“The wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ ” 1 Corinthians 2:8-9
The apostle Paul is moved by the Spirit to quote from the book of Isaiah in his discourse on the wisdom of God versus man’s wisdom, in particular the wisdom of those who had crucified the Lord of glory, the Roman Governor in unison (some would say by manipulation) with the Jewish religious leadership.
The Old Testament quote is found in chapter sixty-four, verse four: “For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, neither has the eye seen a God besides Thee, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” (NAS) Let’s first consider the context of the inspired writings of Isaiah from which the Spirit moves Paul to quote. In the preceding verses of chapter sixty-three (vss 15-19), the prophet Isaiah is looking prophetically to the appearing of the LORD as their Redeemer, to “return for the sake of Thy servants, the tribes of Thy heritage” (vs 17), delivering His people from their adversaries by demonstration of His “mighty deeds” (vs 15). The prophet yearns for the LORD to appear, rending the heavens (Isa. 64:1), manifesting His presence and mighty deeds, all these things designed to “make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at Thy presence.” (Isa. 64:2) Isaiah, through the Spirit, then recalls events at Mount Sinai, when God had appeared among His people, “When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect,” and “the mountains quaked at Thy presence.” (Isa. 64:3) The point of the context is to remind the tribes of His heritage that the LORD had liberated His enslaved people from the greatest physical power on earth at that time, Egypt. Through awesome miracles never before seen or expected and His continued presence, He caused nations to tremble at His power while ultimately delivering His people into the promised land. It is upon this previous context that verse four is appended. The general sense of verse four then is this, God’s manifestations previously of Himself, His power, and His mercy to His people, were beyond comprehension of anything man had ever seen or heard previously. The history of Yahweh and His past dealings with His people had been prepared for those who love Him, who would wait on Him to deliver them yet again. Once more He would do awesome things which the people did not expect. In Christ Jesus this is exactly what happened. He left His heavenly home, he returned for the sake of His servants, the tribes of His inheritance, appearing among men in the flesh. He did awesome things which the people didn’t expect. Not just the miracles, but the offering of Himself on the cross in order to deliver His people from the power of the devil:
“Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Heb. 2:14-15) Having died, the mountains quaked once more as Matthew notes: “And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, and the earth shook; and the rocks were split, and the tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;” (Matt 27:50-52) At His resurrection another earthquake occurred (Matt. 28:2) All His mighty deeds were designed to make known His name before His adversaries, that they may tremble and revere Him. Brethren, it’s not like the rulers couldn’t understand the things of Jesus, they could! Everything concerning Jesus -from His birth, His life, His ministry, His death by crucifixion and His resurrection and exaltation to the throne in heaven had been prepared and foretold by the LORD in Old Testament prophecy. All these prophecies demonstrated through the Scriptures that Jesus was indeed the Christ. The Bible, containing the plan of God through Jesus, demonstrates His wisdom, and what He has prepared for those who wait on Him. No more spiritual slavery or fear of death, just the promise of leading us to our heavenly home in His presence always. Amen.