Issue 962 – What do YOU see? January 19, 2023
A dear friend sent me this image from Tennessee. What do YOU see? It’s a dead tree covered in ivy, but does it create any picture in your mind?
I see a large, broad-shouldered, green man with a moustache. His right arm is raised, and his left arm pushes some object below him. The dead branches sticking out look make it look as if he is radiating some form of energy.
Seeing faces or familiar images in clouds and other objects where none exist is a phenomenon known as pareidolia. It can also describe hearing voices or other recognizable sounds in random noise.
Most people experience it to some degree. Some people are highly sensitive to it, while others hardly ever experience it.
Pareidolia enables us to see castles in clouds or the face of Mary on a piece of buttered toast. People can see faces on the moon or canals on Mars.
It can also cause us to perceive patterns in words or data.
I have met people who claim all kinds of secrets or “hidden” messages exist in the bible. In their minds, they have found a pattern that they use to claim that the church is wrong about its teaching, or that they are one of a select few people who truly understand the text.
While our interpretation of Scripture typically isn’t a result of pareidolia, we do need to be careful. Sometimes we read the text to prove a point or look for a passage that will give us the desired results. We “claim” promises that are not, or if they are, were not made to us. We search for a passage that will justify our behaviours.
We need to learn to exegete texts (draw the meaning out of them), not eisegete (read into the text what we want when the meaning was never intended from the text itself).
People’s ears itch for the result they want. They read into texts their desired outcomes and flock to preachers who tell them what they want to hear. It isn’t a new phenomenon; when the church was less than 50 years old, Paul was counselling young Timothy.
I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 2 Timothy 4:1-4
We must be diligent in searching the Scriptures; God had them written for us. They are not a magical text to draw out what we want, but a life-giving message from God Himself.
He the bible to us for a reason,
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Read the Word. Study the Word. Learn from and apply the Word. Allow it to speak the truth to you, don’t read into it what isn’t there.
Hallelu Yah / Praise God
Gleanings From The Word
Experience an extraordinary God in ordinary life.
Soli Deo Gloria (For the glory of God alone)
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is from the English Standard Version (ESV).
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