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Eternity 119 - The Mysteries of The Kingdom of Heaven

(Matthew 13:11-17 NKJV) He answered and said to them, "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. {12} "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. {13} "Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. {14} "And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: 'Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; {15} For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.' {16} "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; {17} "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.

The mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven are matters of spiritual perception. There are those that "get it" and those that have no understanding. Those that see and those that are blind, those that hear and those who are spiritually deaf. This perception is a grace gift from God. "Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. {12} "For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.

Does this mean that God destines some people to perpetual spiritual obscurity? Not really. rather we are all blinded by our sin, but God opens the eyes of a few. Understanding spiritual things is His gift, and His to bestow. We cause our own blindness, demanding that God fit our expectations, that He speak on out terms and fit our preoccupations. Or may be we just aren't looking, and have our focus on this world with its money, sex or power.

We are not talking here about the ability to see demons and angels or have dreams and visions. many occult practitioners understand those things but are far from Christ. This is a deeper work - the ability to grasp the structural categories of the Kingdom and how it works, the ability to be in tune with the mind of God. These are not magical mysteries, rather they are heavenly truths that are so unusual that few can truly grasp them. One of the Greek words that describes the human mind is phronema - the structure and framework of thought, the world-view. When Paul says "but we have the mind of Christ" this is the word he uses.

Christians have a mental framework that God's truths can fit into. Their mind is the right way up and its categories are suited to scriptural truth. Its like a child's peg-board with big plastic squares and triangles, circles and hexagons. Think of truth perhaps as a square, love as a circle, justice as a triangle and so on. At the fall the peg-board is twisted and broken and the squares and circles no longer fit in, we just don't understand love and justice and mercy. With redemption and the renewal of the mind the pegboard is straightened up so the pieces can now be pushed into place and spiritual truth is easily absorbed. The Bible which was once confusing is now a delight.

The mysteries are only really grasped when the human mind is under the influence of that great interpreter of mysteries the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that inspired the prophets and wrote the Scriptures and hovered over the waters at creation. It is His job to "teach us all things" ( 1 John 2:20-27), instruct us about Christ (John 14:26) and reveal to us the unimaginable glories that God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). Without the Holy Spirit spiritual truths just seem as "foolishness" to the natural man (1 Corinthians 2:13,14).

To people who love God and melt under the influence of the Holy Spirit, more and more is revealed. They are "teachable", so they are taught. But the proud, obstinate, unbelieving and hard of heart who resist the Holy Spirit as Stephens' persecutors did (Acts 7:51) just go deeper into their darkness. This seeing with the heart, this grasping of spiritual things was apparently at a low ebb in Jesus' day." For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed,". So low had they gone that Jesus simply did not bother to teach many of them and seems to have avoided some major wealthy Galilean cities like Herodias and Sepphoris to concentrate on the receptive poor and to preach and teach in the countryside where people had to go out to see Him. Jesus told intriguing stories so that those who the Holy Spirit was working in would ask for me and those who were hard of heart would just walk away. The parables and the mysteries of the kingdom acted as a filter, sorting out the truth seekers from the sign seekers.

But the parables were more than just tough spiritual puzzles for disciples - like Zen koans, that are simply there to expand the mind but are devoid of any real content. The parables were also truth. The parables were precious and glorious and still are. "But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; {17} "for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it." The parables change our natural encultured modes of thought as we find out about the first being last, serving to lead and how hard it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom. They point us to an internal religion of the heart and of humble repentance before a gracious God and the parables abolish external rituals and respectabilities. They leave no room for human pride and in doings so they invert our thinking and flip it around so it becomes "right side up". Now ask God the Holy Spirit to show you the "mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven".