Yesterday, my wife and I completed a seminar "Ancient Paths" that went for three evenings and half a day Saturday. The main gist of the seminar was to examine the ancient traditions in scripture which relate to family and society.“This is what the Lord says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths:Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves...” Jeremiah 6:16 ESV The phrase "ancient paths" is from Hebrew "Olam," which signifies tried and true eternal principles.
In the traditional Hebrew society, there were a lot of measures in place to protect the soul from unnecessary damage and to affirm that each individual had value and purpose. But in modern society, especially the last fifty years, even the most basic understandings of family and society have been lost. One of the main aspects of the seminar is to address wounds that have occurred as a result of not following God’s prescribed ways and so it was a highly personal and intensive experience. A lot of our families have major issues that have been passed down from one generation to the next unresolved.
My mother became a Christian when I was a very young boy, about the time she and my father were divorced. She did her best to bring me to church and youth group etc. But there were no mechanisms in place to deal with the deeper issues that come from being raised in a broken home with an absentee father. My father's family had a lot of issues but he did the best he knew how as a long distance father. The seminar helped to explain the roots of family dysfunctions going back to our parent's parents. There were opportunities after each session to pray together in small groups and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any areas that we needed to address.
There were many good points made in the teachings but one that stood out to me was the need for the affirmation of a son or a daughter and a release into manhood or womanhood. In the Hebrew, this release into adulthood is called a Bar Mitzva for the boy and Bat Mitzva for the girl, and is usually performed at age thirteen. You can see the basic idea of this blessing in the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the Hebrew culture, the Bar Mitzvah is a major celebration often with as much expense as a wedding celebration. One tradition is to carry the young man around in a chair as the father exclaims “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” The seminar points out how the father’s blessing and love are not based on the performance of the son but, rather, are based on the unconditional love of the father. And so this is a rite of passage for all legitimate biological sons.
Because Jesus was not actually the biological son of Joseph, this public blessing was not possible. Jesus lived with this shame until he was thirty years old and he received the blessing from the Father in heaven (Luke 3.21-22). For me to hear this account was encouraging because I also did not receive this type of family blessing as a young man. Rather than a blessing and affirmation, one of my predominate memories was one of anger and shame, causing me to develop a protective shell. Although I had prayed about this issue many years ago and felt a sense of closure, at the seminar the Holy Spirit revealed the need to address this issue again and for me to spiritually receive the long overdue blessing of a young man entering manhood. Luke 3.21-22 shows it's never too late to receive this kind of affirmation.
This point is just one aspect of the seminar that I found helpful. Though there is a danger of becoming absorbed in one’s own minutiae, the reality is that the church is to be a kind of spiritual hospital where one can find healing and love. Jesus is the ultimate healer, but it helps to have a venue in which to adress root issues and seek His complete healing in all areas of life. Those who have been through difficult family situations are more able to understand and assist those who also need help and comfort. (II Cor 1.4)
As society and the basic family unit have become more lost in this relativistic, pluralistic world, I believe these types of seminars/workshops are becoming more necessary. My wife and I are praying about becoming involved in this type of ministry and offering it at our church fellowship. The principles of the seminar are based on scripture and can be studied in book form, but I believe the seminar is much better because it offers the prayer/workshop element. The seminar we attended in Simferopol was hosted by Ruslan and Sharon Borodina and the material was by Craig Hill.