Purpose of parables and hardened hearts

(Carol Lou) #1

Matt 13:10-17 has always been a bit of a puzzle to me. Is God purposely wanting people to not understand less they turn and be healed? (vs 15) Or is Jesus merely stating the fact that sharing the truth to mankind can and does result in man hardening his heart. In other words, is the intent of God to harden hearts or does being presented with the truth harden hearts?

Idolatry and an Inability to Hear God
(C Rhodes) #2

When I read verses 10, 11, 13, and 15 as one text, it clarifies the intent of JESUS. There was no intent to hardened the heart of the people but rather an attempt to circumvent their current condition.

“And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it is not given.
Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not, and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 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.”

The only occasion when GOD hardened anyone’s heart was during a time of judgement and retribution, as it happened with the Pharaoh when considering the request to let Israel go. But Pharoah had urshered in those conditions through his own arrogance. Or as it can happen when we are turned to reprobated mind. Romans 1:28 kjv.

The scriptures are clear concerning GOD’s desire for us. Ecclesiates 12:1 or Hebrew 3:4-8. It is His desire that none be lost. 2 Peter 3:8-10. But, we always get to choose.

(SeanO) #3

@clou Here are a few thoughts you may find helpful. The Lord grant you wisdom.

Isaiah 1 Comes Before Isaiah 6

When Jesus talks about the affect of parables on their hearers, he is quoting Isaiah 6. It sounds very harsh, but there are two things to note.

  1. God has already said in Isaiah 1 that the Israelites have rejected Him of their own will - they have chosen the darkness
  2. Isaiah says ‘How long O Lord?’ - God will preserve a remnant of faithful people for Himself

Isaiah 1:3-4 - The ox knows its master,
the donkey its owner’s manger,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

4 Woe to the sinful nation,
a people whose guilt is great,
a brood of evildoers,
children given to corruption!
They have forsaken the Lord;
they have spurned the Holy One of Israel
and turned their backs on him.

Isaiah 6:9-11 - He said, “Go and tell this people:

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

11 Then I said, “For how long, Lord?”

George MacDonald

MacDonald makes a great point - parables are understandable to those with a pure and honest heart. A person whose heart is not right with God, no matter how intelligent, will only be hardened by them and incapable of perceiving their intent through action no matter how intelligent.

"This will help to remove the difficulty that the parables are plainly for the teaching of the truth, and yet the Lord speaks of them as for the concealing of it. They are for the understanding of that man only who is practical–who does the thing he knows, who seeks to understand vitally. They reveal to the live conscience, otherwise not to the keenest intellect–though at the same time they may help to rouse the conscience with glimpses of the truth, where the man is on the borders of waking. Ignorance may be at once a punishment and a kindness: all punishment is kindness, and the best of which the man at the time is capable: ‘Because you will not do, you shall not see; but it would be worse for you if you did see, not being of the disposition to do.’ Such are punished in having the way closed before them; they punish themselves; their own doing results as it cannot but result on them. To say to them certain things so that they could understand them, would but harden them more, because they would not do them; they should have but parables–lanterns of the truth, clear to those who will walk in their light, dark to those who will not. The former are content to have the light cast upon their way; the latter will have it in their eyes, and cannot: if they had, it would but blind them. For them to know more would be their worse condemnation. They are not fit to know more; more shall not be given them yet; it is their punishment that they are in the wrong, and shall keep in the wrong until they come out of it. ‘You choose the dark; you shall stay in the dark till the terrors that dwell in the dark affray you, and cause you to cry out.’ God puts a seal upon the will of man; that seal is either his great punishment, or his mighty favour: ‘Ye love the darkness, abide in the darkness:’ ‘O woman, great is thy faith: be it done unto thee even as thou wilt!’


Logic and Reasoning in reading the Bible
(Lakshmi Mehta) #4

@clou, I happened to read Prov 25:2 in my devotions recently which says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, But the glory of kings is to search out a matter”. We often ask why God didnt make things clearer for us to understand Him easily? If He revealed Himself in our pride, we have no hope of glory. Glory is in Holiness. By concealing Himself, God provides man an opportunity to grow in holiness. His desire is our glory in Him. If God made Himself accessible to all easily without requiring humility, He would fail in loving us. God in love desires goodness/holiness in us. This may be one reason for God to speak in parables to those hardened in heart.