Blind Men & The Elephant

Weekly Sabbath Survey

Blind Men & The Elephant — 3-21-2014

It has been on my heart for some time, wondering what could adequately illustrate how we filled-with-God’s-Spirit people can see things so differently at times? We have a wide variety of doctrines and practices among our various churches; many opinions in most Bible studies, and in conversation just between friends or family. We long for a pure truth, a correct answer for the various doctrines and problems in understanding that Believers fuss and fume over at times.

In searching for what might mirror our diversity and explain it without detracting from the truth, I recalled from childhood an old fable that seems to do the job. The story was translated for us by an Englishman in the 1800’s, in the form of a poem. I invite you to read this, bearing in mind the operative word is BLIND. Here’s a hint: God/His Word is the elephant. We are the blind men.

The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887)

It was six men of Indostan [India] to learning much inclined,

Who went to see the elephant (though all of them were blind),

That each by observation might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the elephant, and happening to fall

Against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:

“God bless me! But the elephant is very like a WALL!”

The Second, feeling of the tusk, cried, “Ho, what have we here.

So very round and smooth and sharp? To me ’tis mighty clear.

This wonder of an elephant is very like a spear.”

The Third approached the animal, and happening to take

The squirming trunk within his hands, thus boldly up and spake:

“I see” quoth he, “the elephant is very like a snake!”

The Fourth reached out an eager hand, and felt about the knee,

“What most this wondrous beast is like is mighty plain,” said he,

“Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree!”

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, said, “Even the blindest man

Can tell what this resembles most, deny the fact who can,

This marvel of an elephant is very like a fan!”

The Sixth no sooner had begun about the beast to grope,

Than seizing on the swinging tail that fell within his scope,

“I see” quoth he, “the elephant is very like a rope!”

And so these men of Indostan disputed loud and long,

Each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,

Though each was partly in the right, they all were partly wrong!

We should agree that BLINDNESS in Scripture is a big problem. Jesus came to open the eyes of the BLIND. And not just people having optical trouble. “There is none so BLIND as the one who doesn’t want to SEE.” This quip refers to people who have vague understanding. They stubbornly cling to their blindness and misunderstanding. They can’t see the point, they can’t see the forest for the trees, they can’t see their way clear, they can’t see the handwriting on the wall. Wow! Blind. Not good!

Those readers who have been with me for years know that I am very strong on the BIG picture of the Bible. I’m not too interested in the ‘cut and paste’ method of Bible study, plucking out a verse or two here and there and thinking we have understanding of great import. Whatever it is we believe must line up with the flow and in the context of the whole Bible. Too much of our faith and practice today is based on traditions formulated by Gentiles. Seeing ourselves as part of a Jewish faith in a Jewish God disappeared from the Believer’s consciousness a long time ago. To the point some people in this very day and age are shocked to learn that Jesus was a JEW. We cling to whatever part of the elephant we got ahold of and refuse to consider that we may not have ALL the understanding of what there is to know. We close our minds and our spiritual eyes to anything that seems out of step with what we already know. We stumble blindly along, sure we are on the right path that leads to the straight and narrow way.

I was there! At one time, my family had pretty much formed our “creed” which leaned toward the Southern Baptist mold. At the age of 33, I experienced Pentecost. My life has never been the same. The change came when I started READING the Bible. As time went by, the truths I learned began to replace some things I had believed in the past. Questions came up. How much does Jesus want from us? How much of our time, devotion, money(?). The best answer is He wants it all. We sing an old hymn, this way: I surrender some . . . I began to realize that everything I have, every thing/person I love, every plan I ever made, every wish or dream, even the breath of life in my nostrils—It ALL must belong to Him. (Let me be honest here and say this is most surely a continuing process that will not be finished until I go to be with Him.)

I learned that most arguments of doctrine and practice of our faith (our rituals, beliefs and traditions) could be settled quickly by fully understanding how it was done in the Bible. Sadly many of our rituals and elaborate ceremonies do not appear at all in the Bible. Unfortunately, even when presented with the truth of these matters, many people have a knee-jerk reaction. Jesus spoke of the love of tradition. He was not in favor of manmade ones. It comes down to what do I love more, the GOD of my church or the CHURCH of my God? It may seem like the same thing, but it is not. What do I love more, my traditions or The Truth?

Going back to the blind men, we can deduce that each of them had a bit of truth in what the elephant was “like.” But they did not have a clue as to what he really is. They didn’t have the BIG picture. (This describes the present state of Christianity fairly well, most do not see the big picture of God or the Bible.) The blind men perceived nothing of a faithful and gentle animal who over time has endured horrible abuse from his captors. Or, when he has enough and gets really angry, he can be a real monster! He is faster than he looks and is the largest land animal on Earth. They hit the ground at birth weighing about 200 lbs.— the size of a full grown man. An adult male elephant can weigh in at 12,000 lbs.

When comparing this animal with God, I see a definite resemblance. God is HUGE and very powerful, but gentle, patient, and definitely knows His own strength. When he is provoked and his patience has come to the end, his wrath is very terrible. We need to see this BIG picture.

The Lord is long-suffering with humanity in general, and even more so with those people who call on His name, and those who name the name “Yeshua.” Jesus. He has endured much abuse from mankind, at times even the so-called ‘saved’ ones. But one day when His wrath is so full that He cannot and will not contain it any longer, this Earth will see circumstances and situations like nothing it has ever known since the time when it was in the chaos of creation, when Earth was dark and without form as yet, and the Spirit of God moved across face of the deep.

If you continue in my Word, you are my disciples; and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free. [John 8:31-32]

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Charlene Reams Manning

Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah

Forward any WSS you feel has merit. (without changes, please) Copyright October 2014

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