Author: Laura

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Word Study: Cherish חב

 

QUICK WORD STUDY – CHERISH – (ARAMAIC) KAV  חב

John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

English has an all purpose word of affection called love. We love Big Macs and we love our parents. We use the same word and it is only the context that will reveal the level or intensity of this word love. Hebrew and Aramaic have a number of different words which translators tend to just lump into this English word love. The word is Aramaic used in John 3:16 is chav which broadly means love but to the ears of the first century Semitic person, they heard the word which to us in English would be cherish. To understand this like a first century Semitic person you should read this as: “For God so cherished the world.”

Quick Word Study: Perfection גמרא

QUICK WORD STUDY – PERFECTION גמרא

Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”

Jesus is speaking in Aramaic and not Greek. In Aramaic the word for perfect is gmeera. Among the Semitic people there is a fairly common phrase used for a learned person, gmeera biolpana which means that this person is acquainted with every branch of learning. A lawyer or one who is well versed in the law is called a gmeera bnamosa. Gmeera among Semitic people means one who has an understanding. In fact when a young man reaches maturity he is said to be a gmeera or one who has reached the level of understanding to be considered an adult. In the context Jesus is instructing His disciples to have an understanding of the Kingdom of God like God understands His kingdom, that it is inclusive, not exclusive. Not just the Jews but all are welcome into His kingdom.

Word Study: Open My Eyes

WORD STUDY – OPEN MY EYES

Numbers 22:28 “And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?”

Numbers 22:31 “Then the LORD opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.

It seems to me that the Lord had to do a lot of opening to get a message across to the prophet. So just what is this opening up stuff all about anyways and does it have any meaning for us today?

Many have mocked this story saying it is impossible for a donkey to speak. Peter said in II Peter 2:16 that God caused an animal without speech to speak. Some translations say that He caused an animal without the organs to speak to speak. We have to admit that it is physically impossible for a donkey to imitate human speech and be as articulate as this dumb animal apparently was. For this animal to convey human speech God would have had to create the organs and the intellect in this animal for this moment and then take it away and turn it back into a dumb animal.

It is curious that the English translation uses the English word opened in verse 28 where God opened the mouth of the donkey and in verse 31 God opened the eyes of Balaam. In the Hebrew there are two different words used. In verse 28 God pathach the mouth of the donkey and in verse 31 God yakal the eyes of Balaam. True, pathach and yakal means to open, but open in a much different way.

Yakal is an opening into the senses, the disclosing or revealing of a secret. Here God simply allowed Balaam to peer into the supernatural realm as He did with the servant of Elisha when he saw the vast armies of angels.

Yet, Pathach is a different type of opening. Pathach literally means borders or edges. The sages teach that Pathach is an opening just beyond the physical realm or past the borders of the physical realm. It is for this reason that many suggest, including Jewish literature, that this was just a vision that Balaam had. I have a problem with that because Scripture is always very clear to call something a vision and to use the word ra’ah as seeing into the spiritual realm. That is not the case here. Checking extra Biblical literature I find that pathach is also an opening of the heart. When joined with pei (mouth,) as it is here, it has the idea of expressing one’s heart through the mouth. Most likely the donkey just brayed. Just as all a baby can do is cry. Yet a mother knows her baby’s cry. The Baby may cry because it is hungry. It may cry because it is lonely and wants to be held. It may cry because it has a rash or something sharp in the diaper is poking it. If I listen to the cry with my physical ears, all I hear is “Wa Wa Wa Wa.” But if a mother listens to the cry with her heart, she hears, “I am lonely” or “I am hungry.” That is pathach, that is the opening of the baby’s mouth to the mothers whose heart is in tune with the heart of her baby.

There are many cultures that practice what is called yiredu or dominion over animals. That is they come down to the level of the animals and listen to them. We have heard of horse whispers or dog whispers. This is really nothing more than yiredu. Our Native Americans practiced yiredu. When hunting they would call the animal to them and when the animal came they would ask. The animal would respond that this was his mission in life is to feed the hunters family and that he wants to fulfill this mission.

The sages teach in Jewish literature that in the spirit world our five senses, smell, touch, taste, hearing and sight becomes one sense, a sixth sense. In a July 1, 2000 article in Psychology Today Magazine, Dr. Dean Radin reveals that many trained psychologist are seriously pondering and actually believe that a sixth sense exist in humans. The sixth sense is an inner feeling where you actually physically feel something. It is believed that animals have a sixth sense, they can tell when someone is dying, when a storm is coming. When the Tsunami hit in Thailand back in 2004 the villagers along the coast saw the animals heading inland long before anyone was aware of the approaching tsunami. The villagers who believed that animals have a sixth sense knew something was in the wind and so they also took off into the jungle. The Westerns in their scientific ways just ignored the signs and they were lost when the tsunami hit. If they practiced yiredu, coming down to the level of the animals, the animals would have told them of approaching danger, not in words but in their actions.

The thing is, if you believe like those in many cultures throughout the world, including the Semitic culture, that animals have a sixth sense then you would have no problem with Numbers 22:28 as you would know that animals can speak. If you listen with your heart that bird that flies to your window chirping up a storm, could very well be a pathach, where he is opening his heart to your heart. When practiced long enough those chirping sounds can be transformed in your heart into words that flow from your lips so that your natural mind will understand what that little bird is saying.

Years ago Western Union would receive messages over a telegraph. The message would come in dots and dashes. To the average person all they would hear is “tap, tap, tap.” To the trained ear they do not hear “tap, tap, tap” but “I’ve got the medicine just hang in there.” When the donkey spoke, Balaam showed no surprise, in fact he answered the donkey. This guy was either totally off the reservation or his heart heard the animal actually speak. Perhaps the animal just said: “Hee Haw.” But like the tap tap in a telegraph, he heard the message from the heart of that animal.

God did not just give us His creation for prettiness, He gave it to us to speak to us. Every flower, every living creature cries out about the nature and love of God. We need to listen to God’s creation with our hearts. It will speak to us about God and his loving kindness. The next time a little bird flies to your window and starts chirping up a storm or doing a dance, listen with your heart, that little chirp chirp may be like the tap tap of a telegraph and to the spiritually trained ear it may be God using his little bit of creation as His supernatural telegraph to say, “I’ve got your back, just hang in there.”

Word Study: Before

WORD STUDY – BEFORE

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for my holy purpose. I appointed you to be a prophet to the nations.”

I recently heard someone use this verse to defend the theory of reincarnation. Our spirits were always in heaven and we are sent to earth in a body, live a life, and when we die we are placed in a new body each time either advancing to a higher state if we are good or a lower state if we were bad. This person said she accepts the theory of reincarnation as it is the only way for her to make sense as to why some people suffer more than others. Why some are born in poverty and some in luxury. I have a real problem with this theory because this is literally saying that our works will save us and the death and resurrection of Jesus means nothing. So I do not see this as supporting reincarnation at all. I see it as simply taking one verse of Scripture that fits your agenda and then tossing out the rest of Scripture.

Secondly, I think the original Hebrew does not support this theory. The first thing that stands out is the word before. In Hebrew it is the word is beterem which is an adverb with a preposition attached. It literally means “in but not yet.” It sounds like before so translators go with that. I think that is a coward’s way out. I believe this is to be taken in the context of the next two words. The next two words are the same word formed being repeated. Many commentators say this is just the Semitic way of expressing an emphasis. Yet, I tend to side with the minority view that these are really two different words from two different roots. If I just ignore the Masoretic text and look at this passage as it was before 700 AD I come up with something more profound than God just knowing Jeremiah before he was born.

The first use of the word for formed is ‘etsoreka and I have no problem with the root word being yatsar which means to form, fashion or mold. This is the word used for a potter making a vessel. However, this word is seemingly repeated. The following word is similar but not the same; it is the word ‘etsareka the difference being the deletion of the Vav. I find two possible roots words. One could be ‘atsar which means a treasure or it could be natsar which would mean to watch over, guard or preserve. Thus, I could render this one of two ways. “Before you were formed in the womb I was protecting you (natsar) or watching over you.” If I use the root word ‘atsar then I could say: “Before you were formed in the womb, you were a treasure to me.” As much as I like that I hesitate to say the root word is ‘atsar or treasure as that would suggest favoritism on God’s part and I don’t believe He plays favorites. So I am going with the root word of natsar as God would arrange some protection for Jeremiah if he were to become a prophet.

As I said, using the word before for beterem is a problem. The word before is an easy out. You see, there is no word in the English that is equivalent to beterm. Playing around with this word I come up with a possible rendering of: “While you were being formed in the womb, I knew the hardships you would face as a prophet and even then I laid out a course of protection for you.” If you accuse me of stretching it, I will not deny it. However, just what else can you do with beterm.

Then God says: “Before you were born, I set you apart for a holy purpose.” We again have the word beterem used as before. Literally in the Hebrew we have: “Before you came forth from the womb, I set you apart.” The word used for born is marchem which could mean from the womb, but the word is rooted in the word racham which is the word used for a romantic love or the love a mother has for her baby while still in the womb, hence the word womb. It is, however, used for a mother’s love, to love tenderly and compassionately. It is often rendered in English as tender mercies. Racham is a reference to the womb only in a metaphoric way. It is said a mother’s love is at its purest while the child is still in the womb because the child has not yet rebelled or challenged her love. Her heart has not yet been wounded by the child’s rebellious nature. In trying to find a proper use of the word beterem (before) what I come up with is this: “I set you apart for a holy purpose even before you had a chance to do anything to wound my heart.”

Ok, here is what I think God is telling Jeremiah in this verse and what He might be telling us who also may feel a call upon our own lives. There are times as we pursue our calling that it will seem like God has abandoned us, or withdrew his calling because of the difficult circumstances we may find ourselves in or because of our own rebellion. But that calling was made while His love for us was in its purest state. Although we may have wounded His heart many times in our maturing to our calling, from our very formation He laid out a plan to protect us, a divine insurance policy, that will be in effect no matter what our circumstances or how we respond.

When Jeremiah sat in that dark, damp prison suffering for the prophetic message God called him to give, He may have wondered what type of God he was serving to reward him with this type of treatment. He could reflect on the words God gave to Him: “From the beginning of time I knew my calling upon your life would bring you to this prison, just remember, I called you out of a heart that was the purest it could be. I provided for your protection before you were even born. You may not understand it now; just know this whole thing was birthed in my purest love for you.”

We are in the state and position we are because that is the way God created us and whether it is as invalid in bed or a preacher of a mega church that position is not because of our deeds in a former life but because God specifically created us that way to serve a purpose in this world. Our job is to be a good soldier, no matter what our state is in life.

 

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Word Study: Joyful In Glory

WORD STUDY – JOYFUL IN GLORY

Psalms 149:5: “Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud upon their beds.”

“Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Shakespeare, The Tempest, Act II, Scene II

“Politics makes strange bedfellows.” Charles Dudley Warner

This Psalm tells us to sing aloud upon our beds. This does not have quite the impact upon our Western culture today as it did back in the days that this passage was written. In fact, up until a hundred years ago this passage would cause quite a few tongues to go in their cheeks.

In ancient times privacy during your sleeping hours was an unknown luxury. An “Inn” in those days was nothing like our hotels or motels today. There were no private rooms. An Inn usually consisted of a square building with walls lined with stalls and a feed trough or manager. You would tie up your horse, mule or camel in the stall. Above the stall would be a loft where you made your bed and slept. In the middle of the court was a community fountain where you got water for yourself. There were places to build a fire and cook your meal and it was often shared with other staying at this Inn. There were no presidential suites or luxury rooms. Everyone shared the same accommodations, and paid the same nominal fee. Rich, poor, robber, or merchant, it didn’t matter, there were no class distinctions in an inn. All slept together and often shared their personal adventures together.

Even up until the 18th and 19th centuries private rooms were a rare luxury when traveling. By the 18th and 19th century when you stopped at an inn, you were not paying for a room but a space on a bed. There could be up five different people, all strangers sharing one bed. They became known as “bedfellows.” Politicians while campaigning would travel by horseback and stay at these inns and often times find themselves sleeping in the same bed as their opponents, hence the saying; “Politics may strange bedfellows” is based upon some fact. You may recall from the novel “Moby Dick” where Ishmael hears a strange story told by a “bedfellow.“ Melville wrote this novel in 1851 while such inns were in existence.

Thus, to sing aloud from your bed, could prove to be a real annoyance in such a communal setting. On would have to be pretty joyful to pull that off. More often than not, especially among travelers, it was usually quite common to lay around in your “beds” and share your misery with each other. As Shakespeare said: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows. Years ago, as a youth pastor, I found myself one Sunday, alone, taking care of the nursery. I was in charge for well over an hour of six infants. I quickly learned that if one starts to cry, they all would be crying in a matter of minutes. Misery spreads quickly. Yet, so does joy. It is during the time of sleep that your worries and problems are magnified. It is at this time that if melancholy were to take over, it will be manifested. If there is ever a time to be joyful, it would be at this time.

The word saints in the Hebrew is chasidim which are the merciful ones or kindly ones. The word for joy is ’alaz. This is spelled Ayin Lamed and Zayin and expresses a joy that comes when you see through the eyes of God. Ancient rabbis once said that Psalms 119:8 is the prayer of Ayin: “Open my eyes that I may perceive the wonders of your teachings.” On your bed is usually when you reflect on all your problems. This Psalm encourages you to reflect on the wonders of God’s teachings. This will bring a joy that you cannot help but sing. The word used for sing here is ranan. This is in a Piel Imperfect form. As a Piel it is more than just singing, it is a shout of joy.

In our modern times, if unmarried, we’re the are quite alone when we sleep. It is very easy in those hours of loneliness for the enemy to cause you to think or dwell on all your problems and worries. I believe the writer here is making a play on words. For he instructs us to be joyful in glory. That word in the Hebrew for glory is kavad which means a heaviness. As we reflect on our problems and worries, we will feel a heaviness. When we reflect on the wonders of God’s teachings, we will also feel a heaviness but a heaviness of joy. The writer of this Psalm is telling us that if we reflect on the wonders of God’s teachings and let that heaviness of joy fall on us, we will find a joy that we cannot help but share with others through a loud shout.

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Word Study:Nashon נהשׁנ

WORD STUDY – NAHSHON – נהשׁנ

Num 7:12 And he that offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah:

I am amazed at how Christians will talk of their love for the Word of God but (by my guess) only spend their time, at best, studying 30% of the Bible. Most of their study is in the New Testament particularly the Book of Revelation where they will parse every verb. As far as the Old Testament goes they will read the Bible stories and the Psalms but when they get to a book like Numbers. I mean really who cares that Nahshon was the son of Amminadab from the tribe of Judah and that he gave the first offering?

Well, I will tell you who cares, the Jews. This is from the Torah, the book given to them by God and thus they will devour every word seeking a message from God. If you study this passage in light of the following passages, if you examine the words that are used, meditate on it, the Holy Spirit will reveal a truth to you. I can look at many hours I waste every day, but the three to four plus hours I spend in the Word of God is time I know and am certain is not wasted.

First let’s look at the name used here, Nahshon. The first person to give an offering was a man named Nahson. You don’t usually hear this name very often. It is a Hebrew name from the root word nachash which means an enchanter. It also means one who observes signs both the giving and receiving of signs. Isn’t it interesting that the first one to give an offering is one who observes signs, both the giving and receiving of signs. He is the son of Amminadab which means my kinsmen are of high morals, principled and honorable.

So the first man to give an offering came from a respectable, morally principled and honorable family who carefully watched for signs from God and would give signs to God. You can play around with this yourself to find some message but to me it means that we should look for signs from God and send signs to God. Nahson saw that giving an offering was sign to God, a sign of one with an honorable heart. He did not give an offering to God to get something in return, he gave it to send God a message, a message of love or respect. Ok, that is just me, maybe you can pull something else from that, maybe the Spirit of God is showing you something different. But still this is the Word of God and there is a message for us, even in a verse that seems to have no significant message. But like Nahson, we should look for the signs of a message from God when we find a passage like this that seems to have no spiritual value.

I went to the Midrash Rabbah to see what the Jewish sages and rabbis picked up from this passage. Let me quote from the Midrash Rabbah, more specifically Numbers Rabbah 13&14: “The Torah seems to be squandering dozens of verses by itemizing the gifts brought by the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel on the occasion of the inauguration of the Sanctuary. Each tribe brought its offering on a different day, but the gifts they each brought were identical in every respect, down to the weight of the silver plates and the age of the five lambs. Nevertheless, the Torah recounts each tribe’s gift separately, repeating the 35 item list twelve times in succession.”

Here’s the kicker: “While the twelve tribes made identical offerings, each experienced the event in a different manner. Each of the 35 items in the offering symbolized something – a personality or event in Jewish history, or a concept of Jewish faith or practice- but to each tribe it symbolized different things.” The passage concludes by saying: “All conform to the same divinely ordained guidelines, all order their lives by the same Torah; all carry a common bond with God, yet each flavors the very same deeds with his individual nature and approach…we are faced with the powerful drive to create, to personalize, to grow and soar with our individualized talents and tools.”

This is what it Numbers 7, a chapter which seems to “squander” dozens of verses with repetition, is saying to me personally or what I believe the Holy Spirit is revealing to me for my personal benefit. What it being told here is that everyone is different. We all share a common bond with God, but when it comes to worship and our relationship with God this is personal, individual with each of us responding to God within the nature, creativity, and mentality that He created in us.

I will make a confession. I cannot worship God with the music that is played in our churches today. I know that there are people who can, but I can’t. Yet, I feel this pressure to join in the worship, I lift my hands and I act like I am being blessed by the music. In truth I am not. So what I do is stay seated. Not in defiance. For whatever reason worship leaders expect you to stand during the worship service for the full half hour to forty five minutes as they drone on and on with their horrible music. I am getting to be an old man, it is a really a challenge to stand all that time, particularly when you are bored out of your socks. So I disobey the worship leader, I stay seated. I have my own way of worshipping God and relating to God and it is not the way of the worship leader. I bow my head and I just sit back and enjoy the presence of God. If I feel compelled to lift my hands, I will but if I don’t I won’t.

You see, like you, like every Christian, we are individuals who have a personal relationship with God. Right now God created me old so I worship like an old person. I dig the old hymns and worship songs of the 70’s. That is how I worship. The music may sound silly and stupid to you but to me it brings me into God’s presence just like the modern music does for you.

You see, Numbers 7 convinces me that of the 6 Billion people in the world today, no two are absolutely identical. Each are different in some way. If God made each person different then it stands to reason they can relate to God and worship Him in a way different than the other six billion. So don’t try to tell me how I am to worship God, how I am study His word, or how I am to enjoy my relationship with Him. I have a personal relationship with God and I have spent my entire life discovering how I relate to Him personally without trying to imitate some young whipper snapper who can play a guitar.