Ancient Practice Modern Application

written by: AnnMarie Alva

Early in my study of the Scripture I came across something called the Oral Torah. It was the Oral Torah that was passed through the generations of the Israelite’s before and after the books of the Bible were transcribed. The Hebrew people would teach the oracles of God to the younger generations with such care and diligence that the student could in turn become a teacher. It was this teaching of the law and it’s statutes that shaped the culture of God’s Holy people.

The curiosity has haunted me for years and provoked me to jealousy as another thing that I would never learn, being a gentile. I have many times cried out to God for some kind of clue and recently He has thrown me a bone and responded:

the Oral Torah is discipleship.”

So simple, so clear, so powerful. Here I thought I was lacking some blessing that God has only committed to the Jews and yet, I lacked nothing.

God, in His greatness, has paved the way for the Gentiles to receive the mystery of the gospel through His Son Jesus Christ. And actually, it is this fact that in turn will provoke the Jews to jealously (Romans 11:14.). Furthermore, Christians are commissioned to do the exact same thing:

“And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

2 Timothy 2:2

Lastly, Paul writes that the gentile, or “wild olive branch,” can be grafted into the cultivated olive tree which is the Jewish culture rooted in God.  So, as mysterious as the Oral Torah can be to the gentile, by becoming a disciple of Jesus and allowing mature Christians to pour into us, we can gain a deeper understanding of God’s fullness that allows us to become a part of a Holy People.

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Removing Distractions

The science fiction novel entitled A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley expresses the idea that:

In the future there will be so much information coming at us, that people will be reduced to pacifism and become easy to control. (Paraphrase)

Although it was a book written in 1931 the concept rings hauntingly relevant to the current technological age we are in. Advances in gadgetry are constant, when a new thing arrives it becomes old in a matter of months and a better version’s revealed. Furthermore, the amount of information we take in from all the different types of media we have at our fingertips can absolutely be overwhelming, that is if we don’t have a soul. I’m being a little sarcastic, but it’s so easy to be consumed by all types of information, and entertainment, that it could render us useless when it comes to the things that matter most in life.

Interestingly I’m reminded of a scripture that bears an opposite theme:

I remember you, the kindness of your youth, the love of your betrothal,
when you went after Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

Jeremiah 2: 2

According to the idea in Huxley’s futuristic vision, people become distracted by a flood of information. Yet, in the scripture I just quoted, there’s a real purity of relationship between the newly betrothed Israelite’s to the God who rescued them out of Egypt, and the key it seems is the fact that they were in a land not sown.

The wilderness they were in was free from distractions.

We live in a pluralistic society with multiple cultures, multiple religions, multiple values or the lack thereof, and a massive amount of entertainment everywhere. Yet, it’s important for all Christians to know when we’re distracted. We have to take a step back and ask ourselves if we really need to be on Facebook, or Pinterest, or even this blog?

I asked myself the same things, because I found my phone glued to my hand, and my mind constantly on the trigger of searching something new to stimulate my thoughts, and in reality my soul. Instead it became numb, and I didn’t feel enriched, but enslaved to the ever falling showers of information. In a very real spiritual sense it feels like you can’t breathe.

I decided to take a step back and set my sights on a few important things, rather than always prowling for something new. It’s been a blessing, because you get a real peace from “unplugging” and minimizing your focus anew.

If I could encourage you to do one thing, that would be to take an inventory of how much brain space you’re using, and effort you are putting into the life sucking vortex of the internet, and turn it off, and enjoy the quiet with your Bible in hand, a prayer of guidance, and time to look into the perfect law of liberty.

But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:25

 

An Underestimated Truth

My friend described to me the care he put into tending to a fruit tree he has. The first year he wasn’t very committed to it and the tree had only bore three to six guavas. The next year he faithfully watered it no matter what and the production increased a hundred fold. He specifically stated that “the second year it had produced at least a hundred guavas.”

I was immediately reminded of the words of Jesus:

others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Matthew 13:8

The idea of bearing fruit in different measures is echoed throughout the Gospels. Furthermore, it denotes the idea of various degrees of dedication and returns. We see this mirrored in the Parable of the Talents. A well known story where currency was given to 3 individuals by a master in order to entrust them to produce more by the time he’d come back. While two excelled one was consider wicked and lazy.

Surely, it’s a lesson in faithfulness, and that’s why my friend’s story was so fascinating to me; it took the agricultural metaphors of Christ and brought them to life in a personal testimony. You might think of it as a mundane example, but it illustrates the principle that caused Jesus to say:

“You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.” Matthew 25:21

A long time Christian I had absolutely underestimated the importance of the principle of faithfulness. After thirteen years I consider it to be of great importance. Where would you be in life if you were not faithful?

To the younger individuals reading this, faithfulness is consistency, and if you can remain consistent at one thing you can become successful in it. I’ve observed so many times people that didn’t seem qualified for a job, stick with it and excel.

Furthermore, what if we apply faithfulness to our relationship with God?

There’s so much to say about this subject, but for now I leave you with this:

Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.

Psalm 1: 1-3