Question: I have read the article, “Are ‘Many’ or ‘Few’ Called in this Age?”. One part has me confused. It is Matthew 13:15: “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them” (KJV).
I realize they could have seen but their hearts were dull, callous, insensible, their ears hard of hearing, and their eyes closed so they couldn’t see. That part I do understand. The part I don’t understand is the last part: “…lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart and should be converted and I should heal them.” Doesn’t that mean that their ears and eyes could be opened, which would lead them to understand with their heart?
If they were converted, would that mean that they repented and applied God’s law and obeyed Him, and He would heal them? If it isn’t referring to that, then I don’t understand what he was referring to. It sounds like He didn’t want them to understand or change. Would that mean that at times God doesn’t want someone to understand?
I don’t understand. I hope you can explain it for me. Thanks so much.
Answer: Some have taught that Matthew 13:15 in effect teaches that God wants people to be blind, and that he is the one who has made their hearts dull deliberately so that they would be deceived, because he wants them to be deceived. But is this what the Scripture really says? Is it God or Satan who wants to deceive people?
Jesus said, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
We also find that God, “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
A few of MANY other Scriptures you can read that demonstrate clearly that God desires for people to understand his will and repent include the following: Deuteronomy 30:11-20; Isaiah 55:1-7; Ezekiel 18:30-32; Matthew 23:37; John 7:17; Proverbs 1:20-33; 2 Peter 3:9.
On the other hand, we find that Satan is a deceiver, and the author of lies. Speaking of Satan, Jesus said that he, “… does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
Scripture speaks of, “… the great dragon…, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…” (Revelation 12:9). And, we’re told, “…if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded…” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; cf. John 12:31; Ephesians 6:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10).
Please consider these Scriptures carefully.
However, for the present age, God allows people to choose whether they will listen to his word or not. And God allows those who believe lies to be deceived, as he did Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). In this age, most who hear the truth choose not to believe it, and are hence dull of hearing, callous and insensible to the will of God. If they were willing to hear, they could be healed. Because they are not willing to hear the truth, does not mean God does not want them to hear it and understand it.
Just the opposite. Jesus Christ commanded the gospel to be preached to the world to give those willing to hear the opportunity to repent and be granted salvation (Mark 16:15-16). Please carefully read the article “Are ‘Many’ or ‘Few’ Called In This Age?” again, especially the section on “To Whom Is Understanding Given?” It explains what is actually being stated in Matthew 13:15.
Perhaps some other translations which are a bit more clear might help, also:
NIV: “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”
Berean Study Bible: “For this people’s heart has grown callous; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn, and I would heal them.”
New American Standard Bible: “FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL, WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR, AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES, OTHERWISE THEY WOULD SEE WITH THEIR EYES, HEAR WITH THEIR EARS, AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN, AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”
Holman Christian Standard Bible: “For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back– and I would cure them.”
International Standard Version: “for this people’s heart has become dull, and their ears are hard of hearing. They have shut their eyes so that they might not see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.”
NET Bible: “For the heart of this people has become dull; they are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.”
I hope this helps you better understand.
Unless otherwise noted Scripture taken from the New King James VersionTM
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission.
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Copyright © 2018 by Rod Reynolds
Messenger Church of God
PO Box 619
Wentzville, MO 63385