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The Blind Receive Sight

INTRODUCTION: For this MPN Bible study I wanted to consider the topic of blindness, and further explore the range of literal to symbolic sense used in Scripture. There are some very interesting forms of apparent physical blindness recorded in the Bible, and there are times when the Lord opened someone's eyes to see his provision to meet a need. There are also incidents when spirit beings became visible only to specific individuals. The distinction between literal and metaphoric sense is sometimes blurred in scriptural references, and comparison with other passages is necessary to move one closer to the correct understanding. And then there are examples of the ministry of Christ Jesus fulfilling prophecy in both the healing of physical blindness and of causing the blind eyes of understanding to be opened; each case with very interesting variations. The physical blindness healed by Jesus was always secondary to the healing of the blindness of the heart and mind, because physical healing is temporal and spiritual healing is eternal. And as a physically blind individual myself, I thank God for the spiritual healing I have received through my Lord, Christ Jesus.

NOTE: All scripture references are from the 1769 KJV Bible known as the Authorized Version.

A - Some unusual incidents related to sight

Genesis 3 "7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons."

Genesis 19 "10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. 11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door."

Genesis 21 "18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink."

Numbers 22 "31 Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face."

2 Kings 6 "15 And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16 And he answered, Fear not: for they that [be] with us [are] more than they that [be] with them. 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 18 And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. 19 And Elisha said unto them, This [is] not the way, neither [is] this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria. 20 And it came to pass, when they were come into Samaria, that Elisha said, LORD, open the eyes of these men, that they may see. And the LORD opened their eyes, and they saw; and, behold, they were in the midst of Samaria."

Luke 24 "15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. ... 30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed [it], and brake, and gave to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight."

Acts 13 "8 But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 9 Then Saul, (who also [is called] Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 10 And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, [thou] child of the devil, [thou] enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."

COMMENTS: These verses present a mixture of types of perception by sight, some with a very selective nature to what is perceived or not perceived; but all directed under God's control. In the garden, Adam and Eve associated the nakedness they saw physically with thoughts not formerly in them prior to their disobedience, and they responded by using a covering to change their external appearance. The men in Sodom did not display panic that might be expected from abrupt blindness, when the angels inside Lot's home struck them blind. But instead they continued searching in vain for the door to the house, implying that their blindness may have been of a very specific and limited nature. At the precise time chosen by the Lord, Balaam's eyes were opened to allow him to see the angel opposing him, which had already been seen by his mount (which not only saw the angel, but also spoke to Balaam!).

Hagar perhaps could have seen the well of water if she had just known where to look, but scripture glorifies God in stating that the Lord opened her eyes to see it, and the fact that it was physically there for her, in itself was a provision from God. Elisha's servant saw spiritual beings that apparently had been visible to Elisha before he requested of God that his servant be able to see them. Then the soldiers followed Elisha to Samaria in an orderly fashion that implies they could see to travel, but God prevented them from fully recognizing their surroundings until they were inside the gates of Samaria.

The two on the road to Emmaus first were prevented from recognizing the risen Christ, then at the right time their eyes were opened. The blindness that befell Elymas when he opposed Paul was definite physical blindness that immediately placed him in need to be led around, but the supernatural manner in which it befell him had the affect God intended for Paul's audience. There is much more that could be said of these examples, but we will move ahead to other examples, and to the metaphoric sense.

B - The LORD is in physical/spiritual blindness, and He opens eyes

Exodus 4 "11 And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?"
Leviticus 19 "14 Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumblingblock before the blind, but shalt fear thy God: I am the LORD."

John 9 "2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

Exodus 23 "8 And thou shalt take no gift: for the gift blindeth the wise, and perverteth the words of the righteous."
Deuteronomy 16 "19 Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous."

1 Samuel 16 "7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."

Psalms 119 "18 Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law."
Psalms 146 "8 The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:"

Isaiah 29 "18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness."
Isaiah 35 "5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped."
Isaiah 42 "7 To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house."
Isaiah 42:16 And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."

COMMENTS: The Lord God is the creator of all in existence, and he alone fully understands why he has made some to be physically blind, and he alone also holds the answer to why some have there eyes opened spiritually. All physical and spiritual blindness has inherent potential to be healed by the Lord, to the end that the Lord receive all the glory. The Lord's compassion requires that the physically blind be treated properly by those who fear the Lord, and this further implies any such need should be the object of compassion, and needs will continue to be present until all things are set right.

In the sense of our tendency toward obscured reasoning, the Lord warns us not to be perverted in our judgments by bribes or undue influence. We should receive the same message given to Samuel, that God considers the inner man, far above any outward appearance that may be on display; and we would do well to try to consider the inner man in others as we desire to be more like Christ. The psalmist turns in his heart to the Lord to request that his eyes of understanding be opened to the glory of the Lord as revealed in the word of God.

Some of Isaiah's prophecy gives the double message of the opening of the eyes of the physically blind; coupled with the ministry of the Lord opening the heartfelt understanding that has been blinded by sin, so it will once again be possible for man to follow after God.

C - Lack of faith in the Lord is the reason the lost remain blind to the truth

Isaiah 6 "10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed."

Matthew 13 "15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them."
John 12 "40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them."

Matthew 15 "12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? 13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. 14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch."
Matthew 23 "16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor! 17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? 18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. 19 [Ye] fools and blind: for whether [is] greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? 20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. 22 And he that shall swear by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon. 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 [Ye] blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 [Thou] blind Pharisee, cleanse first that [which is] within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men's] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity."

COMMENTS: Jesus made reference to the prophecy of Isaiah when he spoke of the religious leaders and their followers as representing the condition of closing their hearts and their understanding to the truth of God's word, and the grace offered by him. AS Jesus said in another place, these people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Because of the hardness of their heart, the Lord may leave such people in their sin. Religious practice should not elevate the practitioner, but rather it should elevate the Lord God and humble the practitioner. Judgment, mercy, and faith are the elements Jesus emphasized as he spoke to the Pharisees, directing us to understand how much more important is the condition in the heart where God alone can see. If we have not allowed God to cleanse the inside of our vessel, then all outward acts of self-cleansing or of apparent generous giving are as dead as the contents of a tomb.

D - Jesus brings sight to the blind

Matthew 9 "28 And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord. 29 Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you. 30 And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See [that] no man know [it]."

Matthew 11 "2 Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples, 3 And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? 4 Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see: 5 The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."

Luke 4 "16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. 17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, 18 The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. 20 And he closed the book, and he gave [it] again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. 21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."

John 9 "39 And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40 And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth."

COMMENTS: Jesus was very clear in the passage of Matthew 9:28 that the blind men's faith in his ability to perform what they requested, was the essential element of their healing; and when he answered the men sent by John the baptist, he linked his acts of healing with the message of salvation that he came to deliver. In Luke 4 Jesus directly told the people that the prophecy of Isaiah was being fulfilled before them, and with that record we have further evidence of his identity as Messiah. The leaders in John 9 were so full of pride about their religious position and self-achievement that they would not accept their need to have their understanding opened to see truth through eyes of faith. Review of those passages above has the promise of nurturing our inward vision well beyond these brief comments.

E - Until the fullness of the gentiles be come in

Acts 26 "15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

Acts 28 "22 But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. 23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into [his] lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and [out of] the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with [their] eyes, and hear with [their] ears, and understand with [their] heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and [that] they will hear it."

Romans 11 "7 What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day."
Romans 11 "25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in."

2 Corinthians 3 "14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [vail] is done away in Christ. 15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. 16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away."
2 Corinthians 4 "3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. 6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. ... 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

COMMENTS: Salvation is of the Jews (John 4:22) and God has not forsaken his chosen people. But, their stubborn refusal to see the truth about God's grace in the person of Jesus Christ led to the way of salvation becoming more open to the gentiles until God has fulfilled his plan for the number of gentiles to be added to the kingdom. When the resurrected Christ spoke to Paul, a Jew of the sect of the Pharisees, in Acts 26, he declared that he was sending Paul to the gentiles to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light. The forgiveness of sin is possible only through faith in Christ Jesus, and those who are saved then have an inheritance among those sanctified by faith that is in him.

In Acts 28 Paul called for Jews of the city to come to him while he was a prisoner of Rome. The exchange brought Paul to the conclusion that Isaiah's prophecy was being fulfilled in those among them that rejected (though not all of them rejected) the truth about Jesus. Then in Romans 11 Paul explains to the gentiles how the unbelief of the Jews, and their faith in their own practice of religion, has caused the gospel to spread to the gentiles. But the gentiles need to be cautious and avoid any conceit, because they too can fall away as did the Jew. In 2Corinthians 3 Paul explains that there is still a veil obscuring the clear reading of scripture by the Jew, but this veil can be removed by accepting Christ Jesus.

In chapter 4 of 2Corinthians Paul explains that if the gospel message is hidden it is because the god of this world has blinded the minds of those who believe not that Christ is the image of God, for the apostles preach not of themselves but of Christ Jesus who is the Lord. Paul then soars in the glory that is Christ in us and states, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us." And Paul reminds us to look not only with the physical eye in the material world, but to see with our heart that which is eternal.

F - Walk in the light to avoid stumbling along the way

1 Corinthians 13 "10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."

Ephesians 4 "17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."

2 Peter 1 "5 And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."

1 John 1 "7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
1 John 2 "9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes."

Revelation 3 "17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."
Revelation 21 "23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb [is] the light thereof. 24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25 And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there."

COMMENTS: God has revealed enough to us to expect us to believe by faith those things that cannot be fully seen. And for all believers, the Lord requires that we continue walking in the light so our way will remain clear, because there is danger that we will return to the vanity of our minds and allow our understanding to once again be darkened to blindness of heart. So we should be renewed in the spirit of our minds; and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

Peter cautions us not to be barren of spiritual fruit lest we be blind to seeing that which is to come and forget that we were purged from our sin. In 1John we are told that walking in God's light assures us that we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, and our love for brothers and sisters in Christ is further evidence that we walk in the light of truth. Even the book that closes scripture warns those who would be part of the church not to trust in themselves for their position, but to turn to Christ for true wealth and sight. When all things are made new in perfection, the Lamb of God will be our continual light and darkness will no longer be around us. This promised eternal state is the sure hope that we see by faith with the eyes of our heart as the Lord has opened our understanding.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, there are events in scripture that speak of things seen or of things concealed from sight, that I cannot fully understand because of elements not of an ordinary nature; but they all bear testimony to your involvement in actual events that many would dismiss through lack of faith, as fantasy or fable. Some of these demonstrate your protection or provision, and others your grace and compassion, but all demonstrate that you are the omnipotent God of all creation. I thank you Lord that I can trust you completely to make no error in dealing with any who are blind physically, and likewise for any who refuse to see by the spiritual light that you have provided. True sight comes to us when our faith connects our mind and our heart to see and understand truth in whatever form you convey to each one of us. Thank you Lord that you have a perfect design for all aspects of our lives, and by faith we can allow all things to bring glory to you when otherwise we might disdain some things by evaluating them only from the perspective of the world. And you provide counsel in your word to guide our decisions that our judgments might honor you. Draw me back to your word often Lord so my eyes of understanding will be open to avoid my tendency to sin, and to guide me to follow closely after you. May I strive to view others as you would view them as you transform me to become more like Christ.

O Lord, increase my faith so my heart will not be far from you whenever I speak to honor you with my lips. I do not want to be adorned with outward signs of faith and worship and remain dead inside where you see so clearly. You Lord alone are due all he honor, glory, and praise for the sight you give both physically and spiritually. I believe the miracles you performed as you opened the eyes of the blind to verify your identity as the Messiah, and I believe that only your Spirit reveals your identity so acceptance by faith provides salvation from sin and death. Your hand is still in many forms of physical restoration as you use mere man in the touch of medical healing, and use man to deliver the word of God that brings spiritual truth to the lost. You also work in our everyday lives in ways too wonderful for us to understand, and often we fail to acknowledge that indeed, it is you who works all things together for good for those who are called according to your purpose.

As a Gentile, I am thankful that you Lord have used rejection by the Jews to spread the gospel to every tribe, tongue, and nation. And as the message spreads, all who come into your church must not forget that your mercy and love is what saves any who believe, not our own good works or our own ability to see truth. Help me Lord to be conscious of and prayerful for the need now of many Jews to see Christ so the veil can be removed from there understanding, and they will see the saving truth about Christ Jesus. And when we have your light of truth within ourselves, keep fresh on our minds that it is contained in earthen vessels that the excellency of that power is totally of God and not of ourselves. And now Lord may I stay with you as you stay with me so I will be able to walk in the light for the rest of my life's path. It is so easy to stumble, and especially as it concerns brothers and sisters around whom I should display part of the evidence of my walk with you. As your word says, if we cannot love those who we have seen, how can we love him whom we have not seen. Bring renewal in the spirit of my mind and cause me to put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. May the knowledge of the coming city, that will have the Lamb of God as light, be my motivation to live in the light of your Word each day. Amen.

Published 28 June 2005 format revisions 31 jan 2017