A phrase which had set my mind to explore the meaning is ‘LYING VANITIES’.
The clearest mention of this phrase occurs in Jonah’s prayer after he had been thrown out from the ship to Tarshish; swallowed by a fish; stayed inside the belly of the fish; and finally spewed out by the fish.
Does this phrase have a specific meaning? I believe it has.
I believe that one of the commandments of God in the old testament is found at Leviticus 19:
26 Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.
‘Observing Times’ is with reference to people studying patterns of human existence falling under the influence of the movement of heavenly bodies.
Firstly, one has to have sufficient knowledge of the heavenly bodies; secondly, the movements and the inter se positions of these heavenly bodies will have to be measured accurately. Upon measurement of Time & Space regarding these heavenly bodies, one has to speculate on the effects of these heavenly bodies on human beings and human affairs. Those predictions would be knowledge based.
Then there are those who are possessed by spirits, they also predict human affairs, sometimes with accuracy. The Bible says that those predictions are not prophecies, they are predictions – a mere sporadic foretelling of an event to come in the future, which mostly is within the realm of probabilities.
If one resorts to these forces, (I am not saying that these forces and these predictions are false), they may come to pass, but as human beings when we repose our Faith on such predictions and on the purveyors of such predictions, what we mentally succumb to is
1. We believe that certain things are bound to happen and they would happen anyway.
2. We believe that neither our will nor our actions would change the occurrence of these predictions
3. Through subscription to these beliefs, we repose faith on those people who indulge in those predictions, thereby undermine the power of the Almighty to alter the impossible.
At Jonah chapter 2:8 it is written:
They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
This leads us to the question as to whether we need MERCY at all and if so to what purpose?
MERCY is a jurisdiction which chronologically falls after judgement of conviction. Mercy could be setting aside of the sentence, proroguing the sentence, commutation of sentence, or remission of the sentence.
So why do humans need Mercy?
Remorse is the feeling that envelops a mind for having done something wrong. This feeling doesn’t go away when it involves an issue that is proscribed by spiritual laws and stays as a millstone round his neck. It could be an event which had happened in his days of ignorance, nevertheless, it hangs. To remove that one needs contrition and REPENTANCE.
Mercy shown without Repentance is Grace. If the execution of the sentence after the conviction had been instantaneous, there would have been no Mercy. But Christianity presupposes that the sinner is intimated of his sins and is allowed time for repentance. But till the repentance takes place, every sinner is in a period of Grace, having no idea of his sins, persisting in those sins, which he falsely believes as right. Therefore, everyone is in a period of Grace.
Evangelist Paul, when he was still Saul and ‘breathing out threatenings and slaughter’ against Christians, may call his actions as zealous acts, but was the recipient of Grace. But when he was intimated of his behaviour of ‘kicking against pricks’, he was directed to go to stay in Damascus and for three days what he did and how God told him to wait for Ananias, was the Repentance phase. Thereafter Saul turned a new leaf and preached Christianity. He obtained Grace as an unpunished sinner and once convicted of his sins, he was pardoned/sentence commuted, we cannot know which, it was between Saul and God.
Grace is the period spent as an unpunished sinner, worthy of death yet spared in time.
This Mercy would not be available for a person who observes ‘lying vanities’. The reason being that if there is no repentance there cannot be any Mercy. Cain, when cursed by God, doesn’t repent, yet he asks for commutation of the curse. Cain didn’t forsake Mercy, as he was not observing lying vanities‼️
One should read the Old Testament Saul, the King at I Samuel Ch: 28
When Saul, the King of Israel, didn’t get any answer from God, he consulted a woman who could bring up the dead. After that incident, he couldn’t ask God for His mercy. The reason was Saul couldn’t repent or seek God’s mercy.
Judas, after his betrayal of Jesus, couldn’t obtain the Mercy, as he had used Jesus as a mere miracle performing diviner‼️ What Judas did was observing lying vanities and forsook Mercy.
The typical example would be DR.FAUSTUS. Please commiserate with me for these words of Faustus:
“FAUSTUS: But Faustus’ offence can ne’er be pardoned: the serpent that tempted Eve may be saved, but not Faustus.
hear me with patience, and tremble not at my speeches! Though my heart pant and quiver to remember that I have been a student here these thirty years, O, would I had never seen Wittenberg,never read book! and what wonders I have done, all Germany can
witness, yea, all the world; for which Faustus hath lost both
Germany and the world, yea, heaven itself, heaven, the seat of God, the throne of the blessed, the kingdom of joy; and must remain in hell for ever, hell. O, hell, for ever! Sweet friends,
what shall become of Faustus, being in hell for ever?”
The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
Dr. Faustus through observance of lying vanities couldn’t seek Mercy nor the preceding Repentance‼️
Please read Psalms 31 verse
6: I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD.
In the following passage from
Ezekiel 13:23, it is not a coincidence that vanity and divination are juxtaposed!
Therefore ye shall see no more vanity, nor divine divinations: for I will deliver my people out of your hand: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.
In a gist, observing Times depletes a man of his will to stand up for something and becomes a stumbling block in seeking mercy or repenting💐💐💐
Posts tagged ‘GRACE’
The title relates to the Biblical characters who find a place in the Book of Genesis and Judges respectively. The point that is the focus of my blog is the relationship that Joseph and Samson had with their respective women.
Joseph was a slave in Egypt, because his brothers (especially Judah, who had the bright idea that what would the brothers benefit if they killed him, so more as a matter of greed they agree with Judah and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites) had sold him and he winds up in the Pharoah’s Chief of Guards house and becomes a steward there. The Chief of the Guards is one Potiphar, who has a wife who eyes Joseph and openly and shamelessly makes a declaration of her lust to Joseph and says, “LIE WITH ME.” The story goes that one day when Joseph was alone, Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him and Joseph runs away leaving his cloak behind, making that cloak a piece of evidence for Potiphar’s wife to bolster her accusation that the slave Joseph was trying to force himself upon her. Potiphar believes her and puts him in the Special Jail meant for the Royal Prisoners (persons who were working for the royalty and fell out of favour with the Royalty for one reason or the other!)
Let us see Samson’s story. He was from the tribe of Dan, not a powerful tribe within the Jewry like Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin or Judah, and he was a VALOROUS MAN. A man who with the jaw-bone of an ass, killed a thousand men (Judges 15:15). He had taken many women from time to time but the Bible says that he fell in LOVE with a woman called DELILAH.
Whether she loved Samson or not is a mystery, but to put it a woman’s lib way, “DELILAH LOVED SAMSON IN HER OWN WAY!!” She was however under the payroll of the Philistine Lords who promised her 1100 pieces of silver each for finding out the secret of the strength of Samson and revealing the same to the Philistine Lords. Then one of the most terrible of charades of love unfolds, where Delilah PESTERS him daily for telling him the secret of his strength.
Judges 16:15 And she said unto him, How canst thou say, I love thee, when thine heart is not with me? thou hast mocked me these three times, and hast not told me wherein thy great strength lieth.
16 And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death;
17 That he told her all his heart, and said unto her, There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother’s womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.
Samson is caught, after his locks were shaven while he was lulled into sleep by Delilah on her lap, taken bound hand and foot and made a spectacle before the Philistines. He was caught by the guile of the Philistines and the treachery of Delilah. Samson could not take it anymore and his hair had grown (Philistines were so dumb that they did not get his head shaved on a daily basis) and his strength was returning!! So one day while the SPECTACLE OF THE BLINDED SAMSON WAS GOING ON IN A CLOSED THEATRE HE PRAYS TO HIS GOD THUS-
JUDGES 16:28 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes.
30 And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.
NEVER ONCE WAS THAT VERSE 28 OF CHAPTER 16 READ BY ME WITHOUT TEARS WELLING UP IN MY EYES WITH PITY FOR THE VALOROUS SAMSON.
The man who cared for none, and had led a life where he had taken STRENGTH for granted , begs God, for REMEMBERING him THIS ONLY ONCE for committing a SUICIDAL ATTACK. From a Jew’s point of view, he had even forgotten that there was a life after Death and through this prayer he seeks a finality not only to his woes, but also to any FURTHER CONSCIOUSNESS. It is the ultimate passage in PATHOS, which out-pathoses even KING LEAR of Shakespeare.
Now these two characters i.e Joseph and Samson are in stark contrast. One FLEES FROM THE TEMPTATION OF A PHYSICAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A WOMAN and THE OTHER WALKS INTO IT WITHOUT HAVING A CLUE AS TO WHERE IT WAS LEADING HIM.
7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
11 (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house:
12 Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)
13 So she caught him, and kissed him, and with an impudent face said unto him,
15 Therefore came I forth to meet thee, diligently to seek thy face, and I have found thee.
18 Come, let us take our fill of love until the morning: let us solace ourselves with loves.
21 With her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.
VERSES 6-18 OF THE CHAPTER 7 OF PROVERBS, defines both Potiphar’s wife as well as Delilah. The consequences of having a physical relationship with women of that type is enumerated in verses 21-23 of the same chapter. So this is the statistical TRUTH. Mostly, if humans were to take to such women, they are likely to end up the way, as mentioned above. As an example to these verses Joseph and Samson could be cited.
But unfortunately, LOGIC does not end here. It goes beyond and tries to apply the formula in respect of every case. So when we apply this formula to the case of KING DAVID, it miserably fails. King David was not only a notorious womanizer, but at least in one case, i.e in Bathsheba’s case was an adulterer and a murderer. That is leaving out the case of Abigail, the wife of Nabal- as it is difficult to believe that Nabal died out of a contrite spirit and not of the conspiracy entered into between Abigail and David the previous night based on their meeting. Maybe Nabal died more out of the knowledge that his wife Abigail had met David on the sly without his knowledge!! As it is Nabal did not have a good opinion of David and in sexual matters he must have had a fairly good idea of David’s proclivities.
But David survives it all, and proves to be an exception. That is GRACE. David had obtained IMMUNITY from the general RULE. That is because he TRUSTED in THE MERCY OF GOD. And at every instance, when he was informed of his wrongdoing, he was not merely PENITENT but also took all reasonable steps to ensure that his GUILT is not made a PUBLIC ISSUE. In fact, if Adonijah had become the King, it would have been quite possible that Adonijah would have made the Prophets and Priests as the witnesses and proved the guilt of adultery between Bathsheba and King David, and got Bathsheba executed for adultery after the death of King David. So King David, while still alive, WISELY declares Solomon, the son of Bathsheba and David as the heir to the throne and protects his own name after his death besides protecting the interests of the co-adulterer. AFTER ALL ONLY A SON COULD BE TRUSTED WITH THE JOB OF PROTECTING THE MOTHER’S HONOUR AND NOT A STEP SON, U SEE!!
If one asks the question, why Samson was caught up in the snare of the woman Delilah but not David, when both of them had led a dissolute life, there is no logical answer to it. Jesus beautifully solves this conundrum in the Gospel of Luke chapter 13 as follows:-
3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
So what Jesus says is that we are still ALIVE by HIS GRACE and let us not squander our TIME by taking individual instances and testing the ESSENTIAL TRUTHS against isolated cases, which have escaped the general laws of RETRIBUTION. Let us make use of the TIME to REPENT and REFORM. As that is the objective of LIFE.
The Christian Bible (ie. The King James’ Version) is complete in itself. The only book that a Christian is mandated to follow. But there are two major divisions of the Old Testament and the New Testament, and the total number of books are 66. So where do we place the emphasis of our Beliefs and how do we personally resolve the apparent contradictions, that arise in our minds?
The Bible is the WORD OF GOD. It is the word that was spoken thru Prophets, seers and priests to a particular generation, who found themselves in a particular social setting, and recorded for the future generations for edification, warning and promises.
So the Bible has the facts that were true to the setting of the past times but capable of being made relevant to the PRESENT, thru interpretation of the WORD.
The Old Testament was the identification of the Chosen people. They were not chosen because of their greatness or their skills or diligence but thru the Eternal GRACE of the Almighty. He knows why HE chose them. None can question the choice or His reasons, if at all any, for the choice of ABRAHAM and his seed forever. That was a prerogative and it cannot be questioned but we – as humble, time-bound mortals -will have to accept and move on. The alternative is to tilt at the wind-mills of the past, which would, without doubt, leave us tired and exhausted.
So the Choice of Abraham and his seed is a fait- accompli and leaves us in no uncertain position about God’s choice. Thru Moses, God revives His promise and He gives the basic tenets in the form of the TEN COMMANDMENTS, thereby defining the limits of human action without guilt. But man cannot, by his very nature be sinless, so he propitiates thru the priests for his sins and seeks reconciliation with God on a continual basis.
But man loses the spirit and gets stuck with the form. God knew that man was apt to get stuck with the form and abandon the spirit and therefore sends HIS OWN SON to be a PROPITIATION for our sins. JESUS, who was with God ( before Abraham was I AM), is sent in the human form and as a RESURRECTED JESUS stays in the human hearts as the WORD (cf. Gospel of JOHN) which had taken the form of flesh.
THE WORD that is put in the human heart, finds the expression in the human form in the Gospels and the Human understanding of THE WORD in the books subsequent to the Gospels. But let us make no mistake that the BIBLE has not been figured out, and human understanding is subject to human discoveries. For example The Epistle to the HEBREWS, according to the KJV was authored by St.Paul, till the subsequent discoveries have ruled out St.Paul’s authorship. Now most of the Newer versions have dropped the tag of St.Paul to The Hebrews. So that had left a few generations with a wrong belief of a fact that had turned out to be non-factual. But that hardly matters. There was a position held by the CHURCH that the Earth was the centre of the universe. Therefore the facts , as understood by humans, from the reading of the Bible has no certainty. So errors are likely to creep in if one were to read the Bible as a mere HISTORICAL DOCUMENT OR AS SCIENTIFIC JOURNALS.
So despite all these pitfalls in the interpretation of the Bible, where do we start?
Let me cite an anecdote before proceeding any further. Dr. Billy Graham in one of his sermons said, ” If the king Hezekiah had accepted God’s intimation of Hezekiah’s impending death, his son Mannaseh would not have been born to Hezekiah and Israel(Judah) would not have had the WICKEDEST king.”
The above is speculative and, similar lines of thought is against LIFE and for whatever REASON should be avoided. GOD gives LIFE and it cannot be denied. One could speculate, on similar lines, that if King David had killed Absalom upon him killing his half brother Amnon- who raped Tamar, Absalom’s sister- David would not have had to fight the battle with Absalom subsequently. These are speculative on the facts available in The Bible and is contrary to LIFE. LIFE comes from God and therefore LIFE, as we know it, has to be supported on the facts made available in THE BIBLE.
So the interpretation has to be firstly LIFE ORIENTED. Life in this world as well as in the next. JESUS says, “If u don’t love you brother , whom u have seen, how can u love the God whom u have not seen?” Therefore the LIFE that one is given has to be respected, as it is from GOD. The life hereafter is a HOPE built on FAITH in the WORD. But the LIFE of this LIFE, when in contradiction with the LIFE hereafter, this LIFE shall be sacrificed, if it has to be. But that is not to be taken lightly.
The only Apostle disciple of Jesus who had a natural Death was St. John. It was his belief that made him LIVE. Please confer the last few verses of the gospel of St. John, where Jesus is stated to have told Peter with reference to John that IF I WILL THAT HE TARRY TILL I COME, WHAT IS THAT TO THEE? Therefore if man ASKS GOD, he shall be granted. God is eager to answer the prayers of those who seek diligently.
LIFE is the most important gift of God. The same life is to be used for HIS GREATER GLORY. That is the purpose of man. But, never to CHOOSE THIS LIFE OVER THE NEXT. But even if one did it, there is still salvation and Hope. Otherwise, how can anyone explain the reconciliation of Manasseh, the king and the assurance of the thief/ robber who asked for Jesus’ grace while on the cross and obtained it?
THE IDEA IS THAT MAN SHUD BE RELIEVED OF HIS GUILT EVEN IN THE LAST MINUTE. But waiting for the last minute may not be wise, as one may not have the consciousness in the last minute. So man shud race towards his salvation, he may not obtain it immediately, but God in His due time shall grant it.
But CHRISTIANS have become negative and are under a mistaken belief that God wants man to suffer for HIM. God gives LIFE and gives it ABUNDANTLY. He doesn’t want man’s life. Man cannot make it his purpose to die for Christ- a kind of return favour!! God in the form of Jesus has died for us and He wants to give man life here and provide a MANSION there. A benign God cannot be portrayed a God who seeks your blood (Please do read Psalm 30, where the Psalmist asks God, verse no.9 What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?). There are instances when Jesus hid and slunk away when the mob tried to lynch him. But when the TIME had come for HIM to lay down his life, he submitted to the will of God the Father. His mission, had DEATH as one of the components as HE had to overcome it thru DEATH itself and thereby secure for man the INNOCENCE LOST in the garden of EDEN. So that MAN CAN LIVE.
SO to CHOOSE LIFE IS MAN’S PRIMARY JOB.
The second challenge, is to decide which side to stand for?
Abraham Lincoln once said, “We trust, sir, that God is on our side. It is more important to know that we are on God’s side.”
The beauty of this line is the contrast drawn unobtrusively to the words TRUST and KNOW.
TRUST is the Faith reposed, whereas KNOWLEDGE is the awareness of the existing reality and the interpretation thereof. Since it involves INTERPRETATION, the tools used have to bear the Christian mark and the PURPOSE has to be Christian too.
The ways are given in the Gospel itself. In the story of THE RICH MAN & LAZARUS. the Rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus from the dead and enlighten the rich man’s brothers who, according to him, were still committing sins. Abraham says, THEY HAVE THEIR MOSES AND PROPHETS AND IF THEY DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM, EVEN IF ONE WERE TO GO FROM THE DEAD THEY WOULDN’T LISTEN.
So as a Christian, one has an option to STUDY the Bible and follow it according to the revelation he receives from ABOVE, or to follow the spiritual leader to whom God has led him in His Grace. Both are good options, but to make an effort to study THE BIBLE and follow it, would be preferable as it gives a certainty that is coupled with HUMILITY. After all it is desirable to be a HUMBLE & KNOWLEDGEABLE CHRISTIAN than to be a SHEEP OF SOMEBODY’S PASTURE.
God’s grace is the teflon coating of God, from scrutiny of His relentless principles of retribution!
David upon intimation, of any wrongdoing by him,
obtained God’s grace through timely penitence and propitiation,
There is no greater shield than GRACE, and
there is no worse vulnerability THAN without Grace.