John 12.37-40 cont.
37 They did not believe in Him, although He had done so many miraculous signs before them.
38 This was to fulfil the word that Isaiah the prophet spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And, Lord, to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
39 Therefore, they were unable to believe, because again Isaiah said:
40 “He has blinded their eyes and had hardened their heart, so that they should not see with their eyes and understand with the heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”
It is part of our humanity to look for the reason why things happen. We have been brought up with the theory of cause and effect. We understand that everything that takes place has a cause to it. The driver who receives a fine for breaking the speed limit knows that he/she was the cause of the fine, because of their manner of driving.
Solomon wrote: Can a man scoop fire into his lap and not be burned? – Proverbs 6.27 (NLT).
He was saying that if anyone commits adultery it will have a devastating effect.
John quotes two Old Testament Scriptures to show why it is that some do not believe, although they can see.
The second quote that John uses in verse 40 is also from the Old Testament and also comes from Isaiah. The inference is that God has blinded the eyes and hardened the hearts of people.
W Barclay suggests that God would not do this to people, but that these words express the frustration of Isaiah, because he saw that his prophetic words brought about no change of heart in the people. He says that the Jews believed that everything happened within the purposes of God, which included the unbelief of people.
We may see the truth of this in that God has given to mankind the ability of being able to make his own choices.
However, we cannot get away from the fact that there are times in the Old Testament where we read of God hardening people’s hearts. This was true of Pharaoh: But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and just as the LORD had predicted to Moses, Pharaoh refused to listen – Exodus 9.12 (NLT). Pharaoh had seen the wonders that God performed through Moses, yet he did not believe. His continued disbelief resulted in God causing the ears of his heart to be shut so that he could not understand the things of God.
Let us beware that we do not enter into any unbelief and so have our ears closed to what God is saying.