Sunday, February 17, 2019

On beauty and old wineskins….

My friend Shmaryahu Lehtimaki presented some “food for thought” recently, that went something like this:

Yeshua said thisMark 2:22; And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins; and the wine is lost, also the skins. But one puts new wine into fresh wineskins.”

In Gemara, Taanit 7a, we see something similar to Yeshua’s words:

This is as the daughter of the Roman emperor said to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya, who was an ugly man: “Woe to glorious wisdom such as yours, which is contained in an ugly vessel.”  Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to her, in a seemingly unrelated response: “Does your father keep his wine in simple clay vessels?” 

The emperor’s daughter said to him: “Rather, in what, then, should he keep it?” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to her: “You, who are so important, should put it in vessels of gold and silver.”

The emperor’s daughter went and said this to her father. He put the wine in vessels of gold and silver and it turned sour. When his advisors came and told the emperor that the wine had turned sour, he said to his daughter: “Who told you to do this?” His daughter responded: “Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya.”

The emperor summoned him and said to him: “Why did you say this to her?” Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya said to him: “Just as she said to me, so I said say to her, to demonstrate to her that fine material is best preserved in the least of vessels.”

The emperor said to him: "But there are handsome people who are learned.”

The above actually contains two separate teachings:  Man's idea of "beauty"; and the importance of the "right vessel." 

First, we'll discuss the "beauty" aspect:

Referencing Gemara, Taanit 7a, it isn't really surprising that the emperor responded with, "But there are handsome people who are learned”  - because it accurately describes our shallow society today.   We are naturally drawn to appearance and/or the charisma of some public figure, and automatically assume "pretty" or "handsome" equates to "intelligence" and "knowledge".  In reality, this is not always true!

For instance, our divine Messiah, Yeshua - while he is often depicted as "beautiful" - wasn't that much to look at, according to Isaiah 53. 

Isaiah 53: 2 For before him he grew up like a young plant, like a root out of dry ground. He was not well-formed or especially handsome; we saw him, but his appearance did not attract us. 3 People despised and avoided him, a man of pains, well acquainted with illness. Like someone from whom people turn their faces, he was despised; we did not value him. 4 In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God.

5 But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet ADONAI laid on him the guilt of all of us. Or: and in fellowship with him. 7 Though mistreated, he was submissive - he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to be slaughtered, like a sheep silent before its shearers, he did not open his mouth. (CJB)

There was surely a reason YHWH sent His Messiah at a time when there were no cameras, cellphones, computers, televisions or - paparazzi!  The bottom line was that YHWH didn't send him to earth to be a sex symbol.  He was sent to represent and "teach the Kingdom of God" and do everything his Father commanded (Luke 4:43; Acts 28:23, John 12:44-50). 

YHWH said HE would send a prophet who was to do everything He ordered him to do:

Deuteronomy 18:15 "ADONAI will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him, 16 just as when you were assembled at Horev and requested ADONAI your God, 'Don't let me hear the voice of ADONAI my God any more, or let me see this great fire ever again; if I do, I will die!' 17 On that occasion ADONAI said to me, 'They are right in what they are saying. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I order him.

Yeshua Himself said He came to do HIS FATHER's will; not His own!

John 6: 35. Y'shua said to them, I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will not hunger. And whoever believes in me will not ever thirst. 36. But I have said to you that you have seen me, and you do not believe. 37. All who my Father has given to me will come, and whoever comes not to me I will cast outside! 38. For I came down from heaven,[1] not to do my will, but to do the will of Him who sent me. 39. And this is His will, that of Him who sent me, that all that He has given to me I do not lose even one. 40. For this is the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in Him, will have life that is eternal. And I will raise him up on the last day. (AENT)

Now, let's take a look at what Yeshua (the not-so-handsome Messenger to Israel) said about the "old and new wineskins":

Matthew 9:15. Y’shua said to them, Why?  The sons of the wedding-feast are not constrained to fast as long as the bridegroom is with them, but the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and then they will fast.  16. No man places a new patch on a worn out garment or else its seam should tear away from that garment, and the hole will be greater.  17. And they do not place new wine in worn-out wineskins or else the wineskins should rip and the wineskins are destroyed and the wine should pour out.  Rather, they place new wine in new wineskins, and both of them are preserved.[1]  (AENT)

FOOTNOTE:

A Hebrew idiom of the old wineskin refers to an older mature man; old wine refers to the old ideas/doctrines he holds. A new wineskin is a young man; the new wine represents his new ideas. When the old wineskin (a mature man, full of YHWH’s Torah) has new wine put inside of him (man’s new traditions) the wineskin and wine are ruined.

Torah is likened to the sweetness of honey but never to new wine.  The new sweet wine is immature wine which is not well aged; therefore, new wine represents teaching or spiritual understanding lacking in substance and maturity.

Y’shua alludes to this when He quotes Jeremiah 6:16.  Scripture reveals several varieties of “wine” ‑ “the wine of trembling” Psalm 60:3; “the wine of violence” Proverbs 4:17; “the wine of the condemned” Amos 2:8; “wine of wrath” Revelation 14:8; “wine of her fornication” Revelation 17:2. 

Neither does “new wine” represent the Renewed Covenant; Y’shua’s teaching makes such an association impossible: “And no one after drinking the old wine wants the new, for they say, the old is better,” Luke 5:39.  When religious people elevate their “new wine”, “oral law”, or “new theology”, it is imperative to remember that the original Ancient Path is the mature wine!

…What a powerful message for the world to ponder!  Baruch haShem ADONAI for His willingness and patience to teach mankind what is truly important to HIM!

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