A Voice in the
Re: There is No Other Hand!
"Take wives and beget sons and daughters. And take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, so that they may bear sons and daughters, that you may be multiplied there and not diminished (Jer29:6)
"Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. (De7:3)
"Fiddler on the Roof" was on public TV recently. This, now, makes the second or third time I've seen it. Before I'd ever seen it the first time, years ago when I sang in the Vancouver Chamber Choir, one of our 'pops' concerts included excerpts from it. And when playing organ for weddings a favorite that would be requested often was "Sunrise sunset". Isaac Stern is one of my favorite fiddlers. And there is a certain endearing quality to Tevia's 'simplistic' approach to talking to God; even though he was mixed up about certain things. If only most Christians would have the same 'immediacy' to their communion with the Lord, and understand the "simplicity that is in Christ"! (2Co11:3)
This is not a movie review, but as introduction to this brief lesson, "Fiddler" is about three things: Marriage, Eroding of standards, and the Plight of the Wandering Jew. Oh yes... and... 4th: "rightly dividing the Word of Truth" (2Ti2:15) The other times I had seen it, I was still in apostasy, and so, other than a few minor points, saw nothing wrong with it. Yes, I would get a chuckle at Tevia's 'talks' with God and his mangling of "the Good Book says", but overall thought it was a good movie.
However, on one hand, the movie promoted/glorified activism on behalf of socialistic communism. On the other hand, it promotes the loosening of mores. Its viewing audience would have thought the bit about men dancing with women was 'quaint'; but if that change was OK for 'them', well then see how these other changes in our present society are OK for 'me' and 'us'. If Tevia could embrace change, well, so can we.... Change is OK!
The "Good Book" may not say anything about "chickens and weddings", but there are a lot of things it -does- say. And here, we get to what we'd like to observe.
Tevia may have spoken of the Good Book a lot, but his overwhelming motivation was "tradition". When his third daughter is pleading with him, "Papa, papa, papa!" regarding accepting her marriage to the gentile, after arguing with himself about the "other hand"s, he finally concludes, "There is NO OTHER HAND!"
But why? On what basis?
As the village is all packed up, ready to move, the third daughter comes around for a last time, wanting his acceptance, and he shuns her as he is packing up the wagon/cart....and then, as she is out of ear-shot, under-his-breath replies, "God bless you, too" It shows the chink in his armor. Tevia has caved in. He has capitulated.
Upon what were Tevia's values based? He might have talked to 'God' about them being the "chosen" people, but he did not know the Scriptures. He knew -about- the "Good Book", in the same way many people today think they do; and they say things like: it says that God helps those who help themselves; or again: every day, in every way, I'm getting better and better.
When he had exlaimed: THERE IS NO OTHER HAND, he was correct. But he made that exclamation on the same basis that many christians of the 'discernment' persuasion stand on certain standards. Tradition. Many [c]hristians speak of the traditions of the "historic christian faith" which we've addressed before.
Paul warns: "Beware that no one rob you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." (Col2:8)
Jesus denounced the scribes and pharisees for their traditions: "Full well you set aside the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition." (Mk7:9)
The basic theme of the movie is a good one. But then, there are also many other emotionally sappy love stories of people getting married and being in love ("Do you love me? ...do I what?? ...for 25 years..."); and still others dealing with Jews.
But God also, while giving the covenant to man to "be fruitful" (Ge1:28), and in our opening passage commands Israel in captivity to live life, get married, and have children...to be fruitful; also never changes the standard to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. One of the reasons, likely the very root-core reason, for Israel's dispersion into exile was their intermarriage with unbelievers. It began in the wilderness with the Baal-peor incident (Num25); it says they intermarried and "...they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods." (vs2) The problem with Solomon was all his foreign/pagan wives who turned his heart away from God. It is worded this way: "his wives THRUST AWAY his heart" (1Ki11:3) Israel's exile was due to idolatry; but idolatry was brought about through the mixed marriages.
Tevia was not "standing on the promises of God", but on tradition. And so, in the end, he caved. He made the right decision initially; but because it was not founded on his knowledge of the Good Book, he compromised. Traditions can change. God's Word does not!
God's Word "stands firm in the Heavens" (Ps119:89)
This is why we speak so much of the Scriptures. Having a good translation, coming from the right manuscripts. Why we base everything on the Scriptures, not the writings of the "great men" and/or "church fathers" or the contents of this commentary or words of that teacher.
For the [C]hristian, when it is a situation where THERE IS NO OTHER HAND, it is because....
"All Scripture is breathed by God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2Ti3:16-17) "But the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it." (De30:14)
Tevia's 'reasonings' for rejecting his daughter's marriage were the reasonings of: "because I said so", I'm the papa, and that's tradition. Nothing based on the "Good Book" or even consulation with the rabbi to see what might be said in the Torah scrolls about Jews marrying gentiles. The answer would have been found there, if only he had looked.
Oh, but... Didn't Tevia also offer a sacrifice to God with his lips when he uttered, "God bless you"? See? He was not being pagan, he was being Godly! Right?
This is the prevailing menality amongst many who are in disobedience. If it has the label "God", they read from the Bible and pray... it must be Godly. God must be pleased. And so when they are sickly, they can't understand why they must "bear these terrible burdens". They intone that: God must have a "purpose".
Yes....the "purpose" (or reason): is that they are not being obedient. In their disobedience "to the faith" they will become angry with someone who exhorts them from the Scriptures, but to make themselves feel pious will close with, "God bless you!"
"God bless you!" ??
"obedience to the faith" is based on the Scriptures and the "commandment of the eternal God" (Rom16:26) I dare say that some of the most vocal utterances of the expressions "praise the Lord" and "God bless you" come from lips of disobedience, hypocrisy, compromise and self-justification.
"Has Jehovah as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in to obey the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams." (1Sa15:22)