Things Seen as a Whole
Isaiah 48:6
You have heard, see all this; and will not you declare it? I have showed you new things from this time, even hidden things…

The words "See all this," have been rendered by one of the latest commentators, "See it as a whole." This rendering reproduces the prophetic argument. Isaiah had recalled a period of history which, taken as a whole, was a fulfilled word of Jehovah. That completed epoch of history from the predictions of old to the events in which it had issued was to the prophet proof of God's control of human affairs. Any completed historic cycle, taken as a whole, becomes to us significant of God. The evidence of the Divine providence discovers itself when we view things largely, when we see life as a whole. 1. Look at your life in the large relations of it, see it as a whole. This is not the view of life which it is altogether easy for us to take. For we touch life at single points; we receive life moment by moment; and our first views of things are apt to be partial. We ought, in our moral maturity, to fit our daily doings into some large conception of our whole reason for being here in this world. We do not know how to live well, certainly we have not learned to live richly if we have not gained something of the happy art of massing things in nobler groupings; if we cannot hold the little things and daily details of life under some broad, generous conception of our life; very much as from some height we see the several parts of a landscape, not singly, but together, as one wide sunny expanse. 2. That particular thing, for example, for which it may be necessary for you to strive to-morrow in your business, or which it seems desirable to secure for your enjoyment, needs to be sought for, not as though it were the one thing only to be attained, but as a possible part of some greater good in which your life is to find its satisfaction. A man to be successful in any calling must have something of that power of concentration to which Sir Fowell Buxton once attributed his success — "the power of being a whole man to one thing at a time." Nevertheless, that would be an unworthy success which should leave us entirely confined to any single thing. 3. If we desire to possess our friendships well, we must learn this art of seeing things not in their little, often vexatious details, but largely and as wholes. You must take your friend largely for what he is in his entire character, if you would keep your friend. The microscope has its uses; but it was never made for the eye of friendship. 4. Another instance for the application of this text might be found in our habits of regarding our homes. We are to possess the home, not as a good for itself alone, but in its whole social setting, in its relation to the neighbourhood, to the Church of humanity, to the kingdom of heaven, of which it is part and portion. 5. I wish now to go up with this principle to some higher lines of experience, and to observe how this entire earthly life of ours is itself life but in part, and how, if we would live truly, we must learn to see all our life, from the cradle to the grave, as itself but a part of some still larger, better whole for us. If this earthly span of our days be all, what is a human life at its best but as the rainbow which we have seen, one end of it resting upon the depths of the waters, and the other end lost in the cloud, itself as fleeting as the mist upon which for its moment of promise it becomes visible? But here lies the difficulty and the doubt. We have no experience of what lies beyond. Our hand can lay no measuring-rod upon futurity. We have only this present. It is also true, and it is the more important part of the truth, that we have this present only as an incomplete thing, we have this life only as a segment; its present brief span is the are of some curve of larger sweep than we can measure. What its future may be like, we do not know; but we know this present as in itself incomplete and requiring some future completion. "If you ask me, said Savonarola, as he was ready to be borne to the stake, what shall be in general the issue of this struggle, I reply, Victory. If you ask me what shall be the issue in the particular sense, I reply, Death." It was the answer of a seer. Seen in the particular, the issue of life may be death. Seen in the general, seen as a whole, true life is not death, but victory. The Christian faith brings to a man its Gospel of the One sinless Man, who knew whence He came, and whither He went, and whose life was always to Him not an affair of the moment only, but a truth of eternity. Jesus' earthly life was indeed a broken one. In one aspect of it no human life has been left so incomplete as was that life which we can follow for a few brief years of it through these gospels. The verse in the book of Acts, "All the things which Jesus began both to do and to teach," suggests the incompleteness, the utter brokenness of Jesus' earthly life. What work did He live to see completed? what doctrine to finish? His hands did not complete His work of mercy; they were pierced before they had wrought all their possible work of healing. His lips did not finish His teachings; He had many things to say, and He died leaving much unsaid. Into our Lord's Gethsemane may there not have entered the pathos of an unfinished life? Yet He said, "I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do." He could not have said that had He not looked always upon His life here as part and daily portion of one Divine whole, His sacrifice as something complete in God's eternal purpose; had He not known that His life here, and there, and always, is one life, continuous throughout, on earth and in heaven, one will of the Father — each part of it, whether of humiliation or transfiguration, of suffering or resurrection, partaking of the glory of the perfect whole.

(N. Smyth, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not know them.

WEB: You have heard it; see all this; and you, will you not declare it? "I have shown you new things from this time, even hidden things, which you have not known.

Hidden Things
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