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Are you blind?--a citizen in the Country of the Blind? In a recent sermon my pastor made a reference to the "country of the dead." This immediately started me thinking of the old H.G. Wells science fiction story "The Country Of The Blind".*1 And, of course, there also is that old proverb "There are none so blind as those who will not see."*2 Well, all this has been rattling around in my head for several days and with your permission here are some random thoughts. For more than sixty years now I have been blind as a result of falling head first through a window. And although most people would rather lose a limb, be deaf and dumb or die than be physically blind, I have found it to be a blessing from God in my life through which it has been possible for me to learn about and experience His awsome grace. In H.G. Well's story "The Country of The Blind", Nunez, a sighted man, accidentally falls into an isolated valley in the Andes mountains of Equador where all the inhabitants have been blind for many generations. Recognizing the state of affairs, he immediately thinks of the old axiom "The one eyed man in the country of the blind is king." But soon he discovers that they have adapted their world and belief system to their own condition and have a strong desire to make him like themselves. Because they are physically blind they cannot see the stars he sees--nor will they believe his words! You see, their belief system was based only on what they were able to observe for themselves. This brings me to my second thought: "There are none so blind as those who will not see!" which speaks of a condition far worse than mere physical blindness. An even more dangerous condition from which all men suffer is spiritual blindness. Both Jesus and Paul quote Isaiah in describing the people of Israel: 'Go to this people and say, "'You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, and with their ears they scarcely hear, and THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES; otherwise they might see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I should heal them."' (Acts 28:26-27, Matthew 13:14-15, Isaiah 6:9) In Jeremiah 5:21 we find a similar statement: 'Hear this, O foolish and senseless people, Who have eyes, but see not; Who have ears, but hear not.' And Paul, in Romans 120-23,28,32, describes the Gentiles as no better. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did nothonor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals andcrawling creatures.... And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,... and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. In the above passages we have been given a description of "those who will not see." Obviously, this is a state of mind chosen by the individual. One does not usually choose to put out his own eyes, although, I know of at least one man who did. And yet, when it comes to spiritual matters concerning the truth as seen in God's Word, countless multitudes make the decision to reject it, preferring to follow their own misconceptions as those in the country of the blind. How foolish indeed! The Bible is primarily a book that reveals God to men and what He wants us to know. However, when touching on history or things scientific, it has always been demonstrated to be reliable, even though often disputed by unbelieving men. But it is here we want to discuss how it is that we may come to know Him. Jesus, the "God-man," said in the Gospel of John: "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life" (8:12). As the physical eye requires light in order to see where it's going, likewise, the spiritual eyes of men require a source of light. In the Bible, in the Gospel of John, we have seen that Jesus proclaimed Himself to be that light. In the next chapter, John 9, we see the story of the man born blind whose eyes were opened. Not since the beginning of the world had anyone heard of such a thing, and yet, the Pharisees reject the evidence and testimony set forth before their very eyes. What they could see with their physical eyes they refuse to see with their spiritual eyes. Notice what Jesus had to say about this in John 9:39-41. And Jesus said, "For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind." Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, "We are not blind too, are we?" Jesus said to them, "If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, 'We see,' your sin remains. In other words, they rejected the truth available to them, choosing rather to follow their own unenlightened way. And that way led them to crucify the very One who came to lead them out of their darkness into the light of life. "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:11-13). In John chapter 3 Jesus also spoke to Nicodemus about being born anew. ... "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born, can he?" Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh [physical birth], and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit [spiritual birth]. "Do not be amazed that I said to you, 'You must be born again.'..." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can these things be?" (vss 3-9) Nicodemus needed to see, as do we, that sinful man, spiritually blind and separated from God, must be newly born spiritually from above by the Spirit. In verse 14 Jesus goes on to explain how this is to be accomplished. "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life [a godly quality of life]. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever [is believing] in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (3:14-17). Elsewhere in chapter 12;32-36 Jesus says: "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself." But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die [on a cross]. The crowd then answered Him, "We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this Son of Man?" So Jesus said to them, "For a little while longer the Light is among you Walk while you have the Light, so that darkness will not overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. While you have the Light, believe in the Light, so that you may become sons of Light. " What Jesus is saying is that it was necessary for Him to die, the sinless One, for the sins of the world in order that men might once again have a living relationship to God. He says in 14:6, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." And how is it that we come? By faith. Faith in the fact that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world[ including our own], was buried [because He was dead], and raised again the third day [by this God showing His acceptance of Christ's sacrifice in our behalf for our justification]. After this He was seen by more than 500 people. Not only seen with their physical eyes, touched by their hands, but now justified through the eyes of faith. A great many of these died as marters because of their testtimony to the truth of what they saw. Do you see it? Back in John 3 Jesus finishes His conversation with Nicodemus in verses 18-21 as follows. "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." Have you seen the Light? Are you walking in the Light? Are the eyes of your faith opened to Him? Or, do you choose to remain a citizen in the Country of the Blind? Believe in His Name, and all that it represents, and you will be delivered out from the country of the spiritually blind.
*1 The Country of The Blind: H.G. Wells, 1904 (read onlinne)
*2 John Bartlett: Familiar Quotations: 1919 10th ed. a. "None so blind as those that will not see." Commentary on Jeremiah 5:21. Mathew Henry (1662-1714) b. "There is none so blind as they that won't see." Polite Conversation, dialogue iii. Jonathan Swift: (1667-1745) c. "Who is so deafe or so blinde as is hee That wilfully will neither heare nor see?" Proverbes. Part ii. Chap. ix. John Heywood (1497-1580)
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