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Hear and See, but not Understand

aymon de albatrus

“And the disciples came, and said to him, Why speak you to them in parables? He answered and said to them: Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Mat 13:10-11)

“And he said, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” (Luk 8:10)

“Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Mat 13:13-16)


Here Jesus had just finished telling the parable of the sower and His Apostle asked why He was teaching in the veiled technique of parables. Parables serve the double purpose of revealing and concealing; presenting "the mysteries of the Kingdom" to those who know and relish them, though in never so small a degree, in a new and attractive light; but to those who are insensible to spiritual things yielding only, as so many tales, some temporary entertainment.

PARABLES = The Greek word "parabolay" literally means "to throw along side - placing of one thing by the side of another". In other words a parable is story told to illustrate a truth which is "thrown along side."  The story itself is not necessarily factual, for it only serves to illustrate a truth.

Specifically, a parable is a short story under which something else is figured or in which the fictitious is used to represent and illustrate the real.  This common Oriental method of teaching was much used by Christ in the first three Gospels, but not elsewhere in the New Testament.

Parables may be considered illustrations of truths already set forth rather than as a means of conveying new truths and as we read Jesus' parables, we must not suppose that Jesus had no capacity to use His imagination to develop an allegory which would fit His purpose by illustrating a truth He wanted to impress upon His listeners. 

A Parable is an allegory and even though the details are not necessarily factual, we read the story to grasp spiritual truths. Like “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”, here Jesus wanted to demonstrate the mighty power of God in no uncertain terms, as he qualified soon after that ALL things are possible with God: “But Jesus beheld them, and said to them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Mat 19:26)

When it comes to parables we must not conclude that simply because Jesus told a story it must be absolutely true to fact, for parables are often allegories.  This is not to imply in any way that Jesus did not tell the truth, but rather to point out that Jesus often used imaginary symbols and allegories in His teaching. 

Interesting to note that Jesus justified His teaching in Parables to ensure that only some would understand its meaning (it is given to you to know) whilst other would not understand for (to them it is not given). It would seem as if there were two classes of men, the elect and the non elect.

The mysteries of the kingdom. The word mystery, in the Bible, properly means a thing that is concealed, or that has been concealed. It does not mean that the thing was incomprehensible, or even difficult to be understood. The thing might be plain enough if revealed, but it means simply that it had not been made known. Thus the mysteries of the kingdom do not mean any doctrines incomprehensible in themselves considered, but simply doctrines about the preaching of the gospel, and the establishment of the new kingdom of the Messiah which had not been understood and its means of salvation.

“He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” (Joh 12:40)

We have this text (one of the more terrible in the whole book of God) no less than six times quoted in the New Testament, and in all places quoted and given as a reason for unbelief in the Lord Jesus Christ, (Mat 13:14,15; Mar 4:12; Luk 8:10; Act 28:26,27; Rom 11:8).

It is not quoted alike in all places, but for substance is the same. The original from whence these quotations are, is Isa 6:9,10. In the original, the prophet Isaiah is made the instrumental cause: go, (says God), and make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes lest they may convert. In Matthew, Luke and Act the situation is also presented from the point of view of these people making themselves as the cause, whilst All the other texts speak of it as God’s act.

It is a case similar to that of the hardening of the heart of Pharaoh, in several places it is mentioned that Pharaoh hardened his heart, but the first appearance of this act is in Exo 4:21; 7:21 where God says: “I will harden Pharaoh‘s heart”.  Later saying to Pharaoh: “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exo 9:16). So as we read it, it appears that God decreed that both these people and Pharaoh will be hardened and they also will harden themselves, all under the Sovereignty of God for His glory.

In Rom 11:8 it is added that God has given them the spirit of slumber. These phrases are expressive of the same dreadful judgment of God; this is a dreadful judgment: blindness in the mind, stubbornness in the will, vileness in the affections, reprobation in the mind, and finally the lake of fire as they reject the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Blessed are your eyes…...for they see.  That is, you are sanctified that you are permitted to see truth which they will not see. You are given from above to understand the spiritual meaning of the parables, and with that God’s plan of salvation. They were to be happy for they both saw Christ in the flesh and perceived Him spiritually with their soul’s ‘eyes’, they saw His effulgent glory, the glory of the Father, full of grace and truth. Whilst the other saw Him only in the flesh with their bodily eyes; they saw no beauty in Him, or comeliness, nothing amiable or desirable, they saw in Him a man of no reputation. Blessed were they (and us) that it is given to see the real Christ, the Almighty God, the creator of all. Blessed are we that even though we have not seen Him with our natural eyes, and yet have believed by God's grace (Joh 20:29).

And your ears,  for they hear. This also must be understood of corporal and intellectual hearing.  They heard the Gospel preached by Him, not only so as to be affected with it, and give their assent to it, but also to understand it spiritually, and experimentally, and to bring forth the fruit of it; and so were that sort of hearers, signified by the good ground in the parable Christ had just delivered. As it is written in Romans: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17) But hearing the Word of God by the physical hears is not sufficient to come to the Faith, a new heart must be given first (Eze 36:26,27).  Thus BLESSED are those that have received a new birth from above and now can perceive and understand by their spiritual ears the things of God and His salvation (1Co 2:13,14).

Blessed is the eye that sees, and the ear that hears, and the heart that understands, and causes to understand, the wisdom of God; but to the unbelievers it is not given.

CONCLUSION

The things of God are perceived and receive spiritually, and so the soul of man has to be made alive trough the Spirit of God FIRST, it is a gift of God, by His grace given to those He elects.  Without that enabling the soul of man is dead in sin and trespasses and completely blind and deaf spiritually (Eph 2:1).

“Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” (Joh 12:39-40) (Rom 11:33)

How many times in your evangelising you have explained plainly the Gospel to people, but they just did NOT understand!


Verses confirming God’s Sovereignty on seeing and hearing:

“Yet the LORD has not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, to this day.” (Deu 29:4)

“They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; They have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths.” (Psa 135:16-17)

“The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD has made even both of them.” (Pro 20:12)

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear you indeed, but understand not; and see you indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isa 6:9-10)

“And the eyes of them that see shall not be dim, and the ears of them that hear shall listen. The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.” (Isa 32:3-4)

“For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, beside you, what he has prepared for him that waits for him.” (Isa 64:4)

“Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:” (Jer 5:21)

“Son of man, you dwell in the middle of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.” (Eze 12:2)

“And the man said to me, Son of man, behold with your eyes, and hear with your ears, and set your heart on all that I shall show you; for to the intent that I might show them to you are you brought here: declare all that you see to the house of Israel.” (Eze 40:4)

“And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which said, By hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For truly I say to you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.” (Mat 13:14-17)

“And he said to them, To you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but to them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.” (Mar 4:11-12)

“Having eyes, see you not? and having ears, hear you not? and do you not remember?” (Mar 8:18)

“And he said, To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” (Luk 8:10)

“Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.” (Joh 12:39-40)

“Saying, Go to this people, and say, Hearing you shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing you shall see, and not perceive: For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Act 28:26-27)

“(According as it is written, God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear); to this day.” (Rom 11:8)

“But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him.” (1Co 2:9)