From the Editor’s Notebook: Rabbi Shimei

MIF 7:4 (July-Aug 1975)

From the Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

Rabbi Shimei

An ancient Jewish rabbi, named Shimei, wisely urged: “Set a time for the study of the law, say little, do much, and greet everyone with a cheerful countenance.”

These words represent good advice for us today, and each point can be substantiated from the Scriptures.

First, “set a time for the study of the law.” Every true Christian should form the habit of a daily “Quiet Time” to prayerfully read God’s Word (Acts 17:11). However, it is this editor’s calculated estimate (and I would delight to be proved wrong!) that most Christians today have not formed such a habit. The shallowness of our Christianity tends to confirm this, and perhaps there is no better confirmation of it than the frequent dearth of meaningful participation in many of our “Breaking of Bread” meetings.

Second, “say little.” We live in a day and age when virtually everyone wants to have his say, whether or not he has anything to say. Talk is cheap. The first words off the tip of our tongues are often not the best. It’s better to listen, to wait, to be silent, to meditate. As James has exhorted us, “My beloved brethren, let every man be…slow to speak” (1:19).

Third, “do much.” One of the most justified criticisms of God’s people today is that we have talked much and done little. The old quip is unfortunately true, “When all is said and done, more is said than done.” Let us consistently keep in mind that “an ounce of walk is worth a ton of talk.” Ponder our Lord’s words in John 9:4 and the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in 1 Corinthians 15:58. If you don’t recall these verses, is it too much work to look them up?

Fourth, “greet everyone with a cheerful countenance.” This, of course, does not mean that we’re to go around greeting everyone we meet with a silly little grin. Rather, as we go about our job, pay our bills, make our purchases, fix things around the house, and so on, there should be a cheerfulness about our bearing, a cheerfulness that is exhibited in kind words and deeds (Psalm 21:6; 42:11; 43:5; Proverbs 15:13; Acts 2:28). And remember, like enthusiasm, cheerfulness is catching (see Acts 23:11; 27:22, 25, 36).

Thank you, Rabbi Shimei, for your words of helpful and healthful counsel.

Reaction too Slow

A federal inspector has testified that quicker pilot reaction to a warning horn might have prevented TWA Flight 514 from crashing into a Virginia mountain last December 1, killing all 92 people aboard. Richard R. Neville told a board of inquiry into the crash that the horn’s beep eight seconds before impact, set off automatically by radio altimeter, signaled that the plane was just 500 feet off the ground. At that point the doomed jet was half a mile from the ridge where it crashed.

Asked whether a burst of power immediately after the horn’s warning could have carried the Boeing 727 safely over the mountain, the inspector said he would have to assume that would have been possible. He emphasized in his testimony, however, that the speed of pilot reaction would depend on how busy he was at the time. The flight’s crew was fighting hard against storm winds. The pilot tried to apply extra power six seconds after the horn sounded and was climbing when the plane crashed 95 feet below the top of the mountain.

Having read this account, I was reminded of the many warnings in the Word of God regarding man’s need to receive Christ before it is eternally too late. Granted, the pilot’s length of time to react to the danger signal was extremely short, but at best so also is the length of our earthly life. Multitudes of people are too busy, or else preoccupied with this thing and that, to heed the warning of the Gospel in time. Spiritual disaster for all eternity is the tragic result.

Remember, God has declared: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Teen Commandments

On the occasion of my oldest son’s fourteenth birthday earlier this year, a much beloved friend — now an octogenarian — whose life and testimony in Christ have been a great blessing to our family, sent him a card with the following “teen commandments”:

    1. Don’t let your parents down; they brought you up.

    2. Choose your companions with care; you become what they are.

    3. Be master of your habits or they will master you.

    4. Treasure your time; don’t spend it; invest it.

    5. Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.

    6. Select only a date who would make a good mate.

    7. See what you can do for others; not what they can do for you.

    8. Guard your thoughts; what you think, you are.

    9. Don’t fill up on the world’s crumbs; feed your soul on the Living Bread.

    10. Give your all to Christ; He gave His all for you.

Surgery on the Sphinx

Since the middle of last year Egypt’s fabled Sphinx has been undergoing a bit of surgery. Drifting desert sand has been eating away at the soft-stone monument, coupled with the fact that its massive noseless head is too heavy for its neck. To cope with these problems, neck braces were installed to shift the weight of the head to the shoulders, while the thighs were wrapped in plastic and injected with chemicals to prevent further deterioration. The braces being used were actually built during the Second World War to protect the Sphinx from German bombing raids, but for some reason were never put on. There are no plans to restore the missing nose, which contrary to popular belief, was not shot off by Napoleon’s invading troops in the 19th Century. The truth of the matter is, a religious sheik mutilated the face in 1436 because he believed the flow of people visiting the Sphinx was a sign of atheism.

Built some 45 centuries ago, the Sphinx stands before the Pyramids of Chephren and Cheops, looking east into the rising sun. The lion’s body and the large human head have fascinated tourists ranging from Alexander the Great to Henry A. Kissinger. The Sphinx is probably the idealized portrait of Chephren that architects transformed into a monument for him from a bluff of rock that remained after the best. stones had been taken for the pyramids. It stands 66 feet high and is 244 feet long, having been built during Egypt’s Fourth Dynasty around 2550 B.C.

With this bit of surgery, the experts claim that the Sphinx will survive another several thousand years. The experts, however, may be wrong. Men go to great lengths sometimes to preserve monuments from antiquity, and with this no fault is found, but to say that the Sphinx will be around another several thousand years is open to serious question. God’s Word tells us that at the end of the millennial reign of Christ “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat; the earth also and the works that are in it, shall be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). In other words, Peter is saying that every vestige of sinful man’s works — the Sphinx included — shall be “burned up” and “dissolved.” And there is good reason to believe that this divine purging or renovation of the present heavens and earth is considerably closer than several thousand years away.