In a way, enlightenment has been a goal or achievement of both the Eastern and Western worldviews for quite some time. In Buddhism, starting with its founder in the fifth century B.C.E., individual enlightenment is a follower’s highest goal. “Buddha” means “awakened” or “enlightened one.” For the Buddhist, this means freeing oneself from the cycle of rebirth emptying oneself in meditation. The West has also emphasized the individual’s role in enlightenment, though in the European intellectual movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries. It weighed reason and individualism as of higher importance than revelation and tradition. Key individuals in the Western enlightenment included 17th-century philosophers such as René Descartes, John Locke, and Isaac Newton. This longing for enlightenment, it could be argued, is an essential component of being human, made in God’s image.
A traditional Western text, Genesis, holds great wisdom that is universally applicable, especially here. Genesis includes the story of two individuals who experienced enlightenment. In fact, these were the first two people, the infamous Eve and Adam, the parents of all cultures. They gained great consciousness of themselves, but not through meditation. It was through their actions. They reasoned against the only tradition around at that time, the one law that God had created for them. They violated that law by deciding to eat from a tree that held tantalizing fruit and promised with its ingestion, insight. Their eyes were opened to the difference between right and wrong. They then realized their stark nakedness and were suddenly ashamed of their vulnerability.
So, had they found what they were looking for? Without realizing it, Adam and Eve activated the catalyst for God’s plan of salvation. This plan was to bring a future, divine messiah, whose arrival is subsequently predicted throughout all Hebrew Scripture, starting in Genesis 3. There Eve asks if she might be the mother of this child. Instead, history unfolds, centuries go by and the Jewish people are established and chosen to carry that promise on.
The Bible holds a universal truth about the search for enlightenment. Humans are drawn to it. Ultimately, the box of undesirable consequences that Adam and Eve—not Pandora—flung open, affects each human seeking truth. The Bible, in Genesis and beyond, outlines a narrative in which God is always seeking to be in harmony with creation. It creates a tradition of animal sacrifice and fulfills the need for it forever with God’s own death and resurrection on our behalf.
Are you seeking the ultimate enlightenment? It’s available now. God desires to give us insight if we fully seek Him. His presence can fulfill the deepest needs with which we were designed. The illumination provided in Scripture of who He is and how we can know Him is the most crucial truth we can find.
There are many people who have devoted their whole lives to helping other people discover this for themselves. Some of those people are the staff who work for Jews for Jesus.
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