Hi again, especially my young readers. I thought of an image related to the previous blog posting that I want to share with you. I know that this generation has grown up receiving much of their entertainment but also much of their knowledge (and the two are dangerously blurred) from electronic images, and I'm glad to work with you where it is useful by using movie and other analogies.
All right, you've now had time to think about what I wrote, which is that for the vast majority of human history the population alive at any time was capped in the vast majority at the MAX of people in their thirties, who would have been considered "elders." People just didn't live much beyond forty as recently as one hundred years ago. Teenagers were not "teenagers," but were expected to be living as adults and were looking forward to adult responsibilities and starting families. A "teenager" was most likely already halfway through his or her life expectancy.
Now, think back about two things. Think of how the Bible is slandered as being about and for "old men." Duh, wot? Just like some think that the book classics are just books written by and for "old white men," many think the Bible is likewise. Not so much! The Bible was written for and given to young people who were, well, the only ones who were alive, what we would consider teenagers, young adults and - at most - "entering middle age" today. So the Bible was not written "for" old people: it was written for YOU.
Second, now you can think of how inaccurate the central casting is for those old Bible Hollywood epics. Lots of middle age extras made up the crowds, but that was wrong. Moses would have been giving the Ten Commandments to lots of families with "teenage" parents, and the "crowds" of freed Israelite slaves who were the first Jews living under the Law of God would have been children (real children), teenagers (starting their own families), the bulk of people in their twenties, and the "elders" in their thirties, with a few in their forties. If you wanted to watch an accurate portrayal of those times, that would be the ages of the general population being portrayed.
Sure, the Bible books were written by older men, but that's for two reasons. Um, who lives long enough to know what happened over a period of thirty or forty years, and what God said and what the Israelites did? Yep, someone old enough to have lived that long. And the second reason why the Bible books were written by older men? Who knew how to read and write? It wasn't discrimination, but only those of the older priesthood and so forth had the time to be able to author the books, telling what had taken place, and two, only they had access to scribes (scribes being those who wrote on behalf of the vast population of people who could not read or write since they were busy scratching out survival through farming, hunting and herding animals).
Thus, you must realize that when Moses "addressed the people" and when God gave his Commandments and other laws, and when Jesus preached and performed miracles, this was all to populations the VAST majority of whom were in their teens, twenties and thirties.
It is a HUGE, but very necessary, change in your mental imagery to realize that in the olden days there were not the olden people, LOL. Far from being dismissive that the Bible (or the Qur'an) is for the old, remember that life expectancy chart and change your mental view of what people looked like then from being what you imagine lots of old folks to be like today with the correct image of teenagers who were head of households, parents many times over in their twenties, and "elders" in their thirties, not expecting to live much longer than forty at best.
Young friends, the Bible and the Qur'an were written for YOU, my friends, for you.
When God admonished parents to raise their children properly, he was addressing teenagers and those in their early twenties who were already parents... and that was everyone (except for a few who chose ascetic lives, often becoming religious single people). It would be the thirteen years old and over crowd who would have paid the most attention to what to do as they were on the brink of starting the adult phases of their lives.
This is another way of understanding that just because modern society seems to think that youth is somewhat moronic and unable to be adult (and then reinforces that through how you are educated and treated), yet wonders why teenagers are ready to be mature in ways that maybe they aren't yet, the Bible certainly does not trivialize youth and consider it a "waiting" and "growing up" period. Thirteen year olds were expected to have a mature relationship with God of many years already because THEY were about to become parents who would be passing this on to THEIR children.
God takes everyone very seriously and he addressed himself to everyone very seriously. This has not changed, just because people live longer. God has the same expectations at the same ages as he always has, and always will.
Here's something ironic. The very people who rant about teenage pregnancy and figure that God would disapprove are forgetting that it was mostly teenagers (and those in their twenties) who were alive and pregnant during Biblical times and for most of human history until the past one hundred years or so. Lots of reasons for why that societal mental shift occurred, but my point is that this shift has nothing to do with God. God considers a child of around seven or so to now be old enough to distinguish between righteous behavior and sin, and to have a knowing relationship with God and his doctrine. God considers a boy or girl of thirteen or so to be a religious adult. By that I mean that God considers entry into the teenage years as being the time that in religious law and custom (and thus knowledge and relationship with God), a boy or a girl is an adult.
Do you see again the problem I raised in the previous posting? Modern society may think it's OK to encourage children to goof around and not take religion seriously because they have "time" to make such a "decision," but it sure doesn't say that in the Bible or the Qur'an. How do we know that? Because, as I said, consistently for thousands of years of human existence you only HAD teens, twenties and thirties... that WAS the circle of life, and a serious one it was. Children were schooled in scripture as soon as they could understand it, so that they would know and understand God, his reality in their lives, and his expectations AND because a thirteen year old boy or girl is now considered an adult both religiously and biologically, on the brink of starting their own families.
It's society that has changed, not your human conditioning and timing, nor has God's expectations. In many ways this should be a relief to you to understand that God certainly does not intend to be a "mystery" to be "found" by browsing many goofy cult or agnostic menus, where you "wonder" if he is "real" until you make an "adult" choice after "years of questing." Hardly. God intends that every child be consecrated to him and to know him and understand his love (and expectations). So you should be relieved to know that God certainly does not intend and in fact it is against his will that he should be withheld, and most especially untruthfully, from any child. In another way this should be kind of annoying, not toward God, but toward your families and school systems who have totally dropped the ball about the reality of God. Those many of you who have grown up without God have a right to be peeved, and you should be more peeved about that than not having the latest iPhone or iPod, Blackberry or whatever.
As young people, you learn more about yourself, and are happier with yourself and others (that old self image and "why am I here" issue) when you know the truth and have grown up with the truth, rather than the half a**ed "perceptions" that your parents and often grandparents have given to you. That is their failing and also how they may have been deprived themselves, growing up. You can be sympathetic but time's a wasting, and you ought to be a bit peeved, and you ought to feel some sense of urgency.
I'm not being melodramatic in the old "hey, someone might die before being saved" focus. What I mean is that when someone doesn't know the truth of a huge chunk of reality, everything else that you do gets skewed, either deliberately or incidentally. If you don't know the truth about life, death, God and his control, God and his love and his wishes for people's grace, and the reality of eternal life with or without him (in that very bad place), then you make a whole slew of other really poorly informed decisions AND, unlike the young Biblical teenage adult, you are in no position to pass the truth on to your younger siblings, your friends and ultimately your own children. I totally cannot believe what a disaster this has become (not the behavior of young people but the nearly total severing of the knowledge of God from generation to generation, which, as you now realize, was continual despite harsh and short lives AND lack of reading or writing, previous to the past one hundred years or so).
As much as I was expecting it to be bad, I am still stunned, on a daily basis, of how each crop of children have been less and less knowing the truth and reality of life, and being totally severed from God himself, or, even if they've "heard of the possibility of God," an accurate scriptural knowledge (remember, scriptures are what God tells the people he is in his own words). Really, I find the rapidity by which the truth of God and of life in general decayed and has been totally warped to be astounding to me, and probably the only thing that I can say has actually surprised me about my time on earth thus far.
So remember.... central casting has it all wrong. Throughout human history it's not the "old white men," it's been children, teenagers, twenties, thirties (elders) and if folks were fortunate and prosperous, those real oldsters who made it over forty. I hope that you have found this helpful and maybe rocked your world some. It should, really, it should.