I Will Bring You Back to the Place from Where I Sent You into Exile

Jeremiah 29:14 ‘I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’

While Jeremiah’s words had a particular meaning to the Jews of that time, God’s promise has broader fulfillment in the restoration of humanity to Himself through Jesus Christ.

Mankind was exiled from the presence of God because of sin.  Only through Jesus Christ was sin ultimately and perfectly addressed.  Therefore, through Jesus Christ we have our way back to the Creator against whom we’ve sinned and from whom we’ve wandered.

For this reason, the tree of life first mentioned in Genesis 2 is addressed in Revelation 22, the last chapter of the Bible.  That is, as humankind was denied access to the tree of life because of the sin of Adam and Eve, so humankind was invited back to the tree of life through Jesus Christ our Redeemer.

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.)

Scriptures on Trees

Everything in the creation is a potential metaphor for God to teach us about Himself, about life, and about ourselves.  Here are some examples of how God uses trees to teach us about living with Him [emphasis added].

1 Kings 4:32 He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005.
1 Kings 4:33 He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish.

“He” refers to Solomon.

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Psalm 1:1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
Psalm 1:3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

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Is 61:3 …
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.

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Jeremiah 17:5 Thus says the LORD,
“Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind
And makes flesh his strength,
And whose heart turns away from the LORD.
Jeremiah 17:6 “For he will be like a bush in the desert
And will not see when prosperity comes,
But will live in stony wastes in the wilderness,
A land of salt without inhabitant.
Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
Jeremiah 17:8 “For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.

Note the vivid contrast between “a bush in desert” and “a tree by water.”

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Daniel 4:26 ‘And in that it was commanded to leave the stump with the roots of the tree, your kingdom will be assured to you after you recognize that it is Heaven that rules.

Daniel was here prophesying that Nebuchadnezzar was like a tree cut down, that would eventually be restored.

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Matthew 3:10 “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Contrast this tree with the tree of Psalm 1.

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Revelation 22:1 Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb,
Revelation 22:2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

In addition to relating back to the tree of life in the garden of Eden, this image also evokes the imagery of Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:5-8 (both above) with the tree beside life-giving water.

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For more on other metaphors from the world of growing things see The World of Vegetation Provides Many Comparisons to Spiritual Realities.

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.)

Scriptures on Eating (Food)

God designed living creatures such that they require regular sustenance in order to survive.  Humanity, being made in God’s image, requires also spiritual sustenance – food for the spirit within.  Even when the Bible talks about physical food, there’s a spiritual lesson to be learned.

A wide variety of words come into play when we consider how the Scriptures speak of this issue:  bread, dine, eat, food, fruit, manna, morsel, nourish, partake, and more.  Let us therefore meditate on such verses (or should I say partake of them) [emphasis added]:

1 Kings 19:8 So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.

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Job 12:11 “Does not the ear test words,
As the palate tastes its food?

Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the command of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Job 34:3 “For the ear tests words
As the palate tastes food.

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Psalms 119:103 How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

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Proverbs 17:1 Better is a dry morsel and quietness with it
Than a house full of feasting with strife.

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Proverbs 24:13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
Yes, the honey from the comb is sweet to your taste;
Proverbs 24:14 Know that wisdom is thus for your soul;
If you find it, then there will be a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.

This passage makes it explicit that eating food is a metaphor for ingesting God’s word.

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Proverbs 25:16 Have you found honey? Eat only what you need,
That you not have it in excess and vomit it.

Spiritual language can be graphic, but then so is life.

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Ecclesiastes 10:17 Blessed are you, O land, whose king is of nobility and whose princes eat at the appropriate time–for strength and not for drunkenness.

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Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart;
For I have been called by Your name,
O LORD God of hosts.

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Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”

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John 4:34 Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

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John 6:53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.

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Philippians 1:7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.

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1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

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Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

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Revelation 2:17 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

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Revelation 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

The King James Version uses “sup” in place of “dine.”

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Since the purpose of eating is to gain strength, consider this related post:  Scriptures on Strength.

Spiritually eating is akin to spiritual listening.  Therefore, see Scriptures on Listening.

The metaphor of eating can also be considered as a part of the broader metaphor of vegetation.  Therefore, see The World of Vegetation Provides Many Comparisons to Spiritual Realities.

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.)

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.

Metaphors of Hearing

Just as we have the ability to hear physically, we also have the ability to hear spiritually.  In the Scriptures, God uses physical hearing as a metaphor for spiritual hearing.  Here are some examples [emphasis added]:

Psalm 81:13  –  “Oh that My people would listen to Me”

Isaiah 6:9-10  –  He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Matthew 13:16-17  –  “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

John 8:43  –  “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.”  [Jesus was saying these words to people who had no problem hearing Him physically.]

Hebrews 5:11  –  “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”

Revelation 3:22  –  “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

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. 

Metaphors of Sight

The Scriptures often refer to “seeing” and related terms from a spiritual point of view.  That is, the Bible’s authors use familiar physical realities to explain unfamiliar spiritual realities.  Here are some examples when it comes to the faculty of sight [emphasis added]:

Isaiah 6:9-10 He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on listening, but do not perceive;
Keep on looking, but do not understand.’
Render the hearts of this people insensitive,
Their ears dull,
And their eyes dim,
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
Understand with their hearts,
And return and be healed.”

Daniel 12:3  –  “Those who have insight will shine brightly”

Matthew 13:16-17  –  “But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.  For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Mark 6:52  –  “for they had not gained any insight from the incident of the loaves, but their heart was hardened”

2 Corinthians 3:14-16  –  a “veil” lies over the hearts of the unbelieving as they read the Scriptures, but it is removed when they “turn to the Lord.”

2 Corinthians 4:3  –  The “gospel is veiled to those who are perishing”

2 Corinthians 4:4  –  “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel”

Revelation 3:17 “you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”

Revelation 3:18  –  “and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.”

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

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. 

Metaphors of Wealth and Poverty

The metaphorical contrast of rich and poor is employed frequently in the Bible to explain important aspects of the spiritual dimension.  We all know what wealth and poverty look like in the physical dimension.  Through that understanding, God seeks to make known to us the realities of spiritual riches and spiritual impoverishment.

Here are some examples [emphasis added]:

Isaiah 33:6  –  “And He will be the stability of your times, A wealth of salvation, wisdom and knowledge”

Matthew 6:20-21  –  “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 19:21  –  “give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”

Luke 12:21  –  “So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God”

Luke 15:14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.”

Luke 16:11  –  “if you have not been faithful in the use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?”

Romans 2:4  –  “do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience”

Romans 10:12  –  “the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him”

Romans 11:33  –  “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God”

Ephesians 1:7  –  “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace”

Ephesians 1:18  –  “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”

Ephesians 2:4  –  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us”

Ephesians 2:7  –  “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”

Ephesians 3:8  –  “to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ”

Ephesians 3:16  –  “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man”

Philippians 4:19  –  “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 1:27  –  “God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”

Colossians 2:2-3  –  “attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”

Colossians 3:16  –  “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you”

2 Timothy 1:14  –  “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you”

Hebrews 11:26  –  “considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.”

Revelation 3:17-18  –  “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

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. 

Metaphors of Life and Death

Just as there is physical life and physical death, so there is spiritual life and spiritual death.  Since the physical versions are quite familiar to all of us, the Bible uses them as metaphors to help us understand the spiritual versions.  Here are some examples of the Scripture speaking of life or death from a spiritual, not a physical, perspective:

Matthew 8:22  –  “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead”

Luke 9:60  –  “Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.”

Ephesians 2:1  –  “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins”

Ephesians 2:5  –  even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ”

Ephesians 5:14  –  “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And Christ will shine on you.”

Revelation 3:1  –  “you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

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.)

Metaphors of Clothing

There is a theme in Scripture wherein human clothing is used metaphorically to describe spiritual realities.  Here are some examples [emphasis added]:

Job 29:14  –   “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; My justice was like a robe and a turban.”

Psalm 132:9  –  “Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness, And let Your godly ones sing for joy.”

Isaiah 59:17  –  “He put on garments of vengeance for clothing And wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle.”

Isaiah 61:10 –  “For He has clothed me with garments of salvation, He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness”

Matthew 22:11  –  “he saw a man there who was not dressed in wedding clothes

Matthew 22:12  –  “Friend, how did you come in here without wedding clothes?”

Galatians 3:27  –  “clothed yourselves with Christ”

Titus 2:10  –  “showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.”

1 Peter 3:3  –  “Your adornment must not be merely external”

1 Peter 3:5  –  “who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves”

Revelation 3:17  –  “you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked”

Revelation 3:18  –  “and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed”

Revelation 19:8  –  “to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.”

Revelation 19:13  –  “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood”

For other key biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes, as well as the category to the right “Key Metaphors.”

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.)

Metaphors of Human Maturation

The Bible’s authors want us to understand how to mature spiritually.  They use the metaphor of human maturtion to make that point, as seen in the verses identified below.

1 Kings 3:7  –  “I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.”

Psalm 131:2  –  “Like a weaned child rests against his mother, My soul is like a weaned child within me.”

Matthew 18:3  –  “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven”

Matthew 18:4  –  “Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 21:16  –  “Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babes” (“babes and sucklings” in the KJV)

John 3:3  –  “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God”

1 Corinthians 3:1  –  “as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ”  (“babes in Christ” in NASB 1973)

Ephesians 4:15  –  “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him”

Hebrews 5:13  –  “not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.”

Hebrews 5:14  –  “but solid food is for the mature.”

1 Peter 1:3  –  “caused us to be born again to a living hope”

1 Peter 1:23  –  “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable”

1 Peter 2:2  –  “like newborn babies

Of course, the process by which a human being matures from conception and birth to adulthood is one of growth.  And an essential element of this growth is feeding.

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. 

Metaphors of Growth

Metaphors of growing are particular important in the Bible.  Besides wanting us to mature spiritually, it also helps us better distinguish between our role and God’s role. We can do the things that make for growth, but as it says in 1 Corinthians 3:6 below, it’s actually God who is making the growth happen.

Mark 4:27  –  “the seed sprouts and grows–how, he himself does not know.”

1 Corinthians 3:6  –  “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.”

Ephesians 4:15  –  “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him”

1 Peter 2:2  “you may grow in respect to salvation”

As seen in Ephesians 4:15 above, the broad idea is growth is essential to the idea of spiritual maturation.  Related also is the concept of feeding, which is, of course, essential to growth itself.

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. 

Metaphors of Feeding (Eating and Drinking)

As all physical living things must be nourished, so also must all spiritual living things be nourished.  Here are examples of the metaphor of food being used with regard to spiritual things.

Deuteronomy 8:3 “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.  [quoted in Matthew 4:4]

Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the command of His lips;
I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.

Psalm 23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.

Psalm 34:8 O taste and see that the LORD is good…

Psalm 78:25 Man did eat the bread of angels;
He sent them food in abundance.

Isaiah 55:10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
Isaiah 55:11 So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.

Jeremiah 3:15 “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.

Jeremiah 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them,
And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart…

Amos 8:11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.

Matthew 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'”  [quoting Deuteronomy 8:3]

Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Matthew 6:11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.

Matthew 8:11 “I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven;

Luke 11:3 ‘Give us each day our daily bread.

Luke 15:14 “Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished.
Luke 15:15 “So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
Luke 15:16 “And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him.
Luke 15:17 “But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!

John 4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
John 4:32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
John 4:33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?”
John 4:34 Jesus *said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work.

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.

John 6:41 Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.”

John 6:58 “This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.”

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able,
1 Corinthians 3:3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?

2 Corinthians 9:10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;

1 Timothy 4:6 In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following.

Hebrews 5:11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.
Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Hebrews 6:4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
Hebrews 6:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
Hebrews 6:6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Hebrews 13:9 Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.
Heb 13:10 We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.

1 Peter 2:2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,
1 Peter 2:3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.

Revelation 2:17 …To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna

Revelation 3:20 ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.

As can be seen in 1 Peter 2:2 above, there is an obvious connection between feeding and growth, and there is as well between feeding and human maturation.

For more on biblical metaphors, see Metaphorical Themes.

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.)

Metaphorical Themes

Certain metaphors are used repeatedly in the Bible and are thus quite important to our understanding.  (For a broader view, see Figurative Speech in the Bible.)  These key metaphors include the ideas of feeding, growth, and human maturation.  These three metaphors sometimes cross paths, but not always.

For other posts on thematic metaphors in the Bible, see the sub-category “Key Metaphors” under the category “Figurative Language” to the right.  (Or simply click 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.

 

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 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.