Diffuse Reflections
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The Limits of Knowledge


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“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.” ~ Ecclesiastes 11:5

In Solomon’s time, no one understood how children were formed in a woman’s womb. Nowadays, there is much more information on the details of the process, it has been tracked with cameras, ultrasound and other investigative instruments. However, that is not the point of this Scripture verse. Rather, the point being made is about mankind’s lack of knowledge and understanding of everything, and everything God does.

Yes, knowledge has increased (it seems) over the years, but it is inarguable that the more we discover, is the more we discover how little we know. At CERN there is the world’s largest particle collider, built at great cost so that physicists can try to find signs of the Higg’s Boson… the so-called ‘God particle’ that ‘holds everything together’ (they should just read Colossians 1:17 instead!). Very little is known of the Higg’s Boson, and a few hundred years ago no one even knew we ‘needed’ to know about it.

Similarly, the more astronomers/cosmologists observe the universe, the more they realize how little of the universe we know (e.g., the universe ‘seems’ to be much heavier than they ‘thought’). And so on, and so on… for every field of science.

More simply, think of the child who learns to count to ten, soon that child learns there are more numbers than ten. He/she learns to count to twenty, then a hundred… then that child learns there are more numbers than he/she could ever count. The more we learn, the more we learn how much there is still to learn, how much we still don’t know.

That is the point of our text: Realize how much you don’t know and how much you don’t know what God is doing. It is only when we know that we don’t know that we will be in the position to exercise faith in God.  In a sense, faith begins at where human ‘knowledge’ ends.

In other words, to truly depend on God, we must first realize/acknowledge our grossly inadequate understanding. We must recognize that we know almost nothing of what is going on in the world (both physical and spiritual) around us.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” ~ Isaiah 55:9

In the book of Job, Job spends several chapters declaring his innocence (he was right) and God’s unfairness (he was wrong) for the truckload of problems that fell on him (sometimes trials come not because of something we did wrong, but because God wants to draw us even closer to Him; see 2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

“For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” ~ Psalm 36:9

It was when God confronted Job about Job’s lack of understanding that Job finally accepted that the (awful, terrible, mammoth) trial he was facing was not unfair, that God was still good and still just.

“Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said, Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.
Then Job answered the Lord, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further.” ~ Job 40:1-5

By the way, God never did tell Job what was going on. It wasn’t knowledge that Job needed to triumph through the trials he faced; it was faith that he needed: Faith in God, faith in God’s ultimate goodness and fairness.

We will only follow a leader that we believe knows more than us, otherwise we will go off on our own path because we believe we know better. Likewise, it is only when we accept God’s sovereign knowledge as superior (infinitely superior!) to our own that we will follow Him.

When we begin doubting God’s superior knowledge/wisdom then we will start faltering, we will seek our own way, our own solutions… just as Eve (and later Adam) did. All the serpent did was to cast doubt into Eve’s mind… and from doubt came deception… and once she was deceived, Eve went her own way, instead of God’s way (Genesis 3:1-6).

Our knowledge will fail us and deceive us, because we (even as Believers) only see partially (1 Corinthians 13:12). We have to rely instead on God’s knowledge, on His truth.

Most young children when placed in a new and scary situation cling to their parents. Why? because they intrinsically accept that their parents know how to protect them and navigate them safely through whatever new and scary situation they are facing.

Let us trust in Him whose ways are infinitely above ours, let us put our trust in The all wise, all knowing God. When the storms of life crash against us, let us look to Him. For He alone KNOWS how to carry us to safety.

“Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches:
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.” ~ Jeremiah 9:23-24

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