Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls: but they said, We will not walk therein. ~ Jeremiah 6:16
It began a long time ago, so long ago I was not much more than a child, & it began because my innermost spirit rejects compartmentalisation. Life is a whole cloth or it is a tattered rag & it will never make sense. If I think that about life how much more do I believe it about God's word & how I have struggled with all the various theories & doctrines that want to shred it & divide it up as the soldiers did with Christ's belongings under the cross. It is not possible without irreparable damage & it creates falsity.
The problem with thinking things through for yourself is that you may very possibly end up at the point at which you began but you will not be the same person. The problem with thinking things through for yourself is that most people don't like it because we all have our own little pet theories or a doctrine we cling too that prevents light from shinning into our dark corners. The hardest thing is to remain balanced, poised in such away that one is open to the new without falling headlong into heresy.
The problem with thinking things though for yourself, especially if you think out loud in a public domain like a blog, is that you are open to misunderstanding. How do you account for the leading of the Holy Spirit to someone who's starting point is that all the charismatic gifts ended at Pentecost? That is not my personal experience. Nor do I believe that is what scripture teaches. How do you convey the inaudible voice of God to someone who has not heard it & doubts your testimony. This was my starting point. If you are real, God, prove it to me. It sounds rude, even blasphemeous, but I'm hardly the first to demand proof. The thing with asking proof from the Living God is that having made me He knows exactly where my weak points are, just where to point the finger, exactly how I think & He deals with that. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. I am an open book before God.
And what God has been at great pains to impress upon me is that scripture is indeed a whole cloth, absolutely consistent from beginning to end. That I understand this better symbolically than logically is simply a quirk of my nature. There is no division between Old Testament & New. There is fulfilment ~ but it is not what the church seems to have been teaching.
I think in pictures. When Paul speaks of the root supporting the gentiles [Romans11] I absolutely have that picture. I garden. I know about grafting. You can graft anything you like onto your rootstock but the root remains the same & if you lose your grafts the plant reverts to it's original nature. If you allow it to shoot from below the graft you have an original shoot. Where the plant draws its nourishment is from the root, from the original plant.
Now this is an important picture for several reasons. Much of what God wishes to convey to His people He conveys symbolically & if we don't understand we miss the point He wishes to make. The New Testament does not, cannot, replace what was revealed in the Old Testament "for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable". God does not change. The God of Abraham, Jacob & Isaac is Jesus' God & our God.
This has important implications for our understanding of scripture because one way or another it has been westernized until it bears little resemblence to the original. I have reached no definite conclusions but here are some things I am thinking on.
The Law is important. The Hebraic "Torah" means teaching ~ which carries completly different connotations. The teaching is about how to live in accordance with God's will. I can hear people screaming Grace already. Two passages ~ for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to work, for his good pleasure. [Philippians 2:13]
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD; I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people: [Jeremiah31:33]
What is it that is God's good pleasure? That we obey Him ~ & where we find the teaching on how to please & obey Him is in scripture ~ all of it! Grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, enables us to obey it because the Holy Spirit resides within us & works in us to do that which is not naturally in us to do. And as grafted roots these scriptures are applicable to us also. There is no division in the grafted plant once the graft has taken.
Now I am very clear: there is no salvation through works alone. None at all. The Old alone cannot save. But my desire is to be pleasing to God & my example is Christ. Pause for thought. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Christ was an orthodox, practising Jew. If Christ, God's only begotten son, God on earth, a prophet & the saviour of the world considered it important enough to obey the Torah, surely I should give it pause for thought. At the very least.
It is Christ who said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew5:17~20]
The problem is not God's Law; it is what man has added to it creating an impossible burden. God never gives us more than we can bear ~ & He always gives us a way to deal with things.
It is fascinating to observe that all down the ages the call has gone out: Stand in the paths, seek the good way & you shall find rest...but they would not. What a shattering observation.
The more I walk in the *Old Paths* the more of Scripture makes sense to me. I have a greater sense of the flow & continuity of God's purposes from beginning to end. I can see the whole picture ~ & I'm a whole picture thinker. And absolutely everything slots into its alloted place, seamlessly, without crease or crinkle. And what it creates in me is a great sense of awe & amazement. God had all this in mind, all symbolically unified, a single woven cloth at the very moment He created the heavens & the Earth & declared it, Very Good. Pretty much a wow moment, don't you think?