Solomon said, “As thou knowest not the pathway of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all” (Eccles. 11.5).
It has taken me several years to understand this verse, which it seems Jesus had in mind in a reply to a certain Pharisee, Nicodemus by name, who had come to Him by night to acknowledge what his colleagues refused to acknowledge.
Rabbi, we know that Thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that Thou doest, except God be with him (Jn. 3.2).
I believe that in these words of Nicodemus we are touching more of a plea than a statement. I believe they are the words of a man who wanted God, but in spite of all his credentials and the religious things he was involved in, felt painfully distanced from Him. Jesus knew his heart, and this is the response He gave him.
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Well, yes, Nicodemus was painfully aware there was something he wasn’t seeing. But now this on top of it all? How could a man be born again when he was old? Could he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Just quickly, notice the use of thee and ye here. “Marvel not that I said unto thee (singular), ye (plural) must be born again. You must all be born again, Jesus was saying. Even though this one individual He was speaking to was a learned Pharisee and a teacher of Israel, he was no different from all men born of Adam’s race. Just like everyone else, he needed to be born again in order to enter the kingdom of God.
And then Jesus continues—and I wonder if I don’t see Him and Nicodemus somewhere out on a rooftop in the cool of the evening, and they can hear the wind blowing in the trees nearby—and I think also that we hear the echo of Solomon’s words in what He says:
The wind bloweth where it listeth (desireth), and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
Remember that in both Hebrew and Greek the word for wind and spirit is the same word. Solomon the wise man said it wasn’t possible to know the pathway of the wind, or how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child. But a wiser than Solomon was now saying to Nicodemus that there is in fact one way to come to know the pathway the Wind walks on. That is to become like this child in the womb, and be born of the Wind.
There is pathway, and a life, a realm, a wisdom, that cannot be known by the natural man. But those born of the Spirit can indeed know and walk in this realm and this Pathway.
As thou knowest not the pathway of the wind, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, even so thou knowest not the works of God who maketh all.
As I said, it has taken me several years to understand this verse. It’s the part about the works of God that has evaded me. But just like the pathway of the wind, and the mysterious inner workings of life in the womb, even so the realm of the works of God simply cannot be known by man.
Paul said the same thing:
But the natural man (the soulical man) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2.14).
It takes the new creation man, a spiritual man, to know these things, these things of God, and to walk in them. These are the works that Paul says God has prepared beforehand for the new creation man to know, and walk in.
For by grace ye are saved through faith, and that (salvation) not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained (before prepared) that we should walk in them (Eph. 2.8-10).
Works—the Bible distinguishes between dead works, and good works. These good works Paul speaks of are simply the things we are about in our daily lives, the things we do, the spontaneous outflow of our walk with God, our love relationship with God. They are living works—the works of a new creation Man, works God has prepared beforehand for us that we should walk in them. We are just walking in sync with God Himself as a great eternal purpose unfolds. Our works are works of rest, you might say.
The thing is… the beautiful, the liberating, thing is… this new creation man is under no other obligation. He or she need not get under any other yoke whether in thought or deed.
I find people trying to figure things out with the natural mind when we know the natural man receiveth not the things of God. We are put in a place where we learn to trust in Jesus and we know in him we cannot fail. Let us all be in a place of constantly trusting. When we begin in the spirit let us not end up in the flesh.
Thanks again Allan for this blog. I get a lot out of it and I so appreciate you.
Thank you, Alden. What you said reminds me of words from an old hymn. “Simply trusting and not trying, on the Holy Ghost relying…”