Kabalah and Masoret
And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. – 2 Timothy 2:2 HCSB
There are two Jewish words for tradition – kabalah (which is not the same thing as the Jewish mysticism the pop-singer Madonna follows called Kabbalah) and masoret. Kabalah is what we receive and masoret is what we pass on to others.
All of us are steeped in some form of kabalah. We have a history that is uniquely American. Another people have a culture that is uniquely Iranian. Ours is a religious culture that is imbibed by Christians and yet, another culture in another place is predominantly Hindu. Our culture forms our mindsets, tweaks our philosophies, meddles with our world views and is very nearly impossible to escape.
And yet Paul says that we are to escape any tradition or world view that is ungodly. “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” he says in Romans 12:2. He recognized that it would be a tremendous struggle and that at times, it would be confrontational. He described his ministry saying, “We demolish arguments and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
What if all the preceding scientists never bothered to record their findings? What if Ptolemy discovered that the world was a globe, figured out how big it was and then simply neglected to tell anyone else? What if Copernicus had never written “Revolution of Heavenly Bodies” or Einstein, in his absent mindedness had not jotted down “E=mc2”?
It is important that we not only learn, but that we teach; that we not only gain wisdom, but that we pass it on. Both a willingness to learn from kabalah and to undertake masoret is required. This is, in fact, the very core of the Great Commission: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you (emphasis mine). And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Granted, there is a certain danger. There is a very real and valuable lesson to be learned from the Pharisees. They started out with the best of intentions. They began their existence trying to maintain the teachings they had derived from the Scriptures. But somewhere they lost their way and began allowing their masoret to be more kabalah and less Scripture. When the Messiah came, their kabalah kept them from recognizing Him and He rebuked them saying, “Disregarding the commandment of God, you keep the tradition of men.”
We must find the balance between kabalah and masoret; including both, neglecting neither, but always guiding them by the steadfast and unmovable reference point of the Word.
For a fully referenced and hyperlinked version of this article search the archives at http://pastorpauley.blogspot.com/