What glory does unrepentance bring To God?

Hello! I’m working through the hard saying in Mark 4:11-12 on why Jesus spoke in parables.

It reads: “The secret of the Kingdom of God has been given to you, but to those outside, everything comes in parables so that they may indeed look, and yet not perceive; they may indeed listen, and yet not understand; otherwise, they might turn back and be forgiven.” (Emphasis mine)

This passage pulls from Isaiah 6:9-10, which says:

“Go! Say to these people: Keep listening, but do not understand; keep looking, but do not perceive. Make the minds of these people dull; deafen their ears and blind their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their minds, turn back, and be healed.” (Emphasis mine).

On the surface, these texts seem to imply that the conversion of the spiritually deaf and blind is something undesirable, something to be prevented.

However, the way these passages are explained in the CSB Apologetics Study Bible is that the Lord is glorified by both the humble response of the repentant AND the rebellious response of the unrepentant. That one mechanism of parables is to highlight hard hearts from softened ones. This all makes perfect sense!

My question, however, is simply this: how is God glorified in the rebellious heart of an unbeliever? What part of God’s character or nature is on display here? (I have a muddled idea, but am coming here for help in un-muddying it). Thanks!

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Hello Zach,

That is a great question. This has to do with the characteristics of God. One of God’s characteristics is that He is merciful, and He derives glory from displaying His perfect mercy to those whom He saves. But another of His characteristics is that He is perfectly just, and that is the characteristic that is on display here. God’s glory is revealed in His perfect and holy judgement of the unrepentant sinner.

In Exodus 34:6-7 when God appears to Moses we read this, “The Lord passed before him(Moses) and proclaimed, 'The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.”

The justice of God must be, and will be satisfied. He is perfectly just and He will judge the wicked. Another way to look at this is that God created us for the chief end of glorifying Him and sharing in a relationship with Him. Just because we have rebelled against Him does not mean that He loses His glory. God will be glorified either way, whether in the mercy He gives to those whom He saves, or in the perfect judgments of His justice upon the wicked.

In the book of Revelation 19:1-2 we read this, “After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, ‘Hallelujah! Salvation, and glory, and power belong to our God, for His judgments are true and just.’”
God will receive glory from all of creation for the perfection of His justice when He judges the wicked, because His judgments are true and just. He is glorified as much in this, as He is in the richness of His mercy and grace upon those whom He saves.

I hope that this helps to answer your question Zach. If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to ask them. May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you seek the truth that only He can give. God bless you and thank you.

Matthew

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@Zagusto123 Personally I think that if we take Isaiah 6 in context, it is clear the Israelites had already rejected God of their own volition. By using parables, Jesus drew those to Himself who truly loved the light, but those whose hearts will still in darkness did not comprehend them. Sort of like the parable of the sower, where different heart soil results in different behaviors over time. I also think it’s important to remember that Jesus came as Israel’s Messiah and He spoke these words to Israelites, who had been given so many privileges when it came to special revelation.

I do think God wants everyone to be saved, but those with hard hearts simply cannot hear the truth. Like Uncle Andrew in The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis they are unable to hear God.

When the great moment came and the Beasts spoke, he missed the whole point; for a rather interesting reason. When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion (”only a lion,” as he said to himself) he tried his hardest to make believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing – only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world. “Of course it can’t really have been singing,” he thought, “I must have imagined it. I’ve been letting my nerves get out of order. Who ever heard of a lion singing?” And the longer and more beautiful the Lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring.

Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he had wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, “Narnia awake,” he didn’t hear any words: he heard only a snarl. And when the Beasts spoke in answer, he heard only barkings, growlings, bayings, and howlings. And when they laughed – well, you can imagine. That was worse for Uncle Andrew than anything that had happened yet. Such a horrid, bloodthirsty din of hungry and angry brutes he had never heard in his life.

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!’

http://www.online-literature.com/george-macdonald/unspoken-sermons/18/

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