“I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes,” by Louis A. Dole

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“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.” – Luke 10:21

Readings

Ezekiel 39:17-29 · Luke 10:1-24 · Psalm 27

Sermon

When the Lord spoke the words of our text, He was rejoicing greatly in spirit. It is hard for some to understand how the Lord, if He were God, could rejoice at one time more than another, for they reason, “Is not the infinite unchangeable?”

God is unchangeable, but the human that He assumed from Mary was not. God as the soul of that human was unchangeable, but the human assumed could not be glorified, or made one with God, without great change. The human assumed was glorified by temptation combats, and when under temptation the Lord had suffered grief and pain in the human assumed, when the victory was gained He rejoiced in spirit, just as we do when passing from external states of temptation we come into internal states of peace. Thus the natural mind which the Lord assumed varied as to its states. He spoke the words of our text at a time when His spirits were elevated, for He rejoiced greatly in spirit.

There are times when we are so elevated that we see that the Lord’s ways are best, that the way the Lord reveals to us is much better than any way we devise. This may arise from the fact that at times we are lifted up to see in spiritual light, in a light that reconciles all our perplexities and hardships. At this time of the Lord’s rejoicing a new and intense light came into the natural mind that He was glorifying. He perceived even in the natural mind the wisdom and the fitness of that government which the Father within Him exercised over heaven and earth. He saw the perfection of the divine providence and rejoiced in its mercy and truth.

He tells something of His perception and discloses some of the reasons for His great joy when He says, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” The things that are hidden from those who are here called the wise and prudent are the things that are of God as distinguished from those that are of man and the world.

Often the Word represents the Lord as hiding himself. When the Lord showed himself to Moses, He said to him, “I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts, but my face shall not be seen.” Moses was taught openly by the Lord through heaven, but the Lord said that the time would come when, because of the evils of the people, He would “hide His face from them.” The Psalmist in distress cries: “How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?” We are told in Matthew that “the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field.” The promise to the church of Pergamos is “to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna.” And of the Lord at His coming it is written, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old.” And now at the time of our text He has just been uttering the promised dark sayings in parable, and He rejoices that their meaning is withheld from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes.

When the Lord was in the world the disciples came to Him and asked, “Why speakest thou unto them in parables?” And still men ask, “Why are not divine things clearly revealed? Why does not God clearly and fully reveal himself?”

He has given the answer: “That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand.”

But why should not all see? Why should not all understand? It was the reason for this that caused the Lord to rejoice so greatly in the wisdom and mercy of the Father. To know, to see, to understand the things that are of God brings the greatest joy and blessing possible to man if he humbly receives and does. But to see and understand and not to do brings the greatest condemnation. It is the condemnation of having every advantage and then not using it. It is the condemnation of having the most sacred trust confided, and then proving false to the trust. It is the condemnation of the betrayal of the truest friendship.

Let us try to see the gravity of the sin of knowing and not doing. Suppose the Lord should come to one, show him the blessed things of heaven, declare clearly to him His love and tenderness, disclose fully to him the holy gifts of His Spirit, and then the one to whom these disclosures were made should turn rudely and ungratefully away, telling the Lord that he did not want anything of Him. That is what a man does when he sees the things that are of God and does not love them and so live as to treasure them.

Suppose we should go in love to a person who was suffering and tell him of the sure way of relief, and he should see and acknowledge our love and that our way was true and then should say, “I do not want your love nor your care.” What would be our feelings? That is what those do to the Lord who see and do not do. This is the unpardonable sin; for when one sees and understands and then will not do, he has rejected everything, he has not even the innocence of ignorance. He then places himself beyond the help of the Lord, for what more can the Lord do? Therefore it is written, “Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

The Lord rejoiced because He saw the great mercy of the Father in hiding the things of His kingdom from those who were wise and prudent in their own eyes, because His doing so was the best thing He could do for them.

But who are the wise and prudent? It is not true wisdom and prudence that are here meant. The Lord hides, as it were, the holy things of himself from those who do not want them, because they would make no good use of the divine treasures; for He says of the day when men should have rejected Him: “I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.”

There is a vast amount that passes in the world today for wisdom that is not wisdom. Wisdom is not the ability to recite many things from the memory. One might know all that is taught in all the universities and yet have nothing of wisdom. The world calls such learning wisdom, and those who are skilled in science are also called wise. But there were wise men in the world before the sciences were developed. Wisdom is not the power of the reason whereby one may elaborately confirm his own opinions, but it is the ability to see and recognize the truths of the soul’s life and to love them. The wise from whom the things of the Lord are withheld are those who are wise in their own conceits, those who think they can discover the truth for themselves, and who do not look to the Lord as the source and revealer of all truth and the giver of all life. These so-called “wise” are those who exalt themselves above the Word and hold their opinions to be superior to its teachings. So far as we hold our way as better than the Lord’s way He must withhold His truth and life from us.

But to babes He reveals His truth. The babes are those who have a childlike character. The elements of this character are humility, innocence, and trust in parents. If man will look to the Lord as babes do to their parents, the Lord can reveal himself and the things that are of Him. Our relation to the Lord should be like the faith of little children in their parents. The parent sees what his child needs and provides it, and this much more wisely than the child could accomplish for himself. The Lord will provide perfectly for everyone who will have faith in Him and receive as wisdom gives.

This life from God, though given so freely, never becomes ours apart from Him. It lives in all who acknowledge Him and by keeping His commandments live in His ways and permit Him to live in them. Those in whom He thus lives feel His love and His life as their own and yet know it to be His. If the thought that it is not of the Lord should come in, heavenly life would languish in a moment, and we should be like him that is hungry and his strength faileth.

Heavenly life consists in states of humility, of good and gentle love, of the clear sense of truth, for these make the happiness of heaven.

“He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”
“And this is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”

Amen

Read the original sermon in PDF format

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