Sunday, October 4, 2009

'It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.'

While my parents and I were in Montreux a few weeks ago, my dad pointed out in the Château de Chillon a door called 'the eye of the needle' or 'the needle's eye' and we got to talking about the passage in Mark.
"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle,
than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:25)
So, I took this picture and decided to do a little investigating.
Not a super picture, by any means, but you get the idea.
So, here's what I've learned: (I was going to put it all in my own words, but it's so clear here that I've just copied and pasted the key information. To find the whole story go to .)

Most Christians realize that the Gospels weren't originally written in English. Some think they were written in Latin, most believe they were first written in Greek. Very possibly though, some if not all were written in the language of Yeshua and His followers, Estrangelo Aramaic. This language was all but forgotten until about a hundred years ago, which is why few students are familiar with it. Dr. George Lamsa, who has written extensively about the language and in his book entitled "Gospel Light" clarifies for us the probable meaning of Yeshua's words concerning the eye of a needle. I will quote from page 167.

"The Aramaic word gamla means camel, a large rope and a beam. The meaning of the word is determined by its context. If the word riding or burden occurs then gamla means a camel, but when the eye of a needle is mentioned gamla more correctly means a rope. There is no connection anywhere in Aramaic speech or literature between camel and needle, but there is a definite connection between rope and needle."

Most English versions of the Gospels came from Greek texts by translators who may have known nothing about Aramaic. Thus "camel" would have been translated instead of "rope". It takes little effort to imagine Yeshua, while walking along the sea coast, pointing to a rope and saying, "It is easier for a camel [a gamla, a rope] to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God".
 Now let us venture beyond which was actually spoken by the Lord. Let us consider, in the context, what our Lord was meaning by His illustration. His context has to do with entering the kingdom of GOD. In the previous chapter He had warned that "if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire". Then a few verses before the one we are studying, He said, "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein". We all know the eagerness and excitement children have for learning. What parent hasn't tired of hearing their child ask, "but why"? If we are to discover that hidden kingdom of GOD, we also must not only remove from us anything that may offend, but also we must with childlike meekness ask to receive answers and knock so as to have doors opened unto us.

As we continue reading the record in Mark's gospel we come to our verse in question. A wealthy man had come to Yeshua seeking what he must do to "inherit eternal life". After hearing Yeshua's response, Mark wrote that the man "was sad at that saying, and went away grieved". He was sad and he was grieved because Yeshua's response was not the answer he had hoped for. He didn't realize that greater wealth then he had ever dreamed of could be his if he accepted Yeshua's answer. This man was as the seed sown amongst thorns. He was acquainted with accumulating "great possessions" but he was not acquainted with laying up "treasure in heaven". He may have known "the commandments" but he didn't know the Word of GOD.

It is interesting that before Yeshua gave him his answer, the Scripture says that Yeshua "loved him". That is always why the word is sown. That is why the word is sent. But too often it is rejected. Yeshua wasn't desiring to deprive this rich man of his wealth. Yeshua was showing him the way into the kingdom of GOD. Yeshua was offering him treasures vastly superior to any that moth and rust could corrupt. Thus, three times, as if trying to drive the point home to His disciples, Yeshua said, "How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God...It is easier for a camel [rope] to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God". For Yeshua to declare this warning three times, speaks loudly to those who have ears to hear. The desire for riches is not to be underestimated in its ability to deceive and divert one from the narrow way that leads unto life.

Many people living in the Bible lands at the time when the Gospels were written, erroneously believed that all wealth was a blessing from GOD. If one was poor, then the people believed that he must surely be cursed by GOD, but if one was rich he must surely be blessed by GOD. This is why the disciples "were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?" (Mark 10:26). They thought that if the rich found it difficult to enter the kingdom of GOD, what chance did the rest of them have? Much of Yeshua's teaching endeavored to correct the false assumption that wealth is always a blessing from GOD. The truth is more the other way. Usually the pursuit of wealth insulates us from the workings of GOD in our lives. It can choke the word sown in our hearts and rob us of eternal treasures our heavenly Father desires for us to obtain. Hence, it is difficult (not impossible) for a rich man to enter the kingdom of GOD. Many stumble at this and are sad and go away grieved, having found no answer that pleases them. A few however are willing to set aside secondary pursuits and seek with all their heart to know HIM who knew them "before the foundation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4).

Mark 8:35,36 "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it;
but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

No comments:

Post a Comment