Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries

Why does the Bible speak in riddles?

Is it to make our life more difficult, or are there other reasons?

A justified question arises in the thoughts of the reader of the Holy Bible as he studies it:  Why is the Holy Bible so difficult to comprehend?  Why does it speak using riddles, parables, symbolisms and hidden meanings? Wouldn't it have been better, if everything were written in a clear-cut, analytical manner, so that there would be no misinterpretations and heresies?

The fact that there are tens of thousands Christian heresies where each one of them interprets the Holy Bible in its own way and disagrees with the others regarding the true Faith, makes the above questions seem quite logical. However, there exists a series of reasons that provide the answers to the above paradox.

1. Empirical faith

A first and very significant reason is that the Christian faith is not a "package of dogmas", but an EXPERIENCE ! The Christian faith is - before anything else - an INITIATION into another world, a superior one: God's world.  For a person to enter this new, superior world it is not enough to merely read a series of rules or teachings.  The Christian faith is not legalistic, the way it has been distorted by the tens of thousands of Protestant religions where each one has created its own dogma package.   For a person to enter this superior world he must EXPERIENCE a series of states and events. He firstly needs to create a RELATIONSHIP - a crucifixional relationship: extending vertically between himself and God, and horizontally between himself and his fellow-man.

A Relationship is not something that is memorized, recited, or constrained by means of laws.  A Relationship is built and earned through experiences; it is a course of initiation towards something unprecedented, which continuously deepens and gradually becomes even stronger.

A Relationship requires more than one involved, so that it will not suffice for one alone to "study" it and "learn" it.  Instead, the one who seeks it must gradually pass through the fog of the unknown, into an ever increasing close contact with the PERSON one seeks to love.

This is exactly where Protestantism first of all has failed, with its dogma of "Sola Scriptura", in that it abolished the Mysteries (Sacraments) and demoted the Initiation to a "dogma package", which the faithful is supposed to "learn" and "believe" in order to be saved.  But such a "dogma package" does not save on its own, even if it were a correct item.  The "dogma package" may perhaps be a description of the desired relationship, but the relationship per se is something entirely different. It is an experience, a personal familiarization with the God one seeks to love, and by extent, with one's fellow-man and Creation.

What Protestantism has not realized, is that the Holy Bible is NOT a "dogma package", but an "introductory" book that points us in the direction of that desired Relationship we are speaking of - the relationship that ultimately saves, instead of the dogma.  Because, when we speak of "faith", we do not imply a "gullibility" towards a dogma package; because "faith" first of all implies "trust" towards our Creator.  A trust that cannot possibly be constructed through reading, but only through familiarization and interaction with God and fellow-man.

So, the Holy Bible itself has stated that its "shadowy" prophetic (=inspired by God) word is NOT the sought-after source of salvation, but merely an introductory text whose purpose is to point one in the proper direction for a relationship with God.  "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts..." (2 Pet.1:19).

Thus, we cannot expect a lamp to play the role of the Sun!  A lamp sheds its light for us, until daybreak arrives. Thereafter, the Sun's own light - for whose sake the lamp preserved us - abolishes the need for that lamp.  And besides, a lamp can never suffice as a substitute for the per se experience of Sunlight.  The lamp would be a mere "shadowy" light, indicative of the dawn, and not the per se luminous day that is dawning.  And no-one can claim that they have learnt what "daylight" means, by having seen only the lamp's light and not the Sun itself!

The lamp can lead us safely, UP UNTIL the moment when we encounter the Sun.  Only then will we have a clear picture of the world around us, without the mysterious shadows attributed to the rudimentary light of the lamp.  The lamp simply shows us if we are moving in the right direction. It is a "philosopher's stone" for that path towards the light.

So it is with the Holy Bible: it cannot delineate OUR INDIVIDUAL relationship with God and our fellow-man; however, by having recorded a vast number of like relationships throughout History, it "lights the way" for us and provides us with "points of reference" from within the experiences of those relationships so that we can "test" our own course and discover where our own relationship - our own initiation - stands, along that same path.

2. Each one receives whatever is commensurate

And at this point we now come to the second basic reason that the Holy Bible has such hidden meanings.  The reason is called "reciprocity"!

Let us suppose you have a rare collection of paintings - works of art of great value - which you desire to show to the people you love, so that they can enjoy them with you.  Now, how would you feel, if some of them were to say to you (before even seeing those works of art) "What kind of garbage have you collected? I don't give a damn about your paintings!"  Would you really invite them to see your art exhibition??

Christ had said the following, about people such as these:

"Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces. Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?"  (Matth.7:6-11).

As much as a pig can understand about pearls, or a dog about holiness, likewise, some people are unable to appreciate the treasure of the Christian faith!  That is why the Lord said that such swine-like people are not only unable to appreciate the pearls of our Faith, but they will even trample them underfoot and tear us to pieces!  To people like them, the less we say, the better it is for all of us.

Then the Lord adds the following: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" - because our heavenly Father gives good things to those WHO ASK HIM FOR THEM.

Christ here makes an ascent, from a negative to a far more positive observation: from dogs and swine - which cannot appreciate His spiritual gifts - upwards to those who initially "ask" (which is a passive state), to those who "seek" (which is a far more active state), and finally to those who PERSIST, not by merely asking and seeking, but also by KNOCKING persistently on God's door, in order to receive the things that they APPRECIATE!

Now, what could a dog or a pig have to do with the Creator? How could animals have a personal relationship, if they are not persons? And, if such a "personal" relationship between God and "bestial" persons is not an appropriate one, for what reason would they need the Holy Bible as a guide?  Didn't we say that the Holy Bible is an introductory book that guides towards that desired relationship?  How could God give His treasures to people who do not desire or appreciate them - and in fact, who not only do not appreciate them, but also brutalize His Word and His Saints, the way that a pig tramples over pearls and tears to pieces the one who has offered them?

This, therefore, is why the Holy Bible is a "Jacob's well" - the well from which one can draw as much water as the container of their heart can hold:

Some will draw only "splashes", for they "dabble" clumsily and carelessly inside the depths of the divine word.  They are the ones who will take "droplets" of phrases and dogmas, distort them and alter them, because that is how much the inclination of their heart desires to draw from this intellectual "Jacob's well".

Others will draw only a small quantity, such that will only cover their basic needs, because the vessel of their heart is too "shallow" and not deep enough to contain God inside it.

Others will strive eagerly and will draw much more water with their more spacious vessel, while still others will themselves become a "river", by channeling water "in the Spirit" to those nearby:  If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, Whom those believing in Him would receive..."  (John 7:37-39).

So, if some of your friends will honestly appreciate your art collection, then they are the ones that you will invite to also enter the "innermost quarters", where you will open up secret vaults and show them the hidden works, which the very few can appreciate.  It is only logical that these will be the friends with whom you will share every detail that pertains to your treasures, and discuss every detail of those works of art!  They are the friends with whom you will create a special, closer RELATIONSHIP!

"Jesus answered and said to him,'If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him'..." (John 14:23).

Those who can appreciate the treasure which is the relationship with God, God Himself will take residence in their heart, because as we mentioned, His word is not a mere "teaching", but a RELATIONSHIP and an INITIATION and it entails TRUST; it is a training course, which guides us towards a relationship of far greater value than any work of art or collection!

"Receive my instruction, and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold; For wisdom is better than rubies, and all precious things cannot be compared with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11)

Do not therefore wonder about the profound and veiled manner in God's words; not all of them are for everyone - rather, it is fitting that each will individually receive, according to the labours and the desire of their heart:

"...for the words have been barred and sealed until the time is passed. Many will be chosen and be made white and be refined and sanctified, and the lawless will act lawlessly. And the lawless will not understand, and the intelligent will understand"  (Daniel 12:9,10).

Thus, those who are worthy of understanding will understand, whereas the lawless will not understand anything at all, but rather, like the dogs and the swine, they will only defile God's holy things while the righteous will be brightened and sanctified within that divine relationship. They are the ones who will be taught directly, by God Himself, as it has been written:

"It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God. ’Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me'..." (John 6:45).

God does not cast His pearls before those who will not appreciate them, but rather, for those only who will fervently and with love seek and knock persistently for the truth, He will open His secret vaults and make them communicants of His wonders.




Translation by K.N.                                                                                          

Article published in English on: 18-4-2013.

Last update: 18-4-2013.