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Winston Churchill once famously described Russia as, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Very little has changed in that puzzling, inexplicable country since he said that in 1939. Most enigmas are sayings or pictures containing hidden meanings. They could be allegories, riddles or parables. My dad repeatedly fooled my brothers and me whenever we passed by a cemetery by asking if we knew how many dead people were in it. The obvious answer, of course, is all of them. Like most riddles, this one tricked our brains into focusing on the most logical word or phrase and we didn’t think outside the box.

The Bible has its share of enigmas too. An Old Testament Judge, Samson, thought he had the perfect riddle about lions and honey that would fool his Philistine enemies. They only solved it through threatening his wife (Jud 14:12-18). The Lord gave the people of Israel a parable in the form of an allegory in which a great eagle representing King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon breaks off the top of a cedar tree and flies off to transplant it far away. The Lord Himself explains the parable as the defeat and exile of the King of Judah. He further explains that the top of the cedar that He will one day transplant in Jerusalem will flourish and bear fruit. This is an obvious Messianic promise of Jesus’ eternal kingdom (Eze 17:1-24)

Jesus spoke many parables and even explained a few like the seeds and the weeds to His disciples (Mt 13:18-23) (Mt 13:37-43). Many other times, however, He use them when speaking to the crowds to fulfill prophesy (Mt 13:34-35). He directed some of them at the hard-headed Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. The Two Sons, (Mt 21:28-32) The Tenants, (Mt 21:33-44) and the Wedding Banquet (Mt 22:1-14) are a few of them. They knew that He was talking about them but did not arrest Him because of the crowds (Mt 21:45-46). The Pharisee, Nicodemus, was a teacher of Israel but couldn’t decipher the enigma of a person being born again (Jo 3:1-12). Imagine the consternation of the educated leaders when Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood! They were trying to solve an enigma with earthly rather than Holy Spirit wisdom (1 Cor 2:6, 14).

Christians who are in God’s Kingdom by being born again of water and the Spirit (Rom 6:3-6) can now understand the secret wisdom of God (1 Cor 2:7-8) (v 12) The indwelling Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38) will direct their minds (Rom 12:2) to meld with the mind of Christ (1 Cor 2:15-16). They are so blessed to have the very thoughts of God the Father in written form (1 Cor 2:10-13). They now know things even the prophets and angels longed to know (1 Pe 1:10-12).

Jim Bailey

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