(80) S5E4 SOTM: Turquoise
Continuing the Sermon on the Mount working through Mt. 5:17-20 and Mt. 6:5-15.
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- The Historic Faith Courses: https://thehistoricfaith.com/
- My Sonnet Compilation: https://www.amazon.com/My-First-Sonnets-J-G-Elliot-ebook/dp/B01LXXIIQN/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=my+first+sonnets&qid=1585870352&sr=8-2
- Richard Rohr's "Sermon on the Mount": https://www.amazon.com/dp/B003A0IASQ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_api_uOXEFbGCN7ASQ
- Dallas Willard's "The Divine Conspiracy": https://www.amazon.com/Divine-Conspiracy-Rediscovering-Hidden-Life/dp/0007596545/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=dallas+willard+divine+conspiracy&qid=1601907374&sr=8-1
In past fire rained down from the heavens
God's judgment administered to the damned
Coals of fire only way to God's presence
To law, judgment, and pain God didst remand
But no asceticism like Tolstoy's
Could ever protect or deliver us
And even totem of heavn'ly turquoise
Becomes debased as sin effloresces
Where then can we look for our pirouzeh?
We look to him whose eyes are flaming fire
And patiently await Parousia
When Son of Man exacts all that's required
With confident boldness we now then pray
Seeking God's Kingdom come until The Day
[Mt. 5:17-20 and Mt. 6:5-15]. In the Old Testament we read about God’s extreme holiness. We see a number of instances of fire raining down from heaven in judgment. Even for God’s people, his holiness was extreme. We see in Isaiah that God placed a burning coal on his lips to purify him. The old vision of God was one of a consuming fire. Apart from the cases of God’s judgment, as in Sodom and Gomorrah, or those directly entering God’s presence, like Isaiah, we also see images of the coals (or the fire) of animal sacrifice the Israelites went through in order to purify themselves before a holy God.
In Galatians 3 Paul says, “23 Before the coming of this faith,[j] we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.” This old system is what guided us, though imperfectly, until a new system was established.
Leo Tolstoy was an advocate of extreme asceticism. The law tended to drive people to a similar sort of path as seen in the asceticism of the Pharisees in Jesus’s day. But such a system doesn’t work.
Turquoise supposedly protected its wearer. A sign of impending danger was that the color of the turquoise would change. Turquoise was often a religious totem viewed as imparting protection.
There’s a lot going on here. 1) The straightforward meaning is that whatever heavenly protection one thought they gained through their totem, sin is a corrupting force present in all of us. Sin is contrary to that which is from heaven. 2) “Effloresce” is a chemical term which means for crystals to form on a substance. This often happens through evaporation, and typically produces the formation of salts. In this sense, I am tapping into the idea of a color, hue, or tone change in our turquoise. When sin is present, it signifies impending harm or doom. 3) I use a lot of terms which one should associate with chemistry. Beyond “effloresce,” the word “asceticism” should trigger the close word “acetic,” as in acetic acid, as many often mistakenly call asceticism “aceticism.” Debased should trigger the thought of bases. When you mix an acid (acetic) with a base you get water and a salt. In this sense, I am saying that asceticism (an acid) mixed with sin debasing (a base) creates a perfect combination for our destruction. It was this combination which created the hardest of hearts not in prostitutes and sinners, but in the religious elite who didn’t realize their debased sin natures, and attempted to approach God through their asceticism. Though this distillation process is the exact opposite of the one found in the “Amber” poem, where individuals become distilled through a compromising with culture, this opposite process also distills one’s saltiness. In the “Amber” poem, the problem was that our saltiness became diluted through our submersion in and compromise with culture. In this poem, the saltiness is distilled from the water but is useless as it fails to be useful.
Turquoise was known as or associated with “pirouzeh” by the Persians (who lived in a land where turquoise was abundant), which means “victory.” They would use it on their armor and weapons.
This is a reference to the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man – Jesus Christ – as seen in Daniel and Revelation. Our victory is not in our asceticism, but in the victory of Christ.
The “Parousia” is a theological term for Christ’s return in judgment, which is also when he comes in final victory (as in pirouzeh). When he returns he will separate the sheep from the goats, all hay and stubble will be burned while precious metals are refined, and evil will be no more. This is our hope.
Because of Christ’s assured victory, we should pray in bold confidence. We don’t pray because it merits us anything, but because God’s Kingdom is assured and we want it to be on earth just as it is in heaven. We patiently await the Day of the Lord when all will be made right.