One thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five shall ye flee: till ye be left as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on a hill.
18 And therefore will Jehovah wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for Jehovah is a God of justice; blessed are all they that wait for him. 19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem; thou shalt weep no more; he will surely be gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear, he will answer thee. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be hidden any more, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers; 21 and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it; when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. 22 And ye shall defile the overlaying of thy graven images of silver, and the plating of thy molten images of gold: thou shalt cast them away as an unclean thing; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence (Isa. 30:15-22).
As has been seen in the preceding discussion, the blindness of Israel nationally began with the cessation of the prophetic voice in Israel, when Malachi, the last of the Old Testament prophets, passed on. This blindness, like a veil over the eyes of a person has remained through the centuries to the present day. Further information concerning this blindness appears in Isaiah 42:18-22:A. The Blinded Servant of Jehovah
18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I send? who is blind as he that is at peace with me, and blind as Jehovah's servant? 20 Thou seest many things, but thou observest not; his ears are open, but he heareth not. 21 It pleased Jehovah, for his righteousness sake, to magnify the law, and make it honorable. 22 But this is a people robbed and plundered; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison-houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore.
Here God speaks of His Chosen People as His blind servant.
Isaiah uses the term "my servant" in three different connotations. This fact is seen by a study of the passages in which this term occurs. In the passage just quoted, it is clear from the context that it means the nation of Israel. In Isaiah 42:1-9 the same term refers to the Messiah of Israel, because He is the one, according to verse 1, who will establish justice in the earth. He alone can and will establish this reign of righteousness. In Isaiah 41:8-16 the term "my servant" refers to the faithful remnant of Israel in the end time, as is seen by the facts of the context. When, therefore, the word servant appears, the context must be studied carefully to ascertain the meaning of the term in a given case.1. The First Coming of Messiah
In verses 1-9 appears a prediction concerning Jehovah's servant in whom the Almighty delights and who will bring justice to the Gentiles. This Servant Messiah can and will establish a reign of righteousness upon earth. According to verse 2, He engages in a preaching ministry, avoiding the tactics of a rabble rouser. According to verse 3, He is kind to and considerate of the unfortunate. In this respect He is different from dictators in general who have political aims. Eventually, according to verse 3, Messiah will bring forth justice in truth. He reaches His goal of establishing justice in the earth by the dissemination of the truth. After His personal ministry His followers carry on the preaching ministry which He inaugurates. To those on the side lines, this Messianic movement inaugurated and carried on by the Messiah and His followers appears to be a failure, but it is not. At His coming and launching this preaching ministry, the isles (the nations of the world) do not receive His law but have to wait for itin the future when Messiah returns.2. The World-Wide Revival
Isaiah 42:5-9 is a prediction of Jehovah's speaking to Messiah, assuring Him of help in fulfilling His mission of binding Israel back to God and of His being a spiritual light to the Gentiles. This prophecy reflects the present period of time, during which the message of redeeming love flows out to the entire world. The prophet looks forward to the first coming of Messiah and His fulfilling His mission of purchasing redemption and sending the message of salvation to the whole world and speaks of these events as "the former things." Thus in vision Isaiah is taken to the end of this present age and declares, "Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them" (Isa. 42:9).
Then seeing what will occur at the end of the age, the prophet makes his announcement in the form of an exhortation to the peoples of the earth, saying, "Sing unto Jehovah a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth; ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein, the isles, and the inhabitants thereof" (Isa. 42:10). This dramatic way of making a prediction reminds one of Psalm 2:1:3. Second Coming of Messiah
"Why do the nations rage,
And the peoples meditate a vain thing?"
In this passage King David in vision saw the rulers of the nations of the world in a great international convention, deliberating upon what he called "a vain thing." He made an announcement in the form of two rhetorical questions of what he had seen. In the same way Isaiah saw in the passage under consideration vast hordes of peoples of the world with joy in their heartsa new and thrilling experience. He, therefore, calls upon them to give expression to the joy of their souls by singing the praises of God. When Isaiah 42:10-12 is studied in the light of such passages as Revelation, chapter 7, it becomes evident that the prophet saw this world-wide revival which will sweep vast multitudes into the Kingdom of God.
At the conclusion of this time of revival, the Tribulation Period, the Messiah will return in glory as a mighty warrior (Isa. 42:13). His coming in fulfillment of this prediction is likewise set forth in Deuteronomy 32:39-43.4. God's Final Call to Israel to Repent
When He thus comes, He will bring about mighty changes in the topography of the earth (Isa. 42:14-17). At that time He will lift the curse, as we see in parallel passages.
In view of the coming of Messiah as a mighty warrior against all wickedness and as the Redeemer and Saviour of those who turn to Him from unrighteousness, the prophet addresses the people of Israel, saying: "Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I send? who is blind as he that is at peace with me, and blind as Jehovah's servant?" (Isa. 42:18,19). The prophet's exhorting the deaf to hear and the blind to see is proof that this deafness, which is spiritual, is not incurable. What the blind and the deaf must do to see and hear is in sincerity to want truth and to turn to Messiah in genuine repentance and in faith for redemption and deliverance. This blindness and deafness, spoken of in connection with Israel's hardness of heart (Rom. 11:25-27), will vanish when the remnant of Israel turns to Messiah, and then "all Israel shall be saved: even as it is written,
There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer;
He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 And this is my covenant unto them,
When I shall take away their sins."
Notwithstanding the blindness and deafness of this servant Israel, God declares, "Thou seest many things, but thou observest not; his ears are open, but he heareth not" (Isa. 42:20). Note the fact that blind Israel sees "many things," but does not fully understand their significance. The Jewish people stand in the foremost ranks of culture, philosophy, and all the arts and sciencesout of all proportion to their numbersand have made many marvelous contributions to civilization that have at times modified or changed the course of history.B. The Remnant of Israel, God's Future Witnesses
It is one thing to study and to gather facts and knowledge of material things, but it is an entirely different proposition to interpret physical materials in the light of the spiritual world in which they exist. All physical phenomena, therefore, must be studied in the light of the spiritual realm.
Recognizing that the physical and material can be understood only in the light of spiritual data, Isaiah states, "It pleased Jehovah, for His righteousness' sake to magnify the law, and make it honorable" (Isa. 42:21). Why has God magnified His law? He has done so "for his righteousness' sake." What is the significance of this phrase? It may be that what He chooses to do is always determined by the great fundamental principles of righteousness. In other words, He always acts according to His real nature and character. Thus in dealing with Israel, as here foretold, God is acting according to the principles of righteousness. Another possible interpretation of this phrase, "for his righteousness' sake," is that it refers to the righteousness of God which He provides for guilty man. Concerning this righteousness, the Apostle Paul speaks in Romans 3:19-26:
19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it speaketh to them that are under the law; that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may be brought under the judgment of God: 20 because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for through the law cometh the knowledge of sin.
21 But now apart from the law a righteousness of God hath been manifested being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; 24 being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25 whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, in his blood, to show his righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, in the forbearance of God; 26 for the showing, I say, of his righteousness at this present season: that he might himself be just, and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus.
In all probability both interpretations are correct. Isaiah sees the nation of Israel of the end time, led by their scholars, searching for knowledge and wisdom. In their quest for knowledgein their libraries,² laboratories, and daily experiencesthey do not find ultimate knowledge and wisdom. They consult the works of men and lean heavily upon the arm of flesh, passing by the only true source of knowledgethe Scriptures which God has through the centuries magnified and made honorable.
God has magnified His Word and made it honorable in that He has given absolute and positive proof that it is a revelation of His will to man. The Scriptures, like a beacon on a lofty mountain, constantly flash their beams of divine knowledge and truth to the worldto those who want light. They are infinitely higher than the works of menas the heavens are higher than the earth.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isa. 55:8,9).
On this point the Psalmist very clearly declares that God has exalted His Word even above His name (Ps. 138:2). There is no book or set of books written by philosophers, educators, scientists, or scholars in any field that can in the least compare with this Book of God. God has given His Word, authenticated it, and placed it in a position so that it might send forth its luminous rays for the benefit of man in his quest for knowledge and deliverance. Man, by his diligent, exact studies and research in the physical realm, can never approximate the ultimate. He must have the light which comes from God's Word.
At the time of the remnant's looking to Messiah and accepting Him, the people of Israel will be robbed and plundered: "But this is a people robbed and plundered; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison-houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore" (Isa. 42:22).
"Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not Jehovah? he against whom we have sinned, and in whose ways they would not walk, neither were they obedient unto his law" (Isa. 42:24). In lovingkindness God will allow the stroke of judgment to fall upon His chosen, beloved people in order to bring them back to Himself.
To the faithful remnant of Israel at the end time, God speaks a marvelous message concerning His having created the nation of Israel, of His having redeemed them, and of His protecting them from all harm, "whom I [Jehovah] have created for my glory, whom I have formed, yea, whom I have made" (Isa. 43:7b).
The redeemed remnant of Israel will be God's witnesses to the end of the earth (Isa. 43:10). Then all nations of the earth will be blessed in Abraham's seed (Gen. 12:1-3).IV. THE BLINDNESS OF THE NATIONS
"... God made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions" (Ecc. 7:29). Man originally had a knowledge of God, but he refused to retain that knowledge and became unthankful for the blessings of life which God constantly showered upon him. God then allowed man to go in the way of his own choice. The kingdom of the Almighty is a moral regime in which man, along with others of God's creatures, is allowed to exercise his own choiceswithin prescribed limits. The Lord endowed him with this capacity and never infringes upon his rights and prerogatives. He uses moral and spiritual forces to keep man in line of duty as far as possible. The whole world originally blinded itself by rejecting the light. Satan, of course, is the one who blinded man's eyes, or rather whom God allowed to blind his eyes, when he willed not to retain the truth of God in his knowledge.
Man is a worshipping creature. If he does not worship the Creator, he will worship that which has been created. For a complete statement of man's case, read Romans 1:18-32. In this passage one learns that man chose to serve and worship the creature instead of the Creator. Men as individuals, as nations and groups, have from times immemorial worshipped the gods of their making. The people of the world, from the highest intellectual ones to the most insignificant peasant, have worshipped the creatures and are doing so at the present time. If man does not make a literal idol, he erects intellectually an idol of something in which he is especially interested and renders to it the devotion and adoration that he should give to the Creator in whom he lives, moves, and has his being.
In Isaiah 44:9-20, the Prophet shows how senseless and brainless it is to make molten and graven images, to call them gods, and to worship them. A glance at the pagan world shows that the most intellectual classes, along with the most unlearned, are firm believers in idolatry; even among the foremost cultured, educated, and scientifically trained men are devoted idolaters. As Isaiah the Prophet declares in this passage, men plant and cultivate trees with the idea of making idols out of wood. They then make axes for cutting down the trees. The trunk is turned over to a carpenter who marks the log in the shape of a god whom he wishes to manufacture. Part of the tree is used for fire wood, by which the man warms himself, and the rest of the wood is used for baking bread.
Concerning such men, Isaiah the Prophet declares: "They know not, neither do they consider: for he [Jehovah] hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand. 19 And none calleth to mind, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yea, also I have baked bread upon the coals thereof; I have roasted flesh and eaten it: and shall I make the residue thereof an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? 20 He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside; and he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?" (Isa. 44:18-20).
Man whose mind is thus beclouded with darkness, caused by Satan, cannot reason correctly concerning any data or phenomena of the physical or psychic realms, because they are related to the spiritual worldto the kingdom of God and to the kingdom of Satan. All phenomena must be interpreted and understood in the light of the spiritual spheres in which the universe is submerged.
From the passages studied above, one sees that both Jew and Gentile who deliberately reject the knowledge of God and the truth which is given to them by the Lord for their salvation and blessing are punished with spiritual blindness and are unable to see truth as it is. There is but one remedy; and that is to look to God in faith, doubting nothing, not being gullible, but being ready to receive truth whatever it is and wherever it is. If man takes this attitude, he will find the truth and the knowledge of God, for God will send the truth to him.
¹ Therefore, behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that they shall no more say, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; 8 but, As Jehovah liveth, who brought up and who led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them. And they shall dwell in their own land (Jer. 23-7,8).
² Let not the reader conclude from what I have just said that I am speaking disparagingly of research and investigation on any and all subjects. In the libraries of the world there is crystallized in permanent form knowledge discovered and passed on by former generations. To glean from what others have learned and passed on to us is of utmost importance in the quest for knowledge. At the same time one must not be gullible and accept as correct all that he reads. Frequently, in doing research, one is like a man who hunts a needle in a haystack.
Isaiah the Prophet, by the Spirit of God, sees the people of Israel diligently studying the works of men in their quest for knowledge. At the same time they are largely ignoring the one and only source of ultimate knowledge and truththe Scriptures.