We're enjoying some time with our extended family this summer. Our nephew Leighton (age 10) is a total hoot. He told us over lunch today that he was a "Christianish-type person," in distinction to those other type of people (he couldn't remember what they're called).
"You mean an atheist?" Danny asked.
"No, I mean an Israelitish-type person." Leighton answered.
"Oh, a Jew?" I offered.
"Yeah, juice," he said. "They don't make any mistakes at all. Not even on accident."
"Really?" I asked. "Have you ever read the Old Testament?"
"Yeah, I'm reading it right now except I lost my Bible and I can't keep reading until I find it."
"What's the last thing you read?" I asked.
"About Samson and all that." He explained.
"Aha! Now there's an example of a Jew who made a lot of mistakes." I told him.
"But he never said God's name in vain. That's what I've been trying to tell you this whole time." Leighton was frustrated at our lack of attention to his point. "Jews don't ever cuss. Not even on accident." He was on a roll now.
"How do you know?" Danny asked.
"Cause I had a friend in school who told me. He's a believer, but he knows all about Jews. They're higher than we are, you know, because they don't mess up. I never knew that until he told me."
I waited a few moments.
"Did you know that I'm going to spend the next 3 years studying the command not to take God's name in vain?"
"Wow," he exclaimed. "You're going to know a lot about it after all that."
"Some people think that the commandment isn't talking about swearing, but about being God's representative." Leighton looked a bit puzzled. I tried again. "In the Old Testament it says that God put his name on the Israelites, so it was like they were wearing it. Whatever they did would tell people about who God is. So if they behaved well, people would get the idea of what God is like. And if they behaved badly, then people would have the wrong impression about God."
"I think I'm starting to get the cheese about what you're saying." The rest of us had to work very hard to keep a straight face, but Leighton was dead serious.
Eliana piped in, "So does that mean it's ok to cuss?"
"No. What it means is that it's about more than just cussing. ALL of our behavior is important becuase we're representing God in everything we do. The Jews were really careful not to say God's name because they didn't want to misuse it, but they made lots of other mistakes. If you keep on reading through the Old Testament you'll find lots and lots of examples of how they messed up. That's why God sent Jesus."
Leighton looked surprised. "I thought he planned that all along!"
"Well, yes. I suppose God knew that the Jews would mess up so he planned to send Jesus to save them from their sins."
"Yeah," Leighton agreed. "God knows everything."
We will soon know everything, too, because we're staying at Leighton's house all week. Stay tuned for more wisdom from 4-feet-high.
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I think I get your cheese
Dr. Carmen Imes is the Associate Professor of Old Testament at Prairie College in Three Hills, Alberta, and serves the broader church through teaching, speaking, and writing. She earned a PhD in Biblical Theology (Old Testament) from Wheaton College under Dr. Daniel Block, an MA in Biblical Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a BA in Bible and Theology from Multnomah University. She and her husband, Danny, served as missionaries with SIM 15 years. They have three children: Ana, Emma, and Easton.