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.]
There is a verse in Isaiah that speaks of farmers walking in the light of their own sparks. In the lands and times of the Bible, farmers did not live on the farm. Rather they lived in the village. Thus, they would rise very early in the morning.
Around 4AM, the time of the first cock crowing, those going to work in the fields would rise. A fire in the village would be lit. Many would gather to warm themselves before heading out.
They would then need to gather their farm animals and tools and head to the fields. They would be walking, barefoot, in the dark. Many times the paths they walked were very narrow.
It Was Dark
In order to have some light, they would light the end of a piece of rope at the village fire. Then, as they walked, they would blow on the rope producing a small shower of sparks. This provided a little bit of light for them until they reached the fields.
In Isaiah 50:11, it talks about walking in the sparks, walking in the light of your fire, resulting in sorrow. To those living in that culture, the meaning was very clear. Rejecting the light of God’s Word, and walking in your own light, will produce sorrow.
On the other hand, Psalm 119, verse 105 talks about God’s Word being a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path. In the dark, would you rather walk by the light of sparks or a lamp?
Discouraged And Defeated
Many people are discouraged and defeated, and, as it says in Isaiah, they are lying down in sorrow. Why? They try to walk by the light of their own sparks, but our own sparks are not enough.
It reminds me of the verse in Jeremiah that talks about God’s people forsaking Him, the fountain of living waters. Instead they chose broken cisterns that can hold no water. People have free will to choose, but when they forsake God’s wisdom they will be disappointed.
So, if you were thirsty, wouldn’t you rather rely on a fountain instead of a broken cistern? A fountain is an unlimited supply, whereas a cistern has limited capacity. But a broken cistern is pretty much empty!
The Light Of The World
Our own light and our own wisdom will always come up short compared to the light and wisdom of God. As smart as we are, the best we can do is sparks; God can provide a lamp. We think we are doing something great by building a broken cistern; meanwhile, God is a fountain!
Jesus Christ declared that he was the light of the world. He also said that no man comes to the Father but by him. In other words, the only way to the Father is through accepting and believing that Jesus is indeed the Christ.
There are those who have rejected Jesus Christ, the light of the world. The Bible says that there are those who love darkness. They choose to walk in their own light. Jesus was rejected by many when he walked the earth, and there are those today who reject him.
We Have a Choice
We can make a decision and choose to walk by the light and lamp of God’s Word. We can adopt an attitude of saying, “What does the Bible say about that?” Or, we can choose to walk by our own sparks, walk by our wisdom. The latter produces sorrow, the former produces rejoicing.
Behold, all you that kindle a fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks: walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that you have kindled. This shall you have of mine hand; you shall lie down in sorrow.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
Your word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.
John 3:19 – 21:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
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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)