A parable applied is a Word supplied. God’s Word will meet you where you are and provide guidance.
A parable unapplied? It’s a Word from God denied.
We need God’s Word every day of our lives. Denying it by not applying it is like sitting on a rollercoaster not strapped in. When all is good and still, God’s Word is just there. As soon as life gets going, however, we need all the strength and wisdom only He can provide to hang on and not go flying out, only to splat on the pavement. First, let’s explore the idea of God’s covenant with humanity and how this expresses His boundless love for His creation. Then we’ll explore the parables and how they reinforce His covenantal love for us. Ready? Strap in. Let’s go.God’s Love Expressed in His Covenant (I)
The Lord spoke the world into existence: “And God said…”
The results? “And it was good.” (Gen. 1:1)
We were created from “the dust of the ground” and once God breathed His Spirit into our bodies, we became “a living being.” (Gen. 2:7)
We are animated dust. We are clay inclosing the very image of God.
Our purpose? “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15)
We were given dominion over this Earth. God walked “in the garden in the cool of the day.” (Gen. 3:8). So, we here we are: we are stewards of our Lord and Creator’s property, and we had unlimited access to our loving Creator.
Satan then launched an assault on the Garden. He couldn’t attack God Himself, so he went after God’s most prized possession: us. Ground Zero was where he made Adam and Eve doubt the Lord’s very words: “Did God really say…” (Gen. 3:1). Satan encouraged them to walk according to their own prideful understanding. They could utilize their own knowledge, and when they weighed that against the desire to obey God’s words, pride won out.
Satan’s seductive logic worked. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, and were ousted from the Garden.
But they left with a promise, hidden in a curse hurled at Satan by God: “And I will enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Gen. 3:15)
Do you see it? This is tucked away for centuries until the work of the Messiah Jesus: He would be born of a woman’s “seed” (the virgin birth) and He would triumph over Satan’s reign on Earth. Jesus’ heel will be struck with a Roman nail but the crushing of Satan’s head will come from His triumphal victory over sin and death. His blood will cleanse humanity from its sin and give humanity new life.
John the Baptist put it succinctly when he saw Jesus for the first time: “Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29)
But until the arrival of this Messiah, Whose work will put “PAID” on humanity’s account, what will our Heavenly Father do in the meantime? How can a sinful man fellowship with a holy God?
Imperfect cannot satisfy Perfect. Sinful human beings cannot please God or do enough the bridge the gap.
People will try for sure, with all kinds of religious practices done throughout our history. Life-giving blood from human sacrifice will flow to instruct the gods that they need to send life-giving rain to the Earth. Men will couple with sacred prostitutes to show the gods that they must couple their seed (rain) with Mother Earth. Fertility for survival and power against a hostile world will dominate the agenda of man’s religious practices for centuries to come. Man wants a way to appease the forces all around him, so he won’t be destroyed. Each aspect of the natural world—wind, rain, heat, water, fertility—all will have an assigned god, with assigned practices to ensure that the god/goddess does his or her part and man succeeds.
Humanity is one famine, one flood, one epidemic, one frightful spell of weather away from chaos. In order to survive in the natural world, the supernatural world must be understood by human beings, and kept in some kind of order by strict adherence to religious practice. Humanity’s very survival is at stake.
Man, after his expulsion from the Garden, grew confused in his beliefs and practices. Without the guidance from God Himself, man had only his own logic. He lived without wisdom for he no longer walked with God, and so, hemmed in by fear, he sought to control the world by his reasoning, his methods, and his increasingly darkened understanding:
For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. Because, knowing God, they didn’t glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and traded the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. (Rom. 1:20-25 WEB)
The result of man’s attempt to appease God/gods? Utter moral ugliness and alienation from humanity’s true Creator:
For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For their women changed the natural function into that which is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural function of the woman, burned in their lust toward one another, men doing what is inappropriate with men, and receiving in themselves the due penalty of their error. Even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, malice; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil habits, secret slanderers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them. (Romans 1: 26-32 WEB)