Deuteronomy 29:3-4. “Your eyes have seen all the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land. With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders. But to this day the LORD has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear.”
Exegesis and Application
This is an extraordinary couple of verses for it is here that Moses sets forth a Biblical historiography. That is, here is how human history is to be understood and interpreted: God revealed and directed. It is relatively easy (although less so as the Church becomes more ignorant of God’s word) for us at this distance and with the Bible in hand to see God’s hand at work in the history of the Church and humankind. If we read carefully we see God’s presence in the Church’s experience. However, for those Israelites living in the moment of the wilderness, it is too close for introspection. So the Old Testament Church needed constant reminding by Moses that they required instruction, insight, and faith in divine guidance to see Yahweh’s participation in their lives. God did not always act in miraculous fashion with “signs and great wonders.” Often it was just a mundane routine of living. So Moses is again encouraging the believers to have minds that understand and eyes that see and ears that hear God’s work among them (cf, Prov. 9:10). Indeed, if they don’t come to such an understanding of God’s presence, then the future will not be successful or pleasant.
Now a bit of specific exegesis. The phrase “the LORD has not given you” is typical of the Biblical way of understanding revealed truth. It is the creator God who enables Man’s understanding of the deeper things of existence. Paul refers to this in Romans 11:8 and it is taught in other Old Testament passages (Is. 6:9f; Jer. 1:17f; Ez. 3:4f). Just in case the Israelites thought this was no more than Moses’ critical opinion of them, Yahweh Himself interjects a comment in vs. 6 (“I did this so that you might know that I am the LORD your God.”) Later in the same speech Moses tells the Israelites, “The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul and live” (30:6). It is God who gives the capacity for spiritual knowledge and true faith. It is the unanswerable problem: How can the rebellious Israelites be blamed for their faithlessness if it is God who enables faith? Still, the revealed scriptures teach that we may see and hear but our hard hearts will prevent us from understanding. Nothing has changed in all these years.
Christian journalist, as you report on events in the world, remember that what you are seeing is divine rule in action. An explanation for the events may be undecipherable but what you are witnessing is not random and capricious chaos but rather a deliberate and logical outworking of God’s mind. There is hope in what you see and write about. It is also important to realize that no matter what you write, the spiritually blind will remain benighted since it is God who gives sight and understanding to causality in the world. A human acts in some way and the consequences will surely result, eventually, in predictable ways. God is not mocked and we can see all we want but we won’t understand unless granted insight by God in whom we have put our faith.