WORD STUDY – BOLDLY – גליא (ARAMAIC)
Deuteronomy 1:29-30: Thus I said unto you, “Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The Lord that goeth before you, he will fight for you according to all that he did for you in Egypt.”
“We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Captain Oliver Hazard Perry to General William Henry Harrison.
Most Americans know very little about the War of 1812. Yet, it was this war that finally brought peace between Britain and the United States and set the ground work for Britain becoming our strongest ally. It is the war that brought us the words “Don’t give up the ship” spoken on the dying lips of the commander of the USS Chesapeake Captain James Lawrence. It was the only time this nation had a foreign invader touch the soil of our land. It was the war were the Battle of New Orleans was fought, the war that brought us the Stars Spangle Banner and unknown to many was a war we fought against Canada as well as the Britain. It is also the war where the 28 years old captain of the USS Lawrence on Lake Erie lost his ship and in a row boat rowed ½ mile through heavy gun fire and delivered the Battle Flag to the USS Niagara where he continued the fight until he could send a message to General Harrison. “We have met the enemy and they are ours.” Oddly, it was a war that ended because the reasons for going to war sort of disappeared. When both sides sat down and asked, what are we fighting for? They realized that Britain’s victory in the Napoleonic Wars brought an end to trade restrictions and impressments of American sailors into the British navy (which started the war).
Still the awesome thing about the War of 1812 was this struggling little nation declaring War of the mighty British Empire. It has been compared to David and Goliath. Captain Perry declared what Israel should have declared when they came to the Promise Land: “We have met he enemy and they are ours.” That was the clear promise from God. Instead, in the face of the Anakims, the giants of Canaan they said like Walt Kelly’s Pogo, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Strange that Kelly’s quote is better known than Captain Perry’s quote.
In Deuteronomy 1:29, Moses is sort of telling Israel; “I told you so.” Israel was so close to the Promised Land. In fact they actually touched the Promised Land but the fear of Anakim kept them from moving forward. As Matthew Henry put it, “An unbelieving heart is at the root of all disobedience.” This is the shadow of the Chet, paralyzing fear. The Chet is a Vav joined with a Daleth. It is a doorway for man to enter the throne room of God. Paul instructs us in Hebrews 4:16 to come boldly before the throne of God. The word boldly in the Greek is parresiai which is used to express the idea of confidence to speak frankly. In extra Bible literature I found parresiai to be used to express the idea of without fear. In the Aramaic the word boldly is glia. The best definition of glia is “What you see is what you get.” You approach the throne of God without fear, without any pretense. He knows you better than you know yourself so you do not need to hide anything from you. As the old hymn goes, Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.” You approach with all your sin, all your darkness and you need not fear that He will punish you or condemn you. Queen Esther had to spend a lot of time in preparation before she approached the king, her husband. We need no preparation, we just go before Him without any plea because His blood was she shed for us.
Moses was trying to show Israel that God never gave them any reason to fear. The whole journey to the Promise Land was filled with victory in battle, crossing the red sea, manna from heaven and water from a rock. It was all sent to prepare the hearts of the people so that when they confronted the Anakim, they would not be afraid.
But why throw rocks at Israel? Throughout my life God has always been faithful. Now I meet a real giant and I fall into dread and fear. Are not dread and fear the same? Not quite. Fear is the word yara’ which is a fear of man. Dread is the word ‘arast which is terror of the unknown. But here is something very strange about this these words, they each have a paragogic Nun. Dr. Stephen Kaufman of Trinity Seminary made a comprehensive study on the paragogic nun. His conclusion is that the paragogic nun is really just a scribal tradition rather than an living linguistic phenomenon. In other words it was a mistake by the ancient scribes in maintaining an imperfect form of the word while trying to put it into a jussive form.
Now, that is higher criticism for you, they are always finding errors in the Bible. Since I happen to be one of those crazy conservatives who (gasp!) actually believe there are no errors in the Bible, I have a simple explanation for the paragogic nun. It was put in these words rendered as fear and dread to send a hidden message. I know, that would give me an “F” in Dr. Kaufman’s class. However, the nun does represent faith. And I believe when Moses used the words yara and aras with a paragogic Nun and if Dr. Kaufman is right that it was intended to create a jussive form, then what Moses was saying is do not let dread and fear destroy your faith. In other words, your dread and fear are of a spiritual nature and if you allow it to surface it will destroy your faith.
Like many of you I face real giants creating a real dread and fear in me. Yet, I must realize that as a following of Jesus Christ who is seeking God’s heart, these circumstances, giants are not a random dumb luck, but is being orchestrated in the spiritual realm and meant for one purpose to destroy my faith.
Do you face a situation that creates fear and dread? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, that fear and dread may very well have a paragogic nun and it will fill you for only one reason, to destroy your faith. Job faced a very dreadful and fearful situation but he fought it off by declaring his faith: “The Lord gives, the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” “Though he slay me, yet I will trust in him.” We need to let our faith destroy fear before fear destroys our faith.