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What is meant by keeping people blind and deaf so as not to get healed?

I understand this to be one of those scriptures that is meant to challenge our understanding, such as "drink my blood and eat my flesh"...yet I still can't see the purpose behind these words:

Isaiah 6:9,10

“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10, Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes.[a] Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”

What is meant by keeping people blind and deaf so as not to get healed?

NOTE: I originally linked to Mark 4:10-13 as a related scripture, but in both cases the original question still stands.

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  • This has begun to get answered; christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/35338/…
    – user5266
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 17:49
  • Part of the above question correctly recognizes that Isaiah 6:9, 10 was meant to be figurative. The people are treated as being blind and deaf to G-d's word, not literally. Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 19:58
  • Since Jesus said that it is the truth that will set us free this has to refer to spiritual blindness, as in not knowing the truth. (John 8:31,32) Commented Mar 6, 2021 at 0:33

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The way many read Isaiah 6:9-10 is to hear it as ironic, as showing God expressing his utter frustration with Israel. God will give Isaiah his very word to proclaim to his people, but they'll still ignore what he says. The more he speaks truth, the more they'll ignore him. It won't be Isaiah's fault if people reject him for what he says.

One thing that it certainly doesn't mean is that Isaiah was supposed to deliberately confuse people by talking in coded metaphors. That's how people have read the Gospels -- that Jesus intended his parables to be deliberately confusing.

Jesus' quotation of Isaiah 6 in Mark 4 comes right at the end of the parable about the soils, which is actually making this very point -- that his words are intended to clarify, not to confuse. Good seed is scattered on all types of soils and in some it bears fruit, in others, it can't grow. The problem is not the seed, it's the soil. Jesus is proclaiming God's truth clearly, but some folks have "ears that refuse to hear." He is sowing good seed, but it just can't grow in their hearts.

Jesus seems to be reading Isaiah 6 as ironic, and he's using it in the same way.

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Mark 4 is clear, Jesus states that if he did give them the same secrets as he did for the apostles they would believe and they would be forgiven. Therefore the question is why doesn't Jesus give them the secrets? Why are there even secrets to begin with? Clearly Jesus is saying they can and would be saved if they had the secrets. But Christ speaks in parables so they can hear and not understand. It is done purposely. The Judgement of God is still upon them and they will die in their sins. God elects those whom he does give the secrets to.

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    – agarza
    Commented Mar 19, 2023 at 23:40
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jOHN McArthur STAYS THAT JESUS SPOKE IN PARABLES AS A JUDGEMENT, TEMPERED WITH MERCY and said to His disciples e answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it is not given. I am confused, I thought Jesus spoke in Parable so people would understand,

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    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 5, 2021 at 9:41
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This interpretation is based on how this verse from Isaiah (6:10) was referenced in the NT.

Jesus’ based his parables on the people’s everyday experiences in order that they be understood more easily and by more people. However, there were those who rejected his teachings. Of them, he said:

  • In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. (Mt 13:14)

They could not understand because their hearts had become hardened, and they had closed their eyes and blocked their ears to the meaning in his words:

  • For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. (Mt 13:15)

Though Jesus did not shut their eyes or stop their ears, his teachings served as a light that revealed their “blindness.” It is only in this sense that Jesus made those who could see become as though blind:

  • Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." (Jn 9:39)

Thus the prophecy of Isaiah in the OT and the prophecy of Simeon in the NT were both fulfilled:

  • Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed." (Lk 2:34-35)
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When Jesus quoted the words from Isaiah 6:9-10, He was answering His disciples why using parable. The synoptic gospels had kept the same account, but the details significantly various, that worth to pay attention to.

The Matthew account (Matt 13:11-15) contained the full text of Isaiah. Mark (Mark 4:11-12) and Luke (Luke 8:10) had it mostly summarized. So it is better to use Matthew account to understand what it meant.

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them.

12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

13 This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.

15 For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’ (NIV)

First of all, is it true that Jesus intentionally using parables to chose His disciples, so only His disciples understand the secret of the kingdom of heaven, and the rest, were destined to be deserted? This is certainly in conflict with God wants to save every single one, as telling in the parable of the lost sheep (Matt 18:10-14; Luke 15:3-7)

In fact, amongst 47 parables in the Gospels, Jesus only gave explanation to two; The parable of the sower (Matt 13:18-23; Mark 4:13-20; Luke 8:11-15) and the parable of the weeds (Matt 13:36-43). But there were 87 teachings of various topics that Jesus used plain words. If Jesus did explain secretly to the disciples other parables that were not recorded in the Gospels, then the disciples were very likely only understood 2 out of 47.

And therefore, it was not the Lord kept the people blind and deaf. It was their disobedience causing their heart calloused, not able to see and hear the Lord correctly.

Apparently many might miss to see there are two promises from the Lord in the narrative; verse 12 and 15b.

In verse 12, 'whoever has' refers to the people who put their faith on Jesus to follow Him. The Lord's spirit will help them to see the truth (given more), they will be given eternal life (abundance). 'Whoever does not have' is the opposite, whatever power, wealth and ownership they once possessed will eventually gone when they died. This is the promise of the Holy Spirit.

Verse 15b is the promise of forgiveness. On our repentant (turn), the Lord will forgive our sins. It simply needs to reinstate the obedience to the Lord, and ask for His forgiveness.

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This is how I understand. Some people get a math problem without trying hard. Others have to work at it. If you are interested in something you will search and not give up until you find the answer. Look at Dr Hahn he read the Bible so many times but he cld not understand some passages. It pointed to a place he didn’t want to go but he knew he’d get the answers there. He eventually did listen and he found his answers.

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The disciples listened and did not harden their hearts. Most of us do, so what we can’t understand we distort instead of looking harder. When we don’t care everything becomes more complicated.

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