By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: (Matt 13:14)
It is said that everyone in the world has a different fingerprint. And now I hear we all have a different eye print and a different DNA. How, I wonder, did God ever work that miracle? I can see Him dividing the Red Sea. I can even see Him creating a human creature from nothing but dirt. In fact I can even see Him speaking this galaxy into existence. What I can't imagine is how, on the half-inch square piece of flesh such as a fingertip He can make billions of different patterns. For that matter, I can't imagine why He performed such a miracle.
None of us see things in the same way.
I suspect most of us, to one degree or another are very much the same way. You might have your eye adjusted to the big print. If you're a lawyer your eye might very well focus on the small print. A Pharmacist might best be able to read the illegible scrawl of a physician, but be incapable of reading Old English script.
Consider this scenario:
"How does it look Doc? Am a going to live?
"Yes Mr Brown, you're going to live, if you...."
"That's great Doc. Just send me the bill and I'll see you next year."
"But Mr Brown. You don't understand. You'll live if you..."
"I've heard all I want to hear Doc. You can play with the details if you want. I got the picture, that's enough for me."
"But Mr Brown. You don't have the big picture. There's a condition you must be aware of if you expect to live."
"My condition's fine Doc. You told me so. And I'm holding you to your word."
We humans don't like to be told what to do (commanded). And we don't like to be told there are consequences for violating what we're told. This trait comes natural for us, beginning to show itself from the age of two, until our late teen years. I for one, at the age of 71, have yet to outgrow this characteristic. Although I no longer need my diapers changed (not often at least), I still rebel against being told what to do. If you want me to do something, even the impossible, just tell me I can't do it, and I'll break my neck trying to do what I'm not supposed to do. Some people are this way just to prove they can do what is said cannot be done. My motive is not so pure. I'm just rebellious.
Another thing we humans do not like is to be nagged. When God said "You shall surely die," what He said is you will "die, die," there being no Hebrew word for "surely." (Actually there are several Hebrew words for surely, but nothing gets the point across like does nagging.)
More on this subject later. For now, let's take a look at a painting, and a story or two:
Another tool used by an artist to draw one's attention to a painting is to have the primary subject in the center of the painting (although this is not esthetically correct as far as the craft of art is concerned) and have it framed by objects facing that point of interest. Often the main object will be well lit while the framing subjects will tend to be in shadow and obscured in some way. This can be seen in the art of the masters a few hundred years ago.
God used this method to great effect when He had Moses build His Ark of the Covenant. The Cherubims on either side of the mercy seat were crafted of beaten gold, as was the mercy seat and the Ark itself. The Cherubims faced one another with their wings touching, and their eyes were turned downward toward the mercy seat. This, in a picture, could well describe the Church. made of the same substance that Jesus is made of (in His humanity), which is "beaten" gold. We, the Church, the body of Christ, are to face one another, touching one another as were the tips of the Cherubims's wings, while keeping our eyes on God, the One to whom our efforts should be directed.
Here Jesus held up a big red flag in front of the disciples to make sure He had their attention ("Let this sink into your ears"). He told them something very important that they needed to know. They didn't pursue the issue, but instead they argued about something selfish and that went contrary to what Jesus was just saying.
Jesus made a simple statement seemingly of no importance, and this the disciples wondered about and debated.
How soon we forget the big things of life. These men had not only seen, but had been a part of some grand miracles. Yet they hadn't taken it to heart. We see this in the wilderness journey of Israel as well. These people had seen miracles that were astounding. They had seen God's magnificence. They had heard Him speak. They time after time witnessed the deaths of their fellow Israelites by the hand of an angry God (Who several times threatened to destroy the whole bunch of them), and in almost the next verse we see another group of rebels doing what they had just seen hundreds die from doing that very thing.
Consider the mole on Jane's neck. Suppose Jane was conscious of the mole to the point that she tried to conceal it with something such as makeup or her hair. As much as we might try to avert our eyes from the mole in order to dwell on the other fine aspects of Jane's person, our eye will be drawn to that which is hidden from view. On the other hand, if Jane brought our attention to the mole in casual conversation, the matter would have been considered and forgotten. See how this is true with someone with large ears, buck teeth, braces, glasses, or other characteristics that might normally cause us to pay attention to these obvious characteristics. If there is no tendency to hide or otherwise obscure these attributes, they then become so much a part of the person that we don't even notice them. We see this exemplified in the successful comedians and actors who exaggerate and use their "deformity" as a tool rather than try to pretend it doesn't exist.
29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. (Mat 11:)
We would have never known these things about Jesus had He not told us.
13Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Mat 13:)
Here is an example of how Jesus hid his truth in an abundance of words. Jesus told many parables regarding the Kingdom of God, which was His primary mission (Luke 4:43; Mat 4:17; Luke 9:2). Although this message was preached by Jesus in so many different ways, it has been so concealed that even today it is hidden from view in all the churches.
5How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire? (Psalm 79:)
Some of us look at Jane's mole. Others of us appreciate Jane's lovely smile. Jesus had (and has) those who saw Him for what He was, and what He proved Himself to be. Others ignored the big picture and tried to catch Him doing some small thing so they could persecute and execute Him. When we want to degrade someone like Jane, we will brush her beautiful hair aside and stand pointing at the tiny mole on her neck in order to make sure everyone sees the mole and not pay any attention to her other fine attributes.
The freed Israelites, who promised to faithfully abide by God's law and to follow Him, were not content with their daily bread. They wanted more. They wanted to change the big picture to suit them. God wants people in His land (the Promised Land that we all desire to attain to) who have proven themselves. The children of Israel didn't want to be proven. They wanted to see past the warning posters and look for the hidden message that didn't exist. God will oblige those wanting to be served, but there is a price to pay:
35Jesus wept. (John 11:)
We Christians treat the Word of God in the same way as do the visitors to an art museum. Some whisk through the book seeing a word or two that catches their eye. Another studies the Word looking for all God has to tell them. And others, like David, and Ezekiel and John, they "eat up" the Book and digest every fiber of God's Word, seeking to understand their Maker and their Lord (Ezek 3:1-3; Rev 10:9-11).
God has given you and me at least 6,000 years of His time and energy and placed it between two covers that costs us pennies to possess. Not long ago a Bible was only available to those with either great wealth or worked in such a place where a Bible was kept. Because the Bible now cost us so little, we give it little value or attention.
ignore the little words like "If" and "Commandments" and "Abandon everything," and "With all your heart, soul and mind" and concentrate our attention on the big, flashy sign posted at the entry of every church that says "Simply this."
We are lovers of mystery. Let it be known that something is a secret and everyone wants to know what you have to say. Broadcast what is vital information, and everyone treats it as a ho-hum. What is it that Daniel was to seal up? This is the time of the end, do we get to find out what Daniel wasn't allowed to know? We think not, and we would reject it offhand because it doesn't fit with what we believe to be the all-in-all truth, even though our truth disagrees with everyone else's truth. Those who desire to know what we are to learn in these end times must be open to the Holy Spirit and be able to decipher which line goes on what precept. If we don't pay close heed to the Spirit of God, then we are bound to place ourself in a position to be deceived.
When the day comes that the Word of God is not available, everyone who wants to have anything to do with God will do anything or go anywhere to find it. We see this occurring today in those countries where Bibles are outlawed. People will risk their very lives to own one.
Conceal something in a painting or a story and we will search to find it, even if we don't like the picture or the story the mystery is embedded in.
When we want to paint a clear picture for someone, either by graphics or by word, we often use a simile or a metaphor. "The earth is like a ball thrown into the air" says much more than does a thousand words of technical explanation to the uninitiated. The Bible uses this tool in many ways, some already stated. Jesus used this very tool in His description of the Kingdom of Heaven. He used this exact phrase "The kingdom of heaven is likened unto" nine times alone. And He (or I should say the Bible) expresses this concept 155 times. We should know what the Kingdom of Heaven is. But we don't. Why not? Because we don't look at the big picture, only bits and pieces of the picture that we distort, leave out, or nitpick. If we don't look at the big picture for what the author or the artist is saying, we will walk away thinking we know what the picture is, but actually not having a clue.
What better way to explain something about a person than to associate a certain quality about them (or a situation) with someone who has gone on before? This is especially true if that person is famous and his or her biography is available in print. In order to better understand Jesus, the Church, and the Kingdom, we not only have Moses, but we have Joseph, and Isaac (for sacrifice) and shepherds, and sheep and a multitude of other such examples. For the Church we have a city, a bride, the body of Christ, and other such things as a hand to explain the ministry of the Church. We have a candlestick, a lamp, stars and many such pictures to broaden our view.
Inanimate objects are also used in the Bible. We have trees, water, leaves, fruit, wheat, figs, olives, gold, jewels, pottery, tares, rocks, and many other such objects to help us get the big picture.
6Though I speak, my grief is not asswaged: and though I forbear, what am I eased? 7But now he hath made me weary: thou hast made desolate all my company. 8And thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face. 9He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me: he gnasheth upon me with his teeth; mine enemy sharpeneth his eyes upon me. (Job 16:)
Our emotions are stirred when we read of others experiencing deep feelings. This is especially true when the feelings expressed are those we have ourselves been a party to. Anguish, love, sorrow, regret, frustration, pity and many other such deep feelings can't help but touch us if we have a heart of flesh and not of stone.
There is anger, and there is righteous anger. Jesus with just a few strands of string chased out many people who were in the process of bringing wealth to themselves. And this He did before the eyes of those who were in charge of both the Temple where this activity was taking place, and who were overseers of the Temple police. Considering these men would like nothing better than to find something they could accuse Jesus of in order to put Him to death, this action that might otherwise be overlooked takes on an air of extreme courage.
1And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel. (Chron 21:)
48But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? (Luke 22:)
7And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, 8And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. 9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev 12:)
Be honest with me now, do we ever outgrow our love of dragons and angels and wild imaginative beasts, especially when they're at war?
8For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 9And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. (Mark 5:)
16When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick (Mat 8:)
Miracles, devils, demons, witches, evil spirits: Doesn't this sound like a book on the top seller list for teens and young adults? What paintings could be made of the subjects listed above. Imagine if there was a single book that contained all the afore mentioned elements. I'll bet it would sell for plenty. And what about movie rights?
1And it came to pass, when the LORD would take up Elijah into heaven by a whirlwind, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal. (2Kings 2:)
4And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. 6And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. 7And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him. (1Sam 17:)
30And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Judges 16:)
Imagine a young boy fighting a nine foot giant warrior. How about a muscle man who's power was in his hair. And how about what appears to be a space ship with God Himself atop of it. Sound like an interesting book? What genre would you categorize such a book under? It has the elements of every genre the publishers have established. No matter what a person's interest, this book, this textual painting has it all.
Little Johnny comes home all excited. He is now in the first grade learning his ABC's. Little Johnny hands you his very first tabloid, a piece of paper with a scrawled attempt at the first half of the alphabet. You take the precious item from little Johnny's anxious hands and you tape it on the refrigerator door right next to his punkin' head drawing of you he had produced the day before.
Do you treasure the writing and the drawing because you find them to be a work of art? Of course not. If you had found these items in your yard they would have been cast in the trash posthaste. The items are of no value whatever in and of themselves. What is of inestimable value is little Johnny. Because you value Johnny, you value whatever Johnny accomplishes and creates. This is the way we creatures referred to as human beings are: We value those that are important to us, and we devalue those that are of no interest to us. And everything that has to do with those we value, we value as well. And anything to do with those we place no value on, we have no time for.
The Bible has the elements of anything anyone could possibly want in reading material. Yet the Bible sets on a coffee table unread except perhaps a few minutes a day out of obligation.
Considering that we allow time for those things, and those people most important to us:
What do you think God has to say about the big picture we have created regarding Him and His Word?
36Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Mat 22:)
33So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple. 34Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be seasoned? 35It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Luke 14:)
16Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18And they all with one consent began to make excuse. ...... 24For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper. (Luke 14:)
18And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 19And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. 20Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. 21And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. 22Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. 23And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich. 24And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 25For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Luke 18:)
3I have spoken unto you, rising early and speaking; but ye have not hearkened. 4And the LORD hath sent unto you all his servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but ye have not hearkened, nor inclined your ear to hear. 5They said, Turn ye again now every one from his evil way, and from the evil of your doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD hath given unto you and to your fathers for ever and ever: 6And go not after other gods to serve them, and to worship them, and provoke me not to anger with the works of your hands; and I will do you no hurt. 7Yet ye have not hearkened unto me, saith the LORD; that ye might provoke me to anger with the works of your hands to your own hurt. (Jer 25:)
43Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. (John 8:)
47He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. (John 8:)
21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mat 6:)
27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. (John 10:)
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