At this point in the Gospel storyline, Jesus is on a roll of condemnation. With disdain, Jesus described the generation of people living in His time as a bunch of fickle, unsatisfiable children (Matthew 11:16-19, Luke 7:31-35). He then condemned Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for not being convinced to repent by His miracles; miracles which would have made Sodom repent so much so that they would have still existed to that day. There is one more bone to pick.
Hidden from the Wise
In Matthew 11:25-26, like Luke 10:21, we find Jesus saying these interesting words:
"I praise You, Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." NIV
What exactly did Jesus mean here? This is a little difficult to discern, because in the context immediately surrounding these verses neither Matthew nor Luke provides much insight. It appears to be an island; a little anecdote which neither author could fit in to an appropriate location.
And it is no wonder there is difficulty. The verses, if literally true, meant that only young children seemed to understand Jesus' message. However, while there were children involved, it seems that the majority of people who were following Jesus were adults. So “little children” is more likely to be a metaphor for something else than referring to actual children.
What are “little children” like? Innocent and naïve, lacking a broad wisdom of the world, not yet educated. To people with these qualities, God has revealed the hidden things. Or, as I have seen some skeptics paint it by playing off the contrast from “the wise and learned,” that only the stupid, or perhaps rather, the more gullible, believed Jesus. But this skeptical slant goes a little too far, because God has no problems with wisdom, as long as it is the right kind of wisdom, like the Proverbs 1:7 kind:
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction. NIV
God's kind of wisdom is the Psalm 19:7 kind of wisdom:
The Law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. NIV
So let us take a quick look at the other side of the equation. Who are “the wise and learned” supposed to be? We do not know what these hidden “things” are, but the implication is that they are related to God and Jesus, which in turn would imply that “the wise and learned” are people like the Pharisees and scribes, and perhaps their disciples, who had studied the Scriptures to the point of having their own understanding and knowledge of God and His prophesies. As we know based on Jewish customs and recorded concepts in the Gospels, that learned class had sometimes extrapolated well beyond the Scriptural text in their version of understanding God.
Now that we have a sense of who Jesus was speaking about, let us take consider the meaning of Matthew 11:25-26 and Luke 10:21. Jesus is praising God for finding pleasure in hiding these “things” from people who have devoted great effort into studying God, while instead revealing them to people who have not studied about God much.
While the use of “little children” appears metaphorical, the act of God hiding the hidden “things” from “the wise and learned” is decidedly not a metaphor. Jesus is not saying “thank God these people cannot figure out the truth on their own.” Jesus is instead saying “thank you, God, for preventing these people from understanding the truth,” because the act of preventing their understanding was a “good pleasure” for God. To revel in the fact that certain people cannot understand God is an act of hate, not love.
Contrary to Matthew 18:14 and 2 Peter 3:9, God and Jesus are not only willing that some would perish, but they actually derive pleasure in the thought of some perishing in their ignorance; an ignorance held upon them by God Himself. It is God's thirst and pleasure for vengeance without a chance of Salvation which seems to be hidden from many, otherwise wise, Christians today.
If you think that last statement is a bit overreaching, consider the history of confusion bestowed by God:
- In response to the Tower of Babel, God confused language (Genesis 11:7)
- God confused Pharaoh's army troops. (Exodus 14:3, Exodus 14:24)
- God prevented the Israelites from fully understanding what God was doing while they wandered the Wilderness (Deuteronomy 29:4)
- God promised to confuse the nations which were occupying the Promised Land before the Israelites. (Exodus 23:27, Deuteronomy 7:23, Joshua 10:10, 1 Samuel 14:20)
- God promised to confuse the Israelites if they turned away from Him (Deuteronomy 28:20, Deuteronomy 28:28, Isaiah 6:9, Jeremiah 51:34, Micah 7:4)
- There are repeated Scriptural prayers for God to send confusion to enemies (Psalm 35:26, Psalm 40:14, Psalm 70:2, Psalm 71:24)
- God closed the minds of the people who were mocking Job (Job 17:4)