As believers, above all, we want to know the Lord intimately, and we want to fear Him. I was blessed by this verse in Proverbs 2 that answers the question: How can we gain a knowledge of God and know what it means to fear Him?
God’s Word tells us in Proverbs 2:3-5, “For if you cry for discernment, Lift your voice for understanding; 4 If you seek her as silver And search for her as for hidden treasures; 5 Then you will discern the fear of the LORD And discover the knowledge of God.” (NLT)
I’ve noticed too many times I’ve made a habit of going to God merely looking for an answer to my problem. This verse challenges me to stop trying merely to find the answer to some problem (to simply 'understand' in my mind), or to find some direction that God wants me to go, but to know the Lord’s heart in every matter – understanding who He is, how He is, and why He does or allows certain things that come my way. That’s when I can grow in knowing the Lord and also fearing Him. I have to have the attitude that I don’t only want to know what the Lord wants me to do in situations (that’s basically what the Old Testament law was), but I want to know the Lord Himself!
We sometimes may find ourselves seeking out God’s will and not sure what He’s saying, and we can become frustrated, wondering why it’s so difficult to hear from God. I believe it’s because of this very reason: He’s testing to see who will seek Him with a whole heart to not only know what He’s speaking, but also seeking to understand what He’s speaking – and having a desire to follow the right way with the right motives and goal – fellowship with God Himself.
Jesus often spoke in parables. Sometimes He preached to a crowd of people, and only used parables and nothing else – no explanations, no Bible verses – just parables (Matthew 13:34). Many people got so confused. When the disciples asked Him why Jesus spoke like this He answered them plainly:
Matthew 13:10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”
To the disciples it had been granted this revelation of God’s Word. To the rest it wasn’t. Was the Lord just randomly choosing who He wanted to reveal Himself to? – “I want to randomly choose this one to understand, and this one I will randomly choose not to understand”? No. There’s a characteristic God looks for when deciding who He chooses to grant this revelation to, and it’s listed in the following verses:
“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” (Matthew 13:15)
The reason why it was not granted for most of the people to understand the Word of God is because they closed their eyes. These people were like teenagers who do not answer the phone when their parents are calling because they are afraid they’ll have to stop doing what they like. They want to continue to do as they like, and so they turn off their phone. These people were like this – they closed their eyes and ears to God and the result is, it says their hearts became dull. They didn’t get the truth because they didn’t want the truth. Just as the Bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:10 – God will allow people to be deceived (to understand nothing of the truth, but instead believe a lie) who do not love the truth.
The interesting thing is, if you turn to the parallel passage in Mark 4, you’ll see that even the disciples did not understand this parable He just told them! Mark 4:13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?"
So what is the difference between Jesus’ faithful disciples who didn’t understand, and the crowd who didn’t understand? Everyone there didn’t understand the parable of the sower. There was no difference in understanding there. What makes these disciples different than the crowd? And if no one at all understood the parables, then how could anyone be saved?!
I believe the answer lies in the 3rd time the Bible speaks of this same parable – in Luke. After Jesus was done telling this parable, it says there:
Luke 8:9 His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.
The only difference between the crowd, and the disciples is – the disciples sought for understanding, because they wanted to live the truth the Lord was speaking. So they proceeded to question Jesus until He told them what the parable meant. And so Jesus was happy to explain everything, and in that way those disciples gained understanding, which resulted in life. The only difference was the disciples sought the Lord for understanding with a desire to take the Lord’s parable to heart, and the rest of the crowd was content to move on without it. And of course when the Lord sees a seeking heart, He definitely answers clearly:
Mark 4:34 and He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples.
The confusing parables remained mere stories for most of the crowd, but for the disciples who sought for understanding, the parables turned into life – they turned into the knowledge of God, and the fear of God.
Because of this heart which desired understanding to know God and to live in fear before Him, Jesus said of the disciples, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see” (Matthew 13:16). May He be also be able to say of us, “Blessed are your eyes.” He will be able to say that of us if we cry out to Him for understanding with the spirit of “I want to know His heart, and I want to obey Him.”