Chapter # 11 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
August 4, 2009
7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.
1901 ASV Translation
7 What then? that which Israel seeketh for, that he obtained not; but the election obtained it, and the rest were hardened:
8 according as it is written, God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this very day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, And a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, And bow thou down their back always.
- I. Paul's "Conclusion", Part II.
- A. "...the rest were blinded."
- 1. The Textus Receptus has the same text for this word as the UBS Nestle/Aland 27, but the translators of the AV opted for "blinded" even though the word is tied to "hardened" as in "made like stone". Apparently they decided that the underlying concept of "making insensible" (Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon) was better communicated by "blinded" (bringing the metaphor of eyes that cannot see into the picture) than by "hardened" (bringing the metaphor of a stone into the picture). This rationale is denied by their own translation of John 12:40 wherein they could not impose "blindness" upon their readers because that concept is actually found there in other words in conjunction with the biblical concept of a "hardened heart". Thus, the ASV translation of "hardened" is better suited to the meaning.
- 2. The question of "hardening" is this: did God actually do something outside of the normal cause/effect processes, or is He simply given credit for the act because He set up those normal processes? If God imposed "effect" upon "cause", He is ultimately responsible for imposing the effects even if He actually did nothing in addition to that imposition. On the other hand, God sometimes does respond to men with additional, particular actions as opposed to those actions that are built into the way He set creation up. The Deists argued that God simply set the processes up and never "added" anything to them. The Mystics argued that God does not set up processes, but is personally active in every event so that nothing is done except by His direct involvement. And somewhere between these extremist positions is the reality that God, by the creation of creatures, personal and impersonal, has, to some degree, "set things up to function without His direct input". If this were not so, it would be deceptive for us to be told that "Pharoah hardened his heart" (Exodus 8:15) and that "God hardened Pharoah's heart" (Exodus 7:13). The fact is that the creation functions by both direct and special divine input, and indirect divine input that is administered by created "agents" who have stewardships of "ability" granted by God but not dictated by Him.
- B. "...just as it stands written..."
- 1. The first "quote" is actually not found in the Septuagint. It appears to be a "theological paraphrase" that encompasses texts like Isaiah 29:10. Paul's argument is that the Scriptures teach that God actually "gives" a spirit of enhanced dullness so that eyes cannot see and ears cannot hear. This is not at all unlike Romans 1:28 where Paul declares that God "reacted" to the decisions of men. This doctrinal declaration is one of divine reaction, not established processes.
- a. The claim is that God gave "a spirit of slumber". That this is a "spirit" means that the body is dominated by it. That it is "asleep" indicates a metaphor in which the "spirit" is not receiving the inputs typically associated with being awake. Things are being done, words are being spoken, significant events are taking place, but the "spirit" is unaware.
- b. That the "spirit" is asleep leads directly to the next claim: the eyes do not see and the ears do not hear. The "impressions" of light and sound may, or may not, be making their typical impact upon the eyes and ears, but the sensations that are typically received by the brain and analyzed and interpreted and assigned "meaning" are going unreceived. The functions of the various parts of the body are being isolated and left hanging. This claim is a primary reason for not translating the verb "blinded" because that translation ignores the "hearing". The spirit has been cut off from its normal sources of information by which it acts.
- 2. The second "quote" is actually from Psalm 69:22. In that Psalm the issue is the terrible treatment David has been given by those who hate him and his reaction is to ask God to pay them back. In other words, the issue is the divine reaction to the actions taken by men.
- a. An interesting element of Psalm 69 is that it contains the claim that "they gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (verse 21). This, according to Matthew 27:34, was done to Jesus, but His reaction was a good bit different from that recorded of David. Jesus, according to Luke 23:34, asked the Father to "forgive" them. Here, then, we have the two issues before us: "the elect" get the "forgiveness" of Grace, and "the rest" are "hardened" according to Justice. Both "prayers" are answered. Neither "prayer" was "better" or "worse" than the other. Revelation 6:10 reveals that one of the issues of the saints in heaven is David's issue. Because Jesus commanded His disciples to "pray for them who despitefully use you" (Matthew 5:44), "Christianity" has exalted the attitude of Jesus and (wrongly) denigrated that of David.
- 1) It is true that prayers for "vengeance" are more easily expressed by the merciless so that those who are inclined to pray them need to be clear on "why" they are so inclined, but it is also true that there is a legitimate place for vengeance in God and those who are like Him.
- 2) Jesus' words regarding prayer for one's enemies are not the only words about how to deal with enemies. They introduce a needful "balance", but do not insist upon an ungodly exclusion of "the other side of the issue".
- b. David's requests.
- 1) His first request is that their "table" will become a snare, a trap, a stumbling stone, and a place of recompence.
- 2) His second request is that their eyes will be darkened.
- 3) His third request is that their backs will be bent "through all" (the translators assume the "all" is time; thus, "always").
- 3. It is interesting that the vast majority of those who reject the concept of divine election of some unto Life do so with the accusation that "It is not fair" when, in fact, all of the biblical evidence is that God is being exactly that in regard to those "not elected". Election is of Grace; non-election is of Justice. Both are from God and reflect truth about God. It is only fallen man who insists upon one instead of the other. Fallen man is, by definition, "out of balance" and predisposed to run to excess.