“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” Rev 22:1-5
I love the word picture that John paints in these verses. I haven’t read Revelations for a while. Truthfully? I’ve been avoiding it. When I was in high school and college I was fascinated by Revelations and read it often. I thought if I read the words often enough, I would eventually glean the wisdom it contained. But so many of the pictures that John was trying to describe in this book was beyond my imagination and knowledge at that point. Needless to say over the course of the last 45 years, I’ve returned to it periodically. Occasionally grasping a thought or image only to feel that most of the wisdom in this book was still beyond my ken. However, lately…even now as the sun’s rays are finally slicing through the clouds that have covered our area for the past 3 days to warm my typing fingers…hints that it is time to return to a more in-depth study of this book.
I wish there was a Jewish Talmud written about the New Testament. A rabbi who looked at Our Lord’s and His disciples’ words in much the same way as they spoke them. That is one thing that I truly love about the Jewish religion. The sages have never stopped debating – concentrating on the very basics of the written Hebrew language, each jot and tittle, as well as the overall context and content of the Torah – seeking to take new understanding from the WORD and Our Father who spoke through them. In our society, I believe most of us tend to think that if we have read our devotions and forced ourselves to find time to read a few new chapters in the Bible, we’ve done enough our filial duty. Can we ever understand anything about God in just a few minutes out of our “busy” day?
“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Ex 20:12
In Jewish tradition, teachers are included in the fifth commandment. Since most societal groups look at parents as the first teachers of a child, this inclusion makes a lot of sense. The extension of respecting teachers follows logically. Yet – as more and more parents are working full time (or several part time) jobs – teaching children has become a communal project. Teachers, yes – babysitters are teachers – are entering the child’s sphere of existence at earlier and earlier stages of life. Whether you acknowledge it or not, children are being taught by whoever is around them. Teachers are found in all shapes and sizes. Yesterday, at our after school program, a young 13 year old was explaining the facts of life to some of our much younger students. I’m not sure some of our first grade parents were ready to have that conversation last night around their supper table. Hmmm….that is….if they sit around the table to eat supper and actually talk to each other. sigh.
“To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” – James 4:17 NASB
Is it any wonder that I kids argue with their parents and teachers? They have had many teachers. They see their parents argue with their teachers. They see parents argue with each other. Teachers argue with each other. By observation alone, children learn that rules must be negotiable. Children learn that one set of rules at home, may be different at the babysitters’ – the pre-school’s – the other biological parents’ or grandparents’ homes. Nap time? Negotiable. Homework? Negotiable. Cuss words? Jacket worn to school? Move to a new seat in the classroom? No recess? Fighting at school? TV? Computer? Phone? Children are adaptable and learn pretty quickly where they can stretch the boundaries…any boundary…ALL boundaries.
Our “busy” and “denuclearized” society makes this commandment even more difficult. Parents divorced. Many step-parents and siblings. Many quasi-step-parents and sibs. Grandparents – married into or quasi???? Attachments to family members? As adults enter their own sphere of knowledge, it gets easier and easier to break those familial attachments. The “Honoring” bird flies quickly away when not fed. Instead, it is much easier to use our “new” family, our job, our extra curricula activities (sports, friends, downtime etc.) as an excuse. After all, how much time does that grown child remember spending with their own parents while they were growing up – especially if there was a divorce or multiple divorces? A few phone calls – every so often (weekly? monthly? occasionally?) – to the parental units and call it good. That’s honoring, right? Spend a holiday or two with them – maybe – if they live close enough and nothing else is planned. That’s honoring, right? Asking them to help out with a sick child or pick-up child. That’s honoring…right?
I don’t know about you, but as I ponder the fifth commandment more deeply and think about all the messiness of our world, I wish this commandment was handed out to every family unit and read aloud each evening as prayers are said. I wish it was still posted in schools. Perhaps……sadly……the fifth commandment really is hard to follow.
BTW – the sun that broke through the clouds as I was typing the first paragraph? Was completely swallowed up by the said clouds as soon as I started typing the second paragraph. God winked so I guess I’m going to be spending some time reading Revelations today.
*pictures Google images/Youtube