The people in Jesus' day were living in the presence of Immanuel and refused to believe it. What God was doing for them was far greater than what happened to David, Jonah and to Solomon. Four times Jesus used the phrase "One greater than," once for John the Baptist and three times about Himself. All four had to do with the arrival of God's Son, as the "Messiah." In spite of the miracles, Jesus was performing, the leaders demanded more evidence that He had a mission from God. Jesus was not playing the role of Moses or of David. Instead, He was proclaiming a kingdom and a way of life that did not engage in hatred or in war. The concepts of freedom and deliverance that Jesus offered bore no similarity to the Exodus and to David's exploits. His own followers began to doubt and demanded to know, "Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?"
News is disturbing and so are the interpretations regarding of our time. Every generation has faced difficulties that wished that Christ were on his way back. In Jesus' own days, He had to correct His followers, "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it" (Mt.24: 23). The reason being that these occurrences shall be counter messianic. False leaders with falsified performances would confuse and mislead the people. Every generation has had such leaders and their accomplishments history verifies. They also had religious interpreters that turned guesswork into unfulfilled promises that the Lord would return in their generation. They neglect to warn their contemporaries that death actually fulfills that promise.
The assumption that Proverbs 29: 18 was about a vision is incorrect. What the people needed was a leader that understood the law of God. The King James Bible has: "Where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keeps the law, happy is he." The translator cross-referenced the vision with the Seer Samuel (I Sam.3: 1). The INV supplies us with the word "revelation," the RSV used "prophecy" and the NEB has "no one in authority." What was Solomon trying to tell his readers or listeners?
Moses complained, "But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear" (Deut.29: 4). This was after the miraculous deliverance from Egyptian slavery. Moses came to the conclusion that unless the Lord opens a mind, it stays shut. Isaiah went a step farther. The Lord does not interfere with the person that deliberately closes his/her mind: "Loiter and be dazed, enjoy yourselves and be blinded, be drunk but not with wine, reel but not with strong drink; for the Lord has poured upon you a spirit of deep stupor (sleep); he has closed your eyes, the prophets, and muffled your heads, the seers" (Isa.29: 9-10, NEB). Mental blindness resulted in the dissolution of the Ten Tribes or Northern Israel.
We were about to receive communion, when our pastor reminded us that we had to be right with the Lord in order to be worthy participants. He stressed a personal relationship with Jesus. When I was an active pastor, I, too, used a similar approach and stressed Paul's caution (I Cor.11: 17-34). On our way home, the question hit me, "How can I be right with God who cannot be reached physically?" I was challenged to re-examine my relationship with Christ and there was a missing link between us. Yes, Christ stands between God and man; but, who stands between Christ and me? Is there someone that can hinder my relationship with Christ? The answer is a "Big Yes!"
Experience is the best teacher. At least this is what we learn from King David in Psalm 103. We, too, like his confession because we too have come to believe that we cannot help being or doing what we are. In spite of our transgressions, "He (God) does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us for our iniquities." And "as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us" (Ps.103: 10,12).
The wise Salomon wrote, "Buy the truth and do not sell it" (Prov.23: 23). Isaiah added, "Truth is nowhere to be found" (59: 14). Jeremiah moaned, "Truth has perished; it has vanished from their lips" (7: 28). We all seem to move in circles. We treat "truth" in a round about way. Perceptions and concoctions are being advocated as facts. We no longer bother to find the source of what ails us. My youngest brother was a year and a half, while playing with his sisters, dislocated his hip. He felt pain when he stepped on his foot; hence, he pointed at the ankle and the knee. By the time the source of the pain was identified, the hip had deteriorated and my brother was crippled for life. That is precisely what we are doing to the truth. We take for granted that the "problem" is the truth and not the "source" of the problem. We assume that we are on the side of truth; when in reality, we believe in an illusion. Where do we begin testing the "illusions" that are replacing "truth?"
In some religious circles, God or His Spirit is not likely to speak to the educated. God focuses on the heart and not on a person's standing in the world (I Sam.16: 7). That is why God chooses the humble and rejects the proud (Ja. 4: 6). A person of no earthly standing can assume leadership in an emotionally psyched congregation (I Cor.1: 26). Actually, heart theology is a slap in the face of head theology and for a good reason.