For the week of October 28, 2006 / 6 Heshvan 5767
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 6:9 - 11:32
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:1 - 55:5
A Positive Perspective
To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth. So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again. (Isaiah 54:9)
My wife and I are two very different people. That should be obvious, but it actually took me many years to realize that. I guess I was fooled by our great many similarities. We are both Ashkenazi Jews (our grandparents were from Eastern Europe), we grew up just a few blocks from one another. We frequented the same candy store (we love to reminisce over that one). We both came to know Yeshua as our Messiah in our late teens. We went to the same public school and Yiddish school after regular school three times a weeks for a couple of years. We weren't actually friends during that time, but got to know each other only after we both became believers.
So due to our similar background and experiences, we have more in common than many couples we know. She and I have also worked through many life issues together and are united on most, if not all, major life issues. That said, there are significant differences between us.
Perhaps the greatest difference has to do with how we look at life, which is a pretty big difference. One might say that she is a "glass is half full" kind of person, while I am a "glass is half empty" person. Please understand that I am generalizing. There are times when I am the one to see things in a more positive light (though I admit, that's a rare occurrence), but most often she tends to see things more positively than I.
Those of you who are more like me appreciate how I think I am the realist while she is simply na´ve. At the same time, she thinks I am too quick to jump to negative conclusions. As it has turned out, sometimes she is more right, other times, it's me, sometimes it's a combination of both, and other times, we have both completely misread what's really going on.
Before I relate this to this week's Haftarah, I want to add that I believe that God has given the two of us unique gifts, which enables us to see things differently. Due to our human nature, we misuse those gifts, causing our perspectives to blind us to the reality of a situation. What we need to continue to do is learn how our differences complement each other, so that we can see things more accurately.
The downside of the way I tend to see things is illustrated by what happened when I first read this week's Haftarah. As I read the passage, the phrase, "the days of Noah" caught my attention. While I did notice that the point of the passage was positive (God was promising the people that the day would come when he would no longer be angry with them), I took the Noah reference as negative. I realize that I read the passage too quickly at first, but my assumption regarding the Noah reference led me to think of God's destruction through the Flood. I thought God was saying that just like he poured out his wrath upon the people of Noah's time, so he would pour out his love upon the people of Israel. Nice thought, but that's not what the passage actually says. The phrase "days of Noah" automatically made me think of the bad part of the story.
By the way, I tested my wife by having her read the passage and then asking her what "days of Noah" meant. Are you surprised that she knew that it had to do with the good, not the bad, aspect of the Noah story?
For me any mention of the Noah story immediately brings to mind the sinful nature of the human race, God's anger and his judgment. But the Isaiah passage showed me that I failed to catch the positive aspect of the story, which is God's commitment not to destroy the world by flood again. This experience made me see how I can miss the whole picture due to my tendency to think negatively.
God wanted the people of Isaiah's time to think about the "days of Noah" in a positive light. He wanted them to know that just as he had been angry for a time, but then committed himself to not judge the Earth in that way again, so he would be angry with Israel for only a time, but then would never be angry with them again. Through Isaiah, God was calling the people to see from a positive perspective.
God's desire for all people is not judgment, but salvation. His goal for all of us is positive, not negative. That doesn't mean that there is no negative aspects to how he deals with people. If we choose to ignore him, we will face judgment, but that's not God's heart's intent. His intent is positive. For me that's sometimes difficult to remember, but I am learning that my wife often does see things as they really are.
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