Window to the soul, insight into thoughts, a view on circumstances, vision for the future, seeing the deeper things of life, one look of reproach or forgiveness or a stink eye that conveys anger – all the things we do with eyes. Eyes are probably the most important symbolic sensory organ. Other qualities that eyes are commonly associated with, are intelligence, light, vigilance, moral conscience, and truth. Eyes can convey judgment and authority. Looking someone in the eye is a western custom of honesty.
In his book Blink, author Malcolm Gladwell makes the point that a person can unconsciously interpret events or cues. Combined with past experiences people can make informed decisions very rapidly – as fast as a moment’s exposure. What one sees can be processed very quickly to guide conclusions and actions.
Eyes are usually very visual to another person. A facial expression is completely dependent on the eyes. Eyes can show intelligence, awareness, moral conviction and truth.
In the Bible a reference to an eye or eyes is symbolic for insight and understanding. In the case of God himself eyes depict omniscience, omni-presence and perfect wisdom and knowledge. In the vision of Daniel (10:5,6) he describes the man in white clothes with eyes like torches of fire. Fire is always the symbol of the Holy Spirit – the key to supernatural understanding. We know the story of the Day of Pentecost when tongues of flame divided onto the people.
In Revelation the four living creatures around the throne are covered with eyes, signifying comprehensive insight into all things. The living creatures represent Christ – the lion, the man, the ox and the eagle. The four Gospels portray Jesus in various ways that emphasize his character from multiple angles. The lion of the tribe of Juda in Matthew, the man as the highest created being in Mark, the sacrificial calf in Luke and the eagle in John – flying high and looking right into the sun without blinking referring back to Exodus 19 and Isaiah 40. You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. (Exodus 19:4)
Can you imagine what these living creatures covered in eyes looked like? John describes the indescribable God in his holy habitation with all the symbols, allegories and metaphors he can use to convey in ordinary words the magnificence of beauty and splendour that had never been revealed on earth. He emphasizes God as an omniscient being with perfect understanding and the Source of all knowledge and wisdom.
And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. (Hebrews 4:13)
In the eleventh chapter of the first book of Samuel, we read a story that might be less well-known. Saul has very recently been crowned king but has done nothing to establish his kingdom. The concept of monarchy was completely strange to the Israelites, although it was their request to God and Samuel that has been granted. Samuel had anointed Saul according to the command of the Lord. The centuries of judges as leaders in Israel are prior to this period.
The Ammonites besiege the city Jabesh in Gilead. They are sworn enemies of Israel. Like the Moabites they are descendants of the incest of Lot’s daughters. The Ammonites are resentful after the occupation of their land by the Israelites and harass them with constant attacks. Jephta, one of the judges, had led a campaign against them that decisively humiliated their army. By this time the Ammonites see that Samuel is growing older and the new king Saul has done nothing to form a government. They seize the opportunity.
The Israelites have no courage to fight and enter into negotiations with the enemy. No problem, says the belligerent Nahash, king of the Ammonites,
on this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.
It was clear that he was determined to revenge the humiliation of his army by Jephta.
Well, the leaders in Jabesh have the presence of mind to ask for a little postponement – seven days, before they submit their people to the outrage. They send messengers into the land to ask for help.
Read with me:
So, the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept. 5 Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, “What troubles the people, that they weep?” And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh.
Interesting development. The people weep but do nothing. Saul hears their weeping and asks what is going on. He is still farming (behind his herd in the field). The pending tragedy opens up a door of opportunity for Saul.
Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused. 7 So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, “Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.”
I don’t think we often read of an anger-miracle. We have discussed the definition of meekness, given by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He defined meekness as the perfect balance for anger – between a person who is angry all the time and one that never gets angry is the person who knows exactly when, how and why to be angry.
The Holy Spirit stirs an anger in Saul to fight injustice. He addresses the dithering indecisiveness of the people of Jabesh in a very real and poignant way to pluck them out of the debilitating grip of fear. The Holy Spirit combines the offices of king and prophet to compose a magnificent victory over the haughty superiority of the enemy king. Samuel and Saul go into the fight together.
The people of Israel react.
And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
From the authority of true leadership an army of more than three hundred thousand men assembles and thrashes the enemy to scatter, never to return.
What generates fear in you? Are you afraid of the enemy that is going to gouge out your right eye or the healthy fearful respect for the king-prophet combination that will lead you to victory? The people chose.
The toxic public debate these days threaten to take out our right eye and blur our vision. We cannot afford to compromise our insight and understanding of the underlying evil that permeates so many issues, bringing strife and hatred, stress and discontent amongst the people to lash out against each other.
The enemy comes with an army of arguments to siege our thinking. The onslaught is complex and on an ever-widening front. It is the imperialism and colonialism of ideas imposing a dictatorship of intolerance by activism (to the left and the right – both repulsive and unacceptable). This tyranny captures the social structures and rules the public debate.
Every good thing of beauty and peace is being distorted to thorny political and social play-balls that injure and pollute everyone who has to handle them.
Where is your eye?
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! (Matthew 6:22)
The verse puts great emphasis on the depth of darkness into which a poor spiritual eye will plunge a person.
I have to say that the public debate makes me cry. I cannot live a balanced, healthy life when I have to contend with all the disputes in the light of the shameless disinformation in the media. Facts cannot be lost in activism to the left or the right – both are contemptable.
Fight for your eye. Take up the invitation of Revelation to enter into the door of heaven for new understanding and a heavenly perspective of what is going on around you. We are not orphans in this world. We know the Truth. We have a loving, almighty heavenly Father who covers us with his wing of provision and protection.
With an anointed eye the darkness will flee. You will know what to do and how to respond. Wisdom is a promise and a gift.
Street-politics could be our opportunity to establish our reign as kings and priests in the Kingdom of God. The trap of the enemy will be our door of opportunity for a godly perspective and the liberty it brings. Our destiny is not determined by earthly governments. They are the small dust on the scale of God (Isaiah 40:15).
Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.