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From the editor: "...too wonderful for me" (Job 42.3)

J Grant

Any reader of the book of Job feels sympathy for a man who had been dealt such blows and had received so little encouragement from those who came alongside him in his sorrow. During the debates that took place Job had much to say, but did not feel that he had an answer to explain the calamities that had overtaken him. One truth, however, did dawn on his soul: "Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not". He had been expressing views and pronouncing judgment on matters that were beyond the ability of the human intellect to trace or to understand. Such words as these should not bring about despair, but rather cause us to fall in worship as we recognise the greatness of Him who is "God our Saviour" (Tit 1.4).

Such reaction is not limited to Old Testament revelation. There is still much about Him that is beyond our understanding. First, when writing to the Ephesians, part of Paul's prayer for them was that they might know "the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge" (3.19). The love of Christ defies human enquiry or investigation. It is far above any height to which the human mind can attain. W Kelly states that in this verse Paul "supposes us launched upon that sea where there is no shore". It is limitless; there is no end of it to which we can come, and therefore we cannot explore it fully. The most spiritually intelligent believer cannot explain it, but all believers can enjoy it.

Second, the pen of Paul also writes of "the peace of God, which passeth all understanding" (Phil 4.7). This peace will keep our hearts and minds, which are our emotions and our intellect, from being overwhelmed by the cares and anxieties of life. The word "keep" means "to guard with a military force" (see the use of it in this way in 2 Cor 11.32), so there is complete security when such a guard is placed on the heart and mind. Such a mind is not empty, devoid of anything with which to be occupied. The "whatsoever" things which follow (v.8), those that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report, provide an abundant variety to occupy the minds of those who know the peace of God. But such peace passes all understanding. It is beyond the faculties of human perception and comprehension to explore. There is no explanation for it in the realm of the natural mind. It is another blessing that believers can enjoy, but never fully explain.

It should be noted, however, that there are conditions for such blessing. It is only enjoyed by those who, "by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving", let their requests be made known to God (v.6). Genuine and regular prayer is the secret. No prayer results in no peace.

Third, in dealing with the nation of Israel, Paul comes to a conclusion that goes far beyond the one issue of his "kinsmen according to the flesh (Rom 9.3). God's ways, he states, are "past finding out" (Rom 11.33). The word was used to describe a track that could not be followed. So it is not possible for us to follow the pathway of the mind of God, as His purpose was unfolded. Nevertheless, once again, what cannot be explained can be enjoyed.

Around us today research is constantly being carried out to enlarge the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding. In spiritual matters there are, however, boundaries that cannot be crossed. Although in a different context, the words of Moses can be applied here: "The secret things belong unto the Lord our God" (Deut 29.29).

So, the love of Christ that has touched our lives, the peace of God that garrisons our hearts, and the ways of God seen in His eternal purpose are all beyond our comprehension. Nothing we can do, no research that we can carry out, no investigation however methodical can lead us to know fully the mind of the Lord. Not even the most devoted saints can plumb the depths, scale the heights, or measure the circumference of these things. But let us relish this, that what our minds cannot fathom we can enjoy, and let our adoration and wonder increase as we view an expanse so vast that we can never see its end. May we, lost in wonder, cry, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things" (Rom 11.36) acknowledging, as did Job, that there are things that are "too wonderful" for us.


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