Friday, June 17, 2011


    A musician whom I greatly respect often said that the best notes played in a composition are often the notes unplayed.  Understatement rather than overstatement on the part of the player or singer usually produces the most beautiful music, although the listener is completely unaware of the missing sounds that enhance his enjoyment.
    "And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son" (Genesis 22:9-10).
    The Bible is the most understated document in existence.  For every word or fact it provides in accounts such as the offering of Isaac by Abraham, untold volumes could be written to fill in the blank spaces.  Precious little discourse between a father and son called to the most profound act of devotion inform our curiosity.  We aren't told of Abraham's emotions as he took his son into the mount of sacrifice.  No record of resistance or acquiescence on Isaac's part speak to us from the pages of Genesis.  The most bare bones accounting of so great an event presents itself, and we are left with far more wondering than understanding.  We do know from other Scriptures that Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead, and that the "work" of offering his son was a necessary expression of faith and devotion in Abraham's experience of his Lord (Hebrews 11:19; James 2:21-23).  Nevertheless much is seemingly missing from the Biblical record that any engaged reader would love to know if given the opportunity.
     The Divine author of Scripture has no interest in merely titillating with us tidbits, or fascinating us with facts.  The Bible rather provides "doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16).  Truth shines "in the face of Jesus Christ" for the purpose of conforming us to His image (II Corinthians 4:6; II Corinthians 3:18).  We are on a "need to know" basis, and what we need to know involves only that which makes us "wise unto salvation" in both the saving and sanctifying sense (II Timothy 3:15).  Anything more would distract us at best, and stimulate our flesh with carnal entertainment at worst. 
    Mark Twain once said that the things he couldn't understand in the Bible didn't concern him very much.  "It's what I do understand that troubles me" confessed Twain.  Thankfully, the Scripture that "troubles" us also redeems and comforts us as we approach God's Word in confidence of its perfection, and in the humility that seeks its power to change by revealing to our hearts the living Christ.  An understated Bible therefore provides a focused laser beam of light whereby the trusting heart sees precisely the Truth it needs.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  Nothing else.
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
(Deuteronomy 29:29)

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