Idioms, O Idioms!

The Song of the Mountains – Verse 43


Have you ever had occasion when you needed a flashlight to see in the dark, only to find that the batteries were dead, leaving you to fumble around in the dark to find what you need or make your way? It is an unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous experience for sure. What causes the flashlight to work is that internal charge, its power-supply, the batteries. When the batteries are full, the flashlight gives off a bright light; but as they drain, the light begins to darken until its dead.

The lesson. 

In Matthew 6:22-23 Yeshua/Jesus teaches, “The eye is the lamp of the body. Therefore if your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” 

These verses are often approached from an esoteric perspective. Drawing on some hidden meaning of light, darkness, eye and lamp. What does Yeshua mean by “light” and “darkness,” “eye” and “lamp”? I submit that there is nothing inherently esoteric about these verses at all. Their meaning is rather simple, and the lesson flows in perfect harmony with the context of what Yeshua has been speaking about.


In the past two articles on the Sermon on the Mount, we have been corrected regarding what we treasure, and upon what we rest our hearts – as what we treasure will be the position from which we experience this life. Then, in the verse that follows our present subject, Matthew 6:24, Yeshua tells us that we cannot serve two masters: we cannot serve both God and money

The question we need to ask is this, “How do we demonstrate the location of our treasure? How do we demonstrate that we serve the Lord alone? Yeshua provides the answer, yet He does so in a way that is rather unusual to us, but well known to His audience.


Yeshua uses two rather well known Hebraic idioms. Every language has idiomatic expressions, which do not often translate well into other languages. In English more than I have space to list, but as examples: “kick the bucket,” “when pigs fly,” “hit the books,” “hit the sack,” “go cold turkey,” “on the ball,” “under the weather,” etc. 

If you speak English, specifically American English, you know what these expressions mean; the imagery, however, created by these expressions is rather confusing to non-American English speakers. One idiomatic expression that I like comes from the Luo Language spoken in the lake district of Kenya, it’s the name for Kale, “sua wiki,” which means “push the week,” meaning in English terms, “I’m broke but this green stuff will get me through the week.” Yeshua is using well-known Hebraic idioms.

The eye doctor. 

The “good eye” in first-century Jewish culture meant to be content and generous; conversely, the “bad eye” meant to be discontented and stingy. 

If we are full of treasure that has been laid up and secured for us in heaven, we are content, generous, selfless and care for the condition of others. If we only care about earthly treasures, we will be discontent, stingy, selfish, and not care for the well-being of others. 

Yeshua is speaking to our inward condition, and how it affects our relation to, and outlook on the world around us. The contextual flow of Matthew 6:19-24 can be paraphrased something like this:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth that time degrades or thieves steal. Be open handed, trusting in God, thereby laying up treasure in His heavenly depository. It is that treasure that is of real value, and infinite worth. Heavenly treasure allows your eyes to see well beyond natural sight, to the infinite worth of those around you. Earthly treasure closes your eyes as you begin to focus on the glitter of this world, not recognizing the encroaching darkness. In a daze you sleepwalk through life. Serving money, a slave to the very thing you believe you control. Lulled to sleep, the darkness deepens until the light overcomes your darkness.   

We can be abundantly blessed in this life, and never bless others. This is darkness.

We can be abundantly blessed in this life, and share that blessing with others. This is light.

So where is it? Your treasure? 

Messiah has said where our treasure is, there our heart will be. He then inquires as to our generosity – the way in which we “love our neighbor as ourselves.” This section of the Sermon on the Mount will come to a conclusion when Messiah asks us where our allegiance is: with the God’s Kingdom? Or with money? 

Dear reader, I pray that we are walking in His light, and not in the darkness of fear. 

Shalom. Be well.

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