Blindly Riding the Hobby Horse

November 27, 2019 at 10:48 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | Leave a comment
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They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind.

John 9:13

The reason that the man’s acquaintances brought him to the Pharisees after they saw that he had been healed of lifelong blindness was probably because such an astounding miracle required, they thought, some type of religious explanation. Of course, the Pharisees had a special hobby horse they liked to ride called “How many ways can people violate the Sabbath?”

And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see.

John 9:14-15

They were interested in the method of healing used because the Pharisees were experts at finding Sabbath-violations. If Jesus mixed water with dirt to make clay (mud) they could accuse him of “kneading” on the Sabbath, and people weren’t allowed to knead dough for bread on the Sabbath. It was a stretch, but they were already biased against Jesus and looking for a way to say that, even though He had miraculous healing powers, He couldn’t really be sent from God because He was a sinful Sabbath-breaker.

Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them.

John 9:16

No Christian has complete and total victory over sin in every single area of his or her life – at least not all the time. What’s more, many of us would admit to struggling with certain sins on a daily basis, and having some particular types of sins which have given us trouble for years. However, I’m guessing that there are at least a few categories of sin where God has given you significant victories, and possibly some where you never faced great temptation to begin with, and that you really can’t understand how some people can sin so egregiously in those areas. Perhaps people who are compulsive liars really get on your nerves (the 9th Commandment). Maybe it’s children who rebel openly against their parents (the 5th Commandment). What about people who steal other people’s property (the 8th Commandment)? Are they the ones who really get your goat (figuratively if not literally!)?

For the Pharisees who opposed Jesus during His earthly ministry, their “pet peeve” seems to have been people who were lax in their observance of the Sabbath day (4th Commandment). They were so keen to prevent the Sabbath commandment from being violated that they fashioned a bunch of additional cautionary rules around it to keep people from even coming close to breaking it. Maybe they originally had good intentions, but the problem was that, over time, they considered these man-made safeguards to be co-equal with the Law of God itself. In other words, they began to worship the Sabbath itself rather than the Lord of the Sabbath.

Let us not fall into this same trap. If you are exceedingly honest, you probably have a bias against liars. If you have worked hard to provide for your family, you probably have a strong dislike for thieves. And if you respect and honor your own parents, you might have little patience for rebellious, sarcastic, and disrespectful children. However, we must remember not to worship honesty, hard work, or filial respect. Instead, we worship the God of truth, provision, and authority, and, if He has communicated those attributes to us, we recognize them as gifts to bring Him glory, not as proud accomplishments with which to demean others.

The Pharisees found themselves in a quandary, though, because, if they claimed that sinners could not do miracles, then the fact of the miracle must mean that Jesus WAS NOT a sinner.

They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.

John 9:17

The blind man had not yet come to saving faith in Jesus as the Son of God, but He clearly knew that Jesus was the “real deal” and had at least as much spiritual power as a true prophet from God.

But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight.

John 9:18

The Jewish religious leaders suspected that maybe the man had been able to see at some point in his life, so the healing was not really miraculous. Only his parents could testify that he had truly been BORN blind.

And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself.

John 9:19-21

This does not tells us the age of the man who had been healed, but it does tell us he was at least 13, because that was considered to be “of age” back then. A 13 year old boy/man could testify legally in court. His parents didn’t want to get in trouble with the Pharisees, but they did confirm that he was born blind before passing the buck by saying, “He can speak for himself about how it happened and what He thinks of Jesus.”

These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

John 9:22

This lets us know that the Pharisees were not only actively plotting the death of Jesus, but had instituted serious persecution against those who would worship and follow Him. Truly following Jesus has always been costly.

Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.

John 9:23-25

The Pharisees then turned on the healed man again, trying to get him to denounce Jesus, but you can see he was starting to suspect their ulterior motives.

Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples?

John 9:26-27

This was a very sarcastic response because obviously the Pharisees did not want to be Jesus’s disciples, but it was like saying, “Why are you so interested in Him? Is it because deep down you know He might be the Messiah?” This made them very angry.

Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.

John 9:28-30

It sounds like the healed man was really having fun with them now. They were claiming to be the representatives of Moses, but they didn’t even recognize that Moses testified about a greater Prophet who would be sent from God.

Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

John 9:31-34

This sums up the Pharisees’ biggest problem: the prideful denial that they were born in sins. All of us were born in sin, and Jesus will forgive us, but the condition is that we have to recognize that we are sinners and always have been, and therefore we NEED to be forgiven and saved. The Pharisees could not or would not do this, so they could not “see’ who Jesus really was.

Here’s Mud in Your Eye

November 13, 2019 at 5:04 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, John | 2 Comments
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Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.

John 8:28

Historically, there have been great blessings attached to being Jewish, tempered by great persecution. (Haman and Hitler are two obvious examples.) The Abrahamic Covenant or blessing has been their great claim to God’s favor. Christian children today are taught to sing, “Father Abraham has many sons,” and challenged with the question, “Are you one of them?” The Jewish religious leaders who confronted Jesus would have enthusiastically answered, “Yes, we are!” but were they really?

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.

John 8:36-45

One of the things I often hear is that, “We are all God’s children,” or some similar sentiment. This is true only in the limited sense that all people are created by God and bear His image. Jesus, who often gets a bad rap these days as sort of a touchy-feely, mealy-mouthed, self-help guru, was, in reality, not averse to sharing some blunt truth when called for, and that’s what He did in John 8:44, telling the people who opposed His ministry that they were children of the devil!

Your conduct determines your spiritual paternity. Your freedom (from sin) determines your spiritual paternity. Whose Word you believe and obey determines your spiritual paternity.

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:58-69

There is no doubt Jesus claimed to be God, and His enemies knew it.

And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

John 9:1-2

What is the relationship of sin to physical illness or lifelong infirmities?

1. They are not always related specifically in each individual case. A person’s illness or infirmity may not be caused by his specific sin.

2. Sometimes, though, they are directly related.
a. They may be related as a “natural” cause and effect. For example, fornication may result in syphilis or some other sexually transmitted disease, or chronic drunkenness may result in cirrhosis of the liver.
b. In other cases, someone’s illness or infirmity may be allowed or inflicted upon him supernaturally by God as a an act of chastening or punishment. As finite human beings, not privy to the secret will of God, we can not know when this is the case, so we do not diagnose a person’s illness or infirmity as God’s punishment or chastisement, even though we remain aware that it is a possibility.

3. In a larger sense, all illnesses and injuries and infirmities are “caused” by sin as a result of the Fall and Curse which God pronounced upon mankind after Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden.

When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.

John 9:6-7

Jesus made a mud pack from the dust of the earth (possibly reminiscent of the way God had used dirt to make Adam). Sometimes the mind makes strange connections. Years ago a singer named April March wrote an English translation of an old French song called “Laisse Tomber les Filles,” which means “Leave the Girls Alone.” It’s a song about a womanizer finally getting his comeuppance at the hands of the ladies he had used or mistreated. The English version has a line that goes, “You’re gonna see the reason why, When they’re spittin’ in your eye.” There is also a common expression heard in old movies from the 30s and 40s, in which characters about to throw back a shot of alcohol often propose an odd toast: “Here’s mud in your eye!” For some reason these weird references are what popped into my head when I was studying John 9:6.

Jesus, who had the power to heal with a mere word or touch, chose on at least three occasions in the Bible (including Mark 7:33 and 8:23) to heal people using His own saliva. In John 9:6 he combined it with dirt to make a mud mask. Why do you think that He did this, and what can we learn from it? We can ask the Holy Spirit to “illuminate” (open our eyes to) the Word and help us.

Here are some possible reasons why He may have used spit:

1. To demonstrate His reversal of “curses.” Spitting on someone has always been seen as an extreme insult or way of cursing someone. Jesus is the One Whose blessing “reverses the curses.”
2. To show the Jewish religious leaders that His true purity did not care about their ceremonial taboos against bodily excretions.

After applying the mud to the man’s eyes, Jesus “sent” – as Jesus has been explaining that He was “sent” from the Father – him to go wash in the pool of Siloam, which is connected with the Old Testament prophecy of Christ as “Shiloh.”

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Genesis 49:10

A Final and Unforgettable Sight

July 23, 2019 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah Chapter 39 deals with the complete conquest of Judah by Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar’s officers set up military rule in Jerusalem. Surrender was now too late. Everybody who had ignored Jeremiah’s warnings would have to face the consequences.

Of course, Zedekiah tried to flee, but he was easily tracked down and captured.

And it came to pass, that when Zedekiah the king of Judah saw them, and all the men of war, then they fled, and went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king’s garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain. But the Chaldeans’ army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him.

Jeremiah 39:4-5

There had been some conflicting prophecies: one that Zedekiah wold be captured and taken to Babylon, and one that he would not live to see Babylon. Here is the grisly way that the paradox was resolved:

Then the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes: also the king of Babylon slew all the nobles of Judah. Moreover he put out Zedekiah’s eyes, and bound him with chains, to carry him to Babylon. And the Chaldeans burned the king’s house, and the houses of the people, with fire, and brake down the walls of Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 39:6-8

What an awful image to have as the last thing you ever see. We do not know how long Zedekiah lived in Babylon, but he never actually saw the place.

Modern archaeological digs continue to confirm the destruction of the homes and buildings in Jerusalem after the siege. One deportation of the “best” citizens had occurred before. Now they sent pretty much everybody but the poorest of the poor to Babylon, and distributed lots of land to those left behind so that they could farm it and grow food for the Babylonian soldiers. God saw to it that Nebuchadnezzar was aware of Jeremiah and treated him favorably and turned him over to Gedaliah, the appointed governor. Jeremiah’s prophecies had come true, but God wasn’t finished with him yet. He still had much for him to accomplish.

Doubling Down on the Hypocrites

July 15, 2019 at 2:30 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Luke | 4 Comments
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No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.

Luke 11:33

Jesus is the Light for Christians. He is the only thing that illuminates spiritual darkness. If you are going to have an impact for the Kingdom, you are going to have to bring out Jesus and shine Him into blinded minds.

The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.

Luke 11:34

The person with double vision – speaking from experience – does not see twice as much. If your eye be “double” then your “light” becomes darkness. Double-sightedness = spiritual blindness. Double-mindedness = instability.

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.

James 1:8

Double-heartedness = idolatry.

Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name.

Psalm 86:11

Here are some Biblical examples of people with “double vision” who wound up in the dark:

Samson – his name meant “Son of the Sun,” but he liked to look at things he shouldn’t look at and had divided affections between the Lord and his own lusts, and he wound up blind, pushing a mill stone.

Lot – he was double-minded. He believed in God but wanted to live in the world. He ended up in a cave, in the dark, drunk, committing incest with his daughters.

Saul – he had a divided heart. He wanted to be the king but did not want God to be the King over him. He wound up in spiritual darkness, committing suicide on the battlefield.

And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.

Luke 11:37

Jesus would spend time with sinners, and and He was often harsh and condemning toward the religious leaders (Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers) because they would criticize Him and say, “Why are you hanging out with sinners? It makes you seem like a sinner, too.” This would be like asking a doctor why he’s always so sick since he’s always hanging out at hospitals, but we need to remember that Jesus loved the Pharisees and the religious hypocrites, too, and He did spend time with them also. He loves sinners, including “religious” sinners, but He does not brook their hypocrisy.

And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

Luke 11:38

We do not know if this was a conscious action on the part of Jesus, designed to provoke a reaction, but it did cause a reaction for sure. Jesus responded with some very harsh rebukes.

And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness. Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

Luke 11:39-40

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

Matthew 5:21-22

How could Jesus call someone a fool and not sin, when, for us, such name-calling is tantamount to breaking the Sixth Commandment? The reason is that when when we get mad enough to call somebody a fool, or a jerk, or an idiot, we are committing the sin of unrighteous anger usually, and and hypocrisy always, but when Jesus did so in this instance He was pronouncing prophetic “woes,” or curses, in keeping with His Divine calling. And He was not done with the name-calling either:

But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

Luke 11:42

They tithed out of even their spice racks, but they didn’t truly love God or His people, and they judged with their own judgments while ignoring God’s judgments.

Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

Luke 11:43

They paid for the best seats, and they wanted to be noticed and seen, because they were seeking worship for themselves insted of for God.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

Luke 11:44

The scribes were included in this third woe, which was especially insulting because they would go to great lengths to mark out graves and keep away from the defilement of dead bodies.

Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.

Luke 11:45

One of the lawyers who heard these woes suddenly became passively-aggressively “offended,” and, in doing so, bit off more than he could chew:

And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

Luke 11:46

Jesus accused them of wanting to tell everyone else how to live, but not wanting to make it easier for anyone else to live right.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

Luke 11:47

They were trying to rewrite history so that they could repeat it with impunity.

Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Luke 11:48-52

They were fake teachers, adding to burdens instead of easing burdens. The scribes and Pharisees responded with anger.

And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

Luke 11:53-54

They tried to “catch” the Words coming out of His mouth. They went hunting with traps.

 

Where the Sun Don’t Shine

August 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 6 Comments
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Last year, I shared these helpful, but vastly underappreciated, thoughts with the married couples Sunday School class that I teach:

Because absolutely no one has asked me to share my thoughts on the big solar eclipse, I find myself unable to resist the urge to publicize my opinions and innermost convictions about it. Here goes:

1. The solar eclipse (Lord willing) is happening this Monday, August 21, 2017, which is also one of my daughters’ (maybe the 4th or 5th one, I forget) birthday. I don’t know where the moon got the big idea to block out the sun on the most important day of the year, but whatever.

2. From everything I’ve heard and read there is a possibility of going blind or at least losing part of your eyesight by looking at the sun. As somebody who has struggled with some fairly serious vision problems, that pretty much seals the deal for me. Seeing a black shadow pass by in the sky, a little dot with a corona, weird perspectives in the clouds – those might be cool, I guess, but I’m not risking my eyesight, so if you want to borrow my huge black old-people shades they make me wear when I ask for the senior citizen discount at the hospital cafeteria after my eye exams, you’re welcome to them. I won’t need them, because I’ll be looking at the ground just to be on the safe side. I found a five dollar bill lying in a gutter during the last eclipse!

3. My first grade teacher (in our one-room mud-and-straw schoolhouse on the prairie) had a scale model of the solar system. We could play with it and make the little model earth pass between the little model sun and moon, and the moon pass between the sun and the earth, and all sorts of configurations that happen when spheres move around each other in circles. Whether a solar eclipse happens once in a lifetime or once every thousand years or whatever, it seemed apparent that it would happen eventually, so I was kind of over it at that point. It’s like when your car’s odometer rolls over to 111,111 miles. Sort of neat, but not really a reason to take off work or skip school.

4. So, if I’m such an eclipse-scrooge, why bring it up at all, you ask. Because I don’t want Christians (especially Christian parents) to get too carried away with the latest cultural fads. Colossians 2:8 says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” The word translated as “rudiments” contains the idea of the regular movements of the celestial bodies (the stars, planets, sun, and moon). People in Bible times tended to place spiritual significance in astrology, and many people still do it today. I don’t want our children to think that this is some “miracle” or “sign from God,” and, more to the point, we don’t want them to think that normal (though God-controlled) natural occurrences are more interesting than the glory of God Himself which is the real purpose of these things. Just as some children’s Bible lessons teach that thirsty deer remind us of how we ought to thirst for the presence of God, and how soaring eagles remind us that waiting upon the Lord allows us to soar above our trials and temptations, and that bold lions remind us of the power and strength of the Lion of Judah, so too, we need to make sure that they know that the heavens (and the celestial bodies that revolve around each other in them) declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). I hope my children think I’m much more excited about God, His Word, and His people than I am about inanimate spheres and their orbits.

5. Here’s a suggestion for “redeeming” your eclipse-viewing experience – something that I’ve told my kids and something that you can explain even if a typical South Louisiana thunderstorm covers the sky on Monday afternoon, spoiling your plans to go blind. You can even demonstrate this with a globe, a flashlight, a bouncy ball, and a mirror, safely within the confines of your air-conditioned living room. Tell them this: The earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates, but it doesn’t just rotate – it “repents” – over and over again – it turns to darkness, and then back to light. And the sun is like God – it shines its glory. We want to be like the moon. The moon reflects the glory of the sun onto the part of the earth (the world) that’s turned away from the sun. We need to be “moonlight” Christians. We don’t care about shining our own light. We just want to reflect God’s light on a dark world.

Lift up Your Eyes

July 6, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Jeremiah | 7 Comments
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It is easy for us to get into the habit of using our eyes – even our spiritual eyes – to focus only on the things in our immediate surroundings, or things lying directly in our paths, and to forget to look at the big picture. An even worse habit, though, is to become so inwardly focused that we see ourselves as the center of the universe, and begin to think that everything and everyone with whom we come into contact is there for our use, amusement, or service.

The sovereign Lord, however, the Designer of our eyes, our surroundings, and our circumstances, wants us to be on the lookout not only for what affects us personally, but for what is going on outside our immediate sphere of influence, and especially for what HE is doing for His Own Glory and the accomplishment of His Divine purposes.

In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, God’s people had become so self-centered, and so distracted by idols and worldly (and sinful!) pursuits, that, by the time God’s judgment had come into view, it was too late – and even then they had to be shaken by God’s specific instruction to look up and see it!

Lift up your eyes, and behold them that come from the north: where is the flock that was given thee, thy beautiful flock?

Jeremiah 13:20

When our eyes become satisfied with mundane and frivolous things – things that pale in comparison with the great and beautiful things that God originally designed them to behold and rejoice over – then we will find ourselves depressed and downcast. For the flock of God in Jeremiah’s day, judgment came via invaders from the north. By the time they became visible it was too late. In our day, we must keep our focus on Jesus, His Word, His people, and His work, so that the lifting up of our eyes will bring visions of victory rather than defeat, destruction, and captivity.

Double Vision, Divided Vision, and Darkened Vision

May 11, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Matthew | 7 Comments
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It’s been nearly a month since I’ve posted on The Deep End. The reason for this is that I recently had eye surgery, and the recovery period – in which I’ve been gradually regaining enough vision to be able to read and type comfortably again – has taken longer than I thought it would. I must praise the Lord and thank Him for being with me during the surgery, and for the healing and results He has given me by His power. I have, by His grace, been learning not to take His marvelous gift of eyesight for granted. If the Lord decides to take away my eyesight or allow it to be taken away at this point in my life, I would have no reason to complain. I have seen enough wonderful things so far in my life – things that I never deserved to see – that I would (hopefully, again, by His grace) be forever grateful.

I have also been meditating on passages of Scripture dealing with eyesight, such as:

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

Matthew 6:22

During the past few years, as I have struggled with bouts of double (and triple!) vision, I can certainly attest that I much prefer “single vision.” Just as God has given us the gift of light, and the gift of amazingly complex biological organs and anatomical processes that allow that light to place accurate images of our surrounding reality into our brains, so has He given us the opportunity to be “single” rather than “divided” in our devotion to Him. If I am “double minded,” I will be unstable in all my ways. If I have “double vision,” letting the false and vain things of this world blur together with the things of God and His Kingdom, then my body will begin to fill up with the evil deeds of darkness, and I will stumble about, alternately frightened, confused, and depressed, dishonoring God and veering toward danger and destruction.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

Matthew 6:23

May the Lord help me, with the gift of eyesight He has given me, to fill my mind and body with thoughts and deeds of glorious light. May He help me to be united in vision and purpose, seeking to do His will, and to reflect His life-giving light in a dark and blinded world.

clear vision

Cross-Eyed

March 23, 2016 at 11:32 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Common Expressions, Mark | 4 Comments
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The sight of Jesus hanging on the Cross must have been gut-wrenching for those who followed Him and loved Him (and who had not fled and abandoned Him by this point). For most of the spectators, however, including the chief priests and the scribes, it was an occasion for mocking and cruel derision.

And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.

Mark 15:29-31

They were not at all ashamed to look fixedly at the Cross, jeering and taunting the Lord, making a jest that, if only He could get Himself down from there right in front of their eyes, then they would become believers.

Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Mark 15:32

You may have heard the expression “cross-eyed,” which is used for a person whose eyes both appear to look independently inward toward his nose, instead of looking in the same direction. Children who are able to make their eyes do this intentionally are sometimes warned by a parent or teacher: “You had better stop making that face, or it will freeze like that!”

Today, as Christians, we ought to look fixedly with our mind’s eye at the Cross, as we consider Christ’s great sacrifice there. Refusing to take the bait and get down from the Cross in His Own power, He instead remained there, paying our sin debt in full, and ultimately laying down His Own life before being taken down and buried, only to rise again victoriously from the grave on the third day! We don’t think of contemplating the Cross of our Savior as “getting stuck like that,” but we should often and regularly meditate upon it with hearts of gratitude, affection, repentance, faith, wonder, amazement, reverence, and obedience. Had He come down from the Cross before death, the religious leaders who mocked Jesus would have no more been convinced of His Deity and glory than they were by His miracles, compassion, and Words of Truth. For us, though, we place our trust in the crucified and resurrected King of Israel because He died and rose again.

The Trap of Looking instead of Listening

April 10, 2013 at 11:22 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Traps of Lawless Living | 6 Comments
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An angel appeared to Samson’s mother before his birth and declared to her that Samson’s purpose in life was going to have to do with delivering God’s people from their Philistine oppressors.

For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.

Judges 13:5

It seems likely that Samson’s parents must have relayed this information to Samson when he grew older, but Samson’s life seems to have been more of a series of side-tracked adventures than of purposeful and steadfast accomplishment. Part of his problem was that he allowed curiosity to distract him, and he was strongly tempted by what he saw.

And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, [Is there] never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that it [was] of the LORD, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel. Then went Samson down, and his father and his mother, to Timnath, and came to the vineyards of Timnath: and, behold, a young lion roared against him. And the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and he rent him as he would have rent a kid, and [he had] nothing in his hand: but he told not his father or his mother what he had done. And he went down, and talked with the woman; and she pleased Samson well. And after a time he returned to take her, and he turned aside to see the carcase of the lion: and, behold, [there was] a swarm of bees and honey in the carcase of the lion.

Judges 14:1-8 (emphasis added)

Certainly, eyesight is a great gift from God. Visual learning is one of our primary means of acquiring knowledge. However, while there are certainly some illustrated sermons in the Bible (where the prophecy of Scripture is acted out rather than communicated verbally), by and large, Christianity is a “verbal” religion. “Thus saith the Lord” was the preface to many if not most of God’s great specific revelations. Scripture is replete with commands to “hearken” (to hear and to listen). The “let those who have ears to hear” outnumber the “let those who have eyes to see.” At the beginning, when mankind first fell into sin by failing to heed God’s words, the tendency to look rather than listen played a key role in the decision to disobey.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:1 (emphasis added)

And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:6 (emphasis added)

Samson was guilty of ignoring what he had been told to do and going about to see what he might see. As Christians, we must remember to walk by faith and not by sight, and that faith comes by hearing.

Breaching Reality

April 13, 2012 at 8:37 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Biblical Violence, BiblicalSwimming, II Corinthians, Uncategorized | 28 Comments
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You may have seen this on television. It is one of my favorite images from nature documentary footage. In the frigid waters off the coast of South Africa a great white shark (by some estimates weighing close to one and a half tons) comes bursting up through the water’s surface, breaching explosively with its torpedo-shaped body, clenching a terrified fur seal tightly in its razor-sharp serrated teeth and powerful jaws!

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The voice-over narrator goes on to explain that this “sneak-attack” method of predation is used by sharks to overcome the agility and elusiveness of the much-smaller seals. The viewer is left to ponder this question: “How in the world did the seal not see that coming?”

The answer lies in the seals’ inability to see what needed to be seen, and to hear what needed to be heard. A seal-lover, anticipating the attack, could scream at these fur seals, and even wave his arms frantically as a warning of what is coming from below, but it would do no good. Christians who share the Gospel with unbelievers can sometimes feel a little of the same frustration. Lost sinners know that they are sinning. Why can’t they grasp the danger of God’s impending judgment and wrath? Like fur seals, they are suffering from a type of sensory deprivation.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Corinthians 4:4

According to Scripture, the little “g” god of this world, Satan, has blinded – not the eyes, but the minds – of unbelievers. They are swimming obliviously through a sea of worldly conformity, and no amount of screaming, gesticulating, logical reasoning, pleading, or emotional manipulation is going to convince them to swim immediately to the safe harbor of God’s love. What hope is there, then?

There is the same hope that we ourselves (born-again Christians) have experienced:

For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 4:6

The only light bright enough to shine into the heart of a person whose mind has been blinded is the glorious light which God has placed in our own hearts, and which can shine like a spotlight on the crucified and resurrected face of Christ the Lord.

Some of us reading this were given our sight just in the nick of time to avoid – not a great white shark – but the place of the condemned before the Great White Throne of God’s judgment. Now, it’s our turn to aim the darkness-defeating, sight-giving light straight into the minds of the other seals. Their Satanic affliction is not a cause for frustration; it is an opportunity for God to get glory.

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