Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Trees Without Veils Who Seek

Many people read Matthew 7:15-27 with a focus on the "fruit" rather than the "tree". The point is not to attempt to be a source of goodness. The point is that if you are good, you will naturally be a source of goodness. The parables are not meant to provide us with a goal, but with a standard to see ourselves more clearly.

This is related to Second Corinthians 3:18, in which the veil imagery has an unexpected context. Paul's point is that believers can see God and understand scripture more clearly than unbelievers, even though neither sees God directly.

A more obvious source of veil-is-now-gone imagery would be the veil in the Temple which had recently been torn in two at the time of Yeshua's death. Citing how Moses wore a veil after he descended from Sinai (because the Israelites could not bear to look at his radiant face) confuses the issue -- the analogy would would only fit well if the Israelites had been wearing veils, not Moses. Why would Paul use such a forced and awkward analogy?

Paul writes than only when a Jew "turns to God" is the veil removed so that God and scripture can be more clearly seen.

In other words, without turning to God it does not help to practice praying or practice studying scripture. Perhaps you know people that have expended much effort yet their praying never becomes more than meditation, and their scripture study never becomes more than vocabulary insights and pattern-matching.

To see God and to understand scripture are good things but they cannot be the focus and the goal. Rather, we must let Yeshua make our natures good, and then these good fruits will come naturally. Our focus and goal is being deep in the Kingdom of God (all of our lives are under God's rule) and thus deeply experiencing its righteousness.

We do not need to seek Yeshua -- he is knocking, waiting, and makes himself very available. We cannot effectively seek to produce good fruit. All we need do is turn to God and then follow him.

Yet we must do that. Until we turn to God and follow him the veil remains. One veil was removed when Yeshua died: the veil through which God looked out of the Temple at us. But that was not the only veil. The veil through which we look at God will remain until we turn to God.