This week I have thought deeply on this characteristic of God. Webster’s defines incomprehensible as simply, “Not able to be understood; not intelligible.”
The first example that comes to mind is my limited and finite understanding of mathematics. I know instantly that 2+2=4, but 25x2 + 20x + 14 = 0 just hurts my head.
I’m sure my college math professor in 2011, Prof. Metcalfe, could solve it quickly and would again go to great pains to help my comprehension. My wife when she reads this will probably solve it within a couple minutes. My brain finds this question incomprehensible because I haven’t studied in many years or retained the information I’ve previously heard.
This is where the example pales in comparison to the knowledge of God.
His wisdom is infinite, His knowledge is unattainable. The prophet Isaiah writes,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Though I am limited in my knowledge of algebraic formulas, I could take some time to freshen up my skills, learn techniques, and solve equations with increased speed. I cannot however, comprehend the mind of God. I cannot even fathom that His existence has no beginning and no end. This is the problem of my ever present finitude. I can never acquire enough knowledge, read enough books, listen to enough audible, or think deeply enough to know all that God knows or fully understand His wisdom.
God is not incomprehensible because He can’t be known, He is incomprehensible because of the greatness of His wisdom. Paul writes on this very topic in Romans 11,
“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:33-34)
I love a good mystery. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has always been one of my favorite novelists and I have spent many hours pouring over the original and adapted mysteries of the world’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes. Arthur writes his protagonist to be the world’s greatest detective and this is evident in the way he introduces himself, “My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”
But even Sherlock Holmes cannot know the mind of God. This should not be discouraging to those of us who want to grow in the love and knowledge of our Creator and Sustainer; because though we cannot comprehend Him, we are given His Word to be able to know Him.
In His prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)
We are given a wonderful gift in that we can know the One whom we cannot explain.
The mysteries of God are not to demonstrate His distance, but invite us to come near and investigate His unsearchable and rich character.
Take this characteristic of the incomprehensibility of God and see it as an invitation to know Him, to rejoice in the inexhaustible glory of His nature and confess your daily need for His grace and unfathomable love.
“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3)
May we trust in the infinite wisdom of God this week.