Stringing Pearls

or how to make a mountain from a mole hill

This article is supposed to be kind of a part two of the too much information article. It is my opportunity to vent since this is our web site. In the following months since the last article concerning this topic, I have noticed a continued escalation of kookiness. Serpent-seeding and the return to multiple wives are certainly now in vogue. This resonates well in my state as you can imagine. All the usual controversies are still in place, with the added relief that arguments over the proper way to observe the feasts will settle down at least until Chanukah. The two-housers fighting with the one-housers is still quite popular and, of course, the deity issue is something we can always count on. Saying the name correctly is always right up there and we can usually rest assured that someone will always have something to say about the color or size of my talit. Yes, not only are we all still separating over the same issues, but we have the added luxury of modern technology which affords us the opportunity to divide ourselves with much greater speed. Ah yes, the Messianic Movement, with friends like these ...

I remember many many moons ago when I was a teenager, the days when our favorite songs were from groups with animal and reptile names. Right now some of you have turned your eyes toward the heavens in deep thought as to what groups I am talking about. Write me if you cannot think of more than one. I was an average, unredeemed teenager, dating this girl and that girl, and dreaming of being a rock star one day. I recall one girl we shall call Terri, who I dated for three or four months and she had still not introduced me to any of her family. Although not being curious by nature, one day I caved in and asked her why. She shuffled her feet on the ground a bit and looked away from me. I asked her again, and she explained first that she loved her rather large family very much. She was especially fond of her father and her youngest brother. This information made me even more curious. Finally she came out with it. She explained that although she tolerated her familial relationship, she could not bring herself to take me to meet them because, well, because they were sometimes embarrassing and she was scared to death that one or more of them would do something to totally turn me off. Now, with this silly illustration behind us let me explain. Have any of you gotten to the point where you are excited as can be about all the things you have learned in this walk, but are very concerned about introducing this to your friends and family? Has a brief moment of concern crossed your mind as to who you trust enough to introduce this walk to? Have any of you said to yourself that this teacher or that teacher is really good as long as your interested friend does not hear this or that? Are you concerned that your friend might hear the kooky stuff and conclude that you are out of your mind? Years ago while attending a church I liked very much, I remember wanting to invite my parents to come, but was scared that the rather large fellow who always sat across from me would rise up in the middle of the service and start quacking like a duck. In the spirit of course.

Here is what concerns me, for what that is worth. One of the patterns I see in the Hebrew roots movement as a whole, comes from a pattern I saw when I was a regular Christian pastor dude. I see dangerous trends. I see the same kind of base human tendencies I witness in other religious institutions. I see Messianic leaders and ministries teaching unity and proclaiming that our central focus is the Messiah and His work. I see shepherds teaching the sheep not to leave a fellowship or local gathering because of petty non-salvational issues. I see individual sheep coming into a fold with an agenda, with one-issue battering rams. Whether it be issues of clothing, beards, moons, festivals, days, calendars, definitions, spurious passages, or food. I see shepherds pleading with these sheep not to separate over these issues. And then I see these same Messianic teachers, at the first opportunity, separating from other Messianic teachers over these same petty non-salvational issues. So how do we avoid the very definition of hypocrisy? We string some pearls and make what was once a mole hill into a mountain. That's what we do. Yeah, that's the ticket!

In the same way every letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a positive and and a negative charge, so do the words they eventually form. The Hebrew word charaz is the word used to describe the putting together of various related passages of scripture to teach a valuable lesson. In Hebrew we call this stringing pearls. Charaz is the Hebrew word for a bead or the stringing thereof. It is a very well used method of the sages and the New Testament, as well. A good example can be found in Ma'asey hashsheliyechiym (Acts):

Ma'asey hashsheliyechiym 1:20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.

Luke, the writer of this treatise, you know the gentile who just happens to know more about the Torah and Jewish customs than the rabbis themselves, is stringing together two separate verses, Mizemor (Psalm) 69:25 and 109:8. A very gentile thing to do, don't you know. This is using charaz in a very positive way. As a side note, it is very possible that this method was being referred to by Yeshua' in the proverb of the pearls before swine in Mattityahu (Matthew):

Mattityahu 7:6Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

The purpose of charaz is to teach a valuable lesson. Yeshua' uses this method in referring to swine. There is a common use of metathesis here. Metathesis is an historic, linguistic reality whereby certain letters in words, particularly occurring in the second syllable, get swapped around. This particularly occurs quite often in English, Spanish and Hebrew. Some examples in English from old English would be horse from hros, bird from brid, theater from theatre, Wednesday from Wensday, aks from ask and center from centre. The same is true of Hebrew into other languages. Those of you who are familiar with the focus of WildBranch Ministry would not be surprised to find that this linguistic form also takes place in chemistry and molecular equations i.e., in our body. Our word, once again, for stringing pearls is charaz. Yeshua' uses the swine, chaziyr as a metathesis teaching technique.

All right, what is your point? My point is that this method can be used in a destructive way, as well. Educated people are quite capable of stringing together just the right sequence of related verses to convince the masses of almost anything. I have seen this ingeniously performed by abracadabra, open says-a-me, gotta say it just this way, ministries for a long time now. I have a book in my library written by a Baptist trained minister that presents a thoroughly convincing scenario of pearl stringing that ends with a proclamation that anyone who speaks in tongues has paved their way to hell, never to return. I also have a similar treatise from a more Pentecostal view that has you convinced by the end of the book that if you DON'T speak in tongues you are a stamped and certified heathen, doomed for the pit. Both gentleman had cleverly designed methods of taking a mole hill subject and converting it into Mt. Everest. In other words, a fairly religiously educated person can easily morph a salvational issue out of a non-salvation issue. That is how we justify our position. We simply make it a salvational issue. We cleverly make it the most important thing going. We torture the data until it confesses whatever we want. I know, I probably watch too much 24 (a clever dramatic television show where middle eastern espionage, intrigue, torture and stress prevail.)

Why do we do this? Why do we as shepherds publicly denounce petty bickering and divisiveness over non-salvation issues among the sheep and then turn around and condemn and ostracize those sheep who disagree with us over non-salvational issues? Hmmmmmm? And hey! Sheep! Don't you make Everest out of a dirt clod either. The same goes both ways. I think it is time that those of us who desire to step out and teach the Word of God, changing the course of people's lives, and essentially affecting future generations, to revisit Ya'akov's warning.

Ya'akov (James) 3:1My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

I am wondering if it would behoove the body of Messiah to have teacher counseling in the same way we have marriage counseling. In other words, perhaps it would be prudent to expect every potential teacher of the Word of God to have a least six counseling sessions before taking the plunge of spiritual responsibility for people's lives. Perhaps we could counsel the teachers concerning their commitment to the body of Messiah. Instead of asking them questions like, do you love her? We could counsel them about the true meaning of love. We could teach them that words mean things. We could show them that 'ahav (אהב) is Hebrew for what we call love, and that this word has a very simple concrete meaning: behold, the house is where the source of strength lies. We could teach them that whatever they are teaching, whatever supernatural, never seen before insightful truths they expound, if it supports and nourishes the entire house, and keeps the whole family intact, then this is a good and worthy message.

Shalom Alecheim!