When Jim Meets God
Answering Jim's Questions To Dr. Laura
by Preston McNutt
A frivolous dance around a difficult subject often gives the appearance of eminent knowledge. Ignorance is bliss, they say. Specious scholarship is quickly undone under the glaring spotlight of reasoned debate. Arguments against a subject about which one has little or no knowledge, no matter how humorous the argument, makes his contentions appear sterile and pedantic. Which brings us to the real reason behind the farcical letter from Jim to Dr. Laura. Jim wants to live his life his way. He wants others to join him in his self-delusion that we each are the center of our own universe. He invites any of like mind to join him in a chorus of "I did it my way". He has determined, by faith mind you, that there is no God. He finds comfort in knowing there are others who confirm his decision. Misery loves company, they say. Here's what the Bible says about that attitude:
Psalm 14:1The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.
Once that decision has been made, the inevitable next step is to convince others of the wisdom and consequent freedom of coming to that conclusion - a perilous decision if one is to believe there is One Who knows best for His creation.
Proverbs 4:14Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away. For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.
Yep, misery loves company. Seems a person just cannot rest until he finds someone else to affirm his own desperate attempts to be totally independent. "I am my own man." they declare. "I'm a self-made man" they indignantly proclaim, proving only that everyone ultimately worships their creator. Is it any wonder that people like comedian Bill Maher and evolution apologist Richard Dawkins spend so much expensive air time trying to prove that "there is no God"? Because misery loves company, remember? Here's the question that troubles Jim so badly:
Leviticus 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?
When buying a home, real estate agents will advise you to consider "location, location, location". The same is true when quoting scripture: "context, context, context". The verse in question is part of a larger body of instruction explaining what is required of priests before they are allowed to approach the altar. It begins by detailing those things that defile a Levitical or Aaronic priest and make them unfit to approach a Holy God. It has to do with the idea of being separated for the purpose of approaching a Holy God.
One of the prohibitions described in this passage gave rise to a parable taught by Yeshua in:
Luke 10:25And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
The typical interpretation of this parable from most pulpits today asserts that Yeshua is showing that no Jew is capable of performing a merciful act. Further, the implication is made that Yeshua is teaching against Torah in this instance by suggesting the Priest and the Levite were wrong in doing what they did, even though they were doing exactly as Torah instructed them to do. Being stuck in their "works of the law" made them incapable of fulfilling righteous acts. It was therefore shown that a despised Samaritan, one hated by the Jews, actually did the righteous act of Tzedekah. I believe this is an incorrect interpretation, one that was carried over from Greco/Roman alteration of the original concept designed to make the Jews look like the “bad guys”. Understand what I'm saying. It is the concept that is altered, not the translation. Yeshua was actually showing that the two priests - one a Levite, the other an Aaronic priest - were in line with Torah in keeping from defiling themselves by touching what might be potentially a dead person, or at very least, touching blood, which would make them ceremonially unclean. What is not said is the possibility that they could very well have planned on sending help from their next stopping place. But the focus of this parable is not on what the priests did or did not do. The story ultimately revolves around the two concepts of tzedakah and malchut shamayim, righteous acts and the Kingdom of Heaven. The teachings of Yeshua always focused on these foundational concepts predicated with the necessary requirement of teshuvah, repentance.
According to Jewish thought, one who responds in obedience to God's command to perform acts of tzedakah, righteous acts, has the favor of God. The word favor is related to the word for friend or neighbor, the same word used in this passage in Luke. In essence Yeshua was asking the scribe, “Who is the one who had favor?” The scribe is forced to answer that the Samaritan was the neighbor who had favor from God. Any other answer would have been an incorrect interpretation of Torah. In attempting to box the Messiah in, the scribe found himself boxed in his own corner. Yeshua's point, as always, was to direct His listeners toward an intimate relationship with God. The concept of chesed, charity or act of kindness, is deeply embedded in the Jewish consciousness as an integral part of properly living out Torah. While the priest and the Levite were obeying the Law, the man who exercises tzedekah is actually more favored by God by expressing love in an act of charity and kindness towards his fellow man. The uncommanded righteous act of the Samaritan epitomizes the purpose and existence of YHWH's love expressed through man. Yeshua is telling this scribe in classic Jewish debate form to get his own house in order. Take the Lincoln log out of your own eye before judging the dust mote in your neighbor's eye, so to speak.
The scribe, who probably was just zealous for the holiness of Torah, like his forebear Phineas, acknowledges that Yeshua's interpretation of Torah that tzedekah, takes precedence in Jewish thought and practice. To the multitude of modern day scribes who think to outwit Him still, I would say "Never engage in a battle of wits with the Master with death on the line!" (To those that get the allusion, just smile and nod your head.)
My questions for Jim: are you a priest of the lineage of Levi? of Aaron? Are you called to minister in priesthood duties as prescribed in the Book you so glibly draw your mockeries from? No? Then why does it even concern you whether your vision is 20/20 when approaching the altar? You're not allowed to approach the altar under any circumstances. And no, there is no wiggle room. There is only ONE WAY that you or I can ever approach God. And you'd best put your cynical mind to rest and get serious with finding THAT WAY. Because the day is fast approaching that Yeshua's words will be proven and we'll "see" whether they be true or false - that the worm never dies and smoke ascends forever and ever. There's your wiggle room. Enough to wiggle yourself into an eternity without God, without light and without life. Wiggle all you want.
Now for a deeper look at the concept of seeing without defect. Here's a very short teaching for those that have an ear to hear - or eyes to see, since that's the subject of discussion.
There is a Hebrew phrase, et ha'pei liphnei ha'ayin, that is used throughout Jewish historical literature to teach the halachik prohibitions against lashon ha'ra, or evil speech.The phrase et ha'pei liphnei ha'ayin. means to put the mouth before the eye.The letters of the pictographic Hebrew alphabet, or alephbet, each were written as a picture, or glyph. Each glyph had specific meanings, which when combined with other letters served to form words with expanded meanings, thoughts and concepts. In the alephbet, the ayin is a picture of the human eye. The peh is a picture of the mouth and they are placed in that order, ayin then peh. Vision, ie., the eye, speaks of seeing, or recognizing and accepting the will of God.
The letter ayin (eye) precedes pey (mouth) because the righteous man speaks only after seeing. The mouth then gives testimony to what is seen and understood.
Proverbs 2:5-6Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Psalm 34:8...see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Romans 10:10For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
One of the most famous acrostics in the Bible is found in Psalm 119. There are twenty-two segments, each with eight verses. Each verse in each segment begins with the letter of the alephbet corresponding to the number of that letter. For example: the first eight verses start with the letter aleph. The second eight verses start with the letter bet, and so on up to the last eight verses which begin with the letter tau.
Another acrostic not so well known outside of Jewish literature is found in Eikhah, the book of Lamentations. Eikhah is a poetic book of Jeremiah the Prophet mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and the first Temple in the 6th century B.C. In the first chapter, the letters are presented in their normal order. But in the second, third and fourth chapters, the pey comes before the ayin. This reversal is an example of the natural order being reversed when the people spoke their own false script then saw and believed what they said, resulting in the destruction of the Temple and their being carried into captivity.
When the Jewish People were poised to enter the Promised Land, Mosheh sent out twelve spies to investigate the land. Ten of them returned with a negative report. After having seen the mighty power of ’Elohiym to deliver them from bondage, after witnessing the many miracles wrought by El Shaddai, they chose to believe the report of the spies that said YHVH could not give them the land because its inhabitants were too strong. They spoke with their mouths that which was contrary to what their eyes had seen, or what they had received and understood. The spies reversed the alphabet of Reality. They put the peh - the mouth - before the ayin - the eye. And for their unbelief, that night the Jews cried. And spent the next forty years wandering in the wilderness. The Midrash tells us that Elohiym said, "You cried for nothing. I will establish for you a crying for generations." That night was the night of the 9th of Av, the date of many of the worst disasters throughout Jewish history. The first Temple was destroyed on that date; the second Temple was destroyed on that date; the Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492 on that date to name a few.
Moral of the story? Be careful that you don't let your mouth define your reality. The Creator gave you two ears and one mouth. So listen twice as much as you speak. Know before you speak. That includes inviting yourself to a dance when you don't know the dance steps.