Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Not for God’s Secrets

By Maria Boccia, PhD
Professor of Pastoral Counseling and Psychology
Director of Graduate Programs in Counseling Charlotte campus

I was reading along in my Bible recently, and came across this verse:
“The Lord our God has secrets known to no one. We are not accountable for them, but we and our children are accountable forever for all that he has revealed to us, so that we may obey all the terms of these instructions.” (Deut 29:29)
It is a part of Moses’ final words to the people of Israel before he dies and they enter the Promised Land. It is a part of his final word reinforcing both the promises and the curses of the covenant God made with the people of Israel.
I have been thinking about this verse ever since I came across it. How cool is it that God does not require us to be responsible for everything! He has required only the things he has told us about! When I first read this verse, I was thinking about the questions that always come to mind in the face of suffering: Why, Lord?! It can be frustrating but it is also a mercy that this is one of God’s secret things. We are not in charge of the universe so we don’t have to worry about why. This could be a very difficult place however for someone in the face of apparently meaningless suffering. This is where our faith can hold us and give us peace. Because the Bible does reveal who God is, because his character is not a secret he has kept to himself, we can know that he is faithful and good and merciful and just and sovereign. In this knowledge, we can navigate the storms in our lives with confidence that God is in charge and whatever we are going through, he has a purpose for, and in this knowledge we can have peace and confidence.
But as I continued to think about this verse, it occurs to me that the most important thing that God has revealed for which we are accountable is that he sent his beloved Son to save us. Jesus said “you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about me” (John 5:39). When Paul preached at Berea, we are told that the listeners examined the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so (Acts 17:11). We can have confidence that we will find the truth about Jesus there because that is the purpose of Scripture. So, according to this verse in Deuteronomy, what we are responsible for is knowing Jesus and, in knowing him, have eternal life. Thank you, Lord, that this is what you require of me!
We recently had a dust-up because claims have been made once again about the end of time and the return of Jesus and his judgment of the world. May 21 past without a ripple. I expect October 21 to do the same. Jesus said of his second coming, “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the father alone” (Matthew 24: 36). Before he returned to the father, he reiterated the point, “is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7). Jesus’ return is one of God’s secrets. Because of this assertion by Jesus, whenever I hear announcements about his return, I feel assured that whatever date is proposed is wrong! If we keep these things in mind, we will not be led astray by false prophets. We can stay on track with God’s intentions by paying attention to what he has revealed and not trying to figure out what he has decided to keep secret. This is the way to live at peace and in the confidence that God is in charge, and that the Lord of all the universe will do what is right and good and just.

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