Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Gems From Jonathan Edwards: The World By Wisdom Knew Not God

Idolatry and Ignorance Are Conjoined--And Ever Will Be

Jonathan Edwards
The History of Redemption

One of the longest dispensations of Divine grace was the period of Moses through to David.  This was a period when all the nations of the world, apart from the newly established nation-state of Israel, were left to the practice of idolatry.  Why might this be?

Jonathan Edwards gives us some insight into the wider, deeper issues at play.
[The Gentile nations] were concluded so long a time in unbelief that they might be a thorough proof of the necessity of a Saviour; that is might evidently appear by so long a trial, that mankind were utterly insufficient to deliver themselves from that gross darkness and misery, and subjection to the devil, which they had fallen under.

That is might appear that all the wisdom of the philosophers, and the sages that the heathen had among them, could not deliver them from their darkness, for the greater glory of Jesus Christ, who when he came enlightened and delivered them by his glorious gospel.  Herein the wonderful wisdom of God appeared, in thus preparing the way for Christ's redemption.  Thus the scripture teaches us; "For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe, " [I Corinthians 1: 21].  [Jonathan Edwards, The History of Redemption, Comprising A Summary of the History of the Jews Up To the Destruction of Jerusalem (London: The Religious Tract Society,1836),  p.76f.]
It is ironic that the flowering of Greek philosophy and research into the structure and operations of the natural order turned out to be precisely the time when idolatry reached its most intensive and extensive influence.  Hence Paul, when at Athens, found himself grieved to the depths of his heart over the profusion of superstitious idolatries on every street corner.  [Acts 17:16]  Likewise, although the Romans were some of the most sophisticated and clever engineers of their times, their superstitious bent was beyond credulity.

For over a thousand years the grip of universal idolatry over the Gentile world did not just hold tight, it increased in both intensity and extent.  That lesson is as vital today, as it was then.  We are to learn that the preaching of the Gospel of Christ is the only remedy for fallen humankind.

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