December 28, 2020
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; 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” (Matthew 13:14-15).
One feature in Biblical prophecy that is often overlooked is that of its dual nature. In a number of instances in Scripture an event is declared by a prophet of God to address an immediate issue. That prophesy is fulfilled usually within a generation (40 years). That same prophecy declared by that same prophet can also address an issue at an unspecified time in the future. An example would be the Olivet Discourse of Jesus (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21). It describes the tribulation of Israel (A.D. 70) and the Great Tribulation which is yet to come (Revelation 6 - 19).
In Matthew 13:14-15 we have another example of prophetic duality. Jesus quoted Isaiah 6:9-10, which was literally fulfilled in the time of Isaiah (the conquest of Judah by Babylon in 586 B.C.). It was again fulfilled in the days of the Apostles (the Roman invasion of A.D. 70). In the days of Jesus, the Jews had the same attitude and character as their ancestors in the days of Isaiah. Like them, they refused to hear God’s truth and rejected Jesus as the Messiah.
Jesus did not intend to say that Isaiah, when he spoke these words, had any reference to His time 750 later. The meaning in both places is the same - the people were so sinful and spiritually blind they wouldn’t hear or couldn’t understand God’s truth.
The word of God in both Isaiah and Jesus are harsh and hard, 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. But lest we pity the Jews and hold a grudge against God for not being merciful, we should understand this truth: the Jews were so engrossed in sin for such a long time they refused to obey God’s truth when they heard it, so God blinded their spiritual eyes so they couldn’t see God’s truth when it appeared before them. God’s judgment then fell upon the Jews in A.D. 70 when Jerusalem and Judah were destroyed by Rome. The same was true with Pharaoh in Egypt. He hardened his own heart against God’s Word through Moses, so later God hardened his heart permanently so that Egypt would be destroyed in God’s judgment.
The lesson here is that God gives us the opportunity to know His Word and trust in Jesus Christ as they have been revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. To reject them only hardens our heart against God, which, if repeated, ultimately results in judgment. God is gracious, but He also is just.
“Lord Jesus, Your words can be difficult and hard for us to understand and accept. But when Your Spirit reveals their truth to us, it becomes a blessing. Thank You for opening my eyes to Your truth and giving me the grace and faith to believe and trust in You. Amen.”