(84) S5E7 SOTM: Diamond
Continuing the Sermon on the Mount working through Mt. 5:33-37 and Mt. 7:1-5.
- A huge thanks to Joseph McDade for his generous permission to use his music: https://josephmcdade.com/
- Thanks to Palmtoptiger17 for the beautiful logo: https://www.instagram.com/palmtoptiger17/
- Discord Discussion Board: https://disboard.org/server/474580298630430751
- 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
On ancient day upon which Adam fell
Tears of fallen gods rained down like diamonds
Their laughter deigned to men unto flood's swell
A flash of wrath against sounding sirens
Harsh judgment once befell those rebellious
Save for those who had faith in ark of wood
Same salvation holds true for those today
Who hark in faith him who in their place stood
But warnings stand for those refusing beck
Those who do not confess all they've done wrong
For they who seek to judge another's speck
Will fail to rise and meet perfection's slog
Let words spoken be as soft as they're true
Or mosey to judgment, your fate to hew
[Mt. 5:33-37 and Mt. 7:1-5]. There are many diamond associations I’ll get to later, but the important starting point is that diamonds are said to have been used by Jewish high priests to help in judging. They were specifically used to help judge truthfulness and falsity, as diamonds were said to shine more if someone was telling the truth. For this reason I use it to refer to Matthew on judgment and truthfulness (specifically in contexts of judgment or legal issues).
There are two double meanings in this line. First, Adam fell on an ancient day in the sense that he fell a long time ago. However, it also means that he dashed his foot or came up against the Ancient of Days, another name for God. His offense occurred long ago and it was against the Ancient of Days. The other double meaning lies in Adam. Adam literally means Adam, but it also is a reference to diamond, which gets its name from the Greek “adamas,” meaning invincible. This second meaning gives the first line an ironic twist in that our Adam was far from invincible. Even that which appears invincible cannot stand against our God.
The Greeks believed diamonds were tears of the gods and Romans believed they came from falling stars. I hit on both of those concepts in this line. Using a Divine Council motif which understands the multiple uses of plural “elohim” in the Old Testament to be referencing a divine council of beings (though none divine or uncreated as God is), I here refer to the “gods.” When Adam fell, the gods wept. Some, those who followed God, wept for sadness. But here I talk about the fallen gods. These are the ones who followed Satan in rebellion and were rooting for humanity’s demise. In the ancient world, stars were thought to be divine beings. Some argue that in certain places in scripture where we see the stars falling, it is a reference to fallen angels. Whether that’s true or not, it is a commonly held belief and one I’m running with here, though not necessarily supporting. So in this sense, the tears of the gods cover Greek thought on diamonds, and the fallen gods (or fallen stars, metaphorically) cover the Roman conception of diamonds as well as certain Jewish and Christian streams of thought.
One may ask in line three why the fallen gods would cry over Adam’s fall. Here we see that they are tears of laughter, not sadness. This evil laughter continues until the time of Noah, as the demonic corrupted humanity even more (see Genesis 6 and the book of Enoch for specifics). Eventually, God withdrew his protection because the world was so out of control, and the waters of the deep once again encroached on the earth.
The “flash” here is meant to trigger back to the word “flood,” as the flood suddenly came upon people. We also get a glimpse of this in the gospels where Jesus talks about the judgment being like the days of Noah, where one is suddenly taken while another is left. Sirens here means that the wrath is coming against the siren call of the demonic who enticed humanity from Adam onward. It is also a word indicating the warning of God’s judgment through rebellion, as in a warning siren.
This is a reference back to the flood from the stanza before. Only those who put their faith in the ark (representing God’s promise) were saved.
I Peter 3 references Noah and the salvation we have through baptism (representing Jesus as Peter goes on to explain, and as he set up in Chapter 1 as well). Noah is usually thought of as a type of Christ for a number of reasons you can look up. Christians today, like Noah, place their faith in Jesus, often represented by the wood of the cross.
This is an allusion to a book called “In My Place Condemned He Stood” by J.I. Packer and Mark Denver. The book is about penal substitutionary atonement. While I have come to believe that penal substitution is an incomplete picture of the atonement – just one of many facets (like a diamond) – substitution is certainly a part of the atonement. I am able to place my hope in the cross of Christ because Christ stands in for me in some way. He is my representative to whom my sins are imputed, and from whom is imputed righteousness to me. See N.T. Wright for some great discussions on the atonement.
“Beck” here, as in “beck and call.” It signifies a gesture or invitation. Christ has gestured to us with the cross to come and dine with him and accept his offer of the Kingdom.
Those who fail to unburden their guilt in Christ and join his Kingdom are bound to the law. The law requires perfection – something no one can attain. To refuse Christ is to bind oneself to the slog (or tedious, continual work) of being perfect in following the law. It’s an impossible and tedious path. “Slog” here is also intended to allude to the word “logs,” as Matthew talks about not looking at the speck in another’s eye, but taking out the log in one’s own eye first. Since “speck” was referred to in the previous line and “slog” is simply “logs” if you change the position of the “s,” the reader should get that allusion.
Our words, then, should be tempered with softness. Jesus talks often about forgiveness as stemming from the realization of how much we’ve been forgiven. Those who loved Jesus the most are those who had been forgiven the most. The prostitutes and tax collectors tended to be the most transformed. With such a realization, our judgment upon others – especially those outside the church (see I Cor. for this discussion) – should be loving and soft. It shouldn’t compromise truth, but it should compromise judgmentalism. What we say must always be true, as Christ discusses in his piece about oaths in Matthew 5. But true does not mean harsh. For more on forgiveness, see Appendix 10.
There’s a ton going on here. 1) “Mosey” is an allusion to the Mohs scale of hardness when classifying rocks. Diamonds are the hardest on this scale at 10. Having just talked about being soft with our words and since the poem is about diamonds who are known for being the (or one of the) hardest substance, I threw this in. I also use this to set up another concept I’ll get to in a second.
2) Jesus says if we are unforgiving and harp on the sins of others, God won’t forgive us. We will be judged. In this line I allude to a common judgment we think of in movies and from history, which is to work in a quarry or mine hewing out stone. It alludes to a labor camp.
3) Beyond depicting a labor camp signifying judgment, “hew” is also used to mean something along the lines of conformity (“hew the line”). So a failure to conform to Christ (or hew the line), which is a Christian’s goal (Rom. 8 et. al.), will bring about judgment. So here we’re referring to the idea of conformity.
4) Notions of conformity come into play, especially with diamonds, as there is a huge list of standards diamonds must conform to (without impurities) in order to be more costly. Judgment when coupled with conformity should bring in ideas of the fiery judgment we will all go through as our works are tried to separate the bad from the good works and remove the dross, hay, and stubble – leaving us more pure because we’re more conformed to God.
5) There is an irony at play here in the couplet. To better hew, we must be soft. By being soft we will be a more precious stone as far as Christ and his Kingdom are concerned. That is the opposite of what one would think, as things higher on the Mohs scale would be better tools to hew things out. But this is one of the paradoxes of Christianity (as Chesterton refers to them). By being soft, conforming to Christ, and submitting to his ways – by confessing our sins and laying them upon Christ – we are avoid the judgment. As Lewis puts it, there are those who say to God “thy will be done,” and those to whom God says “thy will be done.” Our ultimate judgment rests not on God’s vindictiveness or our merit, but upon a submission to being conformed to the image of Christ and placing our trust in him.