Neo Midrash

It’s been said that knowing G-d is akin to a person pointing up to the moon. The finger that points is the people, the scriptures, the lessons, etc. and the moon is G-d. The finger does its absolute best to point in the right direction and if that goes well the observer sees the moon for themselves.

After being involved in the modern-day church for more than 20 years now, I have to say that I’ve struggled to find the right focus in this analogy. Often times the finger seems to demand so much attention that it’s the absolute focus. I have come to realize that regardless of how firmly a person points, e.g. how much they yell, and flaunt, and demand attention (and sometimes submission), it has not helped me see the moon. In fact, it’s been those who have fallen in love with the moon and its effect on their lives that have helped me come to know it too…

In our modern information age, we have fallen in love with regurgitating “factual” information. We can’t wait to correct someone who is wrong. The elders really don’t have a place at the table because everyone has the most recent studies and they run contrary to the antiquated research they believe.  We argue. We offend. We’re right. They’re dumb.


Final word.

Everyone else is wrong.

Unfortunately, this mentality has made its way into our theology, religion, and the church. And as you may well know, G-d cannot be concluded by mere men. He’s not going to be boxed up and sold to the highest bidder. He chooses to reveal Himself AND in other ways remain mysterious.

What we learn from Hebrew culture is that they recognize His mysterious character and explore it deeply and with reverence. They approach the scriptures, recognizing what was written before and finding new interpretations for others to consider. We even find Jesus participating in this when He says… “You have heard it said…” and “but I say to you…” (Matthew 5:17-48). Jesus asks questions that draws the listener to relate with G-d and His ways more deeply. He references other people like Moses and then further explains Torah. It’s not being disrespectful to Moses; Jesus is simply pointing to the depth of beauty and profundity of the Almighty. This is Midrash in light of the New Testament age. Midrash in Jewish Rabbinic culture can specifically identify a large group of writings by various Rabbis compiled from 400-1200 AD. The meaning of the word Midrash is “textual interpretation” deriving from the root word darash which means “resort to, seek, seek with care, enquire.” The way the active Holy Spirit is on this side of the cross, I would argue we need to embrace a Neo Midrash. New seeking with care, new enquiring. NOT concrete, end all-be all conclusions about G-d and His word.

Let me explain. Because it suits our Sunday afternoons best we love to have a very conclusive sermon given to us each week that makes our hearts warm and makes us feel confident in our eternal destination. I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS A BAD THING…. But it’s very possible that the sermons we like so much are only one small facet of an eternally turning gem that is G-d; Not a static framework, but one that is fluid, a river if you will.

So this Neo Midrash is aware of the context of the passages.

It’s aware of the cultural context.

It’s aware of the language nuances and insights.

It’s also aware of what others throughout history have said about the passage.

Furthermore, since G-d is living, it’s also aware of the way the L-rd could show up today AND it’s also aware that some completely unheard-of idea could be revealed to us next week.

The religious are not a fan of this concept for it’s much harder to box up and sale. But for us who have found our grounding in relationship with the Living G-d this is important. Bible purist might be afraid that someone will use principles like this to “rewrite” the meanings of the Bible and allow sin to be MORE acceptable. I guess there could be a danger there but that doesn’t make me wrong. In our examples that Jesus gives in the New Testament He typically doubles down on Holiness and Righteousness. Furthermore, even though we allow ourselves to be open to Him and His mystery, we also know that doesn’t contradict Himself and that as we make new discoveries in scripture we likely find confirmations elsewhere in the scriptures. Precept sits upon other precepts.

In other words, IF we’re talking about a RELATIONSHIP with the Author of the scripture THAN  He does not change character, but He loves to have companions who want to KNOW Him. Think about a romantic relationship… talking on the phone until your ear burns, asking questions about what you want for the future, never wanting to leave each other’s presence…

As a result of this posture of humility with our Creator you become less religiously attractive.

You begin to sense G-d’s heart.

You become more full of healing and wisdom for the brokenhearted.

More in love with the Creator and less confident that you know anything.

More deep conversations, less “authoritative” sermons.

This is the way of Jesus.

Jesus, fully G-d and fully man, did not rely upon His own will and understanding to make the world bow down to Him. He listened to what the Father was actively saying. What He saw the Father doing He also did. He did not conclude what was written in scripture to find a way to use it to be influential. The way the Father led Him was absurd, but with it opened eternal life to all who desire to follow.

Jesus pulled from strange passages in some of the things He said. If He were held to the same seminary standards that we hold about eisegesis and exegesis He would probably fail. I hope you’re a little offended by that statement.

My whole point is that regardless of political affiliation, or personal gain, IF we want to fall more fully in love with the G-d of the Bible THAN we must quit being so closed off to the Presence and Voice of G-d.

He is not dead.

His words are still being spoken.

THAT is the way of the Kingdom.

THAT is Neo Midrash.

That is life WITH the living God.


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