“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:9,10).
DIRECTED, PURPOSEFUL BIBLE STUDY
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 7:17).
This scripture should be the criterion for anyone studying the Bible. A person who wills to do the will of God has that capacity of the mind. In Romans 7 Paul tells the capacity of his mind—the ability of the mind—thelo and thelema. The mind can and will to do either good or evil. In repentance there is the new mind that wills to do the will of God and serve God as described in Romans 7:25.
THE VEIL IS TAKEN AWAY
But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away (2 Cor 3:14-16).
The veil Moses wore over his face stopped the people from seeing him. “And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face. But when Moses went in before the LORD to speak with him, he took the vail off, until he came out. And he came out, and spake unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the vail upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him” (Exod. 34:33-35).
The passage in 2 Corinthians which alludes to this reference tells how the Israelites could not see (understand) the Old Testament law because a veil was on their heart (singular). Keep in mind that the veil was not on the scriptures, but on their heart. The heart is the capacity to understand. When they tried to understand the scriptures, the veil stopped them from seeing (understanding) the scriptures. “But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart” (2 Cor. 3:14-15).
God put the veil on their heart because they didn’t turn to Him. Anyone who seeks will find. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone” (Mat. 7:7-9)?
God searches for those who understand and seek Him. “The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God (Psa. 14:2). The Lord will remove the veil from anyone who seeks Him, but he also sends a strong delusion on those who do not love His truth so that they will believe a lie. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thes. 2:10-12).
When men do not love the truth about God, He gives them up to do evil. Their minds are blinded to what they really are. “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rom. 1:25-28).
Questions for further study:
1. Why was there a veil on the face of Moses (Exod. 34)?
2. What did the veil represent (2 cor. 3:14-16)?
3. Why did they not understand the reading of the Old Law?
4. Why did God put the veil upon their hearts?
5. What was the effect of having a veil upon their hearts (2 Cor. 3:14-15)?
6. Why are men today blind to (cannot understand) the truth of God (2 Thes. 2:10-12)?
7. What kind of people is God searching for (Psa. 14:2)?
8. When God gives up on people, what does he give them up to (Rom. 1:25-28)?
9. Why does he give up on certain people (Rom. 1:18-23)?
10. What will happen if we truly seek God (Mat. 7:7-9)?
A SOWER WENT FORTH TO SOW
A parable places two or more objects together, for the purpose of a comparison. In the broadest sense of the term there is practically no difference between a parable and a simile. Agnostics claim that the parables were imaginary stories, yet admitting the details could have actually transpired. We agree that the purpose for using a parable was to illustrate some higher truth for the listeners, but our question to these doubters is whether the creator of the world could surely have known every account He used to illustrate His points! He did not have to make up His stories; since the beginning of time, He had known all the men who ever lived as well as what they did. Consider that the one and only teacher of parables in the New Testament is Christ Himself. Christ alone would have known all the situations He used to illustrate His points.
Considering the parable of the sower, we can well understand that many agricultural people followed Christ to hear His word. Christ had farmers nearby as He was teaching. What a graphic illustration it would be for His listeners who lived off the land! The parable of the sower is found in Mat. 13:3-13; Mat. 18-23; Mark 4:3-20, Luke 8:5-15. The main difference between Matthew’s account and the other two is that there is an additional concept (application) of the reason for the Devil snatching away the word from those whose “ground” is like the wayside—hard and impenetrable. Verse 19 says they did not understand the word and thus Satan snatched it away. Again in verse 23 we see, “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
The difference between those who have the word snatched away and those who produce manifold fruits is whether or not they understand the word. We ought to “give the more earnest heed” to the words given by the Spirit so that we may understand and produce fruit (Heb. 2:1-4). Long ago, King David prayed that God would give him understanding so that he might “live” before Him (Psa. 119:144). David also prayed, “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works” (Psa. 119:27).
Under the Old Law, the Levites, Priests and Scribes “caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place” (Neh. 8:7-8, 13). Job begged God to, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred” (Job 6:24). Solomon, the wisest man to live, said, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels” (Prov. 1:5).
“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isa. 28:9-10).
Finally we need to consider the profound teaching found in the book of Daniel and understand why Daniel was so favored by the Lord. “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words” (Dan 10:12).
- What is a parable?
- Why did Jesus speak to the people in parables (Mat. 13:10-16)?
- What right did Jesus have to teach in parables?
- What is the main difference between the accounts of the sower in Matthew, Mark and Luke?
- What important word is included in Matthew’s account?
- What happens to the word of God in the hearts of those who don’t understand it (Mat. 13:19)?
- Why did God give the apostles understanding to his word (Mat. 7:7-9)?
- How does a man understand the word of God (2 Tim. 2:7)?
- Why did Jesus not want the Jews to understand his word (John 8:44, 47; Luke 13:34; 2 Thes. 2:10-12)?
- According to Solomon, how does understanding come (Prov. 2:1-6; Prov. 15:32)?
- What did David command Solomon to get as he searched for wisdom (Prov. 4:1-7)?
- According to Solomon, what is an essential part of our growing in wisdom (Prov 14:33)?
- According to Isaiah 28:9, 19, when should we begin teaching knowledge and understanding to our children?
- What did the Levites, Priests and Scribes do for the people (Neh. 8:7-8, 13)?
- When did God begin to hear Daniel’s words (Dan. 10:12)?