Make Their Hearts Dull.

I just finished up Acts which concluded with Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 6:9-10. I find this one of the most puzzling verses.

Isaiah 6:9-10 9 And he said, “Go, and say to this people:

“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
    and their ears heavy,
    and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
    and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
    and turn and be healed.”

The first few times I encountered this verse, I was sure I misunderstood it or that it was a misprint. Look at it closely. It’s an exhortation to preach so they audience WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND! It’s not that the message wouldn’t heal them, because God says that it will, “lest they….turn and be healed.” Clearly, the gospel isn’t effective with some and ineffective with others; it’s effective with ALL.

No, something happens to them when they hear the gospel. This quotation is important because it shows up in all four Gospels as well as Acts and Romans. It’s a BIG piece to the puzzle of understanding our faith.

In fact, it’s a huge issue because we see Jesus using parables with regard to this passage.

Matthew 13:34 34 All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable.

Jesus was intentional about this. Why? Digest this:

Matthew 13:10-17 10 Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:

“‘“You will indeed hear but never understand,
    and you will indeed see but never perceive.”
15 For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and with their ears they can barely hear,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
    and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
    and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17 For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The gospel message is hidden from some and only revealed to a few. The message will heal all, so it was hidden so that it wouldn’t. The secrets of the kingdom have not been given to them.

That’s what it says, folks. Twist it any way you want, but that’s what it says. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, and Romans all discuss this passage from Isaiah.

That’s not what we are taught in most churches. We’re taught to share the gospel, that people will understand if only they will allow themselves to. Yet, here, we see that it is God’s intention that some DON’T hear and understand. Otherwise, all we would have to do is keep sharing the gospel until they did and everyone will be in heaven.

There are answers to this, good answers, if only one is willing to let the bible speak for itself. Isaiah 6:9-10 is a good place to start. But first, let it mess with your head. Study it. Spend time thinking over these verses. Look up the passages in the New Testament and see how all of this is intertwined. It’s there, so it needs to be dealt with properly.

Father, I really enjoy these verses that make us sit up straight and pay attention. There is so much to learn! Amen.

Copyright © 2021 Scott Powers

Photo by Johannes Krupinski on Unsplash

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