Behold! Ignorance

Behold! Ignorance

Behold! Ignorance.

There are some individual words and short phrases in Scripture that need to be highlighted as they are read, words or phrases that are significant or point to something meaningful. Some phrases might be: Fear not. Here I am. Woe to you. One another.   And maybe some words are: AmenHallelujahBlessedAbba. Come.  The word Behold! is one of those significant words, an exclamation that is intended to get our attention. Listen, people, this is something you need to hear! Behold says to the audience, Look at this and take note! You would be wise to remember these words and think about them! Careful now, don’t be deaf to what I am about to say! Stop what you’re doing and listen up! As the Eastern Orthodox Christians say before they read the Gospel in the Liturgy… Attend! The following verse begins with Behold! So the words that follow must be important.

Behold! I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder. I will once again astound these hypocrites with amazing wonders. For the wisdom of their wise ones shall perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will disappear. The understanding of their prudent ones shall be hidden. The wise ones who had it all figured out will be exposed as fools.  The smart people who thought they knew everything will turn out to know nothing at all. Behold! Pay attention to these words! (Isaiah 29:14).

God’s pronouncement here is begging for context. The Lord seems disgusted with His Chosen People in Jerusalem, but why? Isaiah is laying down the law, speaking the words of the Lord, but for what reason? Isaiah has plenty to say just before and after this word, God’s judgment on the wise. The Lord charged them with honoring Him with their lips while their hearts are far from Him. The people draw near to God with their mouths in worship, but are not even close to Him in their hearts. Their worship of Yahweh is all based on man-made rules that are presented as if they were God-made. They are all hypocrites, says the Lord, who actually remain disobedient to Me while claiming intimacy with Me. But what sorrow awaits them, says the Lord. Isaiah exclaims that the people are foolish enough to think they can hide their plans from God, who knows everything. They are ignorant enough to think they can do their evil deeds in the dark and remain convinced that the Lord can’t see them. They think that the Lord doesn’t even know what’s going on! How foolish can you be? And to think these are the wise ones of Jerusalem! Behold! Consider these charges of the Lord.

Isaiah’s powerful words here turned out to be a reference point for St. Paul, and was prophetic in a mighty way. What was the “marvelous work” Isaiah referred to? What were these “amazing wonders?” The wonderful work of God eventually was revealed to be a Person, Jesus Christ. He is the amazing work, He is the One who causes “the wisdom of the wise ones to perish.” As St. Paul put it in 1 Cornithians 1:18-25, 30 “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.’ So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. Since God in His wisdom saw to it that the world would never know Him through human wisdom, He has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser that the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength… For our benefit, God made Christ to be wisdom itself. Christ made us right with God; He made us pure and holy; He freed us from sin.”