This Day in History: 0000-12-23
December 23 – Psalms 78:1-3
Oh my people, listen to My instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past – stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us.
Isaiah 6:9-10 – And He said, “Yes, go and say to this people, ‘Listen carefully, but do not understand. Watch closely, but learn nothing.’ Harden the hearts of these people. Plug their ears and shut their eyes. That way, they will not see with their eyes, nor hear with their ears, nor understand with their hearts and turn to Me for healing.
The Messiah would speak in parables, and the people of Israel would not understand or accept His message.
Matthew 13: 34-35 – Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. This fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet: “I will speak to you in parables. I will explain things hidden since the creation of the world.”
Matthew 13:10-14 – His disciples came and asked Him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”
He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them. That is why I use parables,
For they look but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really understand.
This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, “When you hear what I say, you will not understand…”
During the three short years of Jesus’s public ministry here on earth He traveled around Israel teaching the crowds that followed Him. Everywhere He went He drew a crowd. And just as the prophets had promised, He taught using parables. Unfortunately, that wasn’t all the prophets got right. Jesus was indeed the Messiah. He did, in fact, use stories and parables to teach the crowds. And just as had been foretold, the people didn’t see, or hear, or understand the saving message He brought to them. They came for the show. They wanted to see the miracles, but they missed the message, and in doing so, missed out on the greatest miracle of all.
See, the people of Israel believed that their Messiah would come with blazing fire. A triumphant warrior King who would bring justice to His people by overtaking the government of the day and establishing His own rule and reign. They missed out on the true justice – the real deliverance He brought because they were looking for something different. But the thing is, Jesus fulfilled countless Scriptures and prophesies. So why did they think it would be different?
I believe the answer has two parts, and both serve as a warning to us today. Just as the people of Israel missed the first coming of the Messiah, the church lives in danger of missing the second coming for the same reasons.
First, the Jewish people had abandoned the study of Scripture in favor of following the teachings and traditions of the religious leaders. They believed Messiah would come in the way the leaders had taught them, and they missed the obvious signs that He was the Promised One because they weren’t familiar enough with the actual prophesies to recognize their fulfillment.
Second, their hearts were distracted. They were preoccupied with both the pleasures and the cares of this world and had little room left over in their minds for the things of God. When God Almighty stood before them in the flesh, they missed it for the simple reason that they weren’t looking for Him. They came to see the show. They heard that miracles were being performed, and they didn’t want to miss out on the greatest entertainment of the day. They listened to His stories, but weren’t trying to hear or understand the message behind those stories. They were shallow, fickle, and foolish.
Precious friends, may we take their example to heart! May we resolve to dedicate our lives to the study of His Word so that we’ll never miss out on recognizing His works. May we refuse to allow the temporal things that pull at us in this life to overshadow His place in our hearts. May we always be asking, so that we can receive. May we always be seeking so that we can be found. May we always be knocking, so that He will open the door to us and give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts that understand. May His dearly loved daughters never miss out on the messages He has for us!