Article of the Month

March 2010

THE WORTH of the Individual

As a person draws closer to understanding and copying the character of God, one thing becomes more and more evident. God is interested in each individual. His entire plan for the ages was designed for bringing us all (men and angels) to the realization that everyone counts. All of our experiences in life should ultimately bring us to the conclusion that, as Jesus said, the second great commandment is to love neighbor as self. If this concept is so lofty as to elevate it second only to the commandment to love God supremely, it is worthy of constant thought. (Matthew 22:36-40)

However, as we look at our poor world, we see the opposite spirit dominating. We see selfishness as the root of nearly all decision making. As individuals, we usually think of self first. Laws are constructed generally to the benefit of the few or with the economic “bottom line” as the objective. Loving a neighbor is not something legislated! It is too abstract right now to clutter the minds of mankind.

We must, of course, give praise to the relatively few individuals and organizations sincerely devoted to the help of the individual. But even here, the object is frequently stop-gap temporal help against starvation and total deprivation. These wonderful charitable efforts keep some people going, but they are far from letting us KNOW and meaningfully communicate with the INDIVIDUAL as an individual. The thought of accomplishing this is currently so far beyond our capacities—or even our imaginations. Yet, it is EXACTLY this objective which our God has in mind and will have accomplished through the miracle of His in-coming Kingdom.

There is a highly-symbolic passage of prophecy which suggests that one REASON for the collapse of this old world, as we know it, is that God wants to get the attention of the entire race. He wants us to see that we now value all the wrong things. He wants us to start seeing that “every man is an acre of diamonds just waiting to be mined.”  When we are freed from the insane “rat race” of the present order of things, we will love our neighbors as ourselves because we will see their true value. That will be the beginning of humanity’s eternity of bliss—of peace, harmony, laughter, health, true riches—of life!

It is in Revelation 16 that we find the symbolic description of the last moments of the social order as we now know it. Chapters 15 and 16 outline what is termed “The Seven Last Plagues.” They are good things in the sense that “in them is filled up the wrath of God” (Revelation 15:1)—in other words, God will do away with all the things that anger Him; and by the time these “plagues” are finished, God will no longer be angry—and the whole world will have been rid of the things that are making us all miserable, unhappy, dying, mal-adjusted, selfish, inwardly poor, and blind to our real deficiencies.

In the last “plague”—a social upheaval which will undermine the very foundations of what we now consider normal—there is an interesting symbolic description. It reads thus:

                        “And there fell upon men a great hail
                        out of heaven, every stone about
                        the weight of a talent;
                        and men blasphemed God
                        because of the plague of the hail,
                        for the plague thereof was
                        exceeding great.”
                                (Revelation 16:21)      

The account doesn’t show the final result! It ends with men being angry with God for allowing such an event! We would need to read elsewhere to see the good coming out of this event. But we can surely see that as humanity finds its world evaporating, it will need, AS ALWAYS, to point the finger of blame on SOMEONE ELSE! In this case, they blame God! (He can handle that!) As this verse ends, they know not how a great door has been opened for their learning. Let’s look at the symbolism.

When attempting to interpret Biblical symbolisms, it is necessary to find SCRIPTURE which interprets Scripture. Our own guesses will rarely work. Thus, it is with special interest that we find a passage in I Kings 20:39 which seems to give an interpretation to the symbolism of a “talent.” In the verse cited, the value of a man’s life is either (1) another man’s life, or, (2) “a talent of silver.” Without going into this peculiar “equivalent,” suffice it to say that this verse suggests an answer to interpreting the hailstones in Revelation 16:21 which weigh a “talent.”

Hail, of course, is water in a HARD FORM. Throughout Scripture, water (singular) is a symbol of truth. A “HARD TRUTH” is one which causes consternation, pain, suffering, or even destruction. Thus, the seventh-plague symbol is that men are experiencing a “hard truth”—one they don’t know how to handle—one so CONTRARY to their customary practice that it is falling on them like hundred-pound hailstones! Using what we saw in I Kings, we can surmise that the hard-hitting truth which man has been neglecting is THE VALUE OF A LIFE—the WORTH OF THE INDIVIDUAL. Neglecting this universal truth is what ultimately causes the collapse of earth’s society.

As the seventh-plague narrative ends, mankind is virtually saying, “Don’t bother me with social philosophies! My world is collapsing! Who cares about the individual? All I want is my job, my health insurance, my retirement, my working government, etc.” NOTE: Everyone one of these “wants” begins with “MY.” The old order is obsessed with self. And that is just the point. God will take away EVERYTHING so that MAN CAN FIND SOMETHING of real worth! Everything that CAN BE SHAKEN, WILL BE SHAKEN! (Hebrews 12:27) The only thing of value that will remain in man’s world for him to discover and to cherish is his FELLOW MAN. And thus will be born, out of necessity, the beginnings of the second great commandment! Love your neighbor as yourself. Get to know him for what he really is. Find in him his wonderful aspirations, talents, hopes, wishes, desires, and good character traits. Value the individual. Help him, and let him help you. 

We all will rejoice when this comes to pass. When we all value others, we ourselves will also be valued! The harmony among the peoples of earth will be beyond what we can now imagine. Everyone will be helping others to obtain dreams. Dreams for all will be realized. Love welling up in every individual will meet a kindred response in all other individuals. Everything that has hindered us will be gone. Everything that will further our joys will be opening to us.

The few years ahead will be difficult ones. Hang on through them to the things that count. The rainbow is just around the bend. The wait and the intervening distresses all are worth it.

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