Monday, May 14, 2012

The Biblical East and West

My wife loved Casting Crowns.  Casting Crowns released a CD with a song called East to West on it based on Psalm 103:12 which tells us "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us."

Now what does that mean?

A lot of people think that the East is a long distance from the West.  They aren't.  The East and the West are the same place.  The East coast of the United States is the West coast of the Atlantic.

In Matthew 2:1-2 we read:
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him."

Now typical theology tells us these three wise men were from Persia (east of Judaea) and they were studying in Egypt (west of Judaea) when they saw a star in the East and they followed it to Judaea.

Okay, so three guys from the east follow a star in the east and end up in the west because they were actually in the west and not in the east.

Now lets think about this from God's perspective.  God is sitting up on a throne looking at a ball spinning in space.  Is there an East or a West?  There is a direction of rotation and an opposing direction of rotation.  No East or West.

If three guys east of Jerusalem follow a star that is East of them they end up being from the west of where ever they end up.    Personally I think these three guys walked East and ended up West of where they came from.

How does this happen?  God makes it happen.

Christ made a comment once :"But wisdom is justified of her children."  In my opinion Christ is telling us that some things just don't make sense and aren't wise.

 This is where we take a leap of faith.  Do we believe there is more wisdom in the belief that God can make someone walking East end up in the West OR do we believe the logic of people that these 3 people were from the East and studying in the West when they followed a star in the East.

Should we place our faith in the logic and understanding of people?

Should we place our faith in the Word of God as written in the Bible?

In my opinion the East and the West are the same place to God and people can walk East and end up in the West.  Everywhere is East of somewhere and West of somewhere else.  A person cannot help but walk East of somewhere and end up West of somewhere.

This is not a new idea.  Plenty of people have understood this over the years. There is actually a hymn called "In Christ there is no East or West".

In Christ there is no East or West,
In Him no South or North;
But one great fellowship of love
Throughout the whole wide earth.

In Him shall true hearts everywhere
Their high communion find;
His service is the golden cord,
Close binding humankind.

Join hands, then, members of the faith,
Whatever your race may be!
Who serves my Father as His child
Is surely kin to me.

In Christ now meet both East and West,
In Him meet North and South;
All Christly souls are one in Him
Throughout the whole wide earth.

So should I place my faith in the logic and understanding of people or in the Word?

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14  And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Personally I do find some comfort in the fact that others have understood things as I understand them.  There is great danger in that feeling of belonging in the world of people because I am in this world and not of this world.

Mark Hall of Casting Crowns wrote:
"'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other"

And the truth is that only God knows how far the East is from the West and no logic or understanding or arbitrary geography or laws of people can change that Fact.