Deuteronomy 29:29

‘The secret things belong to Yahweh our God;
but the things that are revealed belong to us’
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

None of us can know everything. Besides, some things are even beyond our ability to comprehend. We learn who to trust in areas beyond our expertise or ability. Some ‘things’, especially regarding life, reality and the universe etc., are known only to God. With such things we must, like even the apostle Paul, simply exclaim ‘Oh the depth… past tracing out’(Romans 11:33, cf. Job 38:1ff., etc.). Thankfully God is perfectly reliable, so we can certainly trust Him with such matters – our heavenly Father. Often a simple childlike trust regarding these ‘things’(Psalm 131:1ff.), in humility, is how we must proceed, leaving many deep mysteries to His infinite wisdom and control. However, there are other ‘things that are revealed’, for us to investigate, understand, and most importantly – live by. These ‘things… belong to us’ and we’d do well to pay attention.

The obvious first place to look is God’s ‘written’(Romans 15:4) word – Holy Scripture (the Bible). There we’ll find ‘all things that pertain to life’(2 Peter 1:3) that we really need to know about, recorded by individuals inspired by God’s ‘Holy Spirit’(2 Peter 1:21), such that what they wrote is able to make us ‘wise for salvation’(2 Timothy 3:15) and is useful ‘for teaching… reproof… correction, and… instruction in righteousness, that each person who belongs to God may be complete, thoroughly equipped’(2 Timothy 3:16-17). God’s written word is ‘perfect, [for] restoring the soul… making wise the simple… enlightening the eyes’(Psalm 19:7-8ff.) etc.

However, as that psalm opens, there’s also much to observe in creation, which rightly perceived should similarly open our eyes to ‘the glory of God’(Psalm 19:1ff.), for ‘the invisible things of Him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even His everlasting power and divinity’(Romans 1:20).

So ‘revealed things’ come to us through God’s creation as well as His word, which should match in what they tell us – if rightly understood, never being in contradiction, rather harmony, singing the praises of the author of both. However, apparent discrepancies sometimes arise, either because we haven’t yet grasped the wonders of God’s creation correctly, or we’ve misunderstood the subtlety of some truths in His word. This is to be expected, since both can be ‘hard to understand’(2 Peter 3:16) or rightly ‘know’(Job 38:33) with full clarity.

Some things are specifically not for us ‘“to know”’(Acts 1:7) – not even Jesus ‘“the Son, but only the Father”’(Mark 13:32), even though they are ‘“one”’(John 10:30; Deuteronomy 6:4) – a profound mystery in itself (to do with God’s ‘revealed’ yet enigmatic Trinity). Some such things ‘we see… dimly’(1 Corinthians 13:12) for now, comprehending up to a point. However, there’s much that God’s word simply doesn’t address. For example, we don’t know what Jesus looked like, except Isaiah’s prophetic hint that He wouldn’t have physical ‘good looks’(Isaiah 53:2), and we know very little about His first 30 years, before He ‘began to teach’(Luke 3:23), because the latter is the Bible’s agenda and perspective. There’s much of historical or general interest that scripture doesn’t cover in any detail, in particular matters of science, which are not its purpose – key to realise. Rather, such things become clearer as we explore, investigate, and develop the ‘“earth”’(Genesis 1:28), as God has commanded us to do. Even so, our scientific models are constantly being refined and even completely change over time; and no doubt some things will always remain beyond our comprehension.

Interestingly, the original readers of this study verse had only the first five books of the Bible to ‘diligently’(Deuteronomy 6:7) study and obey, and obviously their society was much less technologically advanced than ours is today. Later, even ‘the prophets’(1 Peter 1:10ff.) didn’t know as much as Peter’s subsequent New Testament readers. Even as individuals we progress from ‘milk’(1 Peter 2:2) to ‘meat’(1 Corinthians 3:2) with ‘wisdom’(1 Corinthians 2:6) in our understanding of God’s word, alongside other things more generally.

Nevertheless, the point here is that although there remains much that we don’t know, even shrouded in deep mystery, there’s also much that’s clear and has been ‘revealed’ to us, by God’s providence and grace. Even more importantly we have a responsibility to respond: ‘now is the day of salvation’(2 Corinthians 6:2), and obey: it’s ‘not too hard… [n]or too distant… very near… do it’(Deuteronomy 30:11-14) – we’re all ‘without excuse’(Romans 1:20) in that sense.

However, since there’s so much we don’t know about the deep things of God and His creation, we must remain humble, especially when it comes to ‘disputes over opinions’(Romans 14:1) regarding things that remain unclear.

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