Reading through that wonderful last book of the Bible, Revelation, I was reminded of this interesting incident in John’s vision:
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven [who] called out with a loud voice, like a lion roaring. When he called out, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.” (from Rev.10:1-4)
How fascinating! What did John hear? And why should he be forbidden to write it down? Why tell us that he heard something but then add that he is not allowed to tell us? Why not just cut this bit out? What is this doing in the Bible?
Maybe it is to remind us that we are people, not God; creatures, not the Creator. There are things—
innumerable things—that he knows but we do not. Thank him for that!
A couple of times I have preached a sermon entitled ‘The blessedness of not needing to know everything.’ Imagine the horror of knowing everything. Imagine if we knew the date of our death, for example. Imagine if we knew exactly what other people were thinking. And we could go on. A world in which we knew everything, and in which sin still dwelt, would be a living nightmare.
On the other hand, imagine our God not knowing everything. Imagine him watching over us, caring for us, guiding us, but never 100% sure of the outcome. I think of our verse for the year—“I will build my church”—and having to add, “at least, we hope so”! What blessedness that our God does know everything.
He knows everything. We do not. But—and this is crucial—we do know some things. In fact, we know all that we need to know. One of my favourite Bible verses is Deuteronomy 29:29—
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
There are secret things that belong to God alone. As I have indicated, what a relief. But, wonderfully, there are things revealed that belong to us, and that we can pass on—why?—so that we can ‘do all the words of this law’. That is, because we have God’s revelation in the Bible, we can find salvation, know God and live for him in this world and with him for ever.
So maybe if I preach that sermon again I will retitle it, ‘The blessedness of not needing to know everything, but knowing enough.’ Sounds a bit clumsy, but surely a blessing indeed.
Your brother in Christ