One day Rabbi Barukh’s grandson, Yehiel, was playing hide-and-seek with another boy. He hid himself well and waited for his playmate to find him. After twenty minutes he peeked out of his secret hiding place, saw no one, and pulled his head back inside. After waiting a very long time, he came out of his hiding place, but the other boy was nowhere to be seen. Then Yehiel realized that his playmate had not looked for him from the very beginning. Crying, he ran to his grandfather and complained of his faithless friend. Tears brimmed in Rabbi Barukh’s eyes as he realized that God says the same thing: “I hide but no one wants to seek me.”
Such was the painful tone of God’s voice when He spoke through the mouth of His prophet Hosea:
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they buried incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms, but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” (Hosea 11:1-4)
The truth is that our God can remain quite hidden until in prayer we discover He is what our hearts seek above all.
One time during a conference on prayer, Thomas Merton was asked, “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was stunningly clear: “We must tell them that they are already united with God – prayer is nothing more than coming into consciousness of what is already there.”
It is with equal directness that Jesus addresses another command to His hearers in Matthew 7. Last week Ken masterfully led us into a clear understanding of what Jesus means when He says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” It’s the opening command of chapter seven, and a negative one at that!
But beginning in verse 7 He issues a pointed positive command that is actually three commands in one. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” Like His Father speaking through the prophet Hosea, Jesus speaks to us, His people, and He says in effect, “Ask, seek, and knock, and you will be rewarded.”
This Sunday we will be digging into Matthew 7:7-12 to see all that the Lord has to show us in this well-known charge of Christ. In preparation for Sunday, you may wish to consider the following;
- What condition(s) can you find for the promises Jesus is setting forth here in this command?
- On what grounds does Jesus promise these “good things” to everyone who asks, seeks, and knocks?
- How common is the title “Father” for God in the Old Testament?
- How common is it for Jesus to use this title in the gospels?
- What’s the relationship between “pateras” in Greek and “Abba” in Aramaic?
- Why is “Abba” inserted into the Greek New Testament on three occasions?
- How common was the title “Abba” in ancient Jewish literature?
- What two things can we discover from the verb tense Jesus uses in verse 7?
- Are “ask”, “seek”, and “knock” synonyms or something else?
- What does this command tell us about the God we serve?