Richfield man’s book delves deeper into Biblical passage

RICHFIELD — Readers just might interpret the scriptural concept of a camel traveling through the eye of a needle a bit differently upon reading a local man’s book.

Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers. He has also written a children’s book.

In less than a year’s time, Stimeling has self-published two books that focus on scripture.

“Common Thoughts on The Word,” was released in October 2016.

A smaller book, “Eye of a Needle,” was released in August. The newest book references the Mark 10:25 passage, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”

There is more than one belief about this piece of scripture. Some see it as a figure of speech that Jesus used as an example, meaning that a large animal could never enter the eye of a needle.

There has also been discussion about the needle’s eye, a gate in Jerusalem that was very small and only opened after the main gate to the town was closed at night. A camel could get through this gate if the animal lowered himself in position and his baggage was removed.

Stimeling said he learned of the second interpretation more than 40 years ago. He has rarely heard it mentioned since then.

Stimeling said it makes sense to compare the rich man to a camel entering the gate. He would need to lower himself and rid himself of material possessions, humbling himself before God in order to enter the kingdom.

A major point that helped support this theory, Stimeling explained, is that Jesus also said that unless believers come as little children, they cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.

“In the Jewish economy, children were nothing. They were considered as good as a slave. That is the whole setting we need to understand,” Stimeling said.

Humility is the common theme.

Stimeling works in the woods on most days cutting trees, and he does not consider himself a speaker. Instead, he uses that quiet time alone to think and reflect on matters of scripture and then write about them.

He does not speak about his books at services or events. He prefers individuals to read the book and interpret on their own.

It was a day alone in the woods when Stimeling decided to research the needle’s eye gate further.

“I thought, ‘Why would it be called a needle’s eye?’ When you think of a needle’s eye, it’s round. I need to check into this needle’s eye,” he recalled.

Stimeling found a sewing needle and looked closely at the opening where the thread is pulled. The opening is rectangular in shape, not round.

He then opened up the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary to see a photo of the Jaffa Gate, which is long and rectangular.

Still, he said, there are Christians who do not believe in this literal reference.

When Stimeling was finished researching and writing about the topic, he submitted his work to Xulon Press, just as he had his previous book. He asked one the editors at Xulon, a Christian publication company, how she understood the needle’s eye reference.

“She said she saw it as hyperbolic,” Stimeling said, or as an exaggerated expression.

Stimeling discovered the gate reference is also used in the Quaran and the Talmud.

He was unsure about how to put photos from the Zondervan dictionary in his book due to legal issues.

Stimeling called the Library of Congress to ask for permission to use photos of the Jaffa Gate. He was granted permission, making it easier for readers to visualize the gate itself.

“I believe in the providence of God,” Stimeling said. “I like to believe God had something behind all of this working out.”

Stimeling said the production of his books is not about making money. He said he is willing to give the books to churches or ministries at cost to help people further study this piece of scripture and understand this interpretation.

Both of Stimeling’s books are available at local bookstores and online.