Communicating Through Deep Time
Consider how we might convey our important messages to people of the future. How might we preserve our wisdom and
insight for thousands, tens of thousands, even millions, of years. Modern communications media like tapes,
CDs and books are immediately ruled out; these devices are of a temporary
nature. Books deteriorate within
100 years. Electronic media might
long time -- but on what do you play your tape in 10,000 years? My modern computer won’t even read the
disks I made 10 years ago.
No, the solution to sending messages to the distant future is found in the
messages we have received from the distant past -- messages that have been
written in stone. Writing in stone
is a primitive art, but messages written in stone have given us the keys to vast
treasure of knowledge. Finding the
Rosetta Stone in 1799 was the key that opened the door to Egyptian history --
proving that the hieroglyphics on the ancient stone are not just ancient,
ornate pictures, but a very detailed language.
Translations of Egyptian writings in stone have helped us prove in our
day that what the Bible says about history is true.
Learning the meanings of messages four thousand years old is incredible enough. But how about messages four hundred
thousand years old? The aerial
photos of the Martian surface taken in 1976 revealed a human face on Mars
surrounded by pyramids, all in exact geometric formation.
At the time NASA dismissed the discovery as “a trick of light and
shadow,” but if there had been people on Mars 400,000 years ago and they wanted
to advertise their presence for a million years, a mountain-sized face
surrounded by pyramids would be the way to do it. In 1996, top scientists confirmed that life had existed on
Mars with the discovery of meteorite ALH84001, a stone from Mars that clearly
displays fossilized bacteria.
Another important message conveyed in stone from eons in the past.
The only problem in using stone to convey messages is that stone writing must be
translated or interpreted. The
Egyptian language of the hieroglyphics had long since passed away.
However, there’s another effective method of transmitting messages through time
that’s quite similar to writing in stone, except the messages end up translating
themselves, no matter how language evolves.
Historians call it ‘oral tradition.’
It is like cutting simple stories into the stone of the human heart.
These stories are be repeated generation after generation after generation.
Perhaps you know a story about one of your kinfolk who passed away before you
were even born. Chances are the story you were told
about that person helped you to feel like you knew him or her. Chances are you told one of your
children or grandchildren the same story.
Chances are your grandchildren, when they get old, will repeat the stories to
their young kin. Scientists now
tell us that they are finding stories patterns in the genetic code that they
call engrams, hinting that certain stories have been passed down through
the human bloodline since the beginning.
Oral Tradition is the method of long-term communication with the future that
Jesus employed to cast his word on the currents of time and space. Jesus was not a tombstone cutter, but he
engraved the stone of his hearers’ hearts with parables. Parables are short, simple stories that
and easy to remember. They
convey a meaning that even the simplest can understand. Yet, under the surface, Jesus knew that
members of his Heavenly Kingdom in the distant future would find secret
meaning in them, deep below than that which could be perceived by the
simple. In fact, parable
means “something cast out beyond the present time.”
Parables in Deep Time
Matthew (13:34) tells us that when Jesus spoke to crowds, he only used
so folks would easily remember these stories and retell them, never perceiving
the deeper meaning not meant for them.
The reason Jesus used this method is found in Psalm 78, which we read
from our Psalter today. It bears
repeating now. Listen carefully for
clues as to why Jesus used parables to convey his secrets to you:
I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, 3.
Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us. 4.
We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the
generation to come the praises of Yahweh, And his strength, and his wondrous
works that he hath done.
7. That they might set their
hope in Yahweh, And not forget the works of Yahweh, But keep his commandments.
Nobody knew how to read and write in Bible days but
scribes like Matthew. Jesus wanted
the stories to be passed from generation to generation through time, whether
people could read or write or not, so that the stories might be known hundreds
and thousands of years later to millions of people. But even more importantly, that those chosen for the Kingdom
in our future present might feel their stony hearts embossed
with the deeper meaning of these stories.
the surface a parable is going to mean the same thing to all people. The fisherman sorts out fish and throws
the unclean ones away. The baker
throws yeast into the dough. A seed
grows into a tree and birds flock there.
Somebody buys a field for the pearl found in it.
Everybody gets the same meaning.
The stories are so simple that they are hardly even stories. But the secret, personal message
is going to be different for every chosen Kingdom person. That’s the beauty and mystery and miracle of Jesus’ parable
preaching. Every believer has a
different history, mission and gift.
When a believer throws herself into the parable, she receives
the personal, individual message from her Savior. This is one of the supernatural ways that Jesus whispers to
believers today despite the vast difference in time. Moreover parables are incredibly anointed; but their
deeper meaning is not for everybody.
The Schneider Stone and The Mustard Seed Parable
Let me give you an example of a parable in my life of how the parable of the
mustard seed reveals a personal message to me.
Once I took a little trip to the country -- to a tiny cemetery behind a tinier
Lutheran church 15 miles south of my hometown.
There comes a time in every young person’s life when he begins to wonder
about where he came from, what his ancestors were like, what they did, their
stories, their history, his past.
My family didn’t convey much about family history to me. They never shared why there were so many
of us Snyders around or how or even if we were all related. All I knew was that the first Snyders
came over from somewhere in Europe, and that the family ancestors were buried in
this little cemetery I was now visiting.
found the earliest Schneider stone in the cemetery.
It is a very large and ornate stone, well engraved, and still legible.
The name and date on the stone is still easy to make out -- Jacob Schneider,
1792. Unfortunately, the long inscription chiseled into the
limestone is in German, and I couldn’t read any of it.
At the top of the stone was engraved a picture of a hand with the index
finger pointing up to heaven.
Surrounding the stone were several others with the Schneider name, some large,
ornate and inscribed. Then I left
the cemetery, thinking I might try the inscription later.
From that trip I learned that my family went back to 1792 at least. That fact was written in stone over a
hundred years before. It was a
message from the past -- a tiny story that meant the same thing to everyone who
could read it – “Jacob Schneider, 1792.”
I realized that as long as that stone stood on the earth, so would its
story. But what did the inscription
have to add to the meaning of the trip?
And what had happened since 1792?
The deeper, personal message from Jacob Schneider to me had not
yet been revealed; in fact, nobody could translate the story written in the
is exactly the same with the parables of our Savior. We read through them and understand them perfectly; they are
so simple, they are ridiculous.
Everybody knows these stories -- I would venture to say that billions of people
have recited them from their hearts or read them from this book and passed them
down the generations. Yet very few
see through the veneer to discover the secret Kingdom.
was 30 years later, in 2001, when I finally translated the stone. A high school boy, Adam Snyder,
took a poor quality picture
of it and emailed it to me. I tried to enhance the image. I worked with it every way.
I contacted people who lived around there to trace some of the words with
their fingers. I don’t know any
German, so I had to struggle with the language. I did it letter by letter.
I stayed awake thinking about it; studying the words in my mind. I checked atlases; I talked to people
about obscure words; I went to the Internet for the history of his time looking
for clues. I was very frustrated,
but I kept getting closer and closer to the secret story. Interpreting the message became an
intellectual struggle. But one day, I got it all.
The inscription said that
my great-great-great-great grandfather, Jacob Schneider, was born in
Sohenstadten in the state of Hessen Darmstadt in western Germany near the French
border. He became a career soldier
in the German army at the age of 17 and won a commendation for bravery in a
battle with or against the forces of Emperor Napoleon I. (Probably on the side of Napoleon.) He was married to Maria and they had at least three children,
Hannah, Philip and George. He
immigrated to the United States to get his family out of war-torn Europe. He settled in the county where I was to
be born in the middle of the 19th century.
His eldest son, Philip, had ten children, most of them male, who all had
bunches of children who then had bunches more of children. Over the next 150 years, the Hessian soldier Jacob Schneider was responsible for the births of hundreds of people
with the same last name as me, including me.
Inserting my own struggles with the stone into the parable, I observed that
an awesome mustard tree had grown, beginning with a man’s decision to sell
everything and make the perilous sea voyage in a time when the whole world was
at war. That tree is still growing,
and I have been exploring its branches in the past six months. I made two important discoveries: many heavenly birds have come to rest in
this great family mustard tree -- many saints of Yahweh are found in its
branches, and even martyrs. The
other discovery was that Jacob Schneider was the great-great-great grandfather
of both my mother and my father.
It is a small world after all.
Secret Personal Meaning
of the Parable
And the secret personal meaning of this simple parable? This is it:
Jesus tells me that I will surely meet many, many of these dear people whom I
have hitherto known only on paper or through old photos.
In fact, I am already with them in the beloved Kingdom about which these
stories are written. And soon I’ll
meet them face to face in the presence of the Savior. So I’m excited about the times we live in and in our
work together as a church toward the revelation of this wonderful Kingdom. Excitement grows as we consider how
Matthew begins his section on the parables of Jesus:
43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as
the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
The righteous of all ages will shine forth at the end
of the age; it will be a glorious time of reunion for me, for you and for your
beloved friends and family who know and love Jesus.
Now notice how the section ends:
52. Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of
heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his
treasure things new and old.
When Matthew says “scribe” he means an family
accountant. A disciple will be
like the great grandfather or grandmother of a huge economy of people. We will be shining hearts and guides of
a loving family of the sons and daughters of Yahweh, revealing the old
and bringing new meaning to them in the glory of a Kingdom free of
evil. Some of us are already
revealing stories, both old and new.
Some of us are already living in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Dear ones -- these parables also speak of a separation – the separation of the
wheat from the tare, the fruitless tree from the orchard.
That is why you must wrestle them down.
They have been conveyed for centuries to help you decode your place in
this present darkness and your destiny in the light. They are anointed stories, but the anointing requires that
you struggle until the deeper meaning shines forth. Do not let them go until they bless you. Become the denominator in each one and
see what value arises out of each equation.
Don’t let the plainness of these stories elude you as the simplicity of
the face on Mars eluded the all-knowing scientists, but let their inner secrets
reveal themselves to you. Wait upon
your Savior to speak to you with great clarity through them. May he bless you, my friends, with
visions and revelations of your destiny in his glorious and holy realm.
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