Sunday, June 5, 2011
Matthew 13:10-15, Truth and the Natural Man
"Then the disciples came and said to Him, 'Why do You speak to them in parables?' And He answered them, 'To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them."'"
I am currently reading "The Battle Belongs to the Lord" by Westminster Seminary Professor and Reformed Apologist K. Scott Oliphint. Recently, a short phrase stood out in a remarkable way: "Unbelief is designed to miss the obvious." First, I just kind of nodded in agreement. Then I felt a more vehement, "Y'know, that is so true!" Then various scriptures on the issue started to come to mind.
First was the one quoted above, which comes immediately after Jesus gave the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13. The Disciples asked Jesus why he told truths to the people in obscure stories. Notice His response above (verse 11): "to them it has not been given." It wasn't coincidental that the truth was obscured to them, but intentional! But why? Verse 15 tells us, "For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them." The truth was withheld from them as punishment for the very hardness of their hearts which first hated the truth! This is commonly referred to as "judicial hardening."
Then I thought of the Apostle Paul, in Romans 1:18, the second half of the verse, which reads, "men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." Unbelievers don't merely ignore or avoid the truth, they actively suppress it. They seek to bury it, so that their wickedness can reign unchallenged!
Then the Prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 7:11-12): "They refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. They made their hearts diamond-hard lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great anger came from the Lord of hosts." Then the next verse (Zechariah 7:13) gives His reaction: "'As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear,' says the Lord of hosts." The hardness of the hearts of the reprobate brings the judgment of the hardness of God's heart toward them. That is a frightening truth!