Beyond What We Can See

Dec 6, 2019

“And he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears.”
-Isaiah 11:3

If you are a parent of multiple children, you know the weariness that comes over you when your children begin to fight. Maybe it’s a shout from the other room or some kind of argument back and forth. You may feel compelled to see what’s going on, maybe even to try to solve the problem. But it turns out this is actually a trap because the kids will assail you with every circumstance that led to the fight. Every slight and minor insult will be recounted, and you find yourself making a broad ruling because you simply cannot comprehend all of the different things that went into the fight. The truth is that even though the original conflict might have been pointless, we didn’t see everything that happened. We never have a full picture.

Humans will always have a limited perspective. We have limited access to limited information, and while we imagine that our senses would never betray us, seeing and hearing something is not as reliable as we believe. This shortcoming can create small conflicts like children fighting, but it can also result in grievous errors and injustice. Our lack of perspective can have reverberating effects throughout our whole lives. It is sobering to think that we are only able to do the best we can and be ready to make corrections when the limits of our perspective are clear to us.

As the prophet Isaiah looked forward to the coming redeemer of Israel, he said that “he will not judge by what he sees with his eyes” or “what he hears with his ears.” When we read this passage that phrase can seem shocking, because of our trust in our senses. But there is also comfort to be found in a savior who looks beyond what is merely observable. We need a savior who sees every component of evil, the causes and the consequences in all their nuance.

The first ten verses of Isaiah 11 explain the result of this perfect sense of justice. In verse 4, we read that there will be “justice for the poor of the earth.” Verse 5 describes how righteousness and faithfulness will be the very clothes that he wears. In a deeply poetic line, he even shares how predators and their prey will be at peace in verses 6-7. The “way things are” no longer applies. Everything has been transformed.

And most remarkably, we will be transformed as well. In verse 10, Isaiah shares a message of hope for his audience of fallible humans. “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.” In this season of Advent, we live in anticipation of God’s transforming justice, and the transformation that it creates in each of us.

Listed On:

Nate Owens

Nate Owens served as the Communications Coordinator of the Church of the Nazarene Asia-Pacific in a tandem role with his wife Hope Owens. The whole family is an avid fan of board games.

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