We are told that there are more than 30,000 people handicapped by blindness in Jamaica, and in many cases their condition is pitiful. And you know that everybody has a blind spot – there’s an easy test that enables you to find your own!
But the dictionary, under the heading “blind” includes those “without foresight, discernment, or moral or intellectual light; incapable of appreciating reality.” Such are to be pitied even more.
Paul in his Letter to the Romans bemoans the fact that although the Jews, his own people, knew their Bibles to the last dot and squiggle of the Hebrew letters, they were partially blind to what was prophesied therein.
Sabbath after Sabbath they read the scriptures in their churches or synagogues; day after day they methodically followed their rabbinical lectionary or Bible reading plan.
They read Daniel 2 and saw the image, and the stone breaking the kingdoms of men to pieces. They read Jeremiah and “appreciated all the reality” about Jerusalem, that it would be “a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth.” They comforted themselves with the thought that all the wonderful blessings of Jeremiah 33 would be theirs by divine right as the seed of Abraham. They read Micah and Isaiah about the birth of Messiah and how glorious his kingdom would be.
A terrible blind spot
But they had a terrible blind spot. The picture that made up their jig-saw puzzle had a big missing piece, in the most important part of the scene. Somehow they couldn’t see that the piece was missing, and so the picture of their salvation was not complete. They spent all their time looking for and expecting the wrong things, or the right things at the wrong time.
A grand picture
They saw many wonderful truths, those half-blind Jews. They had a grand picture of the King, the lion of Judah, coming in power and might, throwing out the Romans, crushing those iron legs and all the rest of the image to powder, and establishing a kingdom that would fill the whole earth. They saw themselves as part of the stone and not as part of the image.
But they were woefully blind to other things. They were blind to their own sins, and that those sins could only be forgiven through the sacrifice of the spotless Lamb. They were blind to the fact that, in God’s purpose, the cross always comes before the crown.
They were also utterly blind to so many prophecies which foretold that Messiah would die for Jews and Gentiles, that God would call out from the Gentiles a people for His Name, who would be fellow-heirs of the Kingdom. Because they were so blind to all that, they treated the Gentiles like scum and would not fellowship with them at all.
Jesus’ apostles were blind, too!
It was absolutely amazing: even the twelve apostles of Jesus suffered from this blindness in its most acute form!
Jesus took the twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again’.
Yet mark well Luke’s comment that follows: “The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about”! (Luke 18:31-34). With the greatest teacher in the world beside them every day, how ever could they have been so blind?
“The rest were blinded”
As Jamaican Gentiles, invited to the Lord’s table today, we have reason to be thankful that the blindness in part is happened to Israel. Because of their blindness, we have hope. As Romans 11:7 puts it: “the election hath obtained it [grace] and the rest were blinded.” We are that election.
Despite the Jewish blind spot, Messiah came exactly as prophesied. But their blindness had a terrible consequence. “He [Jesus, the true Light] came unto his own, and his own received him not” (John 1:11).
Paul warns us that we may see the Jews’ blind spot but easily miss our own! “Boast not against the branches…be not high-minded, but fear” (Rom. 11:18,20). He tells us firmly that the goodness that has come to us because the Jews were half blind is conditional: “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off” (v. 22).
Let us be careful that we are not blinded. As with the Jews, the Bible, we say, is our guide, our reference point. But our Bible can be so many words. It is what we take from those words that is important. We must get the full picture. If we only see what we want to see, and take from God’s word just what we want to take, we, too, are in deep trouble.
We can justify anything by the Bible!
We can ‘justify’ anything by using the Bible. We know that. All we have to do is to leave out something and/or over-emphasize something else.
We see Nebuchadnezzar’s image as the Jews did, and can tell anyone and everyone what it means. We love to display it so others can see it. We see the Lamb of God whilst they, the Jews, were blind to it. The table before us shows that. We are not likely to fail to see either of those aspects of God’s purpose.
But what about Jesus as our coming Judge? Do we see clearly the basis on which he is to judge us worthy or unworthy? (Matt. 25:31-46 and many, many other passages). Do we “appreciate the reality” (remember the dictionary!) of salvation by faith, of the new commandment of love, without which we are “nothing”? We have only one chance to see as God wants us to see or we will be rejected and cut off even more finally and completely than Israel was (Rom. 11:22).
Curing the blindness
The apostle Paul knew the disease of spiritual blindness at first hand: as Saul of Tarsus, he was blinded by self-love and prejudice to the virtues and faith of thousands of wonderful Christian people. He had “something like scales” on his eyes (Acts 9:18). And afterwards he never ceased to thank his Lord for removing those scales.
The apostle Peter needed the vision of the unclean animals to be repeated three times before the Lord was sure that his blindness concerning Gentile believers was completely cured.
Are we so sure of our own “election” that we are inclined to treat even some of our brothers and sisters like scum, just as the apostles did? Like the Pharisees, are we so concerned about the real or imagined sins of others with whom we worship that we are totally blind to our own?
Do we need eye treatment?
We say “we see.” Let it not be said to us as Jesus did to some who made that claim once before: “If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, ‘We see’; therefore your sin remaineth” (John 9:41).
Let us diligently maintain 20/20 spiritual vision. This memorial table will help us. “I counsel thee…to anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Rev. 3:18).
John Eyre, Kingston, Jamaica