Understanding Parables

Brock, our Sunday school teacher, is taking us through the book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel can be a very overwhelming book at times. I remember when this was read:

“Moreover take up a lamentation for the princes of Israel, and say: ‘What is your mother? A lioness: She lay down among the lions; Among the young lions she nourished her cubs. She brought up one of her cubs, And he became a young lion; He learned to catch prey, And he devoured men. The nations also heard of him; He was trapped in their pit, And they brought him with chains to the land of Egypt. Ezek 19:1-4

Through commentaries you gain an understanding that Jehoahaz is most likely the cub that was trapped in the pit and taken to Egypt. Probably anyone alive during that time could grasp that understanding.
Today it’s a different matter. After reading it, Brock said aloud what everyone else was thinking – why can’t it just say it plain and simple?

It did – for those in Ezekiel’s day.

Jesus often spoke in parables and was asked about that one day. His reply:

Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Matt 13:11-13

Parables are an earthly story with a spiritual meaning. Parables can be confusing when you don’t understand the surroundings in which they were given.

For instance if I say, “There was once a buzzard that set itself up as an eagle. This buzzard did not have the mighty talons of the eagle and could not catch the fish or the snake. Instead the buzzard could only eat what was already dead. Although it could soar high in the sky, it could only glide on the winds; it had no power in its wings.”

You might read this and think of someone that fits the buzzard. You may think of some sort of leader, as indicated by the eagle. This would be a bad leader; a fake leader as indicated by the buzzard.
It could be the owner of a local business, a civic leader, or even the president.
If I said the buzzard never flew far from its roost, then it may be more local.
If I said the buzzard flew and made its roost on an island, then it could be talking about the president and the vacations in Hawaii.
If I said the buzzard would roost anywhere it wanted and often pushed other birds out of the way, then perhaps it’s about presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
But in this case it’s just a story to illustrate the point – sort of a parable about parables.

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