From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”
[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.” As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.]
In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn’t mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.
In the Gospel of John, in teaching about eternal life, Jesus Christ said that those having eternal life would never perish, and that no one would be able to pluck them out of his hand or His Father’s hand.
To “pluck out of the hand” refers to a game young children played in the lands and times of the Bible. This is something that those listening to Jesus would have easily understood; it painted a clear picture for them. Once we understand the game the children played, we too will have a clear picture of what he said.
Here is the simple game the children played. One of the youngsters would put a coin in his hand, close his fist, and then keep it closed as tightly as he could. Another child would then try to open the tightly clenched fist, and if he could, he would get the coin.
In referring to eternal life, Jesus was saying that no one was going to “open his Father’s fist.” In other words, eternal life cannot be changed or altered. This gives us a little added insight to a verse in Colossians that says that our life is hid with Christ in God. The life being referred to is eternal life.
It is noteworthy that when Jesus spoke of eternal life, he used the word “perish.” He didn’t say that those who have eternal life would not die, but rather that they would not perish. There is a difference.
The Greek word translated “perish” means to be completely abolished, ruined and lost. While one may die, if he or she is born again, that person will not perish, because they have eternal life. The Bible says that those who die are asleep and will be made alive when Christ returns.
An Open Invitation
Because of God’s great love, He has freely extended the invitation to all people to accept His Son, to believe that Jesus is the savior and lord of all men, and that God raised him from the dead. Accepting these two truths, one becomes saved and receives eternal life.
And, once you receive eternal life, nothing can change it! No one is going to pluck you out of Christ’s hand, or out of his Father’s hand.
Once again, with a little understanding of the times and culture in which the scriptures were written, the Bible becomes clear, and its richness shines brightly.
John 10:28 and 29
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
Your life is hid with Christ in God
I Thessalonians 4:15-17
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
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There are a number of books that you can read to get insight on customs, manners, idioms and meanings from the Eastern culture in which the Bible was written. The best I know of were written by Bishop K. C. Pillai. I have had the pleasure of listening to many recorded teaching by him.
He wrote three books, and they are hard to find, and are usually over priced. But, if you want to you can check this link to see what Amazon has to offer. Light Through an Eastern Window
Another great resource that I have used for years is a book called, “Manners and Customs of the Bible,” by James Freeman. Mine was printed in 1972 and I know they have newer additions. For the newest edition, just click the link and it will take you to Amazon. The New Manners and Customs of the Bible (Pure Gold Classics)