A young man asked Joshua, What must I do to have everlasting life? Keep the commandments was Joshua's answer. This post goes deep into this question and the conversation that follows.
In Mathew 19:16-23 there is a story where a young man comes to Joshua and asks him questions about everlasting life. This is the most central question that anyone could ask Joshua. How, in other words, do people get out of the reincarnation cycle? How do we stop being born again? How do we live forever? How do we walk off earth, like Enoch or Elijah?
Joshua answers this question with the simplest possible answer: Keep the commandments.
The conversation between that young man and Joshua continues, but we need to unpack that simple answer before going any further.
Those commandments are given in summary form in Exodus 20:1-17. This is a short list, short enough that they could be easily memorized. At first glance they don't seem all that hard to follow. Problem is, we don't see very many people being taken up by UFOs at the end of their life as Elijah was taken up. Indeed, none of the traditional Christian saints are ever recorded as being taken up. Their tombs are with us still. For that matter, no religion anywhere sees results like Enoch or Elijah.
The text was tampered and the religions based on it are no longer faithful to the inspired intent. We deal with this all the time. But surely someone, somewhere tried to follow the commandments?
At the level of the text there are 2 important problems. We understand the meaning of words to be driven by their spelling. We learned this in Hebrew class long ago.
But, when we compare the Hebrew and Aramaic spellings on the key vocabulary words in that commandments list, the spellings are different. This is very unusual. Most of the time these 2 ancient languages witness to roughly the same spelling of their root words, so roughly the same meanings.
So someone, in ancient times, tampered this list. The English we see now in these stories may or may not faithfully capture their various meanings. So the short list, while easy to memorize, is fuzzy. It does not provide a trustworthy guidance to what matters to Joshua. So it does not provide a trustworthy path to everlasting life.
There is a way around this problem. We can find examples for each commandment and then follow those. This is much of what the rest of the text is all about. How much of the text? Let me explain.
Though they are counted later as 10 commandments, there are 12 admonitions in the list. So, there is 1 commandment per tribe. Tribes map to the alphabet, through 3D letter folding, and the alphabet maps to all inspired stories in the text.
Even if you don't know for sure which commandment maps to where in the text, you can pretty much guess that every single story in the inspired text is an illustration of one of the commandments. So the commandments are a shorthand for knowing the inspired text. Even if we don't exactly know what each commandment really means we can check ourselves against all the inspired stories.
This is much easier because most stories do not depend on having exactly the right English. But, it is harder because we need to review the entire text. No cliff notes on this. We each gotta do our homework and know the book.
Of course we can ask Joshua directly if he sees any issues with us. A prophetic walk with Joshua makes checking ourselves against this list much easier. This is what the young man in the Matthew 19 story did in person, so we pick up his story there.
After being told to keep the commandments, the young man asks Joshua another question. Which ones?
At this point the generic story is now turning specifically to this man. When we do the same, each of us get a different list, tailored to our specific situation.
In this man's case, Joshua answers: Don't Kill. Don't Steal. Don't Commit Adultery. Don't Testify Falsely. Honor Father and Mother. Joshua is listing 5 commandments from the 12 that are at issue in this young man's life.
By my advice above, you can find stories that show the problems with breaking each of these commandments. For example: Don't Kill. This got David in trouble when he killed Goliath. David must flee for his own life for many years thereafter. He will later rule by killing, following Saul's model, and end up pronouncing judgment on himself and then live several more lives before he finally walks off by being 'gathered to his people.'
The rest of the list given to the young man has similar stories spread through the text. So assume these short form terms are defined by exemplary, and tertiary, stories found within the text itself.
Now, watch what happens next.
The young man answers that he has kept all these from his boyhood. Of course it is easier not to have broken the commandments when we are young, so this may well be true. Joshua himself does not dispute this answer. So the young man appears to be clear in this respect.
But, why would this subset of the list of commandments be interesting to the conversation if Joshua really agrees with the young man's assessment? Is there some other problem?
Joshua then tells the young man to sell everything, give the proceeds to the poor and then come follow Joshua. The young man then goes away sad because he had great wealth.
Where does a young man get great wealth?
Young men have not had enough life experience to earn great wealth for themselves. They have it through their parents, close relatives or more distant ancestors.
Do those 5 commandments that Joshua called out matter now? Yes.
Joshua is explaining that each of these 5 commandments were broken in the process of accumulating the wealth this young man now possesses. Someone killed. Someone stole. Someone lied. Someone broke promises, also known as adultery.
Joshua is also explaining that though this was accumulated by others, it is now his burden, and his guilt. It prevents the young man himself from entering into everlasting life.
This is a very powerful concept. The actions of parents, or the more general community, that we are born into can interfere with reaching everlasting life.
Also important to note is what Joshua said to do to fix this problem. The possessions themselves were sold and the proceeds given away. I imagine objects like statuary, art and things like golden goblets make up much of his wealth. Those are useless to the poor and must be exchanged for currency by someone who understands their value before the proceeds are given away.
Selling possessions appears to be the standard way to break this type of curse. Those who receive as gifts the proceeds of these sales do not incur the same problems. This is extinguishing problems of the past.
At this point Joshua explains that the young man can now come follow Joshua and in that process will receive everlasting life. The wealth he holds that was accumulated wrongly must be shed before this journey can fully commence.
Joshua is making an offer to the young man with a feature that is often overlooked. Because that young man himself really did keep clear of these commandments, Joshua sees him as qualified to represent Joshua to others. This is rare and a feature of this story.
Much of the modern wealth of Americans comes through the actions of the American empire outside of the country. The dollar as reserve currency, foreign military bases and many other secret control systems are all part of this.
The modern American empire functions very similarly to ancient Rome's extended empire. Though we may not know which commandments were broken in any given expression of wealth, be sure this basic set is broken regularly. It is being used in this example to explain the commandments commonly broken when unjustly creating wealth.
Let me call the commandments Joshua's only valid definition of a crime. Societies, as we know them now, have law making bodies that write up whatever rules they may like. The text does appear to say stay out of trouble with secular laws. This so as to stay free to do other things. But the making of those laws is just an extension of the work of editors, who were following the localized needs of kings and priests.
So any appeal to secular lawfulness is invalid in Joshua's court. Joshua will be far stricter in terms of looking at the chain of events that created that wealth, legal as they may be, known to others, or unknown. Joshua knows completely how all wealth was earned.
There are a whole bunch of honorable ways to create wealth. Make something. Grow something. Invent something. Transport something. Store something. Trade something. Just make sure in those processes the result is not earned through the crime of breaking the commandments. You mess with your soul when you do that.
The young man went away sad because he had great wealth. He had an interesting burden at this point. In order to get right with Joshua, and answer a personal call to follow him, the young man must rid himself of this great wealth.
Wealth, it turns out, is a buffer against various sorts of risks. In many ways it can keep someone out of slavery, for example. In the Roman world of that day this was a very big deal. In much of the world today there are similar risks buried into various local cultures.
This story is indicating that a walk with Joshua is fundamentally more risky than that cushy high paying corporate job. Most of them, by the way, are tied into the Military Industrial Complex warned about by President Eisenhower. So Joshua sees most of these professions as based on systems that break the commandments. So people in these systems will always be faced with having to live life over again.
How about retirement wealth? In the USA this is most commonly expressed in the financial markets such as New York City or London. By design these markets break several of the commandments. The firms whose shares are traded there are also almost certainly breaking the commandments too. So accumulating portfolios in these markets leads to the same trouble as faced by this young man.
Let me also say, that in the strange world we live in, there are also cases where great wealth may not be a soul burden. Noah had the great resources needed to build his boat.
Was Noah's wealth gained unjustly?
He was considered just in his day and is one of our undocumented candidates for walking off like Elijah. So his wealth was not unjustly accumulated. But, it was accumulated for Joshua's purpose and had to be spent on that purpose, in his case spent on building a boat.
Someone like Noah in our day would be like Henry Ford or Thomas Edison. Inventors or industrialists who made a positive difference in the lives of many others by their own hand. If they walk very, very carefully with Joshua they might become 'Industrial Prophets' and be called to change the face of the earth.
A marker of someone walking well in this case is their use of very strict limits on how they use their wealth. Even though they can buy a mansion, say, they do not. Ford an Edison, my examples here, fail on this point.
Answering A Call
It turns out that the risks faced by the young man in this story were counter balanced by the confidence he had that Joshua was really calling him to follow full time.
This is the question anyone called to follow Joshua full time must ask. Is this a true call? Or am I making it up myself and wishing Joshua has called me this way?
This is something the young man will eventually be tested on, but only when the money runs out. This is why he walked away sad. That test is a very curious point in the journey of anyone so called.