by Mike Ratliff
8 τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ ἁγίου, μήπω πεφανερῶσθαι τὴν τῶν ἁγίων ὁδὸν ἔτι τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς ἐχούσης στάσιν, 9 ἥτις παραβολὴ εἰς τὸν καιρὸν τὸν ἐνεστηκότα, καθʼ ἣν δῶρά τε καὶ θυσίαι προσφέρονται μὴ δυνάμεναι κατὰ συνείδησιν τελειῶσαι τὸν λατρεύοντα, Hebrews 9:8-9 (NA28)
8 The Holy Spirit is making this clear, that the way into the holy place has not yet been revealed while the first tabernacle is still standing, 9 which is a parable for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshipper perfect in conscience, Hebrews 9:8-9 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The literal idea of the Greek παραβολή (parabolē) is a placing side by side and, therefore, a comparison or similarity. A parable is, therefore, “a short story under which something else is figured or in which the fictitious is used to represent and illustrate the real.” In the passage above (Hebrews 9:8-9) I translated παραβολὴ as parable instead of “symbol” or “picture” showing that the wilderness Tabernacle was a “parable” of Christ’s heavenly ministry.
It has been observed that about 1/3 of Jesus’ teaching was couched as parables. Why do you suppose He ministered that way? Why not just be literal and clear? Why be abstract?
13 Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Matthew 13:13 (NASB)
We looked at this in last night’s post Understand. From that study we learned that the key word for the reason Jesus taught in parables was the word understand, συνίημι (syniēmi). Three times in Matthew 13:13 and the two that follow our Lord used συνίημι to emphasize why He began to to speak only in parables. Those who rejected Him and did not want the truth would not be able to “put the pieces together” from the stories He told. They would not be able to comprehend the fuller meaning he was trying to convey. He was actually presenting deep truths that demanded deep thinking, but the majority just wouldn’t get it.
What about today? I shudder to think how our Lord would react to the mess we have going on in the visible Church in our time. If our Lord were here today, He would undoubtedly speak in parables. We hear about “loving God” and “loving Jesus,” but much of such talk is nebulous at best and empty at worst. Many people who say such things, including pastors, abhor doctrine and deep Bible preaching and teaching. But Scripture makes clear that only those who love the Word of God truly love the Lord. Tragically, many of the “superstars” in the visible Church today talk and write a great deal about “loving God” and having a relationship with Jesus” but never exposit Scripture. They speak of mysticism, feelings, visions, and impressions, but never speak of doctrine and scriptural truth. Scripture, however, could not be clearer that love for God means love for His Word.
While we can, and should, greatly appreciate our Lord’s parables, and while we can learn many great truths from them, let us also desire the deeper things of God’s Word. If you come to my blog to read these posts then I am convinced that means you have a deep desire for that. May God richly bless your faithfulness and also help me continue at this work.
Soli Deo Gloria!