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Jesus explains his use of parables in Mark 4:11-12: "...But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding, otherwise they might turn and be forgiven." Isaiah 6 and Matthew 13 contain similar wording. Doesn't Jesus want people to repent and become believers? Answer: Definitely. Jesus does want people to repent and become believers through the converting work of the Holy Spirit (1 Timothy 2:3-4). What we have in the Bible sections you cited is a judgment of God upon hardened hearts. When people come into contact with God’s word, there can be different results. People can be brought to faith in Christ or strengthened in the faith, or they can continue in their natural rejection of God’s truths. God’s word is never spread in vain. Through Isaiah God made that vividly clear. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). The time can come when God delivers a harsh judgment on people in reaction to their unbelief. That time came in Isaiah’s ministry (Isaiah 6) and Jesus’ ministry (Mark 4). To people who had their minds made up (and their hearts closed) that Jesus and his ministry were nothing, the Lord would speak in parables. Through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit Jesus’ followers would continue to derive understanding from those parables, but Jesus’ enemies would find them void of meaning. Again, this is a judgment of God upon people’s unbelief; God is reacting to their hardened unbelief. Since you and I are not privy to judgments like these, we share God’s word to all people in the hope and prayer that the message will be received in Spirit-worked faith.Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.
In reading Ezra in the Kretzmann Commentary, I see in the introduction the sentence ". . . God's promise to bring His people back to Palestine." The Bible reading refers to the exiles returning to Jerusalem in Judea. Going back further to their entrance into the Land of Canaan, is Canaan considered a part/state/section of Palestine? Some maps show Palestine and others do not. Very confusing. Answer: It can get confusing, but those names, by and large, are pointing to the same territory. “Canaan” is an early name for that territory, describing where the Canaanites lived. This was the promised land for Israel.“Judea” references the southern part of the land of Israel—the area in which Jerusalem is located.“Palestine” is a later word that approximates the area known as Canaan or Israel. It is a word that is associated with “Philistia.” Philistia originally referred to the coastal area region, but then it was broadened to include what we know as Israel. So, is Canaan a part/state/section of Palestine? The two names are years removed from one another, but they largely reference the same territory. I hope this helps.Answered by James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minn. Pope is a contributing editor to Forward in Christ magazine. He writes the monthly “Light for our path” question and answer column.
Pastor Timothy J. Winkel
2651 Shettler Road
Muskegon, MI 49444
Telephone: 231 777 3011