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Hebraic Definition of Kingdom (2 of 4)

Shane Willard

Page 6 of 10
This same group of people - I grew up in the south in America. These same people who thought they would go to hell for touching wine; they thought they would go to hell for having their hair cut, they thought they would go to hell for wearing slacks. Those same people could hate black people with no conscience at all. How does that work? How is that possible? To be forbidden from make up but loosed to hate people who look different from you - what? That's the power of binding and loosing. It's important. Listen, if we're going to establish the kingdom of God here in Bay City, come on, would you agree with me that's what needs to be happening on a continual basis; not - Bay City does not need to be known as a group of people going to heaven one day. That will take care of itself. Bay City needs to be known in Hastings as the place in this community that is bringing heaven to every place hell is. [Applause] If we're going to do that it's going to partly come down to binding and loosing, binding and loosing.

Let's do a couple more. Rending the garments, rending the garments. There are a lot of images around the cross and things like that that are very meaningful. One euphemism or idiom is rending the garments. Let me tell you what it had to do with. Jesus said it this way: Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. It's a direct quote from Isaiah, Chapter 61 and 66, that those who mourn in Jerusalem will be comforted. Now the concept of mourning in Hebrew culture was very important. The concept was this: to establish the kingdom of God on earth one of the things that has to happen is you need to be willing to identify with the suffering of others okay, so here's what would happen. Let's say that Dave is a friend of mine and let's say that someone close to him dies. It is my responsibility as his friend to set up sitting shiva. It's just the word 'sitting' and then this, ['shiva'. 00.28.27] It means to sit for seven days. So I would organise seven days of mourning for him and what we'd do is we would take shifts and we would sit with him for seven days. It was called sitting shiva and here was the rule. In sitting shiva I was not allowed to speak to him unless he spoke to me, which is so awesome. It takes all the pressure off of me for having to comfort him in a situation that you can't comfort him.

It also takes all the pressure off of him for having to entertain me when he needs to be mourning. What I was doing was simply setting it up where we could just simply be together so he didn't have to be alone. They even took the identification with suffering one step further. Have you ever seen someone grieving? How ugly is it? It's ugly. What does a person who's grieving the loss of a loved one, what do they look like? What do their eyes look like? Puffy, red. How about the muscles in their face? Do you realise that when someone needs to cry and they're trying not to there is a crux point where you lose control of the muscles in your mouth, so they look sort of distorted and their eyes are puffy. It's not a pretty look at all. So here's what I don't want: he's my friend and I know he needs to mourn right, but I don't want him to be the centre of attention. I want him to be not alone and I want him to be free to mourn. I want to identify with his suffering so here's what I would do.

The first thing is I would put on sackcloth, and in putting on sackcloth it's taking off my nice clothes, putting on nasty ones. I would put on sackcloth so as to draw attention to myself and away from him, so that he's free to mourn yet I'm still there with him. It was my way of saying I identify with your suffering. The next thing I would do is I'd put on ashes. I would take ashes and I'd put it on my face. Why? So that his face isn't the ugliest face in the room, so that when people walk in they won't notice his distorted face. They'll actually notice the fact that there's a guy sitting there with ashes, and that sets the attention off of him enough so where he can feel free to mourn. How loving was that? I mean how awesome is that? The last thing I would do at the end of the sitting shiva, the last thing I would do is I would rip my clothes. I would rip my clothes. I would rip my garments. In other words it was the ultimate identification with suffering would be to expose myself. I would just rip my garments.