Monday, 7 October 2013
Just as it is written:
“God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day. Romans 11:8
The previous verse noted that the elect had obtained what the majority had missed because they were blinded. To support this, Paul reaches again to Scripture which prophesied these things in advance. He begins with, “Just as it is written…” Though this is not a direct quote, it holds the same intent and sentiment of his citations. These are from the following verses found in Deuteronomy and Isaiah –
“Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.” Deuteronomy 29:4
“For the Lord has poured out on you The spirit of deep sleep, And has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.” Isaiah 29:10
Understanding these references, Paul states that “God has given them…” It is God who is both in control of all things and who knows the end from the beginning. He knows the wickedness of the heart of man and their propensity for turning from Him. Saying, “God has given them” doesn’t necessarily mean God actively did this, but that the action could have occurred passively. God gives the law; the people ignorantly turn from the law on their own accord because they find it offensive; God said it would happen and therefore it can be stated “God has given them.”
A perfect example of this today is the complete turning away from God’s fixed and unchanging laws in the church. Homosexual marriage, for example, has now been condoned in many major denominations and others are running toward the same pulpit of perversion to join in the debauchery. They have been given what they desired by their own wicked inclinations. They hear, but they don’t understand and they see but they don’t perceive. Jesus speaks this way about Israel in Matthew 13:10-17.
The state which God has given them is first called “a spirit of stupor.” Here is the only use of the word katanyxeōs in the New Testament. The word specifically indicates a violent strike; the figurative intent then is the stunned bewilderment which happens after such a strike, as if “seeing stars.” The word of God is direct and poignant. It relates absolute truth and often it is so directed at the sins of those who read it that it cuts to the deepest seat of emotion.
When this happens, it can affect a great change in the soul who so desperately wants to be free of the addiction or perversion which is pointed out. But the opposite is also true. Some who are confronted with the direct and unwavering truth of Scripture mentally cut off the assault as if it were a ridiculous lie. When this happens, the one so assailed will attempt to diminish the truth of what was read by downplaying the divine source of the words; making personal exceptions for what is stated; outright rejection of God because of what they feel is “unfair”; etc. Instead, a “spirit of stupor” sets in.
Along with this come “eyes that they should not see.” A spirit of stupor will immediately cloud one’s vision of what is right. A sad example of this is still seen in the people of Israel today. They have twice been exiled for disobedience. During the second dispersion, which began in AD70, there were 2000 years of calamity. Whose fault was this? If one reads and accepts the words of Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, then there can only be one acceptable answer – the wounds were self-inflicted. But their eyes will not allow the message to reach into the heart. Instead of acceptance, there is projection of the fault in outward directions.
Even when told by others that God’s word is true and is to be taken at face value, there is no understanding because they have also been given “ears that they should not hear.” The stupor blocks out the information. There is a stubborn refusal to acknowledge personal guilt and personal responsibility. And this has been going on, according to Scripture, for 3500 years. Moses told them of their attitude, Isaiah and the other prophets repeated it, and the New Testament continues on as a witness to it, even “to this very day.”
Only when a person is willing to remove the blinders and acknowledge that they are part of the problem and not a part of the solution will they see Scripture for what it truly is – God’s word. It is truthful, predictive, unchanging, and mixed with warnings of wrath for disobedience and favor for obedience. God is God, we are humans. Until we accept Him at His word, there will only be resistance leading to a spirit of stupor.
Life application: Though Paul is speaking of Israel’s spirit of stupor, blindness, and deafness, this same state applies to any who look at God’s word and then dismiss a portion or all of it as unreliable. A perfect example of this is the ordination of women to become pastors. Scripture prohibits women from teaching or having authority over men (1 Timothy 2:12). However, this is rejected, not based on any reasonable defense, but because of a spirit of stupor. Whatever the word says has been given by God. He is God, we are humans. We must accept His word, lest we be found to fight against Him.
Lord God, if I were to take Your word, in context and at face value, would I be in compliance with it today? My hope, desire, and aim is to be pleasing to You, but how can I be unless I am obedient to what You state? Help me Lord, from this day forward, to learn and then properly apply Your word to my life. Take away the spirit of stupor and open my eyes to the absolute truth and surety of Your word. To Your glory I pray. Amen.