Why Does God Speak to Us in Metaphors?
God uses metaphors because images are very powerful. God created our minds to relate to and remember images and sounds quicker and more readily than written words. For example, when we drive along in our cars and see a "School Crossing" sign, we see more than just the words School Crossing. We see a symbol, a silhouette of a woman holding the hand of a child crossing the road.
This is because, though our verbal thoughts can be very fast, visual images received by our brains are much faster. Compared to the visual, trying to take information in by reading is much slower. When we read, we have to comprehend it. While reading, we have to process the information in our minds and try to imagine what we are reading. We read it first and then have to create the image. On the other hand, seeing an image or hearing a sound has the potential to go straight into our minds and our spirits.
Another illustration of the power of images is found on most computer desktops. When you look for the trashcan, do you look for the word trashcan, or do you look for the image of the little trashcan? Everybody responds to the icon quicker than they do to the word.
In business education circles today, the inherent power of metaphors as advanced communication tools and vehicles for change is being widely recognized.
Francesco Sofo (1) notes that "metaphors can refocus the familiar and show it in a new light," "provoke a vivid image which make future actions more tangible," and "connote meanings on a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral level in a holistic way." He says further that "the metaphor makes messages highly memorable and facilitates the reframing of views and mental sets..." (Photo via Pixy.org)
Brink (2) has outlined that metaphors are more easily heard than rational explanations and, therefore, encourage listening, and because the symbolism is creative, they have the power to stimulate reflection and action.
Broussine and Vince (3) state that metaphors have the power to promote engagement, and through engagement, change. And finally, Bennis (4) found that successful leaders have an ability to use metaphors to make their vision clear to others.
Wow, today's cutting-edge business educators are promoting the power of teaching methodologies utilized by Christ 2,000 years ago! This should be no real surprise to us. After all, Jesus knows what works. He made us (see John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16). It is also little wonder that Jesus is still using this most powerful of teaching methods in our dreams and visions today.
This is why the internet, television, and radio, and media like them, are very influential forms of communication. The internet is very powerful because it is full of images and has tremendous potential to be used for good or for evil. I am not saying the internet is wrong; it is just a means of communication and can be a great source of information. My own children use it regularly for study and good purposes. Unfortunately, this so-called information highway is also being used to flood and corrode our society with a plethora of pornographic, occultic, and other ungodly information.
The Power of Seeing and Hearing
I personally make a habit of listening to the Word of God over and over because faith comes from hearing the Word (see Rom. 10:17). If we listen to the Word of God over and over again, it gives our inner ear greater opportunity to hear (see Ezek. 3:10).
When I was a child, I struggled with dyslexia. Nowadays, by listening to dramatized versions of the Word of God on my iPod, I am able to visualize and retain more of what I hear. In a similar way, God not only gives us mental images in dreams, but also at times provides an emphasis-adding, audible "voice-over" as well. This is in line with the fact that our minds give priority to images and audio over and above mere written words. (Photo via Flickr)
The Divinity Code: How Dreams Create Hunger in Us
God also uses parables because He knows that we will be hungry to know what the dreams mean. I have found that, as soon as we understand that God speaks to us this way, we get even hungrier to know what He is saying. As the Scripture has it, "It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter" (Prov. 25:2 KJV).
It is inherent in us to search for the answer to the code—the Divinity Code—He has set before us. Indeed, there is a blessing for those with this hunger, because the Bible declares that there is fulfillment in asking, seeking, and knocking (see Matt. 7:7).
Bypassing the Heart's Defense Mechanisms
Finally, God uses parables because they have an inherent ability to bypass the heart's natural defense mechanisms. We witness this in the correction of David after he commits adultery with Bathsheba (see 2 Sam. 12:1-15). Nathan, the prophet, comes to David and relates a parable of a rich man stealing a poor man's one and only ewe lamb. David makes a judgment concerning the rich man, and the prophet reveals the hidden truth behind the parable—David is that rich man! He is convicted and repents of his actions.
So God speaks to us in parables because they relate to us, and have greater potential to be anchored in our minds, just as Jesus' disciples remembered His teachings and, later, wrote the Gospels. He also encodes His wisdom using metaphors because they are more readily received, they create a hunger in us for the interpretation, and they bypass our heart's natural self-protective tendencies.
(To order the Adam Thompson's book The Divinity Code, click here.)
1. F. Sofo, Human Resource Development (Woodslane, Warriewood, NSW. Australia, 1999).
2. T.L. Brink, "Metaphor as data in the study of organizations," Journal of Management Inquiry (1993) 2.4, 366-371.
3. M. Broussine and R. Vince, "Working with metaphor towards organizational change," Organizational Development: Metaphoric explorations (London: Pitman Publishing, 1996).
4. W. Bennis, "The four competencies of leadership," Training & Development Journal (1984), 38.8, 14-19.
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(Used by permission via¬†Destiny Image)
Adam F. Thompson, Co-Author of¬†The Divinity Code
Voice of Fire Ministries
Adam F. Thompson¬†has a remarkable grace to interpret dreams, move in the Word of knowledge and demonstrate the prophetic. Supernatural signs and manifestations regularly accompany his ministry as he desires to see Jesus "magnified" through the moving of the Holy Spirit. He also has spent the last fifteen years doing mission work throughout Pakistan, India, Africa, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and the Philippines in crusades, feeding programs and conferences. Adam is the author of "The Elijah Invitation," "The Supernatural Man: Learn to Walk in Revelatory Realms of Heaven" and co-author of the best-selling book¬†"The Divinity Code: To Understanding Your Dreams and Visions." He operates itinerantly through his ministry Voice of Fire.
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