Saturday, June 28, 2014

Seeing God (part 6)

With this in mind, Jesus goes on to explain that “The eye is the lamp of the body” (6:22a).  The eye, of course, having primacy in the building of the desire to accumulate treasure and the recognition of the most appropriate, kingdom-minded ways to liquidate that same treasure (treasure being primarily money and possessions, though time must certainly be under consideration).  If that thought is held in mind, it is understandable to hear Jesus continue to speak about treasure and its proper place, as He goes on to say “If then your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22b). 

A healthy eye views the world through the lens of the kingdom of heaven, while the call of the Creator God’s people, historically and for all time, to a light to the nations, does not drift too far from conscientious consideration.  With these thoughts in mind, Jesus can be heard saying: “But if your eye is diseased, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in your is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (6:23)

Now, how can one be sure that Jesus is connecting His thoughts as presented in verses twenty-two and twenty-three with the thoughts of treasure and the heart in verses nineteen through twenty-one?  Well, the reader can be assured of this when reaching verse twenty-four, which says that “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money” (6:24).  Clearly, money (treasure and that which is used to acquire possessions) is an issue of the heart.  One who is pure in heart---the one who will see the God of Israel---is one that rightly uses their money in service of the Creator God’s kingdom purposes. 

Certainly the Scriptures have much to say about the use of treasure.  If Jesus’ thinking about the right use of money is influenced by Israel’s history and Israel’s Scriptures, which it obviously was, then it will be quite worthwhile to look into that history and those Scriptures in order to further illumination in regards to purity of heart and its connection to the use of treasure.  If Jesus has in fact linked being pure of heart with properly using money, then those Scriptures that seem to deal in this area will be immensely beneficial.  They will also provide a basis to return to Matthew’s Gospel in order to make a final determination as to what it would mean, being “pure of heart,” to “see God.”    

Though there are countless passages that beg to be accessed, a representative sample of passages will suffice.  Having already made mention of Deuteronomy in the course of this study, as the book is called to mind in the quite obvious presentation of Jesus as the prophet like Moses, as He delivers a new set of guidelines by which the Creator God’s people are to operate, and doing so from a mountain, one finds a veritable treasure trove of applicable statements in Deuteronomy.  These statements could be viewed as being inextricably linked with the covenant God’s expectations for His people, as they attempted to demonstrate a purity of heart that would serve in their directive to be a light to the nations. 

Deuteronomy fifteen presents key thoughts for consideration.  Because Israel’s God insists that “there should not be any poor among you” (15:4a), it is insisted that “If a fellow Israelite from one of your villages in the land that the Lord your God is giving you should be poor, you must not harden your heart,” always a not-so-subtle allusion to Pharaoh, easily recognized by a people defined by their exodus, “or be insensitive to his impoverished condition.  Instead, you must be sure to open your hand to him and generously lend him whatever he needs” (15:7-8).  

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