Tags: commentary on Matthew, darkness, eye surgery, eyesight, light, Light of the World, Matthew 6, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, vision
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.
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!
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.
Tags: Crucifixion of Christ, death of Christ, eyes of faith, living by faith, Mark 15, mocking Christ, The Cross
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.
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.
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.
Tags: communication, curiosity, eyesight, Genesis 3, Judges 13, Judges 14, Samson, verbal learning, visual learning, walking by faith
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.
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.
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)
Tags: 2 Corinthians 4, evangelism, great white sharks, great whites breaching, Jesus Christ, Satan's bondage, sensory deprivation, sharing the Gospel, sharks
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!
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.
Tags: common expressions, common expressions in the Bible, eye to eye, eyes, Isaiah 52, messengers, Romans 8, watchmen
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the LORD shall bring again Zion.
Isaiah 52:8, emphasis added
The expression “eye to eye” or “seeing eye to eye” has come to mean “a meeting of the minds.” When we say that we see eye to eye with someone, it usually means we have found something on which we agree. I have to go to the eye doctor quite frequently, and the examination always involves him looking through this gadget that he jams into my eye socket. At that point, he and I don’t always agree on how “relaxed” I should be, but because our faces are so close together, and because he is using his eye to look into my eye, we are literally, if not figuratively, “eye to eye.”
The image of seeing “eye to eye” in Isaiah 52:8, however, is not really a picture of two people who are face to face. It is more of a description of people who are standing side by side, looking at something from the same viewpoint.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
God’s messenger is exuberant because he is bringing news of God’s deliverance. This is exceedingly good news, so the watchmen on the towers can actually tell from the way the messenger runs, even from a great distance, that he is bringing glad tidings of victory, not the discouraging news of defeat.
Therefore, the watchmen lift up their voices. They are excited to be seeing “eye to eye.” They are of “one mind with God:” they are seeing God’s people the way God sees His people.
Sometimes, as Christians, we are quick to get together and bemoan bad news: “Oh no, the stock market is crashing.” “Oh no, it hasn’t rained enough.” “Oh no, it’s raining too much.” “Oh no, the corrupt politicians are ruining our country.” We sometimes sound like a bunch of whining children, and someone who didn’t know better would get the impression that we have no idea that there is a God in Heaven Who is in control, Who hasn’t forgotten how to rule and reign, Who hasn’t fallen off His throne, and Who loves His people and is perfectly capable of making ALL things work together for an ultimate objective GOOD. Maybe we should stop fearfully and desperately searching each other’s eyes for some temporal, earthly sign of “hope,” and, instead, stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side, and train our eyes upon the King of Glory, Who is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-seeing.
Tags: 2 Corinthians 4, black, darkness, evangelism, eyes, Genesis 1, Gospel Light, Hosea 6, Isaiah 14, Jesus the Light, John 1, John 3, Judges 17, light, Light of the Gospel, Light of the World, Lucifer, Matthew 5, witnessing
When a person is sound asleep and someone suddenly shines a bright light right into his face, the sleepy person is going to have a tendency to get angry. In a similar way, the Light of the Gospel can be very offensive to a lost person.
My wife is a big fan of bright lights first thing in the morning. If she could have her way, she would spring out of bed and immediately turn on all the brightest lights in the house. That probably speaks well of her spiritual condition, because, as Christians, we should be lovers of light more than darkness. I have to admit that I like to wake up a little more slowly. If I get my way, I’ll get up, take a shower, and get dressed – all in the dark (which probably explains why my tie seldom matches my shirt and I’m wearing mismatched socks.)
We live in “dark days,” spiritually speaking. 21st Century America is very similar to the time period described in the Book of Judges. People are mainly doing “what is right in their own eyes” instead of what God has commanded. It seems like the people whose eyes are most adjusted to darkness are some of the the most influential in our society. This does not bode well for our future. When small men cast long shadows, it’s a sure sign that the sun is setting.
Light has a tendency to make things brighter and more clear. We use words like “luminous;” “luster;” “illuminate;” and “illustrate.” When things are clear – when they are seen in their “true light” – we can be prepared and alert. Can you imagine a security guard charged with protecting someone’s life and property, understanding the importance of staying awake, and yet deciding to turn the lights out during his watch?
People who desire to commit acts of shame or evil often seek out areas of darkness. Most nightclubs or barrooms are dark. Most major cities have a “bad side” of town where the streets are dark.
The “color” black (which is really the absence of light) is the color of mourning and sadness.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
God said the light was good. He didn’t say that about the darkness. And in the very beginning He divided them – He separated them. As Christians, we have the “Light of the World” shining within us. We shouldn’t try to turn this Light down in order to fit in with the world, nor in order to allow the world to keep sleeping, nor out of fear that we might offend the darkness with Light. We need to shine brightly into the darkest parts of the world.
We sing, “Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore! Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine forevermore!” Many Christians agree that we should send the Light, but few want to help pay the light bill. There is a financial cost, as well as a comfort cost, in sending forth the Light. There is also the cost of ridicule and embarrassment when we shine our Savior’s light.
Light can be very offensive. There’s a right way to be offensive and a wrong way to be offensive. I must remember that the Light does not ultimately come from me. It is the Light of God – hopefully reflected – but only reflected – off me. Satan got in trouble over this issue back when he was still an angel.
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
The name “Lucifer” meant “light-bearer” or “bright one.” He was not a light “source,” and neither are we – but we should be mirrors, and light “amplifiers.”
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.
Christ Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament type of sacrificial offerings, but He wasn’t a “burnt offering,” because He produced His Own light.
Biological eyes are dependent on light in order to work properly. Even eyes that work well are useless in the dark. In Scripture lost people are compared to blind people – they are spiritually blind. It is not so much because their “spiritual eyes” don’t work. It is more because they are choosing to remain away from the Light. A lost person hates the true Light. He wants to remain in the dark. But God has given Christians the responsibility – and the awesome privilege – of shining His Light into the dark, and showing lost people the way out of the dark and into the light of His glory.
Tags: commentary on Romans, Deuteronomy 32, Ephesians 2, Isaiah 52, Isaiah 65, Jesus, Joel 2, Romans 10, Romans 11, Sunday School lessons on Romans
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
We do not earn salvation merely by what we say. In fact, we do not earn salvation at all. It is a gift from God. But our mouths are what we are to use to confess the salvation we have received. Have you ever made a public profession of your faith?
For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
In Joel 2:32 the prophet Joel had prophesied about the time when “whosoever” called on God as Lord would be saved. If you have been in church long enough, you have probably heard a preacher at one time or another exhort people who have not been saved to answer this question for themselves: “Are you a ‘whosoever?'”
The Holy Spirit in Romans 10 went on to use the Scriptures of the prophet Isaiah to explain how God views those who carry the Gospel to all the “whosoevers:”
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Beautiful feet are feet that bring the news of salvation. They are feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, but peace between whom? Peace between God and sinners. “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!” Sinners need to be reconciled to God because, before we were saved, we were at war with God.
In the Apostle Paul’s time this should not have been a new idea to the Israelites. The Holy Spirit cites Deuteronomy 32:21:
But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
That “foolish nation” was the gentiles. One of the reasons God sent the message of salvation to the gentiles was because the Jews had rejected it, but another reason was so that gentile Christians could provoke them to jealousy.
Romans Chapter 10 ends with a quote from Isaiah 65:
I am sought of them that asked not for me; I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;
Isaiah 65: 1-2
Romans Chapter 11 shows that, although the Jews are a gainsaying people, God’s patience has not run out with them. He has a future for them. His hand may have been turned against them, but His heart is not turned against them. God to the nation of Israel: I’m not finished with you yet. God could have called gentiles to be apostles, but he chose Jews. The manner in which the Apostle Paul was saved is a picture of the way that Israel will be converted to a Christian nation and a Christian people:
1. Paul saw Jesus.
2. He repented.
3. He received Him.
God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.
The Bible word for those Jews who are set aside for God – who are still faithful and who still know the truth, even when the vast majority does not – is the “remnant.” The remnant is a special group, but it is still made up of people who are saved the same way anybody is saved: by grace through faith.
Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
“Blinded” in Romans 11:7 is not referring to someone who will never see again. It is the term that we think of as “blindfolded” (temporarily blinded). Historically, the Jews had received great spiritual blessings, but they had often loved the blessings and forgotten the Blesser. Generally, we don’t like to work, but there is pleasure in the fruits of labor. The problem is focusing on the pleasure and thinking we are the producers of that pleasure, instead of remembering where our blessings really come from.
Tags: Hebrews 2, John 12, John 6, Luke 19, prayer of Jabez, prosperity Gospel, prosperity preachers, TBN, Word of Faith, Zacchaeus
The false teaching of the prosperity gospel is partly about greed. Therefore, if you expect the prosperity preacher to talk about “claiming” and “grabbing” and “seizing” you will not be disappointed. Whether it’s good health, popularity with the world, or just plain old filthy lucre, though, the prosperity preacher knows one thing:
You have to see it before you reach it!
Good Preacher Going Bad
Speaking “words of faith” are all well and good. But if you’ve been speaking to your checkbook, your doctor’s appointment book, and your Facebook for a long time, and you still don’t have as many dollars, healings, or shallow friends as you would like – it just may be that you are not “visualizing” hard enough!
I have heard visualizing techniques attributed to all sorts of Biblical characters – from Abraham to Jabez to David to Zacchaeus. To be fair, Zacchaeus did seem to be a little (no pun intended) bit of a visualizer.
“See there!” says the prosperity preacher, “The Bible does teach that we are supposed to see what we want, and then reach for it!”
Not so fast. Zacchaeus had a desire to see, alright – but a desire to see what… or should I say Whom?
And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature.
Luke 19:3, emphasis added
Despite what the prosperity teacher tells you, remember: Our help comes from seeing Jesus – not the personal comforts we can concoct in our own imaginations.
So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid.
John 6:19, emphasis added
The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.
John 12:21, emphasis added
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
Hebrews 2:9, emphasis added
Tags: Acts, Acts 22, Apostle Paul, blindness, Book of Acts, eyesight, Jeremiah 9, lessons on Acts, Matthew 5, Sunday School lessons on Acts
In Acts Chapter 22 the Apostle Paul is telling the story of how he went from being the lost, hell-bound Saul of Tarsus, to being the saved, Heaven-bound man of God. Having been struck blind on the road to Damascus by the overwhelming glory of Christ Jesus Himself, Paul is taken to a devout Jewish man named Ananias. We pick up the story in Verse 13:
…Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth. For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
Acts 22:13-15 (emphasis added)
In these three verses there are five references to the gift of sight. Saul had received a great gift from the Lord – the ability to see again. However, that gift was not given just for the purpose of being a gift. It was a gift given for a reason. The reason was so that Saul could see the Just One, Jesus Christ, and then tell others about Him, and so that others might see Him, too.
Eyesight is one of the greatest earthly gifts of God there is. However, we have an amazing ability to receive earthly gifts from God, and then make those gifts, rather the Giver of those gifts, the objects of our attention, affection, and even adoration.
The same can be said of spiritual gifts. Have you been given the gift of being able to be forgiving? Then, rejoice! But do not think of yourself as an expert on forgiveness, and revel in pride over how forgiving you can be. Think of forgiveness as a gift given to help you understand how much it cost God, and how much He must have loved you, to forgive you. Forgiveness is a gift that removes a barrier so that you can see God better!
Have you been given the gift of victory over sin to the extent where you are able to live a more pure and holy life? Then, rejoice! But do not think of yourself as an authority on personal purity and holy living. Think of purity and holiness as a gift which allows you into the intimate presence of the Pure and Holy God, so that you may see Him better! (Matthew 5:8)
Have you been given the gift of spiritual insight? Then, rejoice! But do not rejoice that you have become the person that people seek out when they have spiritual questions or problems, and do not expect the praise or compensation of men when you are able to help them. Instead, think of spiritual insight as a way to better know God!
Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD.