In contrast to Job’s previous state at the top of society, he is now below the bottom. The first few verses artistically blend the image of social outcasts with jackals. He starts by suggesting the best of such folks are not qualified to serve as sheepdogs. The phrases are euphemisms for both jackals and lowlife scum. However, it is not simply that these people consider him a joke, and his name a byword for “has-been,” but even the kids from this bunch are rude to him. We have a very difficult time imagining how radical this statement is, since our modern entertainment actively encourages youthful sauciness. In Job’s world, high birth did not excuse youth from the social duty of respect for any adult male. Job suffers the taunts of those he could have legally killed without anyone so much as raising an eyebrow.
Their treatment of him is a proxy for God’s apparent regard. Again, this is parabolic speech, by no means literal. God has removed from Job every last vestige of protection. It’s open season and Job finds himself in the free fire zone. It’s not just a loss of social standing but diseases and poverty have taken from him everything that any man would value. How could anyone argue that he’s not suffering? He describes what it’s like in terms of being tied over the saddle to ride the most violent storms. God ignores his cries for mercy.
Yet Job himself never treated anyone that way. He insists he was always full of compassion for others. When people suffered it so disturbed Job that it felt he suffered with them. We should imagine he contrasts that with how the trio has been with him in his sorrows. He stood ready to claim as his brothers those very jackals that he described at the beginning of the chapter. He ends by remarking he was more familiar with dirges than dance music because he could not bear to watch others suffer alone.
In Western traditions, meditation is about receiving insight and understanding of higher truths. This is the same old crap that eviscerates the power of connecting to the Spirit Realm. It’s an effort to force the Spirit to accommodate the human reliance on intellect, the same blasphemous nonsense we see throughout the history of Western Christianity. We end up with a large number of modern evangelical and fundamentalist teachers warning people not to get involved in meditation, when we have copious examples of biblical patriarchs meditating on God’s revelation.
As usual, I have to warn you that precise clinical definitions and resulting generalizations cannot provide full coverage, but at least we can slice off the baloney and keep the bones of truth.
First, let’s restate the context. Truth is not some objective body of knowledge that the human mind can grasp. Truth is God Himself, His living Person. Insofar as God can be said to exist, His existence is rooted outside our universe. Our universe is a bubble within the broader creation; we cannot even fully comprehend our universe, much less what is beyond it. I typically refer to whatever is outside human space as the Spirit Realm, and our plane of existence is the Fallen Realm. To oversimplify, I could as easily say the Realm of the Flesh, but that implies a broader concept of this plane of existence before and after the Fall. As we now live our lives, the Fall is a permanent feature of human existence from now until The End.
Whatever else a reader might draw from the Genesis narrative, a critical element in the first few chapters is that the fundamental nature of the Fall is the human preference for excluding input that does not subject itself to human logic. Not just Aristotle’s logic, but the much broader range of reasoning we can see throughout human history. Aristotle simply represents a rather extreme statement of what humans can do with their intellect by pointedly excluding the validity of revelation. Prior to Aristotle, it seems to have never been so bluntly stated, but a great many men evinced a willingness to reject any part of revelation that might restrain their sinful lusts. The narrative of the Fall represents the human reliance on intellect and reason as the master of all decisions. It’s a rejection of God’s revelation, the very definition of sin.
God’s revelation comes typically in the form of Laws that indicate something of God’s character. The whole point is getting as close as your human nature will permit, not to some bunch of ideas, but to God Himself. He granted the Law Covenants as His chosen means of approaching Him on the human plane of existence. He bluntly states in Scripture that the Law was not the point, but that it served as the means to awakening in mankind the awareness of accountability. If you can embrace that sense of accountability, you are already about as close as any human can get to whatever good things He has to offer on this plane of existence. It is not all the real world stuff He promised, but the desire itself that is the chief reward.
That this all indicates something on a much higher plane that is beyond description and beyond human intellect was originally a common human understanding. Our Western world is the first and only civilization that lacks such an assumption, primarily because our rejection is the very foundation of our civilization. Our entire intellectual history assumes you must refuse the context of God’s revelation, which makes rejection of revelation instinctive. In other words, it raises to the status of deity man’s demand that God come down to his level, refusing to meet God where He resides. It doesn’t work that way, and Western Civilization is completely at odds with reality, even while truculently claiming that this huge lie is reality.
This is why so many Christians are confused about meditation. Meditation does not strive to reach revelation as a goal, even if you imagine that goal as incremental. Stepping outside the toxic idiocy of Western intellectual assumptions, we recognize that revelation is in essence a living link to God, insofar as He makes it possible. Jesus said very plainly (if you can learn to think Hebrew) to Nicodemas that if you only have your intellect, you cannot have revelation. Receiving revelation requires a birth into the Spirit Realm, the awakening of a distinctly separate component of human nature which is by default dead. At the time that Christ discussed this, the path to such a birth pretty much required you travel up that long struggle through Moses’ Law into a state of mind that was ready to seek a death of the flesh nature in order that the spirit might be born. The spirit becomes the executive in the human soul and the mind is demoted to the place of service. (Please note that Jesus lamented how the Hebrew scholars had completely lost their way, teaching human traditions in place of revelation — they had become Hellenized, or rationalized, completely losing their ancient mystical approach.)
In Christ, that order is reversed. The Law was no longer required to get there; spiritual birth became possible without first subjecting one’s life to the Law. But it still assumes you would want to then use the Law to condition your mind to rightly obey the spirit. At the same time that Christ purchased spiritual birth, He also made it a point to revivify the Law in His person. He personified what the Law was supposed to accomplish; He becomes the true meaning of the Law. Now the Law Covenants are read through the lens of Christ’s life as a man.
In the Old Testament, meditation was an effort to subject the mind to the demands of revelation. Revelation became more clear, but the struggle was to train the mind to instinctively look to the Law for the answers to what the man experienced. It was a contemplation of life against the meaning of the Law Covenants. In the New Testament, it is the contemplation of life against the person of Jesus Christ. He cannot be reduced to a set of intellectual principles. Knowing Him includes knowing the Law, the Law presented as a path to a person who was remote. In Christ, He is no longer remote. The requirement on our end is both bigger and easier than it was for Old Testament saints.
To be more spiritual is not some greater level of intellect. It is not Mr. Spock with a smiling face and friendly manner, where the greatest good is simply conquering emotions with reason. Spiritual growth is conquering reason and emotions both, by touching something even higher yet. Meditation is an effort to train the mind to obey the Spirit, and the Spirit of God is hardly confined to mere proposition. The favorite phrase “propositional truth” is a red flag of heresy and blasphemy. It is nothing more than blocking out the Spirit of God by denying that there is anything from God that is higher than the intellect. For people who love that term, they may well be spiritual dead, and might as well be, since they have rejected God’s own revelation in His Son.
The biggest problem in acquainting Westerners with truth is their lack of a sense of paradox.
Yeah, they can learn it, but to make it instinctive is what is so difficult. Without that predisposition to expect paradox, truth remains elusive. It’s not a question of what you know or can say, but what you are willing to do in a much broader sense. The essential flexibility of quantum moral reasoning is simply beyond intellect.
Truth is invasive but only to volunteers.
An encounter with truth makes you contagious. Silence is not an option. It makes you silent about yourself — something our current society considers criminal — while truth burns like fire in your mouth. At the same time, you can’t simply remove yourself from the expression. The moment you forget that truth will always be your truth, it becomes a lie. Truth is only incidentally content; it’s more at Life itself. It’s the opening of a process, a discovery of something too big and too deep for your lifetime. Truth is the person of our Father Creator.
You can master the facts but truth masters you, or you don’t have truth.
I’m caught in a bind, folks. We all know the Great Commission as a verbal expression of truth blowing us wide open. The fundamental nature of our existence has not changed since the Risen Lord said those words to His friends. What has changed is the context. At times I feel like Paul having been kicked out of every synagogue and most towns because the one place I ought to be free to share this message is the first place to close its doors against me — the churches. For me, I finally figured out I don’t belong to them and they don’t belong to what I’m doing. Characterize it as you like, but I’m not a reformer. I’m an alien building a new world entirely.
It leads me to consider the old as dying and dead, the zombified institutions of a previous age — an age of falsehood, at that. But I can’t simply walk away without starting to shout in some other place, some other way. The Great Commission includes a whole range of possibilities those institutions exclude at some fundamental level. So here I am blogging and writing books about this alien kind of faith and religion.
What should I do with my meat space life? I’m willing to carry my own cross and face the inevitable end of this, but it’s not my time. I can sing “This World Is Not My Home” and mean it in more ways than one. What’s left is that quiet one-on-one in a few rare opportunities. The human context is so horribly, deeply perverted that it’s as if I can’t even plow and plant seeds before first removing the vast mountain of rocks sitting atop the field. The fields are not white unto harvest; people aren’t thronging out of their homes seeking something to fill some emptiness. Miracles are few because nobody recognizes them as miracles, so I can’t get their attention to this message.
I am not blind; the world is. I didn’t make it like this, but I’ll be damned if I allow my message to be stymied. The question is not whether I’ll spread it, but how. It’s not as if I haven’t tried everything I know here in my neighborhood. In my prayers, the Voice of Heaven has warned me I will be sent away to another context where I’ll spread the message in a different way than is even possible here. If the field here is to be planted, it will be someone else’s field. I have fields elsewhere, and I’m just waiting.
One last missionary adventure, I suppose, but with an appearance utterly unlike anything I’ve seen before. There’s nothing here to carry the sound waves of my shouting, so the ongoing voice only seems to be silent. Here’s hoping I will soon have stories to tell you, dear readers.
Recently I spotted a couple more stories about archaeological evidence of previously unknown civilizations, or those that were far more developed than is currently acknowledged. Indications of highly advanced technology, though surely of a different kind than our own, offers no problems for me. As a solid Bible-believing man, I’d be the first to tell you that history is hardly restricted to what the Bible tells us. I feel no need to try squeezing those discoveries into the picture. At the very least, we have no way of knowing what the Flood washed away, but the Bible is far more relaxed about reporting time passage than we are.
That in itself should highlight something: Western materialism is a total anomaly in human history. Our dogmatic literalism in communication, in pursuit of precision that seems missing from everything before us, serves to ensure we will never understand what men did in the past. We’ll stare at the ruins of grand marvels of achievement and never understand how or why such things were done. It’s not simply that those civilizations left us nothing else of their passage through human space. It’s that our civilization has no idea how to think or see by comparison.
Every time we’ve been able to discover anything at all pointing to an intellectual content, we are shown how all other civilizations have shared something we lack. So far as we can tell, only the West lacks mysticism. Even where it appears in Western literature, it is not at all the same thing. We are so utterly bone-headed about it, we think it’s just a higher intellectual pursuit that tends to come out like gibberish, and lots of irrational nonsense. Funny how all Western mysticism seems just that and seems to revel in it. Yet every previous civilization held mysticism in a much higher regard as essential to understanding the universe, and all those other kinds of mysticism were nothing like ours. It is we who lump their gold in with our dirt. In our mythology, everything that isn’t concrete falls into the slough of suspicion.
In Western mythology, it’s not possible for serious thinking and knowing to include sources outside sensory data and reason. All external inputs are lumped together as unreason and sentiment. Western reason dismisses the existence of anything higher than the intellect. And that’s why the West cannot hope to last much longer, and will never accomplish anything that leaves constructive marks that future civilizations will wonder over. Whatever it is that might be possible in our universe cannot be perceived with mere senses and logic. It requires learning how to read the stars, as it were, without the hokum.
Yes, it’s very easy to claim access to the divine. Even Westerners know instinctively there is something out there beyond the mind and beyond our universe, despite the vast effort to dismiss it. So it leaves us vulnerable to all sorts of hucksterism that only seems outside our pitiful science. Utterly lacking a genuine academic approach to higher sources of understanding that reason cannot control, we deny ourselves something God granted to all humans despite the Fall. Every other civilization before ours had tools and a lore of serious academic study of things higher than mere reason. Without the essential tools to work with those sources above man’s perceptions, we have no hope for ever touching anything that will outlast us. All our theories about the ancient monuments still standing will ever fall short because we refuse to acknowledge the very intellectual background on which all those mighty works were built.
And for someone like me who once sought to serve in the pulpits of various Christian organizations, I’ve long since shaken their dust off my feet for this very reason: Mainstream Christianity precludes the very intellectual grasp necessary to read the Bible. Even when they talk about “spiritual needs” they discuss it in terms of more intellect with some allowable emotions mixed in; there is no indication they have a clue that it means radical departure from everything they know. Though I hunger for the fellowship of like-minded believers, we are so few and so thinly scattered, it seems online is the only way we can meet. So be it. Welcome to the fringe of reality, brothers and sisters.