Through the Eye of a Needle

The rich young man expected his wealth would provide satisfaction and joy. Yet it left him unfulfilled. So he studied the Bible and memorized all the laws and followed them fastidiously. Still his experience of the promised paradise was achingly lonely. He sought out the hot new religious leader of his day for guidance.

Jesus received the sad young man and heard his lament. He put His hand on his shoulder, peered into his soul and replied: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” [Matthew 19:21]

Of course, Jesus was just teasing – his response was flippant and sarcastic. He did not expect the young man, desperate as he was for validation and acceptance, to part with the primary source of his self worth. Jesus also did not see him as disciple material, and knew he would be a liability to His new squad. Most importantly, He needed the young man to maintain his wealth to fund the church’s growing ministry over the long term – as the insecure rich, yearning for approval, purpose and absolution, have done for almost 2 millennia now.

Despite their inventions, innovations and contributions to improving quality of life, the rich today are vilified as greedy, stingy and uncaring. Their wealth is de-legitimized as the product of the exploitation of vulnerable laborers. However from their perspective, the problem is that there is no worthy recipient of their largess: the church has long since lost its way and become deeply corrupt, and all charities now create more of the problems they claim to be solving.

So for now it’s OK to be stingy. It’s also fun. For example, you can scan your restaurant apps to find the most free food and the best deals. With all the offers and reward programs out there, you can score yourself a couple tasty meals for just $10. It’s also virtuous: by driving down prices with the help of technology and automation, all goods and services will eventually become free, which is an essential component of the coming Kingdom (along with universal retirement). In fact this would have happened long ago if not for the government’s burdensome and inflationary policies.

Save your money until you have a very good reason to spend it. As Christians and Jews we must be charitable, of course. But we can do so with our time not cash. Seek out the desperate and vulnerable in your neighborhood or across the world via social media. Discuss religion and politics. Find out what they believe. Are they your ally or do they despise you? Give them life advice. Offer solutions to problems and disputes. Modest cash grants are fine as long as you are aware of their many scams. Also keep in mind the definition of insanity: paying people to stop insulting and bullying you.

As the rich young man turned ruefully and departed from His presence, Jesus seemingly condemned him:

And Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, only with difficulty will a rich person enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:23

So how can a stingy rich person get into heaven? With God, anything is possible: the rich must preserve their wealth until they are ready to fund Jesus’ Kingdom directly. Then once unburdened, they can pass through the ‘eye of the needle’ easily:

The camel can pass through the narrow doorway into the Holy City once its cargo is unloaded.

At this point in history, generosity with wealth is actually counterproductive. The world just isn’t ready for God’s great rest. Utopia for the masses consists mainly of exploiting ‘democracy’ to torment the opposition and make their life hell. Not even a single Christian (or disabled or homeless person or Palestinian refugee) embraces the possibility of universal salvation – ironically the sole requirement for entry (and solution to all their problems). So they are not worthy of your generosity, and Jesus warns of the danger of squandering your wealth on them:

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”

Matthew 7:6

But No One Ever Told Me!

In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
  though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
But the meek shall inherit the land
  and delight themselves in abundant peace.

Psalm 37:10 (King David)
The Last Judgment – 1541; Michelangelo; Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

The rapture is nigh. But who is taken away – the good or the evil? Jesus had a different view:

For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.

Matthew 24:38

King David seems to get it backwards – or does Jesus?

Either way both agree:

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

The point of the bible isn’t to make you believe in God. The point is so that when you meet Him face to face, you can’t plead ignorance.

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Immunity Pole

From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

Numbers 21:4
Moses and the Brazen Serpent1898
Augustus Edwin John
UCL Art Museum, London
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Labor Pangs

From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Matthew 24:32

This was Jesus’ only mistake, but it was a whopper: his generation passed away 2 thousand years ago and nothing much happened. So much for the “Kingdom of Heaven.” If Jesus was a prophet he’s a pretty terrible one. His prediction was justifiably ridiculed for ages.

Or perhaps as with other biblical conundrums and paradoxes, we just have to forget everything “they” taught us and re-read the verses with fresh eyes and a little less cynicism.

Ask now, and see, can a man bear a child? Why then do I see every man with his hands on his stomach like a woman in labor? Why has every face turned pale?

Jeremiah 30:6

The End of Entitlement

And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people.

Acts 2:44
A fisher of benefits

Communism was originally a Christian ideal. All who were filled with the Holy Spirit joined together in brotherhood to take care of each other. But unlike modern day Communism, it was voluntary not forced.

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Wrestling with God

And Jacob was left alone. And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day has broken.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” And he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then he said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”

Genesis 32:24
Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, Alexandre-Louis Leloir, 1865
Roger Quilliot Art Museum, Clermont-Ferrand, France
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Children of God

All that open the womb are mine, and every firstling of your cattle born a male, ox or sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.

Exodus 34:19
The Sacrifice of Isaac; Giovanni Battista Tiepolo – 1729
Palazzo Patriarcale, Udine, Italy

Isaac was the first born Jew of the original covenant, and thus had to be offered to God. Fortunately he was redeemed by a ram (click the image to see the full version). God will provide for us, though we must trust him.

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Covenant of Peace

Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 10:16
A rainbow rises from the mountains near the Dead Sea.
Rainbow over Israel
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Zionism: False Prophecy

Do not listen to the words of the prophets who are saying to you, ‘You shall not serve the king of Babylon,’ for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you. I have not sent them, declares the Lord, but they are prophesying falsely in my name.

Jeremiah 27:15
Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem – Rembrandt van Rijn – 1630
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

King Nebuchadnezzar had already plundered Israel’s treasures and sent many of the Jews into exile. Now they were threatening to conquer Jerusalem. Jeremiah urged the people to accept the yoke of Babylon:

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