FRIDAY MORNING MANNA May 4, 2018
Nathaniel Fajardo email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part ___
Blind Spot: Why seeing is not always believing
Because it pleases us, we believe what we want to believe—even if the preponderance of acceptable evidence and the testimony of credible witness prove otherwise. While unbelief is the obvious symptom, the unconverted heart is the not-too-obvious but real problem. To make matters worse, we misdiagnose the symptom as the cause and try to “cure” it only to be met with temporary relief, if at all, and the same if not a worse situation prevails. Thus untreated, it eventually reaches a deadly “point of no remedy.”
As I waited for my annual eye test at Dr. Vo’s Optometric practice in Redlands, California, my eyes were quickly drawn to a little book. It was its title that made it stand out among the eye-catching, classy, glamorous eyeglass magazine neatly spread on the glass table. It’s title? Classical Optical Illusions. The Introduction simply confirmed my interest, and I quote most of it:
“Your brain interprets this information as a picture [artist’s illustration of side view section of eye]—ah, but not always ‘correctly’! There are no light sensitive cells where the retina and optic nerve connect, creating a blind spot. And sometimes the brain simply takes short cuts in processing information.
So, usually we see what we expect to see. But sometimes our perception lets us down, and we perceive something to be so that isn’t really so!
That should happen to you quite a few times as you look through this book, because optical illusions very often manage to fool your perception. And then you begin to wonder—is seeing really believing?” – Introduction,Classical Optical Illusions.
Much more so in the spiritual realm! You and I all have big spiritual blind spots—plenty of it. We were all born into and with it, ranging from conscious and unconscious prejudice to preconceived ideas, self-vindication, spiritual pride, wayward will, under a strong delusion, enslaving tradition, culture, national bias (mild to rabid jingoism), etc.
Unless the mind and heart are transformed from the carnal—the natural, fleshly state—to the spiritual, it will be unable to discern much less appreciate the things that are spiritual—even if the person is fanatically “religious.” But it does not even stop here; it goes much farther and more delusional. Not necessarily so because they are willingly blind to the truth but because they really think the false is real. Such are those that have fallen for fanaticisms and conspiracies. But as CNN roving editor, Chris Cilizza, puts it, “Conspiracy theories are not built
In the time of Christ, generally speaking, the political situation in the Jewish nation was not much different than it is in America today: there were two dominant and dominating parties, too. Though the Pharisees and Saducees were technically sects, they were in many respects, political parties, too,—politicized religious sect—who were bitterly at enmity with each other until they found a common enemy. That, too, is very likely to be repeated in the nation. Note what I shall quote from my favorite book on the life, times, mission, works, and generation of Jesus Christ outside of the Bible—the ageless Desire of Ages by Ellen G. White, pp. 3034-406 “The True Sign, Chap. XLIV:
“A deputation of Pharisees had been joined by representatives from the rich and lordly Sadducees, the party of the priests, the skeptics and aristocracy of the nation. The two sects had been at bitter enmity. The Sadducees courted the favor of the ruling power in order to maintain their position and authority. The Pharisees, on the other hand, foster the popular hatred against the Romans, longing for the time when they could throw off the yoke of the conqueror. But Pharisee and Sadducee now united against Christ. Like seeks like; and evil, wherever it exists, leagues with evil for the destruction of the good.
United, they Ask for a Sign—a Wonderful Physical Miracle, and External Evidence. “Now the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Christ, asking for a sign from heaven. When in the days of Joshua Israel went out to battle the Canaanites at Bethoron, the sun had stood still at the leader’s command until victory was gained; and many similar wonders had been manifest in their history. Some such sign was demanded of Jesus. But these signs were not what the Jews needed. No mere external evidence could benefit them. What they needed was not an intellectual enlightenment, but spiritual renovation.
‘O ye hypocrites,’ said Jesus, ‘ye can discern the face of the sky,’ —by studying the sky the could foretell the weather,—‘but can ye not discern the signs of the times?’ Christ’s won words, spoken with the power of the Holy Spirit that convicted them of sin, were the sign that God had given for their salvation. And signs direct from heaven and been given to attest the mission of Christ. The song of the angels to the shepherds, the star that guided the wise men, the dove and the voice from heaven at His baptism, were witnesses for Him.
“’And He sighed deeply in His spirit, and saith, Why doth this generation seek for a sign?’ ‘There shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas [Greek for Jonah]. As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, Christ was to be the same time ‘in the heart of the earth.’ And as the preachingof Jonah was the sign to the Ninevites, so Christ’s preaching was a sign to His generation. But what a contrast in the reception of the word! The people of the great heathen city trembled as they heard the warning of God. Kings and nobles humbled themselves; the high and lowly together cried to the God of heaven, and His mercy was granted unto them. ‘The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation,’ Christ had said, ‘and shall condemn it; because; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater then Jonas is here’ [Jesus Christ Himself!]. Matt. 12: 40, 41.
“Every miracle that Christ performed was a sign of His divinity. He was doing the very work that had been foretold of the Messiah [see Isa. 6]; but to the Pharisees these works of mercy were a positive offense. The Jewish leaders looked with heartless indifference on human suffering. In many cases their selfishness and oppression caused the affliction that Christ relieved. Thus His miracles were to them a reproach.
“That which led the Jews to reject the Savior’s work was the highest evidence of His divine character. The greatest significance of His miracles is seen in the fact that they were for the blessing of humanity. The highest evidence that He came from God is that His life revealed the character of God. He did the works and spoke the words of God. Such a life is the greatest of all miracles.
“When the message of truth is presented in our day, there are many who, like the Jews, cry, Show us a sign. Work us a miracle. Christ wrought no miracle at the demand of the Pharisees. He wrought no miracle in the wilderness in answer to Satan’s insinuations. He does not impart to us power to vindicate ourselves or to satisfy the demands of unbelief and pride [whether personal or national].
“But the gospel is not without a sign of its divine origin. Is it not a miracle that we can break from the bondage of Satan? Enmity against Satan is not natural to the human heart; it is implanted by the grace of God. When one who has been controlled by a stubborn, wayward will is set free, and yields himself wholeheartedly to the drawing of God’s heavenly agencies, a miracle is wrought; so also when a man who has been under strong delusion comes to understand moral truth. Every time a soul is converted, and learns to love God and keep His commandments[this is the divine order of things, love first], the promise is fulfilled, ‘A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. Ezek. 36: 26. The change in human hearts, the transformation of human characters, is a miracle that reveals an ever-living Savior, working to rescue souls. A consistent life in Christ is a great miracle. In the preaching of the word of God, the sign that should be manifest now and always is the presence of the Holy Spirit, to make the word a regenerating power to those that hear. This is God’s witness before the world to the divine mission of His Son.
“Those who desired a sign from Jesus had so hardened their hearts in unbelief that they did not discern His character the likeness of God. They would not see that His mission was in fulfillment of the Scriptures. In the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus [which many claim is not a parable but literal to justify the error of soul immortality!], Jesus said to the Pharisees, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead [such as Christ’s resurrection].’ Luke 16: 31. [Meaning} No sign that could be given in heaven or earth would benefit them.”- DA pp. 406-408.
“The same influences are working today through those who try to explain the law of God in such a ways as to make it conform to their practices. They do not attack the law openly, but put forward speculative theories thatundermine its principles. They explain it so as to destroy its force.
The Difference– and the Subtle Similarity– between Followers and Disciples
“The hypocrisy of the Pharisees was a product of self-seeking. The glorification of themselves was the object of their lives. It was this that led them to pervert and misapply the Scriptures, and so blinded them to the purpose of Christ’s mission. This subtle evil even the disciples of Christ were in danger of cherishing. Those who classed themselves with the followers of Jesus, but who had not left all in order to become His disciples, were influenced in a great degree by the reasoning of the Pharisees. They were often vacillating between faith and unbelief, and did not discern the treasures of wisdom hidden in Christ. Even the disciples [not just the followers!], thoughoutwardly they had left all for Jesus’ sake, had not in heart ceased to seek great things for themselves. It was this spirit that prompted the strife as to who should be the greatest. It was this that came between them and Christ, making them so little in sympathy with His mission of self-sacrifice, so slow to comprehend the mystery of redemption. As leaven [yeast], if left to complete its work, will cause corruption and decay, so does the self-seeking spirit, work the defilement and ruin of the soul.
“Among the followers of our Lord today, as of old, how widespread is this subtle, deceptive sin! How often our service to Christ, our communion with one another, is marred by the secret desire to exalt self! How ready the thought of self-congratulation, and the longing for human approval! It is the love of self, the desire for an easier way than God has appointed that leads to the substitution of human theories and traditions for the divine precepts. To His own disciples the warning words of Christ are spoken, ‘Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees [Matt. 16: 6, 12]’” – Ibid, p. 409.
(To be continued next week)