‘Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” For this is the one referred to by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!'” ‘ Matt. 3:1-3
We press on in our study of the most often quoted or alluded to Old Testament passages in the New Testament.
Our next offering is a tandem of verses coming from Isaiah 6:9 & 10: “And He said, “Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.’ Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, lest they see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” (NAS) Four times in the gospel accounts, once in the book of Acts and once in the epistle to the Romans, this prophetic statement is repeated whole or in part. Just a cursory reading of these verses could lead one to think, “What, God doesn’t want people to understand and be healed?” Not at all. The problem isn’t (wasn’t) with the LORD. A general principle one tends to notice within the Scripture is that the majority of people, when they hear the LORD’s words through His servants, tend to not want to understand or appraise properly what they hear. Our consideration of this Old Testament passage should include the context in which it is fixed within the New Testament. In three gospel accounts (Matt. 13:14, Mark 4:12, Luke 8:10) another Old Testament verse is tied to the quoting or alluding to of Isaiah’s inspired utterances. The verse is out of Psalm 78, verse two: “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old” (NAS). In the three gospel accounts referenced above, Jesus states that His use of parables had a divine intention. He had just finished teaching the parable of the sower to the multitude when some of His disciples approached Him to ask why He spoke to the people in parables. Of those that drew nigh and asked the question, Jesus’ response was: “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. “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.” (Matt. 13:11-13 NAS) The parables of Jesus were a sifting mechanism. They separated those who wanted to know (truth seekers) from those who didn’t care to know. How? Simply by asking questions. To those who approached and asked the questions, Jesus said they would know “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.” But-one has to be willing to ask and understand! Specifically, in New Testament context, the foreshadowed statements of Isaiah had to do with an understanding of who Jesus Christ is and His heavenly kingdom. Brethren, read Acts 28:23-28 and Romans 11:1-25. You will note that it was the inability of the hearers (Jews in particular) to see and fully understand who Jesus is and His kingdom that kept them from turning to the Lord. To see, hear, and understand the kingdom of heaven (and its purpose) from a spiritual perspective is a key component of returning and being healed. Amen.