Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance…” (Proverbs 1:5 ESV)
This month I finally got around to watching the TV series The Chosen, which got a lot of attention when quarantine began last year. It’s an immensely detailed and well-thought-out series based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, and I wasn’t sure how great it’d be until I watched it! There was something that struck me particularly deeply in episode 6. The character Nicodemus (who is canonically in the Bible) is troubled by John the Baptist’s arrival and his possible connections to prophecies of the Torah. He discusses this with a fellow Pharisee, Shmuel (a fictional supporting character created by the director). What follows is an exchange between the two men: Nicodemus is curious about what God may be doing and open to His miraculous nature; Shmuel rigidly adheres to what he is certain of based on the Torah. Shmuel believes John is a heretic, appropriating the prophecies of the Christ from Isaiah 40:3-5 and placing them on Jesus to claim he is the Christ. But Nicodemus sees it the other way around: John is fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, as the voice who comes to announce the arrival of the Christ.
What struck me about this conversation between Nicodemus and Shmuel was something I felt could be directly applied to Christians’ every day faith walks. Shmuel cited the Torah to defend his position, believing God could not take human form because the Torah never says He could– which is very valid. Nicodemus looks at him seriously and asks, “So you would place limits on the Almighty?” Shmuel was so right to test anything that did not seem to line up with the word of God (Paul later instructs us to do the same in 1 Thess. 5:20-21), but Nicodemus healthily challenged him to deepen his faith by seeing God rightly as capable of doing incredible new things. Nicodemus continues, “And if God did something that you felt contradicted the Torah, would you tell Him to get back in that…box you have carved for Him? Or would you question your interpretation of the Torah?” Shmuel almost sounds hurt as he tells Nicodemus that he knew all his teachings as a student and is uncomfortable with the fact that it doesn’t seem he’s able to predict his rulings anymore. But Nicodemus immediately returns with the phrase “we are still students”.
And how true is that? Do we ever stop learning all there is to learn about God? Would we still be going to church and reading the scriptures if we’d already found out everything there is to know about God? Should we stick only to what we know and become afraid to let our understanding be challenged, stretched, and subsequently deepened? Definitely not! I’ve found that many people lose a lot of the desire to go deeper into their knowledge of God once they find a firm understanding of the Gospel. But the Gospel isn’t just the first four books of the New Testament, it’s the whole biblical narrative—because the whole Bible points back to Jesus. There is so much there before the Gospels that illuminates Jesus’ life and places it in context with God’s plan of salvation! But, at the same time, there is a reason we are always learning as Christians. We should want to know God more because we love Him, but we’ll never reach an end of that learning because God is above our understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). After all, Deut. 29:29 explains there are “secret things” belonging only the Lord, and Ecclesiastes 3:11 reveals that man cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. These verses communicate that while God created us with the capability of being immensely intelligent, we have a limited understanding of Him. And if our understanding of Him is not complete…we will always be students until we see him face to face.
But this is a fascinating and beautiful journey to be on. Like the character of Shmuel, we can believe something for our whole lives and then be challenged to find that perhaps we were missing the mark. And when we find this, we’ll need to search out God’s truth with faith that He’ll lead us there. God desires for us to know and love Him, so we must always commit to being students of His—always being willing to “hear and increase in learning” (Proverbs 1:5). How much greater of a love will we grow for God if our prayers are full of requests to know Him more? For God to break down our misconceptions? To build up new understanding? To build in us the desire to go even deeper into the word and heart of the Lord, to learn and know Him even more? I’m encouraging you today to ask these things of the Lord so you may know Him more, and begin to see the Word as a continual source of learning and wonder as a lifelong student of the Word!
Isabella is a recent college graduate in the field of music education with a passion for helping kids find their creativity and identity through music. You can listen to any of our Bible studies by tuning in to your favorite radio station, listening to our podcasts on our website or iTunes, or listening through TuneIn, Stitcher, or Spotify online radio. You may also watch us on YouTube!