Month 1:18 (Aviv), Week 3:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year 5935:018 AM|
CHAG HA-MATZAH (Unleavened Bread) ANNUAL MOED 2:4
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 21 [Red] April 2011
Chag haMatzah 2011 IV
The Seven Pillars of Wisdom
Continued from Part 3
A comment made by an ultra-messianic lady I met on Facebook yesterday got me to thinking about today's devotional theme. She had, on her profile, a disclaimer, which basically read that if you didn't believe in a list of doctrines that she subscribed to that she wouldn't tell you the time of day. Quite apart from the fact that many of these teachings were blatently heretical (like denying the Deity of Messiah and the Virgin Birth) she illustrated a mentality which puts segments of humanity into little boxes and then declares all but her own one as unkosher.
The mentality behind this thinking is not uncommon. It wants a neatly defined universe (not itself a bad thing) and assumes that Yahweh has bequeathed it somewhere in an organisation or group of people to which all the righteous will spontaneously flock like the Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and numerous protestant, messianic and other groups who think they are the embodiment of Yahweh's 'whole truth', Not untypically this mentality breeds a kind of spiritual Úlitism that scorns all those who do not have 'the truth', and which is happy to consign all who are 'outside' to hell.
The trouble with this mindset is that is has numerous obvious flaws, one of them being that no two people anywhere have exactly the same belief in anything. Moreover, these Úlitist organisations, upon closer inspection, reveal a history of chopping and changing doctrines, often contradictory. To conceal this basic flaw nearly all these organisation resort, at some point and in some way, to a whipping boy of another kind, namely, by making the claim that they - and they alone - have divine toqef or authority of represent God. And whilst toqef or authority is important, the genuine kind is based on truth and not a claim to power.
We talked a little about this three days ago when we looked at the diagram showing a man and the three centres of being - alef, mem and taw. False systems are always totalitarian by nature by turning this model on its head. And the reason they use this inverted system is because they have no toqef or authority, for anything that is rooted in lies is without toqef or authority. Yah'shua (Jesus) in His ministry never relied on his ordination to a Rabbi or some other pretended titoqef (authority) but on the purity of His teachings and the ahavah (love) which came from the centre of His Being. These things attracted the genuine seekers.
Yahweh does not give 'everything' in a single go in a single package. The Bible itself was given piecemeal over centuries. Emet (Truth) unfolds both historically as well as in human beings. That is not to say that Emet (Truth) steadily evolves Darwinian fashion because we know that it sometimes gets lost and has to be rediscovered. And sometimes it is revealed in concentrated packages, as was the Torah through Moses, though in actuality it was being restored, having been known before. Yah'shua (Jesus) brought forth a concentrated 'package' of emet (truth) too, as did Paul. But the fact that that emet (truth) is 'there' - as the Bible has been for two millennia - does not mean that it is immediately 'seen'. As we discussed two days ago at Yom haBikkurim, it has to be revealed by Yahweh Himself. Unless we are born-again, we will never know the emet (truth) even if we have a library of Bibles and are fluent in Hebrew and Greek.
It is common sense really but those who love the authoritarian model always miss it, but we learn emet (truth) degree by degree. The fact that schools design curriculums that unfold a discipline level by level ought to be testimony of this. What is true of mathematics or any other discipline is also true of the principles of the Kingdom of Yahweh. We are all at different places of our understanding and growth. We learn line upon line, precept upon precept. That is the way Yahweh has made. Were you to go back 30 years in time to yourself, with the knowledge that you have today, and say to yourselfe: "This is the truth. If you don't accept it you're a heretic and damned to hell", what would your response be?
There are at least two responses that I can think of. You might believe your laterself and simply embrace it in faith, submitting to the totalitarian model. Those who become Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and others often do this. Or you might simply tell your later self to get lost and accuse him of being arrogant and conceited. Or you might respond in some other way.
I would have told my younger self to either get lost or try to reason with him. Certainly in my youth I was more disposed to this totalitarian-type of model, as many young idealists are who "want it all, now!" Idealists who pursue this path soon get discouraged and demoralised. I was once all starry-eyed like most of us and soon became disillusioned with authoritarian systems though unlike many I never rejected toqef (authority) because I saw that it was needed. I realised, finally, that "all truth" only existed with God and that any man or group claiming to have it was a fraud. Upon discovering this, many then reject the counsel of man and try to go it alone and in time find that equally unsatisfying. The fact of the matter is that Yahweh causes us to cross paths with all kinds of people and groups in order to learn from them. I can truthfully say that everyone I have met and known has been my tutor in some way. However, Yahweh never intended us to be alone, which is why He created Eve for Adam - we grow best when we are with others. Therefore He will always ensure that there is a right place to be at any one time and a right group of believers, even with their imperfections and incomplete knowledge. But to know where we are supposed to be does require personal revelation, and we can never get that unless we approach Yahweh like a little child and surrender to Him.
I have discovered in my long journeyings through life, and especially since I was born again in 1977, that Yahweh progresses us in seven distinct steps which I call The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I am not referring to the book my lawrence of Arabia or to any mystical teaching of occultism but to a passage in Sctripture:
I don't have time to go into the theology of the number seven which is a huge subject as I have discoursed on this elsewhere in depth, but what I do want to do is connect it to Chag haMatzah which we are currently celebrating.
"Wisdom has built her house,
She has hewn out her seven pillars;
She has slaughtered her meat,
She has mixed her wine,
She has also furnished her table.
She has sent out her maidens,
She cries out from the highest places of the city,
Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!"
As for him who lacks understanding, she says to him,
Come, eat of my bread
And drink of the wine I have mixed.
Forsake foolishness and live,
And go in the way of understanding"
(Prov 9:1-6, NKJV)
Like Sukkot which it foreshadows, Chag haMatzah is a seven day-long festival. We understand the basic elements that it is teaching us, namely, that we are to get the chametz or leaven of lies and sin out of our lives, and that this is a lifelong occupation. It's so important that Yahweh has stressed it by making us devote a whole week to this subject - thinking about it, discussing it, and meditating on it while we eat matzah (unleavened bread).
The same truths are hidden in all seven annual festivals which describe this process in more detail. Indeed, this principle is reflected on three different levels of time - each seven-day week (each of which corresponds to an annual festival), the seven days of Chag haMatzah and the seven annual festivals themselves. In other words, it is something that is supposed to be on our minds all the time with the exception of the New Moon days!
The tavnith or pattern of this emet (truth) is revealed, fractal-fashion, on many levels to make sure we don't miss it. If life is a Course then it may be said to have Seven Units that are linked together. If we fail a unit then we are able to go back and repeat it the following year. Many are the lessons to be learned in this mortal probation but we cannot skip any of them. Yahweh will ensure that through our life circumstances.
But what are these 'seven levels'? They clearly, as we have shown, link to the activities of each festival and what they represent, activities that are to me meditated on weekly. Likewise, they are mediated by the Seven Ruachim. They represent seven bodies of basic theological knowledge and practice from the infant (Pesach, coming to Yah'shua (Jesus) like a little child) to the fully mature (Sukkot, a fully mature and cleansed Bride)! Beyond the festival labels given to them, they are nowhere else classified in Scripture - in other words, there is no 'list of spiritual attributes' that we are supposed to have attained by the conclusion of each 'course', at least no simple list. Moreover, if we can indeed speak of 'spiritual attributes' that a soul is supposed to have attained at each level that comes from trusting in Messiah and obeying His mitzvot (commandments), can we reduce them to, say, a single word? I think we can, though cautiously, and I will attempt that in a minute.
But before I do let me return to the original idea I shared about not putting people into 'boxes' and then judging them as to whether they are 'true believers' or not. If we can leave here with the emet (truth) that the foundation of spirituality is becoming a Pesach-child, we will not be so quick in judging other believers who believe and practive wrong teachings. That means that when we look at other believers and, as Scripture admonishes us, "judge righteous judgment" (Jn.7:24, KJV), we will ALWAYS view them through the eyes of a Pesach-child! One who goes to Yah'shua as a small child and is accepted, even if he has all sorts of wrong notions about things, cannot be rejected by anyone who likewise walks in that Pesach light. In other words, anyone who is trusting Yah'shua or Jesus as a small child must likewise be accepted by us as He does. If we don't, then He will almost certainly reject us for having such a cold, unforgiving lev (heart).
We will be held accountable if we try to force someone to accept an emet-principle before they are mature enough to receive it and they spiritually choke on it, in the same way we would be accountable if we forced a small nursing baby to eat meat when it was physically unable to do so.
Notice I am not saying that that true doctrine and practice don't matter. I am not saying that we have the right to be antinomian or lawless. I am not saying we can go and do what we like. What I am saying is that everyone grows in light and truth in stages - all of us - and however flawed someone may be in something, remember that we are likely flawed in something else. That is why we are warned to be very careful in how we pass judgment on others. We are not to judge according to appearance, whether by physical stature or by what we think someone is inside. If we do judge, we are to judge righteously, remembering that we will be judged by the same standard.
That is why I do not go rejecting Christians as true believers, as many Messianic do, because they aren't obeying Torah. If they have come to Yah'shua as a little child and have been born again of the Ruach (Spirit) and have a passion for Him, then I am obliged to accept them as my brother or sister. You don't reject someone because they're in the First Grade when you are in the Fifth. You accept them where they are at. So long as they are doing all they can (and only Yahweh can judge that one for sure), so long as their eyes are on Messiah and they are walking toward Him, it is none of our business to judge them as unsaved or to suppose that we are better or more righteous than they are.
It's time we stopped judging people by theological labels and look to what is happening inside. Again, I am not saying that outward action or behaviour is unimportant, because it is - what I am concerned about is where we are and what it is we want. We are all blinded by different things and much as we would like to see instantly, sometimes it takes special circumstances to enable that. We all have veils over our eyes. I don't want mine, I want to see all emet (truth) and change into that emet (truth) and it is my hope that people will accept me on the basis of that motivating desire rather than by any of my failures to see and act - that, at any rate, is how I treat others.
The seven pillars of wisdom are traditionally viewed as:
According to Scripture, these Seven Pillars are "hewn out" meaning they are both cut and shaped so that a bayit or "house" is built. It is not enough to assemble knowledge, theological or otherwise - it's what you do with it that matters. We are all supposed to build something. And when you build a house, unless you build it according to sound design or tavnith (pattern), it's going to fall down no matter how many "pillars" you hew out! Being theologically correct is not the main aim! As I remarked to my wife yesterday when we were discussing a certain minister: "Even if he was 100% theologicaly correct I would not follow him," I told her, "because he is spiritually unclean inside". It's not what you have that's important but what you do with it and - most importantly - how you do it.
- 1. Prudence (doing what's right)
- 2. Knowledge (knowing what's true and right)
- 3. Discretion (forethought and action based on conviction according to emet - to be discretely different)
- 4. Counsel (purpose with echad)
- 5. Sound Judgement (decision-making, the ability to determine right from wrong)
- 6. Understanding (applied knowledge)
- 7. Power (the ability or speed at getting things done)
Pillars do what in a building? They give support! They must be supporting the overall structure. A pillar that's just sitting around isn't doing anything useful. It, like knowledge, must be applied. The Book of Proverbs says:
Is your theological knowledge mere brain titillation or is is confering spiritual stength? Are you relying on it for your life? Or is it compartmentalised and not being used for anything (other than intellectual discussions)? If I can't use knowledge to build up Yahweh's House, my family, and myself, then it is likely useless. If it isn't usable, it is worth only discarding. We must know how to use knowledge for edification and know where and how to put it into the structure. It must be done, moreover, in order - no use building a roof until you have first built the foundations and walls.
"Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom; I am understanding, I have strength" (Prov.8:14, NKJV).
The seven festivals show us the order, tavnith or pattern. Children must be allowed to go through childhood naturally at their own pace. We learn in our own way - you can't force people to learn, a lesson our school system has not learned because those who have designed it lack wisdom. And remember, Scripture says that wisdom is the principle thing.
There are many who refuse to grow in these things because the don't want to grow up. They want to remain as a Pesach-child. This is as wrong as trying to grow up as a believer without being one - without being born-again. We aren't supposed to remain a child - everywhere Scripture says we must grow up, but we must do it according to tavnith or pattern. The seven days of Chag haMatzah are to remind us of this.
We may begin as a little child but the goal - the number one 'thing' - is to get wisdom. And wisdom is applied emet or truth in correct tavnith (pattern) bathed in avahah (love). We need spiritual and practical skill. But there is no way we can obtain this by being a man-pleaser. If we are out to please peers, we are going to remain stunted in wisdom. We must first of all please Yahweh. That is why we must seek emet (truth) and tavnith (pattern) first.
"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom" (Prov.4:7, NKJV).
How did Paul get His wisdom? He denied himself and went into the desert to be taught by Yah'shua (Jesus), the one who had stopped him on the Damascus Road - the One he had been persecuting. He says that he did not immediatrely go and confer with the other talmidim (disciples). Yes, it is good to go to those who know, but first we have to go the the One who knows all. We have to know the Good Shepherd personally first, otherwise we'll never be able to discern what men are teaching. And how does Yah'shua (Jesus) teach us? Through the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), with each Ruach specialising, as it were, in each 'course', in each day of our our 'Life Week'.
This requires hard work and diligent application. And whilst the first three courses - Pesach, Chag haMatazah and Yom haBikkurim - are things you can do one-to-one alone with Yahweh, thereafter Yahweh expects you to be bound with other talmidim (disciples) at Shavu'ot as you complete the remainder of the journey with others. Those who refuse to do this are always spiritually stunted - whether it is because of pride or fear doesn't really matter because the end result is the same. Where there is no order and communal effort there is just a mass of confusion - the wicked build their bayit or house "like a moth" (Job 27:18) - in a mess.
Seek the tavnith (pattern), build in order, build to give support and strength to your own soul and to others in Messiah Yah'shua (Christ Jesus)! Amen.
Continued in Part 5