In Chapter 5 of God In Search of Man, Abraham Joshua Heschel discusses The Sense of Mystery. Read related posts in this series; A Legacy of Wonder, The Sublime, Ways to His Presence, Philosophy and Religion and God in Search of Man Part I.
All this I have tested by wisdom. I said, “I will be wise,” but it was far from me. That which has been is far off, and deep, very deep; who can find it out? Eccesiastes 7:23-24
Heschel says that Scripture teaches more than just “ultimate wisdom being out of our reach” but a greater idea he calls much more “radical”. What is this “radical” teaching that Scripture alludes to? That everything that is, is more than what we think or perceive it to be. It is “far off and deep, exceedingly deep” according to the writer of Ecclesiastes. Heschel states simply that “Being is mysterious“.
Heschel speaks of the “secret” being at the “core of the apparent; the known is but the obvious aspect of the unknown“. Also, “the deeper we search the nearer we arrive at knowing that we do not know“. These thoughts of ultimate reality are grounded in humility and help to combat the tendency for prideful thinking and ideas in modern skepticism and reason such as “what we account can be accounted for” and “exploring the ways of being will lead us to what, why and where from being originates”, that is apart from where Scripture says it does of course.
“The mystery is not only beyond and away from us. We are involved in it.” What Heschel means by the term mystery is not limited to the spiritual or philosophical sense but in this present world of reality. It is part of our existence and can be experienced as “the essential mystery of being as being, the nature of being God’s creation out of nothing and therefore, something which stands beyond the scope of human comprehension.”
To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth.  A Song. – Psalm 46:1
In Hebrew, the word “olam” commonly refers to the world as in the phrase “olam haba” i.e. the World to Come. The Hebrew root word for “olam” is “alam” which means to hide or conceal. Heschel says “the world is itself hiddenness; its essence is a mystery” and “the world is something we apprehend but cannot comprehend.” It is with this line of thought that Heschel speaks of a Midrash (teaching) on the word “alamoth” such as used in Psalm 46:1. Usually this word “alamoth” is simply regarded as a “musical or liturgical term”, but Heschel says that it teaches “hidden are the things that we see; we do not know what we see.”
Surely I am too stupid to be a man. I have not the understanding of a man. 3 I have not learned wisdom, nor have I knowledge of the Holy One. 4 Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name? Surely you know! – Proverbs 30:2-4
Ultimately this mystery that we are involved in and the world depends on is known and knowable while at the same time it is unknown and unknowable, it is the Mystery of the Universe – that is God Himself! We have not complete understanding yet we do know His Son’s name – Yeshua Ha Mashiach (Jesus the Messiah)! Enjoy being part of the Mystery!
May grace and shalom be multiplied upon you in the name of Yeshua the Messiah!