“giving light to the eyes of your heart to know the hope of his calling, which is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints and which is the exceeding greatness of his power toward us, those who believe, according to the outworking of his power and might.”
As we have noted already, the density of ideas that are found in these verses is immense and profound. To begin with, we need to tackle this idea of giving light to the eyes of your heart, which is really little more than a continuation of the previous thought. Verse 17 closes with the language of Paul’s prayer for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God to be instilled in the people of these churches. Having such a spirit, then, produces light for the eyes of the heart.
When Moses stands before the people on the plains of Moab to renew God’s covenant with them, he makes a profound statement. Here he reminds them again of the mighty works of deliverance that God has done. He reminds them of the plagues in Egypt and of the defeat of their enemies in the wilderness. He reminds them that their shoes did not wear out and of God’s provision. And further, Moses reminds the people that they have been stubborn and rebellious despite seeing these mighty works. How does Moses explain this? Notice his words:
“But Yahweh did not give to you a heart to know nor eyes to see nor ears to hear, even to this day.”
(Deuteronomy 29:3 — verse 4 in English translations)
Do you see Moses’ point? The people of Israel witnessed these great events with their human eyes. They heard the great sermons on the Law with their human ears. They understood what they heard with a human heart. Yet, at the same time, God did not give them ears or eyes or a heart so that they might hear and respond in faith.
As is written in the prophet Isaiah:
“And he said, ‘Go and say to this people, ‘You shall surely hear yet you will not understand and you shall surely see yet you will not know. The heart of this people will be made to grow fat and his ears will be heavy and his eyes will be blind — lest he see with his eyes and hear with his ears and understand with his heart and turn and he be healed.’’”
These words of God to Isaiah are devastating indeed. God has every intent on keeping Israel dull and unrepentant as a form of judgment upon them. What is even more disconcerting is that Jesus uses these words himself when he explains to the disciples why he teaches in parables (Matthew 13:14-15).
As we look back to Ephesians, the opposite of this language of judgment is what Paul has in sight. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit that this church has eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands. Further, it will be by a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God that the church will grow in their understanding and that they will live lives in accordance to God’s Word.
At the same time, there is a warning that remains. Those who reject the Word of God and who reject the one who brings that Word will have their ears grow heavy. Or, to borrow from Paul’s letter to Timothy, their ears will grow “itchy” (2 Timothy 4:3). And in turn, their hearts will grow fatty and calloused so as they will not abide with truth but only with those things that suit their sensibilities and passions. Such is the judgment of God and are there not countless illustrations of this all around us today?