It is impossible to understand the NT metaphors standing alone. A good example is the camel through the eye of the needle. Matt. 19.24 reads, “… I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Jumping to an answer is how most people interpret texts but let’s take a deeper look.
We all want to condemn the rich man outright and ride the camel. An easy way is to draw on two NT quotes say from Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Maybe the camel had more spirit than the rich man we could say. Another maybe John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Maybe the rich man liked darkness whereas the camel loved light.
We could also quote the following texts if you don’t think the above two appropriate. “And behold, one came and said unto him (Jesus) Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” – Matt. 19:16. “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give it to the poor … and come and follow me” – Matt. 19:21.
But why use a camel? Is it just a ditty to add spice to the anecdote? Quoting random texts does not really help us understand this axiom. So what do we do? How can we ride the camel?
Let’s think. The rich man has possessions. And the camel has no possessions. For one it is all “my” as he has everything. For the camel well he just can give. The camel has nothing to give but trudge, or even milk. And we constantly berate that it is better to give to the poor than to be just rich with more and more to label “my”. Was the camel just convenient for this analogy? Who is a giver?
There are other quotes that may give a hint as to what all this is about. “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation,” or paratereis = ocular evidence, not with outward show, ritual ceremony, piety, tenets or doctrine, “The kingdom of God is within you” – Luke 1:20, 21. And we are told clearly that “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” – 1 Cor. 15:50. So what does enter the kingdom if it is not “flesh and blood”?
Now in the metaphor the word “eye”, Greek trupema means an aperture, opening, hole – an opportunity to go through something. But is it a needle we have to go through? Obviously we are not considering the pathway of a thread. An aperture, opening or hole gives one clue as to why a camel may have no trouble of entry. We are being told to enter, for sure and therefore it must be the Testaments and the story within. So far we have not viewed the totality but we have been told one can and one can’t. So what maybe the source of this oblique hieroglyph?
Taken from Ezek. 8 Ezekiel writes, “… the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me (“there” refers to Ezekiel’s vision of Jerusalem while in Babylonian captivity – almah (a virgin – set apart – without), and the spirit lifted me up … and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem … He said, Son of man seest thou what they do? Even the great abomination that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations. And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.” So is this “hole in the wall” the forerunner of the “eye” of the needle?
This word “hole” from Hebrew is chor or chur means a cavity, a hole, hollowed out place. It is equivalent to the Greek word trupema. Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door. And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here. See Ezek. 8:1-18 for all the details. Now the book of revelation says open the door.
Now if the rich man in Jesus’ day could look through this hole in the wall of Jerusalem, that became a door, and seeing such abominations, would he enter? He was seeking the kingdom of heaven by outward possession. He cannot interpret the text nor understand the text’s intention like the priestly and ministerial elite. So, no, he would not go through the door. He would not want to tarnish himself with the populace. He is above that level. He was carnally of flesh and blood, justified by wealth and power, but he was dead. “The carnal mind is enmity against God” and although thinking they are in heaven can never enter heaven. He had nothing to give. His ideas of course are one of righteousness, highest ethics and highest morality. His riches substantiate his justification, his steadfastness. Having eyes to see he had no perception and he has kept the revelation of “Jesus Christ” a mystery, the door to Revelation, usually on the front of his church has remained bolted.
Now the poor camel, not bound by precepts and statutes, (“would not give a stuff” as the riffraff often say) would be willing go through the “eye” without compunction. The camel represents the person who is non-judgmental. He or she enters Jerusalem, “The Written Word”, and finds the “holy” set apart – “bethulah” – with. The rich man may read but will never understand the Ancient codes that are all antithetical to the exclusive doctrinaires of the rich and wealthy who never had the time to find precepts upon precepts.
So you cannot have one Testament without the other “You can’t have one without the other.” So who is prepared to go through that open door to Revelation?