Knowledge and Knowing

Psalm 119:9–16; Isaiah 43:8–13; 2 Corinthians 3:4–16 (read online ⧉)

The predominant view in the Old Testament is that human holiness can only be obtained by thoroughly understanding and internalizing God’s ways can walk in concert with God. The psalmist discusses guarding one’s way, treasuring God’s word in one’s heart, seeking God whole-heartedly, meditating on God’s precepts, and delighting in his statues. While all of this is good, it still falls short, as it relies on our efforts and will.

It is human tendency to look side-to-side for a savior. It also often the case that people will pursue power over others claiming some sort of savior role. Both have been common throughout human history. However, sometimes a nation or people claim power over the way of the world. Today’s passage in Isaiah is an answer to those nations.

Prior to today’s passage, God (through Isaiah) had called the Israelites to task (as if on trial) for not being the spouse of God as they were called to be. Yet, now the Gentile nations were called before the judge (God), and Israel was now the witness against the Gentile nations. Called to witness against the other nations who the true power is in the world and in history.

What makes this passage particularly interesting is that the Israelites are being called to be witnesses not to judge the Gentiles, but so that they (the Israelites) know and believe God, and that God is their true savior. Here, God’s motivation isn’t to judge but to be known.

When Paul writes to the Corinthians, there is an echo of Isaiah’s blind and deaf comment. According to Paul, the non-Christian Jews have a veil over their minds. The law makes them, in a way, blind and deaf. Yet when they know God through Jesus Christ, the savior, they are no longer blind and deaf.

  1. Why is it, do you think, that hearing the law caused “a veil” to be over the Jews of Paul’s day?
  2. During church, group meetings (Sunday School, small group, life group), conversations in the world-at-large, do you ever experience “a veil”, shutting out others and even God?
  3. How does Jesus’ death on the cross change “the veils” we wear?