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Mirror, Mirror on the Shelf
an article by Joel Allen
In the popular childhood story, Snow White, the evil queen would often look into a magical mirror on the wall to see if she was the fairest woman of the land. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, whose the fairest of them all?” The mirror would normally say that she was, but the time that the mirror saw someone else as fairer, namely Snow White, the queen went into a rage and insisted that this girl be killed so that she could remain the fairest of the land once again.
Did you know that according to James, the Torah is likened unto a mirror?
James 1:23-25 “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
In his teaching, James, is saying that those that continually dig into God’s Torah and do what it says, will never forget what they are and what they are supposed to do and that person in turn will be blessed in all things that he does. This is consistent with what the Torah says of those that keep His commandments:[Deu 28:1-2 ESV] 1 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God.”
Don’t you want to be blessed in all that you do? I think most people would say yes if not all but the problem is we have to understand where blessing comes from. James presents two issues that cause us not to be blessed.
- We have to be hearers of the Torah- For many in main stream Christianity this poses to be a problem. If you believe that the Torah (five books of Moses) has been annulled by the Messiah, then dependence on obedience to God’s commandments has been more than likely replaced with dependence on God’s grace. We have to understand that obedience leads to blessing while faith and grace lead to salvation. One does not undo the other. Israel didn’t keep commandments to be saved by God from Egypt but once they were saved by His grace they came to the mountain and received instructions (the Torah) as a means to be blessed and to rise above all the other nations. So integral was the hearing of the Torah in the Jewish culture every week during the Sabbath services in homes and Synagogues, that it was a foundational instruction that was handed down to newly converted gentiles that were coming to the faith during the book of Acts. We can read in Acts 15 about a letter dispatched to these non-Jewish converts to the Messiah with essential things to start their walk of discipleship. The rest they would learn by hearing Moses (Torah) read every week in the Synagogues (Acts 15:21).
- Secondly and very important is that you have to be doers of the Torah and not just hearers- James makes a point that if you just hear the instructions but you don’t actually do them then you are like someone that looks in a mirror but then forgets what they look like. Any teacher will agree that the best way of learning and retaining information is by doing something with the teaching. By hearing and doing it raises your retention levels and the student greatly benefits from it. I talk to many people today, including Pastors and teachers that agree that the Torah, the Sabbath, and the Feasts of the Lord are very important Biblical concepts for Jews and Christians alike but they only hear it and don’t put it into practice. This is frustrating to me as I am sure it was for James as well. By not doing what you have heard you are forgetting key concepts that will lead to your ultimate blessing from the Lord. Paul confirms this in Romans 2:13 ESV- “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.”
Another big issue with believers these days goes well beyond the disregarding of God’s Torah but His authoritative Word in general. The Bible is widely known as the bestselling book of all time. A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 5 billion (Guinness World Records.com).
With so many Bibles in print and sitting in hotels and homes across the planet then why is there so many issues? Why is this world still ravaged by wars, terrorism, sickness, and human trafficking? It is quite obvious that although this beautiful and life-changing book is so widely available it is mostly stuck on shelves, collecting dust and most certainly unread. The very mirror that God has given us to see ourselves as we truly are is forsaken, doomed to an existence of obscurity. We look to the Church but unfortunately we see more problems than answers. Marriage is treated like a gum ball machine covenant easily tossed away in divorce the moment the flavor leaves. Pornography, addictions, greed, homosexuality and lies- If only we would open up the Bible and read it for what it says. Dust off that Mirror and face the truth about what we look like and begin to allow God to transform us into something beautiful. Paul teaches about the importance of this mirror in our lives because the more we dig into God’s word, especially His Torah, we start to change and become more like Yeshua (Jesus).
2 Corinth. 3:18 “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
Why wouldn’t we want to be transformed into the same image as the Son of God? Why do we fight the commandments of God and pick and choose what we want and throw out the rest? The more time we spend away from our studies in His Instructions the easier it is for us to make up our own image of who we think we should be like. The truth of the matter is we are a lot like that Evil Queen in Snow White. We only want to hear that we are the fairest in the land. We want the grace, love and blessings of God but never think that our disobedience will lead to hideousness not holiness. We don’t want to face the truth that the Messiah Yeshua and the Apostles were Jews that kept the Sabbath and commandments of God. We would rather try to kill “Snow White” rather than face our own ugliness.
We need to allow God’s Word to reveal, rebuke and restore. Maybe that is why the Bible is likened unto a Mirror (James 1:23-25), a Sword (Hebrews 4:10), and Sustenance (Bread & Water- John 6:33, Eph. 5:25-27). Could this be why God commanded that the bronze laver outside the tabernacle inner sanctuary, where the priests would look into and wash themselves before entering in, were made from mirrors?
Exodus 38:8 “Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.”
Listen to what Paul teaches in Ephesians about how Yeshua will be coming back again for a bride that is without spot or wrinkle. This is not the Evil Queen in the Snow White tale, but a bride that knows who she is and has made herself ready for the return of her bridegroom. May we be ready when he comes again.
Ephesians 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
None of us have the full picture. If only we could see ourselves the way God sees us! Today we have a massively distorted view of who we are. Our identity is not rooted in Christ or His Word but in Hollywood, pop culture, and our peer groups. Like a circus mirror we see ourselves twisted and beyond recognition. Some are inflated with pride and see themselves more highly than they should (Romans 12:3) while others are pressed down with little self worth and confidence. Only through the mirror of God’s Word will you truly start to see yourself in light of the truth. Sometimes the truth hurts but if you submit to the process the truth also heals and sets you free (John 8:32).
One day we will all be seen as we truly are. For some that is a scary thought because they haven’t looked into the mirror lately and they are afraid of how they have changed their appearance through compromise and doubt. I want to challenge today to dust off that Bible and get it off the shelf and start to look at yourself through God’s eyes. But just don’t just read it or hear it; do what the Bible says even if it costs you something that you are unwilling to give up. That’s when miracles begin. That’s when we start to become the fairest in the land.[1Co 13:12 NLT] Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.