Connecting the Biblical Metaphors of Light and Vegetation

The Bible makes extensive use of physical realities to teach about spiritual realities.  One expansive set of comparisions revolves around light.  Another of them is vegetation.

Consider then how this verse links those two metaphors:

Psalm 97:11 Light is sown like seed for the righteous
And gladness for the upright in heart.

This brings together the expanded comparisons of light and vegetation – deepening our understanding of both.

For more on the Bible’s use of figurative speech, see Figurative Speech in the Bible.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.

Christ and the Language of Covenant and Marriage

The Scriptures are replete with references to covenant and marriage.  Of course, marriage is a covenant; therefore the vocabulary ften overlaps.  Many of these references are literal references to marriage or covenant, but many others are figuratively applications to man’s relationship with God – more specifically, Israel’s relationship with God.  Subsequently, and briefly, they would refer to the church’s relationship with God until the coming of the kingdom.  Of course, Israel and the church according to the flesh have become obsolete in the administration of God.  What matters is the kingdom of God, and that’s where these analogies apply.

These terms have great meaning for our relationship with Christ.  Therefore, when you see them, recognize them for that value.  Especially recognize that when you see a word from this lexicon in isolation, there is the unspoken allusion to the broader subject.  For example, the terms “virgin” or “adulterous” are implying the broader subject of marriage.  Specifically, they are implying the respective subjects of marital purity and marital faithfulness.  The application for our relationship with Christ is that we should be pure for Him and faithful to Him.  This is the practical way to consider these biblical words so that your understanding of them can enhance your relationship w

Here’s an alphabetized list of some of these covenant and marriage expressions found in Scripture, with an example following:

adultery, adulterer, adulteress  –  James 4:4

betrothed, betrothal  –  2 Corinthians 11:2-4

bride  –  Revelation 21:9

bridegroom  –  Matthew 9:15  (see also groom)

covenant  –  Hebrews 8:8-12

divorce  –  Jeremiah 3:8

engage, engaged  –  Luke 2:5

faithful, faithfulness  –  2 Timothy 2:13  (see also unfaithful)

faithless, faithlessness  –  2 Timothy 2:13

family  –  Ephesians 3:14-15

fornication, fornicator  –  Hebrews 13:4

groom  –  Jeremiah 16:9  (see also bridegroom)

harlot, harlotry  –  Jeremiah 3:8  (see also prostitute)

husband  –  Isaiah 54:5-6; 2 Corinthians 11:2-4

jealous, jealousy  –  (2 Corinthians 11:2-4)

join, joined  –  1 Corinthians 6:15-19

leave and cleave  –  Genesis 2:24

lord  –  1 Peter 3:6

love – Revelation 2:4

lover  –  Jeremiah 3:1, 20

marriage, marry, married  –  Revelation 19:9

one flesh” or “two become one”  –  1 Corinthians 6:15-19; Ephesians 5:31-32

promise  –  1 John 2:25

prostitute, prostitution  –  1 Corinthians 6:15-19  (see also harlot)

unfaithful, unfaithfulness  –  Psalm 73:27  (see also faithful)

virgin, virginity  –  2 Corinthians 11:2-

vow  –  Ecclesiastes 5:4-5

wife  –  Isaiah 54:5-6; Revelation 21:9

yoke, yoked  –  Matthew 11:28-30

Also, keep in mind that there are other words – such as name, law, house, and so on – which are not restricted in meaning to the subjects of covenant and marriage but which provide special meaning to covenant and marriage.  For example, “name” is affected when one enters marriage (and even Abram’s name was changed to Abraham because of the covenant with God).  Also, “house” can be thought of as the “house” of Israel, as in all those descended from Jacob (whose name became Israel) – that is, the house of the covenant or marriage.  And “law” can refer to the guiding principles of the covenant, marriage, or family.  There are many, many words that fall into this category.  Other examples would include:  bed, children, descendants, secret, seed.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Terms of Light and Darkness Provide Comparisons to Spiritual Realities

The Scriptures speak of light and darkness in the first day of creation:

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Genesis 1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
Genesis 1:4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
Genesis 1:5 God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

The Scriptures also speak of light and darkness on the fourth day:

Genesis 1:14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years;
Genesis 1:15 and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:16 God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also.
Genesis 1:17 God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth,
Genesis 1:18 and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:19 There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

Light and darkness are thereafter used as metaphors in the Scriptures…frequently.  This includes refences to day, night, and even being asleep (because it is associated with night) and awake (because it is associated with day).  Also related are scriptural references to sight and blindness – for to the person who is blind, it is always night.

asleep  –  1 Thessalonians 5:1-10

awake  –  Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 5:5-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10

blind  –  Matthew 11:5; 15:14; Luke 4:18; 7:21-22; John 9:39-41; 2 Peter 1:9

bright, brightness  –  Isaiah 60:1-3; Daniel 12:3

darkness  –  Isaiah 60:1-3; Micah 7:8; Matthew 6:22-23; Luke 11:33-36; John 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:46; Acts 26:18; Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 5:5-14; Colossians 1:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5-7; 2:7-11

day  –  Romans 13:11-14; 1 Thesalonians 5:1-10

enlighten  –  John 1:9

eye  –  Luke 11:33-36

illumine  –  Psalm 18:28; Ecclesiastes 8:1; Luke 11:33-36

insight  –  (i.e. sight from within; or, understanding)  Daniel 12:3

lamp  –  Psalm 119:105; Matthew 6:22-23; Luke 11:33-36

lampstand  –  Luke 11:33-36

light  –  Psalm 27:1; 119:105; Isaiah 60:1-3; Micah 7:8; Matthew 6:22-23; Luke 11:33-36; John 3:19-21; 8:12; 12:46; Acts 26:18; Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 5:5-14; Colossians 1:12-13; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10; 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:5-7; 2:7-11

moon  –  Genesis 37:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:41

night  –  Romans 13:11-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10

see  –  Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:14-17; Mark 4:11-12; Luke 8:9-10; John 9:39-41; Acts 28:26-27

shine  –  Isaiah 60:1; Daniel 12:3; Ephesians 5:5-14; 1 John 2:7-11

short-sighted  –  2 Peter 1:9

sight  –  Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18; 7:21-22

sleep, sleeper  –  Romans 13:11-14; Ephesians 5:5-14

stars  –  Genesis 37:9-11; Daniel 12:3; 1 Corinthians 15:41

sun  –  Genesis 37:9-11; Malachi 4:2; 1 Corinthians 15:41

Looking for more examples of these words in Scripture, and studyiung them, will give you more understanding.

For more on figurative language use in Scripture, see here.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Vocabulary of Warfare Provides Many Comparisons to Spiritual Realities

The Old Testament makes great use of martial or military terms in the Old Testament because warfare was a reality of life for ancient Israel.  Nevertheless, Jesus Christ never raised arms against others and taught His disciples to follow His example.  However, the New Testament does make great use of fighting terms.  It does so in a spiritual, rather than a physical, sense.  The book of Revelation is filled with depictions of battle, and it is, of course, a very spiritual book.

When the New Testament uses military imagery, it is often borrowing such language from the Old Testament, but obviously giving it a new meaning.  This consistent with the theme of the New Testament which is to see the entire Old Testament in a spiritual light, given the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Here then is a list of militaristic terms applied to spiritual endeavors:

adversaries, adversary  –  1 Corinthians 16:9; 1 Peter 5:8

arm  –  1 Peter 4:1

armor  –  Ephesians 6:11, 13

army –  Revelation 19:14  (see also “sabaoth” below)

battle  –  1 Corinthians 14:8

breastplate  –  Isaiah 59:17; Ephesians 6:14; 1 Thessalonians 5:8

captive, captivity  –  2 Corinthians 10:5; Ephesians 4:8

conflict  –  James 4:1

conquer  –  Romans 8:37; Revelation 6:2

defeat  –  1 Corinthians 6:7  (see for contrast “victory” below)

destroy  –  2 Corinthians 10:5

destruction  –  2 Corinthians 10:4; Philippians 3:18-19

enemies, enemy  –  Psalm 8:2; 1 Corinthians 5:25-26; Philippians 3:18-19; James 4:4; Revelation 11:5

fight  –  John 18:36; 1 Timothy 6:12; 2 Timothy 4:7; James 4:2

fortresses  –  2 Corinthians 10:4 (translated as “strongholds” in the KJV, ESV, and NIV)

guard  –  1 Timothy 6:20; 2 TImothy 1:12, 14 (see also “protect” below)

helmet  –  Isaiah 59:17; Ephesians 6:17; 1 Thessalonians 5:8

instruments  –  Romans 6:13 (the word translated “instruments” here is elsewhere translated “weapons” or “armor”

legions  –  Matthew 26:53  (the NASB says a “legion” equaled 6,000 troops)

missile  –  Ephesians 6:16

overcome  –  John 16:33; 1 John 5:4-5Revelation 17:14

power  –  2 Corinthians 10:4; Hebrews 2:14-15

protect  –  2 Thessalonians 3:3; 1 Peter 1:5  (see also “guard” above)

sabaoth  –  Romans 9:29; James 5:4 (as in “Lord of Sabaoth” which is equivalent to the Hebrew expression “Lord of Hosts” – “hosts” meaning “armies,”  which see above)

shield  –  Ephesians 6:16

soldier  –  1 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Timothy 2:3-4

strike  –  Revelation 19:15

strongholds  –  (see “fortresses” above)

struggle  –  Ephesians 6:12

sword  –  Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12; Revelation 1:16; 2:16; 19:15, 21

victory  –  1 Corinthians 15:54-57; 1 John 5:4 (see for contrast “defeat” above)

war  –  2 Corinthians 10:3; James 4:1; Revelation 2:16; 17:14

warfare  –  2 Corinthians 10:4

weapons  –  2 Corinthians 10:4

All the references above are from the New Testament.  One of the things they should teach us, however, is that we should view military expressions in the Old Testament in just the same spiritual way.  For ancient Israel, such expressions were understood according to the flesh – that is, physically speaking.  For all who live since Christ, however, spiritual warfare is the only warfare we are to conduct in His name.

(For a post that deals with the cessation of physical warfare in the name of God that ensued with the coming of the kingdom of God, see here.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The World of Animals Provides Many Comparisons to Spiritual Realities

On the fifth day, God created the animals of heaven above and the sea below. On the sixth day, He created the animals of the earth itself.

Genesis 1:20 Then God said, “Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.”
Genesis 1:21 God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind, and every winged bird after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
Genesis 1:23 There was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.
Genesis 1:24 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:25 God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

God often uses animals (beast, creatures, etc.) to teach us spiritual realities.  Here’s a catalog of some of those many occasions where Scripture makes reference to an animal in order to covey some truth about people when viewed through the lens of the spirit.

animals  –  2 Peter 2:12; Jude 1:10  (in both cases here, the “unreasoning” quality of animals is emphasized; see also “creatures of instinct” below)

beast  –  James 3:7-8  (see also “wild beast” below)

birds  –  Matthew 8:20; Mark 4:4, (15), 32; Luke 9:58; James 3:7-8

bit  –  Psalm 32:9; James 3:3  (This is, of course, a device for a horse’s mouth, to control the horse)

bridle  –  Psalm 32:9  (This is, of course, a device for a horse’s head, to control the horse)

camel  –  Matthew 23:24

creatures of instinct  –  2 Peter 2:12 (see reference to “animals” above)

creatures of the sea  –  James 3:7-8 (see also “sea monster”)

dogs  –  Proverbs 26:11; Matthew 7:6; 15:26-27; Mark 7:27-28; 2 Peter 2:22

donkey  –  Isaiah 1:3

dove  –  Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32

eagles  –  Isaiah 40:27-31

fish  –  Jeremiah 16:16; Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17

foxes  –  Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58; 13:32

gnat  –  Matthew 23:24

goats  –  Matthew 25:32-33

hen  –  Luke 13:24

horse  –  Psalm 32:9

lamb  –  John 1:29, 36

lion  –  Ezekiel 32:2; Hosea 5:14; Revelation 5:5

monster  –  Ezekiel 32:2  (see also “sea monster”)

mule  –  Psalm 32:9

oxen  –  Isaiah 1:3; 1 Corinthians 9:9; 1 Timothy 5:18

pig  –  (see “sow” and “swine”)

reptiles  –  James 3:7-8

sea monster  –  Ezekiel 32:2  (see also “monster” and “creatures of the sea”)

serpents  –  Matthew 23:33

sheep  –  Matthew 7:15; 25:22-23; Romans 8:36

sow  –  2 Peter 2:22  (see also “swine”)

swine  –  Matthew 7:6  (see also “sow”)

vipers  –  Matthew 23:33

vultures  –  Matthew 24:28

wild beasts  – 1 Corinthians 15:32  (see also “beast” above)

wolves  –  Matthew 7:15

yoke  –  Matthew 11:28-30  (This is, of course, a device for linking “draft animals” or “beasts of burden”)

A similar “expanded comparison” (i.e. complex of linked metaphors, into, as it were, a parable) is the world of vegetation.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The World of Vegetation Provides Many Comparisons to Spiritual Realities

Consider what happened on the third day of creation:

Genesis 1:9 Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:10 God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:11 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”; and it was so.
Genesis 1:12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind; and God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:13 There was evening and there was morning, a third day.

Over and over, the Bible’s authors return to this aspect of creation to teach us about God and the spirit world.  These include sowing and reaping, seed and fruit, growth, and so on.  By meditating on the way God manages the physical creation, we can better understand how He manages the spiritual creation.  This is how we learn the ways of God – for the God of nature is spirit.  That is, one and the same God rules all.  It stands to reason that His ways would be consistent in both physical and spiritual dimensions.

Such expanded comparisons, or extended metaphors, can show up as parables – such as the important one we read in Mark 4 (Matthew 13 and Luke 8).  I say “important” because regarding it Jesus said:

Mark 4:13 And He *said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?

God is not trying to teach us agricutural principles.  Rather, He’s teaching us spiritual principles and using well-known and simple agricultural principles (that even a child can understand) to do so.  Even when the Bible seems to be talking about agricultural principles, it is actually signaling spiritual realities.

Here are some of the words used.  In every case, the agrigcultural term is being used in a spiritual sense.  It would be too much to try to list every biblical word used from this broad analogy.  Consider this but a representative sample. The verses given are occasions where that physical reality is used to explain some spiritual reality relevant to us because of the good news of Jesus Christ.

branch  –  Zechariah 3:8

bread  –  2 Corinthians 9:10

bush  –  Jeremiah 17:5-8  (compare and contrast with “tree”)

crops  –  Mark 4:28

desert  –  Jeremiah 17:5-8 (contrast with locales which have streams of water or sufficient rainfall)

farmer  –  James 5:7

field  –  John 4:35; 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

flower  –  James 1:10-11; 1 Peter 1:24-25

fruit  –  Romans 1:13; Colossians 1:6

fruitless  –  1 Timothy 1:6

grain  –  John 12:4; 1 Corinthians 15:36-37

grass  –  James 1:10-11; 1 Peter 1:24-25

ground  –  Ephesians 3:17; Hebrews 6:7-8 (see also “field,” “land,” and “soil”)

grow  –  Mark 4:26-29  (see also “sprout”)

harvest  –  Matthew 21:34; Luke 10:2 (see also “reap”)

implant  –  James 1:21  (see also “plant” or “sow”)

laborers  –  Luke 10:2

land  –  Luke 12:16  (see also “field,” “ground,” and “soil”)

leaf, leaves  –  Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:5-8;

plant  – Matthew 15:13; 1 Corinthians 3:6-9 (see also “implant”)

produce  –  Matthew 21:34; James 5:7

rain  –  Hebrews 6:7-8; James 5:7

reap  –  Matthew 25:34 (see also “harvest”; also contrast and compare with “sow”)

river(s)  –  Revelation 22:2

rod  –  Hebrews 9:4  (a rod, of course, is a dead and severed “branch”)

root  –  Isaiah 6:13; Daniel 4:26; Mark 4:17; Ephesians 3:17; Colossians 2:7

season  –  Matthew 21:41; 2 Timothy 4:2

seed  –  Luke 8:11

soil  –  James 5:7  (see also “field,” “ground,” and “land”)

sprout  –  Mark 4:26-29  (see also “grow”)

sun  –  Mark 4:6

sow  –  Galatians 6:7 (see also “plant” or “implant”; also contrast and compare with “reap”)

sower  –  Mark 4:3, 14; 2 Corinthians 9:10

stream(s)  –  Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:5-8

stump  –  Isaiah 6:13; Daniel 4:26

thorns and thistles  –  Hebrews 6:7-8

till  –  Hebrews 6:7-8

tree  –  See Scriptures on Trees  (see also “plant”; also compare and contrast with “bush”).

unfruitful  –  Titus 3:14; 2 Peter 1:8

uprooted  –  Matthew 15:13; Jude 1:12

vegetation  –  Matthew 7:16

vine  –  John 15:5

vineyard  –  Matthew 21:33

water  –  1 Corinthians 3:6-9

without fruit  –  Jude 1:12

Of course, I have only given a sampling of the chapter-and-verse references.  You can find many more for most of these words.  And by searching for them you will probably be engaging in fruitful study of the Bible.

A similar “expanded comparison” (i.e. complex of linked metaphors, into, as it were, a parable) is the world of animals.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.