How Can We Really Know?

“Vayera,” or He appeared is the name of this week’s Torah portion, and rightfully so. The opening line is about YHVH making a personal appearance to Abraham, and soon followed by a few other Divine Debuts to Lot and Sarah as well. But if I could give this Torah portion a sub-name, I would give it the name, “Yada” Hebrew for “to know.”

Why do you ask? Well, in order to be absolutely assured of who is appearing before you, you must “know” who they are in order to understand the importance of the person making an appearance. And that undisturbed knowing takes discernment. So, how does one really know especially when it comes to the mystical and abstruse? It’s the day and age of “fact check” and enlightenment of corrupt information sources–so how can we really “know” who is true, who is authentic?

For one of the most important decisions facing America, how do we actually know who we need in the White House?

Discernment is key.

One of the key concepts in understanding or knowing is that discernment cannot be divorced from judgment but judgment can be expressed without discernment.

So how can we know a person’s true heart and character after being so badly betrayed and defamed for using any sort of judgment calls through discernment? And if we must make a choice through discernment, how do we have enough substance to back up our claims?

Well, in order “to yada” or “to know”, I have to take you back to a famous story in Genesis because God said “I make known the end from the beginning” (Is. 46:10).

This portion starts off with, “And YHVH appeared to him . . .”

This is important because when someone appears to you, especially when dealing with the esoteric, discernment or “knowing” are paramount. You must know, or “yada” within your inner-most being who is appearing before you.
This Hebrew word “yada” is very important in this story because this is the word that was studied to understand what exactly was going on in Sodom and Gomorrah for God to wipe out an entire city for their evil. It is from this word, “yada” that the term “sodomized” is coined because the city dwellers’ demanded “to know” the two messengers (or angles) that stayed with Lot in order to save him and his family.

The people of Sodom and Gomorrah came banging on Lot’s door and demanded that they hand over the two messengers, so that they may “know” them, or in other words, rape them.

This is how vile these people had become. They went banging on doors, just to go to pillage any new blood in town, even if they were angels.

I can’t imagine God taking to that sort of threat too lightly.

I know a lot of people get caught up on the ethics of what happens next, but this is where being absolutely sure demonstrates utmost importance.

Lot knew what he was doing while he was pleading with these guys and said, “Please my brothers, do not do evil” (Gen 19:7).

Now I have to back up a step and explain the importance of the use of the word “evil” here. Evil in Hebrew is the word “raw-ah” (Strong’s 7489). It means in a literal translation, “to break into pieces…to make good for nothing (physically, socially or morally.” You could conclude that it means to destroy the intent of something. Pretty concrete picture of the definition of evil, and I think God wants His people to know these basic concepts without a shadow of a doubt! I think this point is made clear in 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong…” with simple, yet concrete concepts that have a level of depth and insight that make you just go, “hmmmm!”

In fact, in the Mechanical translation of the Bible, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, is not just the tree of knowledge of good and evil, but the words “good and evil” are translated as “function and dysfunction.” These terms remove the mysterious abstract definition of evil. For example, when the intended purpose of something is destroyed, like a perfectly good jacket is ripped to shreds, (like the clothing company H&M were doing a few years back), instead of being preserved to keep someone like an impoverished person warm, that destruction destroys the intent of the jacket, thus making the destruction evil. (H&M received a lot of flack for this practice and rightfully so, as they could have donated their “out of style” jackets to so many around the globe to keep warm).

This story struck a cord in so many people because, I believe, it tapped into people’s inherent understanding that destruction of intention is truly malevolent.

But, going back to Lot, Lot knew what evil was. He had just spent the day with two angels and YHVH Himself. I can’t imagine the guy NOT being changed after that being in the presence of the Lord and His angels. Many times we are changed after we only sense the presence of the Lord in the spiritual, so how much more was Lot changed when he actually got to feed and talk to angels face to face?

In fact, Lot not only fed them, but prepared a feast with unleavened bread for them!

Did you get that? A feast of unleavened bread before Moses was even born!

Oh we know God is up to something now! A great Exodus is about to take place!

So, Lot feeds these angels a feast of unleavened bread and then the threat comes banging at their door (I am sure Lot is making them eat in more haste, like a rehearsal of the Exodus from Egypt) for the men of Sodom and Gomorrah to have sexual relations with these two angels.

He knows these men want these men and not women, so Lot does something extremely bold and controversial. Lot offers up his daughters as bait, and I believe Lot knew that they would not take them. In fact, in Brazil we have a saying called, “jogando verde pra colher maduro.” which means to throw out the green fruit for the ripe, but you do this to obtain something else without the other person realizing it. Usually, this has conniving intentions, but in this case, I don’t believe it was for evil. In fact, I think Lot offered up something that he knew were not worthless, but would be perceived as worthless, just to draw out the intentions of these men’s hearts. Why do I think this? Because of Proverbs 20:5, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

Because here’s what happens next. Things are getting pretty heated between these guys. Lot is inside the house with the two angels and his daughters while there are men outside, yelling at Lot and trying to push down the door! Lot is holding the door back, trying to protect the dignity of these two angels, screaming back at the attackers, “…only do no deed to these men because they have come under the shadow of my roof.”

So, what is hidden beneath these attackers heart, comes out! They shout back, “This fellow came to sojourn and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you [Lot] than with them.” After they said this, they started pressing even harder against Lot, fighting harder to get what they wanted!

And by Lot “jogando verde” with his daughters, Lot drew out the intentions of these men’s hearts with even more vigor than before!

But keeping with any guilty party’s typical modus operandi, the rapists threw out the word, “judgment” as if it were something to be jeered at.


The attackers accused the angels of being judgmental!

Oh, what a familiar refrain in 2015!

Again, remember that discernment cannot be void of judgment, but judgment can be dispersed without discernment.

What does this have to do with the political environment of 2015?

Well, a lot!

When you talk to people about current events, democrat or republican, atheist to devout Jews or Christian, most people can agree on one thing: Something big is about to happen and it’s not going to be pretty.

There are many plausible theories as to what “it” will be, how “it” will happen and what country{ies} will be behind it. However, the details of that, in my mind are not as important as knowing who it will come from.

We must know that the bad coming will be from God himself, but that when his wrath comes there is always good to it and there will always be a remnant, a leftover of people that were found humble in the eyes of God to be worth saving, just like Lot and his family were preserved.

But just like all remnants, great evil still remains within these people’s hearts, like the residue of an old flame. The purpose of being cast into the wilderness after a great and mighty “exodus story” is to get the junk out of our hearts from the culture that we lived in previously. In essence, God needs to remove the Sodom and Gomorrah and Egypt out of us before we can inherit the promise land!

After Lot and his daughters fled to the mountains to a cave, His daughters acted presumptuously on what they “knew” which “was the way of all the earth” (Gen 19:31). So they had relations with their father in order to have children.

The Israelites did a very similar thing as soon as they were led out from Egypt. The Israelites also went back to everything that they were familiar with in Egypt while Moses left them for a while while on the mountain with YHVH. Aaron quickly said,

“Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” (Ex. 32:32)

They did what they knew to do in the world and culture in which they were just rescued from, not allowing time for God to change their hearts, in order to change their cultural acclimations and affections!

They acted presumptuously, without discernment and patience, not presuming the need for one to rise above cultural norms and standards of righteousness and let God create a His culture within them. God needs time to create His culture in our hearts so that our actions will not be godly according to our cultural standards, but to God’s standards.

Because, we won’t hear, “well done good and faithful, American.”

All humans, regardless of nationality or societal earthly status, will be referred to as “servant.”

And we can really know who the real servant of the Father is by their fruit.

Like kind begets like kind. It’s a fundamental law of nature.

Same with humans.

We will know who is serving whom in their hearts by the fruit they produce.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Gal. 5:22:23)

And what does fruit have? Seeds.

And what is faith compared to in the Bible?

A tiny mustard seed.

So, the “knowing” or to “yada” is always revealed in the tiny stuff.  The stuff that the world tells us doesn’t matter . . . but it does oh so much!

This is the stuff that moves mountains!

 

fleeing

 

©Olivia Reid, 2015

Follow on Twitter, @reidpublishing1

 

Photo Credits: https://koptisch.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/sodom-und-gomorrha-heute-zu-schwarz-gemalt/

http://www.rabbisacks.org/the-art-of-listening-bereishit-5776/

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