According to Horatio

“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”[1]

Several weeks ago someone sent me a message concerning my Facebook account. Alarmed, I checked the site and found it was true.

I had been hacked.

Sick at heart, I scrolled past changes I had not authorized, requests I had not sent. Unlikely things, to be sure; things that—for those who know me—were simply beyond belief. And though I quickly moved to delete false updates and lock down the account, I felt my very name had been insulted—compromised by those who spoke flagrantly in my name.Hamlet

Today as I thought about it (again), I was indignant (again). And I realized that, on a much larger scale, the same thing happens in a spiritual sense every day. People, speaking for God in unbelievable ways, falsely represent His Name and intentions. Of course, as believers and students of the Word, we shake our heads and do our best to correct the errors. We battle for truth and feel the collective victory when lies are defeated. All of that is true. But what happens when the faithful do it? Misrepresent Him, I mean. Don’t imagine it doesn’t happen.

It does.

I’ve done it, as have countless other Christians through the ages. Some, like Augustine,[2] expressed with good intentions what they would later retract. Others, like Cranmer, [3] spoke shamefully from fear. And some, like Job, spoke from deep places of doubt and sickness and wretched dismay. The fact that he was a righteous man and an unlikely candidate for error does not negate the fact that in the end, his assumptions about God were wrong.

It was error God graciously exposed to him when, distressed and wracked by every imaginable grief, Job flung his words across the heavens. He brought his catalog of questions to God and sat in the ashes to await an answer. But God neatly set aside Job’s questions and went about the work of uncovering the solemn Answer to every question—Himself.

“Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: ‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to Me.’” (Job 38:1–3)[4]

Then, through the devastating art of divine examination, God systematically tore through the film of Job’s assumptions. At the end of it all, Job could only cling to the dust he would later rejoin:

“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2–6 (ESV)

The psalmist expressed something of the same sentiment when he sang, “I will proclaim and tell of [Your wondrous deeds and thoughts], yet they are more than can be told.” (Psalm 40:5)

The fact is that we are to proclaim, we are to tell; it is one of the reasons the church remains today (Ephesians 3:10; I Peter 1:12). But our proclamations must be mingled with profound reverence for the things we cannot yet grasp.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways!” (Romans 11:33; see also Isaiah 40:13; 1 Corinthians 2:16).

There is a measure of knowledge that will not be encountered in the dark now before eternity, but on the other side of our day we will (1 Corinthians 13:12; I John 3:12).

One day. A coming day. But not now.

For now, the lesson is to tread carefully upon the path of light (Psalm 119:105). Act boldly where the Word is plain; move gently where it is not. And above all, walk in humility (Romans 12:16) knowing that His ways are not your ways nor His thoughts your thoughts.

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me.” (Psalm 131:1)


[1] William Shakespeare, “The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark” In , in The Harvard Classics 46–47: Complete Elizabethan Drama, ed. Charles W. Eliot (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1910), 112.

[2] See Henry Bullinger, The Decades of Henry Bullinger: The Third Decade, ed. Thomas Harding (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1850), 246-47.

[3] See Thomas Cranmer, The Remains of Thomas Cranmer, Vol. 4, ed. Henry Jenkyns (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1833), 139.

[4] All Scripture references taken from the English Standard Version.

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