Sunday 26 January 2020


Many have attempted to show the awe-inspiring unity of the Holy Bible. I intend to do the same here but in my way. And my purpose behind this small exercise is to point out to my readers that if we fail to grasp this unity, we may end up compromising the meaning of countless mysteries of the Bible.

For the stated purpose, we are going to make a study of a miracle that Jesus performed in Bethsaida. It is recorded thus in Mark 8:22-26:“Then He came to Bethsaida; and they brought a blind man to Him, and begged Him to touch him. So He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the town. And when He had spit on his eyes and put His hands on him, He asked him if he saw anything.

And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.”

Then He put His hands on his eyes again and made him look up. And he was restored and saw everyone clearly. Then He sent him away to his house, saying, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.”

As I was reading this passage, it baffled me a little. Why Jesus spit on his eyes? And why the blind man was not healed immediately and began to see things clearly when Jesus asked Him what he saw? Why the blind man first saw men like trees and then, after Jesus touches his eyes again, did he begin to see clearly? When I considered this, I began to notice few more noteworthy details in this small episode:

1.   Jesus did not straightaway give command and healed the blind man’s blindness. It sufficed for Him just to give command to heal the sick. That’s what He did on other occasions. Why Jesus spat on his eyes, and when he was not able to see clearly, touched his eyes with his hands? Why the blind man began to see on second attempt and not at the very first?
2.   Jesus took him out of the town of Bethsaida. Why?
3.   He asked him what he saw. Why the blind man saw men like trees at first? Do men looking like trees signify something? If it does, what?

When the blind man began to see, Jesus commanded him, “Neither go into the town, nor tell anyone in the town.” However, Jesus did send the blind man away to his house. It simply means that he did not belong to Bethsaida. Neither was it proper for him to be in Bethsaida in the same way that it was not proper for Lot and his family to live in Sodom and Gomorrah. This fairly explains why he was taken out of the city before he was healed. It also explains why Jesus forbade him to tell the people of the town about the incident.

It is relevant here to quote Matthew 11:20, 21:

“Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.’” mighty works Jesus did were meant to establish that He was the Messiah. When He comes to a person or a people, it means the Kingdom of Heaven has come to him or them. Whenever the Kingdom of Heaven comes, either we accept or reject it. That is the purpose why it comes.

Repentance of sin and acceptance of Jesus are the ways in which we may receive the Kingdom of Heaven. Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum were the places where Jesus had worked so much to make Himself known to them, and yet they rejected Him. Hence, He pronounced judgment on them. Because they were already under the judgment, Jesus distanced Himself from them.

When I considered these issues further, it opened my eyes to how intricate and subtle are the inter-textuality within the Bible. The problems I faced in understanding this miracle of Jesus was because I could not see its relation to other texts in the Bible.

At first, it reminded me of many servants of God who said they had healing ministry. Umpteen times I saw them sprinkling water, anointing with oil, praying over the sick and doing many other things that you may be knowing about. After prayer when they would ask the sick, “How are you now?” their reply would be, “I am still the way I was before.” Thereupon the minister would start praying vehemently, full of sound and fury, yet to no effect. Therefore, I was troubled to read this episode. was sure of one thing: that Jesus was God and could do anything He liked. That, exactly, why I was so puzzled over what happened in this instance. I racked my brains for a long time without finding answer to the problem. I realized that only God could help me understand this, and so I prayed to Him. Always when I pray to God to seek His help in understanding the Scriptures, He invariably answers my prayers. And every time I receive answer from Him, it surprises me beyond limit. This is what happened this time also.

When I finished praying to God, suddenly a thought passed through my mind, “The key lies in men looking like trees walking.” I decided to search the Bible to find out tree symbolism from it. After sometime I came upon this passage from the Book of Judges, Chapter 9.

It was about Abimelech, Jerubbaal’s son, born of a Shechemite concubine. He, with the support of his Shechemite brothers on the distaff side, conspired against the sons of his father and killed them all, 70 in number. But one of his brothers, named Jotham, escaped the slaughter, and thus he addressed the men of Shechem standing on top of Mount Gerizim:

“Listen to me, you men of Shechem,
That God may listen to you!
The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them.
And they said to the olive tree,
‘Reign over us!’
But the olive tree said to them,
‘Should I cease giving my oil,
With which they honor God and men,
And go to sway over trees?’
Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You come and reign over us!’
But the fig tree said to them,
‘Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit,
And go to sway over trees?’
Then the trees said to the vine,
‘You come and reign over us!
‘But the vine said to them,
‘Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees? all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us!’
And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you,
Then come and take shelter in my shade;
But if not, let fire come out of the bramble
And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’”

This passage surprised me a lot on several accounts but the important thing is that I learnt from it the symbolic meaning of trees. They signify the kind of people who were fit to be ruled by a leader like bramble that hurts anyone who touches it. The people of Bethsaida belonged to this category. Jesus rejected them for the same reason that the vine rejected the trees. He did not want to waste His new wine, which stood for the New Testament in His blood, on the people who were not willing to move forward from the Old Testament which guided them to the fulfillment of the divine promise pertaining to salvation through Jesus – salvation that lay in the atoning blood of His that He would shed on the cross.

They were blind people who were forever willing to live in the promise of the coming of the Messiah but not willing to accept the fulfillment thereof when the Messiah actually came to them. They disowned Him! And they didn’t even know that by so doing they were disowning the very tradition that they pretended to uphold. Such are the spiritually blind. Jesus did not want them to see His work in the life of the physically blind man. Therefore, He took him out of the city., He spat in the eyes of the blind man to make him see the fact that He had rejected Bethsaida. The act of spitting on someone is tantamount to his insult. Here, Jesus does not actually want to treat the blind man insultingly so much as making him know His view of the people of this city. What Jesus did for him required testimony from the man who was cured. But these were certainly not the people before whom he was expected to testify what Jesus did for him. What Jesus did for him proved that He was the Christ.

Thus, the act of spitting suggests rejection of the people of the city by Him. They neither believed in the Old Testament nor in the New Testament. In this they weren’t in any way different from the Church of Laodicea which is neither hot nor cold. I surely do not mean to say that I consider belief in the Old Testament as a spiritual state that is described as cold and the belief in the New Testament as a state described as hot. It is the absence of commitment that is in question. Jesus underlined this when He said in John 5:45-47:

“Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

God wants them to be either hot or cold, and warns them that He would spit them out of His mouth for their lukewarmness. His forbidding the blind man even from entering the city, and telling them what had happened, is just a verbal expression of His symbolic act of spitting in his eyes. In the eyes of the spiritually seeing blind man, Jesus had rejected Bethsaida. That is the meaning of the act of spitting in the eyes of the blind man.

But the surprise that Jotham’s parable sprung on me did not stop here. I realized that it not only represented reality symbolically, it also provided a paradigm to show what the people of Bethsaida (Israel) were going to do after being rejected by Jesus. Jotham’s prophecy was fulfilled in part when God sent a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and men of Shechem. Abimelech did prove a bramble to the men of Shechem whose fire consumed them. But it is the reference to the cedars of Lebanon that extends his prophecy to include the rejection of the Messiah by Israel, acceptance of the false one and the consequences of the wrong choice that was willfully made. states that the trees go to the bramble to ask it to rule over them. Significantly, the bramble not only accepts their proposal but also demands something, which if they would not fulfill, would have serious consequences for them. The whole situation reminded me of Israel asking for a king to rule over them. They did have the king they wanted, but he came as a package. God described it to the old prophet in the following terms in 1 Samuel 8:

“And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”

So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”

And it was just as God had forewarned them. Nevertheless the attitude of the people remained unchanged, and will remain unchanged as the prophetic utterance of Jotham will go on to prove.

Interestingly, what Jotham had to tell to the people of Shechem was directly related to the people of Israel who would come to live in the time of the Antichrist. Let me quote what Jotham said to the Shechemite again for good measure:

“Then all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us!’
And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you,
Then come and take shelter in my shade;
But if not, let fire come out of the bramble
And devour the cedars of Lebanon!”

The question, here, is: What the Shechemite had to do with the cedars of Lebanon? If fire would come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon, how it would hurt the Shechemite? Shechem did not belong to Lebanon!

We have the answers to these questions if we ask: What is meant by the cedars of Lebanon? We know the symbolic meaning of the trees; now it is time to know a little bit about the cedars of Lebanon. Ezekiel 31, Lebanon is called the Garden of Eden and the Garden of God. To be more precise, it is the name given to those trees (angels) whom God threw out of His Garden. The same chapter describes the cedar of Lebanon as the greatest in glory of all the choice and best trees of Lebanon. The same cedar is also called the Assyrian whose descriptions in different passages refer both to Lucifer and the Antichrist. That these are the spirits and not humans can be known from the following verse:

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou has lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height;

I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness….To the end that none of all the trees by the waters exalt themselves for their height, neither shoot up their top among the thick boughs, neither their trees stand up in their height, all that drink water: for they are all delivered unto death, to the nether parts of the earth, in the midst of the children of men, with them that go down to the pit.” (Ezekiel 31:10-11, 14)

Clearly, what the emboldened text means to say is that the spirit beings who were cast out of the Garden of Eden ended up in the same place where the children of men do. That place is called the Pit. These fallen angels are called the choice and best of the trees of Lebanon. The Antichrist is also a spirit but in body form.

While it is difficult to say with any degree of certainty that other trees cast out along with the Assyrian are also cedars, we can fairly say that those who dwelt under the shadow of the cedar of Lebanon (the Assyrian) are also cedars from verse 17 which says,

“They also went down into hell with him (the Assyrian or the cedar of Lebanon) unto them that be slain with the sword; and they that were his arm, that dwelt under his shadow in the midst of the heathen.”

If they were his arm, then they were also cedars…Arm of the cedar is bound to be cedar. Therefore, the cedars of Lebanon indicate those who dwell under the shadow of the Assyrian. It is significant that the bramble in the parable of Jotham in Judges 9 asks the trees, who go to it with the offer of becoming king over them, to take shelter under its shade. Verse 15 words the reply of the bramble thus:

“And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in truth you anoint me as king over you,
Then come and take shelter in my shade;
But if not, let fire come out of the bramble
And devour the cedars of Lebanon!’”

The trees asking the bramble to rule over them must dwell in the shade thereof. The bramble is the status to which the cedar of Lebanon is reduced by the time the people of Israel, who rejected Jesus, come to him to anoint him king over them. It stands to logic that the people who reject truth are bound to turn to untruth. Jesus spoke about this when He said in John 5:42-43:

“But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you. I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him you will receive.”

These same people are called a synagogue of Satan in Revelation 2:9; 3:9. The same are called the cedars of Lebanon in Jotham’s prophecy and in Ezekiel 31:17. When they will come to dwell in the shade of the bramble, they will face the consequences thereof in full measure. That will be the time they will try to correct their mistake with the result that the fire will come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon. When the Antichrist will break the covenant he made with many for the period of 7 years, he will turn against Israel and set himself up in the temple in Jerusalem as abomination that will unloose desolation on Israel.

Now let us stop and consider where we have arrived from where we had started! When we read the Bible, we must always be prepared for this. To the spiritually blind, it might seem simple to the extent of being intellectually dissatisfying. But when seen with one’s spiritual eyes open, it would just blow his mind with the explosion of divine revelations contained in it.  It would greatly benefit us if we humbly draw near to it with the purpose of having our spiritual eyes open. It is vain to read it with the purpose of mastering its mysteries.


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