God in his wisdom all through scriptures spoke a lot through parables.
When Jesus comes to the earth, in his teaching ministry he used parables a whole lot in communicating his truth.
Mark 4:33 -34
What is a parable?
The word parable is from the Greek parabole.
It means to place one thing alongside another comparing it with each other. It is a narrative that uses metaphors that have clear meaning when understood in its correct context.
Jesus the word didn’t start using parables in the New Testament but he used it all through the old. This is why the Old Testament is called a shadow of things to come.
It is a shadow because the items spoken of actually point to another reality. Heb 10:1.
So the Old Testament was a shadow pointing to a reality. A story pointing to a reality.
We find examples like this all over scriptures
- Abraham’s seed – Isaac is the shadow Gen 12:7 but Christ is the reality Gal 3:16 The wait for years for the seed to be manifested in the shadow (Isaac) showed that only by faith can Man receive Christ. For in that Abraham and Sarah conceived the seed or received the Christ when their natural strength abated we see that men can only receive Christ independent of their ability! So all glory goes to God Rom 4:16-19
- The light of Genesis – This was the shadow. Gen 1:2-3
The reality is Christ -2cor 4:6
Christ is the light of the world – John 8:12.
- The darkness in Genesis is a shadow for the mass of men without God, without eternal life.
Eph 5:8, Col 1:12-13, John 1:5
So we see that the darkness here is the dwelling without life or the son. The son is the light that shines and brings about productivity.
So Genesis 1 is actually the gospel!
The earth without form and void is how God describes the man without the light of God. This is how God describes the man without Christ. He is the man Moses was describing.
- The Bronze serpent – The reality was the death of Jesus – John 3:14
The shadow was what happened in the Old Testament – Num 21:7-9
We now see that what God instructed Moses to do was a parable of the death of Jesus for sin and how men were to receive life from him by just looking. Looking is believing.
- The tree of life and the tree of sin – These were parables – Gen 2:14-17.
The reality is eternal life or Christ the life.
Eating = believing John 6:46-51
The bread to eat isn’t an actual bread but a parable or metaphor for “doctrine“. John 6:63
So men eat by believing the words or teaching about Christ. The man who believes the message or gospel about Christ has eaten of the bread of life and will live forever.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil – This is also a teaching.
Notice that there was a teaching in Gen 3:1-6. It was a doctrine of devils accepted by Adam. It was a doctrine that maintained that man could have divinity away from God. He could have justification independent of God’s free gift.
Adam ate of this by believing. So believing is eating with your heart.
For he wasn’t speaking to physical eating. Matt 15:11-14
So physical eating didn’t make Adam a sinner.
- Jonah in the belly of the whale was a metaphor or parable of Jesus Matthew 12:39-41
The story was included in the scriptures as a parable pointing to what Christ would do. So he was in the belly of the earth three days and three nights just as Jonah was.
- The ark of Noah – A metaphor for the Ark of salvation ( Jesus ) Heb 11:7
The ark was built according to God’s design and served one purpose. The ark saved those who believed. So we see throughout scriptures that parables or stories that had messianic reality have been God’s style. It is no wonder that Christ who is God in flesh comes and in his very own words we see that he preferred to speak to men in his teachings through parables.
This shows us that he was the one speaking in the Old Testament via angels to the prophets.
In the book of Matthew, for example, Jesus gave 10 parables.
1. The parable of the tares – Matt 13:24-30
2. The parable of the hidden treasures – Matt 13:44
3. The parable of the pearl – Matt 13:45
4. The parable of the drag net – Matt 13:47
5. The unmerciful servant Matt 18:23-25
6. The parable of the laborers – Matt 20:1-6
7. The parable of the two sons – Matt 21:28-32
8. The parable of the marriage feast – Matt 22:1-14
9. The parable of the Ten virgins – Matt 25:1-13
10. The parable of the talents – Matt 25:14-30
We find that the parables of Jesus in the New Testament always pointed to the truth of what he was coming to do and the truth about the essence and nature of God.
The veil Moses wore in the Old Testament pointed to why God spoke in parables. Man didn’t have the capacity in the Old Testament to know God so God hid the truth in the metaphors awaiting such a time as man would receive said capacity (the indwelling Spirit) to understand what He has always been saying.
In Christ, this veil is taking away – 2cor 3:16-18
We now see without and beyond the shadows. We see him plainly!
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