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of May 1999
Next up-date: June 1st 1999 (God willing).
Luke 18:6. And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge says.
Today it's called "reverse psychology", and is very potent. By using that which arouses the listener the speaker is sure of a response. Because the basic message of the parable is so out of line with accepted Christian "norms" the reader is put in a position where they must think (AND THAT'S HARD WORK) and hopefully, protest. "I would that you were hot or cold", Jesus says. Revelation 3:15. Anything other than apathetic, although "hot" is best. Even if it is "hot under the collar".
Below is the full parable and a little study of it under the Spirit's guidance shows its true message.
And He spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint [or give up]; saying,
There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge says. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them [or, takes a while to answer them]? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.
Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth? [And that's the question!!!]
Right at the beginning we have the reason for the story. Jesus knew that there is a tendency among men and women to give up if God doesn't answer quickly. He also knew that there would come a time in the last days just before the second coming when God would not be able to get through to His people, and they would have to believe that He was trying.
So the story of a defenseless widow approaching the unsympathetic judge with a determination not to give up (because there was no one else to help her) makes the point very nicely. It is also shown in its straightforward form when Peter clung to Jesus.
Now when He had left speaking, He said to Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said to Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.
And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net broke. And they beckoned to their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord, for he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken.
Peter exclaimed, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man;" yet he clung to the feet of Jesus, feeling that he could not be parted from Him. Then the Saviour answered, "Fear not; from henceforth you shall catch men."
It was the same presence of divine holiness that had caused the prophet Daniel to fall as one dead before the angel of God. He said, "My comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength." Daniel 10:8.
So when Isaiah beheld the glory of the Lord, he exclaimed, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts." Isaiah 6:5.
Humanity, with its weakness and sin, was brought in contrast with the perfection of divinity, and they felt altogether deficient and unholy. Thus it has been with all who have been granted a view of God's greatness and majesty.
But it was only after Isaiah has beheld the holiness of God and his own unworthiness that he was entrusted with the divine message. It was after Peter had been led to self-renunciation and dependence upon divine power that he received the call to his work for Christ.
So with the followers in the last days. When they rely entirely upon Jesus as their Saviour and Mediator they will be ready for the second advent and their work to bring it about.
The Bible is full of what appear to be contradictions which are often just contrasts. They are there so that we will require the guidance of the Spirit to find the truth. If we could easily decipher the word of God on our own we would not feel the need of a Companion and would become self-sufficient, which leads to sin. But they are not there to confuse us. Every one who listens will be given the depth of meaning which they need.
Here's another good example of the method.
Matthew 10:34-39 He does not produce peace
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
And he that takes not his cross, and follows after Me, is not worthy of Me.
He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it.
The Prince of peace bringing a sword!! His sword is the word of God, but it does "kill" so he means what He is saying. Those that hear the word of God must make a decision either for or against it and that decision leads either to life or death as Moses knew. Deuteronomy 30:14-15. There is no half-way point. We cannot sit on the fence" as it were when it comes to the word of God.
Ephesians 6:11-17 The sword is only part of the armour
Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take to you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth [the basic underclothing], and having on the breastplate of righteousness [to protect your heart]; and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace [to make sure you walk well among men]. Above all, taking the shield of faith [to protect your fellow-fighters], wherewith you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation [your certainty of God's power], and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God...
Some have mistaken the words of the Bible to mean that they should fight for the truth with earthly weapons as well. But here again, God is using parables to explain an underlying thought. His people are to fight only with words, although they will find that the answer to their words will be literal weapons used against them. Those words will do what Jesus said, separate loved ones on this earth and cause conflict. Because of the intensity of emotion raised by differences in religious views the tenderest earthly ties will broken. Parents against children and children against parents. Even husbands and wives against each other!
And this is what Jesus thought His brand-new disciples needed as a preparation for their work! He gave the bad news right at the start so that they, having put their hand to the plough, would not give up when the going got tough.
So Jesus says, "He that finds his life shall lose it: and he that loses his life for My sake shall find it", using the contradiction method. He that finds or seeks to save his own life will certainly perish because we cannot protect ourselves against the wiles of the devil. On the other hand, he or she that takes up the work offered to them, and concentrates on doing that, will find that as they go forward that God is behind them protecting their back and they will be completely safe. As they fight and protect the one standing next to them, their eternal destiny is sure.
Using the same principle, Jesus apparently rejected the advances of the Syro-Phoenician woman when she approached Him for healing for her daughter. She, although not a Jew, saw His character as even His disciples did not, and kept on at Him because of her need.
Then Jesus went from there, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried to Him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, You son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
But He answered her not a word.
And His disciples came and besought Him, saying, Send her away; for she cries after us [and is annoying]. But He answered and said, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. [And she was one!].
Then came she and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, help me.
But He answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and cast it to dogs.
And she said [under the Spirits direction], Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. Then Jesus answered and said to her, O woman, great is your faith: be it to you even as you will. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
The classic example of contrast and contradiction is the parable regarding the rich man and the beggar Lazarus which seems to indicate an interactive heaven and hell.
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table [but he didn't get them]: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
and in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from there.
Then he said, I pray you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham says to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will repent. And he said to him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
Jesus knew, like all good Bible students, that there is no eternally burning hell, and that in the grave "there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom", (Ecclesiastes 9:10), but He wanted to get a point across. So He used the understanding of His listeners to get their attention. Due to their mingling with the Greeks and Romans they had accepted the idea of an immortal soul and the words of the Bible regarding the state of the dead had become shadowy and uncertain.
They also had a belief in Abraham stronger than their belief in God so He used that as well.
The punchline is the last statement. Having got their attention on this very important subject, Jesus delivered the truth very efficiently. If one will not believe on the strength of the word of God then no amount of other evidence will be sufficient. The word of the living God is powerful and alive and brings with it the new life. Any other witness can only supplement, because it cannot bring life. God says,
For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
That which appears to be contradictory and sometimes even against the truth, is a great weapon the Spirit can use to gain the attention of His listeners. Whether He uses His understanding or the understanding of the hearer is not important. What is important is that the truth be set out in a way that the listener cannot miss it. The Spirit is always willing to patiently explain word by word to the genuine seeker after truth but He does not waste His time on those who want to quibble at the slightest "gnat". Matthew 23:24.
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.
For whoever has [the life of God], to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whoever has not, from him shall be taken away even that he has.
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 Isaiah, which says,
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.
Apparent contradictions are very useful in the Bible because they make the reader stop and think about what he or she has just read. Their purpose is not to confuse but to cause a deeper investigation to take place whereby the Spirit can give a clearer explanation of a truth.
"And when He had
called to Him His twelve disciples, He gave them power
against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal
all manner of sickness and all manner of disease."
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