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  • William T. Howe Ph.D.

December 4, 2023

The Bible Edge


Random Thoughts of a Spiritual Nature II

Matthew 23:37

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!


I read somewhere once that there are over 4,000 words that are only used once in our Bible. This fact is not confirmed for I’ve never studied it out, but of this one word I’m sure. The word chickens is only used once. Anyone who knows me very well knows that I don’t care for chicken. So, once is enough for me, perhaps too much.


Chicken. The word has a sense about it that brings to mind the character Don Knotts played on the Andy Griffith show. Who wants to be a Barney Fife? Right! But in the usage of this word a very important aspect of communication can be learned. One that has profound spiritual implications. Which is the fact that we comprehend words, and ideas by pictures in the imagination of our minds. Proof? When you read the word chickens, in your imagination did you relate the image of a chicken to that word? When you read the name Barney Fife, did you see an image of him in your imagination? If you did, you comprehend words by the images stored in your mind.


How is this a spiritual issue? Because to understand spiritual truths, images have to be put into our mind illustrating those unseen truths. Jesus was an expert of this. Consider today’s verse. He used an illustration of a chicken, a mother hen, gathering her chicks under her wings for protection. Anyone can see this in the imagination of their mind. However, then Jesus mentions …ye would not. He is illustrating a spiritual truth that those in Jerusalem could have run to Him for protection, for salvation, but they would not. The image of chicks running any other direction than to the mother hen, running from her, not wanting to be under her wings illustrates souls running from Jesus, and the preaching of Jesus and His Word.


Spiritually speaking this happens all the time. Consider the story of Paul preaching on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-34). He is preaching to those in Athens, Greece. It’s an amazing message that is worth taking time to read. At the conclusion of this message three responses to His message are recorded. These are the only possible responses to any Bible based message or sermon. The three responses are: some mocked that which they heard, some said we will hear thee again about this matter, and some believed. Some ran away from the mother hen, some stood in limbo not knowing what to do but were willing to hear more, and some ran to her, hiding under her wings.


When you hear a Bible sermon you will do one of those three things. Mock (reject), withhold judgment until you learn more, or believe. You see, Jesus used illustrations of things we can see to teach spiritual truths that we can’t see. Things like chickens… and as for those awful birds… once was enough!


William T. Howe, Ph.D.

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