Going From A Repeated Illustration To An Analogy

Image result for endless emails  That daily email stream

I listen to 30 – 60 messages and/or speeches a month.  Some of them are selected because of my interest in the speaker-preacher-ministry, some are suggested to me by fellow speakers-pastors, others are due to a request by a reader of this blog, and finally — some I trip across; they come across my seemingly random daily email streams.

Today’s was the result of that daily email stream.  The speaker piles up four illustrative examples of “scrutiny.”

Here is a transcript from the beginning part of a message by Dr. Stephen Nichols at the 2019 He Is Holy Conference, titled “Understanding Beyond Measure.”

Nichols calls up four examples of where people and even animals “scrutinize” others.  They are all used to introduce that concept which contrasts the Lord  — as seen in Romans 11 & Isaiah 40:13 — “Who has measured the Spirit of the LORD, or what man shows Him his counsel?” – ESV


Romans chapter 11 verse 33
oh the depth of the riches and wisdom
and knowledge of God how unsearchable
are his judgments and how inscrutable
his ways for who has known the mind of
the Lord or who has been his counselor

. . . . . .

Paul says how unsearchable his judgments how inscrutable his ways.

We scrutinize the ways of others —  don’t we?

This is what teachers are what students rather do with their teachers.

They scrutinize their teachers.

What are they looking for on this exam?

What does this teacher want me to know . . . . and we . . .

we study them

we analyze them and

we scrutinize them and

we figure it out

This is what our kids do.

They scrutinize us like some predatorial animal.

They identify our weak spot.

This is what our pets do  . . . .

We . . . We have a neighborhood dog Charlie

I can tell you Charlie has scrutinized his master’s

He knows how to break out of the house and

he has scrutinized the path to
our house

and he comes down the sidewalk

and he doesn’t even go to the driveway

and up and around the sidewalk into our
front door

oh no  — on the sidewalk
straight in our front door

makes a sharp right angle

turn straight to our door

looks in the bottom pane of glass for our dog Daisy

I’m a protective parent I send Charlie on his way — our dogs — our
pets — they’ve figured us out

We scrutinize don’t we?

scrutinize our bosses?

figure out their judgments?
scrutinize their ways

my boss is sitting right there
I never scrutinize him of course

but not God
but not God
and here’s why
verse 34 for who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor

this is a quote from Isaiah 40 turn back with me to Isaiah chapter 40

it’s at verse 13 and here we are understanding beyond measure here we are talking about measuring things look at verse 12 of Isaiah chapter 40 who has measured
the waters in the hollow of his hand


The stacking up of multiple examples of a . . . .


. . . is very common in an introduction to a particular themed message or speech.  In this case the concept or practice of “scrutiny.”

Nichols calls up four cases or pictures where “scrutinizing” takes place . . . .

students – teachers
children – parents
dogs – masters
employees – bosses


Any of these four examples or pictures could be metamorphized or converted to a single analogy.


I.E. students – teachers

“If you have attended college, you realize that one of the keys to successfully finishing a course in this-or-that subject is understanding the professor teaching the class.

What began in the earliest years of your education, still applies — and maybe the more — in your college years.

The very first days of elementary school were generally very quiet and controlled.  We — as children — were not sure who this new teacher was.  We may have heard some stories from the other students we knew in that class the year before — “she/ he is tough — a no-nonsense teacher,” or “You can get away with about anything in his/her class.”

Nevertheless, it takes a few days — maybe several weeks for the students to get to know and read what makes this new teacher click.  After weeks of scrutinizing . . . .

what happens when a fellow student says,

when a deadline is missed, when a “stupid question” is asked  (I know there are no stupid question–but some times there are)

when a question is asked that potentially pulls the teacher onto a rabbit trail and the lesson is sidetracked,

when someone shows up late to class

when you fall asleep

when . . . when . . . when

Now in college, the ability to scrutinize your professor is a little more difficult because you only spend about three hours a week, for a few months a year, along with having to scrutinize other teachers at the same time.

In fact, you will probably discover some teachers — maybe the best of teachers — are very hard to read.

Nevertheless, over the years of education — of practice — students can get fairly adept at scrutinizing their teacher — figuring them out and acting accordingly.

What happens when you try to “read the Lord?” — to “scrutinize Him and His ways?”

I would like to announce — along with the Holy Spirit  — that you will never figure Him out.

You can sit in His classroom from the earliest years of childhood — saved at the age of 5 — and never switch classes after 50, 60, 70 years — and still not be able to figure Him out — read Him.

Watch – scrutinize – how He acts, reacts, deals with fellow believers, read all the accounts of Old Testament history, walk with Him for three years on earth like the disciples — all that scrutiny will still leave you short of knowing what He will do in this-or-that situation!

He is better than any teacher — He is the best of teachers and not hard to read, but impossible to read.

. . . . . . . .


So next time you hear an illustration, an interesting metaphor, a story, or an allusion — think about how to develop that into an analogy . . . . BECAUSE analogies drive the argument better than four repeated similar examples of where “this-or-that” / scrutinizing can be found.


2 thoughts on “Going From A Repeated Illustration To An Analogy

  1. As a teen I heard hundreds of sermons. Most not memorable. Best story for life change for me was “A man went into the doctor and said doctor doctor I broke my arm in seven places. The doctor said you have to stay out of those places.” A Marx brothers joke. Who would have thought.
    As a youth worker for 10 years (early years) I used this joke a lot on kids doing crazy wild things and suffering consequences, caught in a loop of self destruction.
    Through the years I have begged countless pastors to use story and illustration for each point. Please give something for people to hang their hat on for the next week. Thanks for your hard work on this blog.


    1. You got it right.

      You are right on.

      Too few don’t grasp the power of communication, and that there are ways, and different ways, to drive home a truth..analogy, story, ill are a few..Tony Evans gets it! A master at it.

      Thanks for the comment and support


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