Tag: Covenant

image_pdfimage_print

HEBREW WORD STUDY – WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

 

Deuteronomy  7:12: “Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he swore unto thy fathers:”

 

Every promise in the book is mine

Every chapter, every, verse every line.

-Tradition Sunday School chorus-

 

This morning is Thanksgiving day and I woke up singing this little chorus that I sung so often in Sunday School, children’s church and VBS when I was child those many years ago. I grew up attending a Baptist church on Waveland and Damen Avenue in Chicago. My family and I attended that church almost every day of the week and twice on Sundays.  That was home and the people in the church were an extended family who taught me to love God and His Word with all my heart.  My fondest memories of childhood all revolve around that Baptist church.  The memories of white gloved ladies admonishing me to “not run in the house of God” and Herman Bell dressing up as the Duke of Paducah.  I woke up this morning on Thanksgiving with thanksgiving to God that I have these childhood memories to cherish and that I still cling to the faith that was so instilled in me as child by those people who loved me and trained me in my faith.

 

It was, after all a fundamentalist Baptist church where we were taught that dancing, drinking, smoking and theater attendance was sinful. Well, after all those years I still cling to two of those taboos.  I mean I cannot  help but appreciate the art and skills of dancing and there have been some pretty good movies lately with a strong Christian message.  So I guess I did slack off  from a little  bit of that training.  However, there are certain things that were so instilled in me as a child that I will never let go of, that are more precious to me than life itself and that is my belief in the fundamentals of my faith.   I can still sign that doctrinal statement from Moody Bible Institute without flinching.  The key line in that statement is “ARTICLE II The Bible, including both the Old and the New Testaments, is a divine revelation, the original autographs of which were verbally inspired by the Holy Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).”   Note is says, the original autographs not the English version that we have.  With over 120 modern English translations and paraphrases of the Bible it would be impossible to say that they are all the inspired Word of God or that any one of them is the inspired Word of God.  Yet, in a wonderful way, they all really are the inspired Word of God because the original language that it was written in is too ambiguous to render in a word for word translation.  Therein lies my lifelong passion, to study not only every chapter, every verse and every line, but to also study every word and letter of the Bible for I believe that every word and every letter as found in the original autographs are inspired by the Holy Spirit and I have become obsessed with studying as many words and letters of the Bible that I can during this life time.

 

Let me give you an example. In Deuteronomy 7:12 the second word in this verse in Hebrew is eiqev which is rendered in the KJV as it shall come to pass. Some modern English translations

render this as, listen, pay attention, obey, after you have heard, it shall happen, it has been, to name just a few renderings. The word itself means because or on account of.  All the renderings by our many translations are correct.  The translators may render eiqev with different words but it all means the same thing. The message remains unchanged.

 

Now here is what the Jewish rabbis and sages do that we Christians do not do.  We honor the Masoretic text and use it as the basis of our translation, but we do recognize that the Masoretic text, written 700 years after the birth of Christ is not the inspired autograph. The inspired autographs no longer exist or have not yet been found.  We do know, however, that Hebrew writing, at the time of the original autographs had no vowels, it only used consonants. Three of these consonants were used as vowels but that hardly offered us the precise expression that the Masoretic text gave us. The Masoretic text developed a series of dots and dashes to express the finer grammatical points of the Hebrew language.  These finer points help us to distinguish whether the three consonants for eiqev found in ancient text (Ayin, Qof and Beth)  express a noun, conjunction or an adverb.  Oddly, the Masoretic text puts a qammets underneath the Ayin and not a sere’.  The ‘sere makes it an adverb which would then render this as because, on account of, pay attention, listen etc.  But the qammets, which the Masoretic text uses makes it a noun.  This is the same root from which we get the word Jacob. It means in its noun form a heel or the hoof of  a horse.  In its Persian and Akkadian form it means the rear of an army.

 

Now we as Christians just look at the word, say it is an adverb, praise the Lord,  let’s move on. Not so with the Jewish sages and rabbis, they believe every word is inspired by the Holy Spirit in all its grammatical forms.  “Ok,” some ancient sages may say, “It is an adverb, we got that,  but what is God trying to tell us when this word is used as a noun. Huh? Hey? One dimensional Western cultured Christian, did you think about that?”  “Ridiculous,” we say, “In our Bible colleges and seminaries we teach that the word heel or horse hoof or even the rear of an army has nothing to do with keeping the judgments of God. Come on, don’t be so unacademic  and reading into or sermonizing this text.”

 

But you see the sages and rabbis didn’t care about academics, they cared about what God was saying, they wanted to know every little bit of detail in what God was trying to say.  Some ancient rabbis teach that the heel, the horses hoof, the rear of an army are not given much attention yet we are to apply God’s ordinances even to those areas of our lives to which we pay little attention.  Perhaps God is saying we are to trample the ordinances with our heel that is to break them down into its finest detail and examine it piece by piece. Or perhaps, like the heel is insignificant to other parts of our body we are still to pay attention to for without the heel we would not be able to walk. Perhaps God is saying we should pay attention to even the seemingly insignificance parts of his ordinances, for without them we would not be able to walk with God.

 

I can see the sages shaking their fist at us Christians saying, “Just an adverb indeed, mashugana, God inspired His Word without vowels because He has a message for us with his Words being used as verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions and nouns, modern Hebrew syntax – a pox be upon you.”

 

Oh, just a footnote here.  One rabbi actually counted all the Hebrew words in the ten commandments and then calculated the numerical value of the word  eiqev and both came to 172.  I know, big deal, no message there, God didn’t design it that way, just a coincidence, we’re sermonizing again. Right!(?)

{Word Study} Take, Seize “Lakach”

WORD STUDY – TAKE, SEIZE
I Samuel 4:3: “And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines?  Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.”

Take, Seize – Hebrew: lakach – Take, fetch, to seize control or take possession of something that is not yours.
In the Hebrew the nation of Israel is asking: “Why did God defeat us? ” Israel was shocked that God had let them down.   I am surprised too, the only sin that is mentioned is with the house of Eli and his corrupt sons running the worship services.  Is God punishing the whole nation because of the sins of the religious leadership? Their sin was not in their acts but their hearts. Perhaps the next move by Israel is a clue as to the heart of the nation which shows they were no better than their leadership.

The elders said: “Let us take the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us.”  The word for “take” or “fetch” is “lakach” which is taking possession or control of something that is not rightfully yours.   They then added the word: “elinu” which is rendered “unto us.”  Using this form suggest a play on words for “our god.”    In other words they were saying they would seize control of the ark of the covenant to be a god for them.  Then they said “that it might save us.”  Some translations will say that “he might save us.”  Indeed there is no neuter pronoun in Hebrew, but the syntax does suggest that the elders are saying “it” the ark of the covenant and not “He” or God will save us.

Think about it. The most sacred object in the land, the object where the very presence of God rested became an idol, a god.  They knew enough to know that the ark could only be carried by a priest and they either bribed or forced the sons of Eli to carry the ark into battle.  However, they did not know enough to know that it really didn’t matter for apparently the presence of God was not going to manifest itself at this time on the ark. The midrash suggests that the nation of Israel was to consult the ark.  Apparently, they did not need to carry the ark into battle, only consult with God as to what to do in battle.  In other words, the elders had the right idea, but the wrong approach.

In my own life when I enter into battle and get defeated and crawl back licking my wounds, I begin to ask: “God, why did you let me down?”   Then just like Israel I go and seize the Ark.   I start to carry my Bible around, I make sure I read it every day, I play only religious music and spiritual songs.  I begin praising and worshipping because I have heard that brings the power and presence of God.  I listen to testimonies of others who were victorious and try to follow their steps to victory.  I am then ready to go back into battled.  I now have the Ark with me and I  am certain that “it” will save me, yet I end up suffering even a worst defeat.  So what went wrong?  All my good religious practices were “elinu” for me, or a god to me.   They were used to bribe God but not to consult God.

Sometimes the enemy can use even the most sacred thing in our lives to deflect us away from the heart of God. That little cross we carry in our pocket or around our necks become objects or good luck charms to ward off evil things rather than serving as a simple reminder of the one we love.

Devotional Genesis 9:16

Good Morning Yamon Ki Yesepar and Nevim Arith Haymim:

Genesis 9:16; “And the bow shall be in the cloud, and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.”

Why are there so many songs about rainbows,

And what’s on the other side, Rainbows are visions

But only illusions and rainbows have nothing to hide,

So we’ve been told and some chose to believe it,

I know they’re wrong, wait and see,

Someday we will find it, the rainbow connection,

The lovers the dreamers and me.

– Paul Williams-  performed by Kermit the Frog

The Muppets pretty well put me out of business as a ventriloquist.  I mean who wants to go and see a guy with only two puppets when they can turn on the television and see many puppets all with different voices.   But I hold no ill will for Kermit and his friends.  I sing  “Rubber Ducky” when taking a bath and I am reminded of the Rainbow Connection when I read the lead article in last week’s Time Magazine.  If you had not noticed last week’s Time Magazine’s cover story was on the changing view of heaven.  The article was based upon a book by a New Testament scholar, who is the same age as I am and considered a representative of my generation.  He  presented a Scriptural view of heaven and pointed out that when the Bible talks of heaven it is referring the place of God and the earth as the place of man.  As Jesus taught us to pray: “My it be on earth as it is in heaven,” He was telling us that our heaven is here on earth and not in the sky.  The Bible’s message of heaven has been distorted by various cultures and our present idea of a kingdom city distracts us from our true heaven which is on earth and our job is to make it heaven.

I have to admit this old boy did his homework and I can not deny his interpretation of Scripture.  He may very well be right except for one thing. If heaven is the abode of God, then heaven is within me right now for Paul clearly teaches that our bodies are the dwelling place of God (II Corinthians 4:7).

After God destroyed the world and all life except for the ones in the ark he sent a rainbow as a sign of his covenant to never destroy the earth by water again.  It is so unfortunate that the New Age movement claimed the rainbow as their symbol and Christians are now afraid to use the rainbow.

The Bible does not call it a “rainbow’ but just a “bow.”  The word in the Hebrew is “qos” which means to be curved or bent. This is really referring to a bending in the sky.  Rainbow is a modern term as it is a colorful bow in the sky seen after the rain.  We put the emphasis on “rain.”   Yet that is not the emphasis here.  I learned in Sunday School that the promise from God was not to destroy the earth again by water.  But the promise is really of a Messiah.  When you look at the Hebrew word for “rainbow” you find it is spelled “Qof, Vav, Shin.”   The Qof speaks to us of a sacrifice, the Vav tells us that this sacrifice will connect us to heaven and the Shin teaches us that this connection will bring us the passion of God. The writer of the article in Time Magazine covered all his basis except one and that is the rainbow connection. I have never been to heaven and for all I know it may be maybe it will be here on earth, but there is one thing I do know, there is a God out there who loves me and I love Him and when two people love each other they long to be together. The rainbow is nothing more than light diffused into it’s many colors.  Light is our connection to heaven and earth.  Jesus declared that He is the light of the world, He is our connection between  heaven and earth and the rainbow is only a symbol of the beauty of that connection.

What is heaven?  Where is heaven?  I can not answer that any more than the writer of the Time article could, but I do know this heaven is where ever the God I love may be and I plan to make that rainbow connection one day

Have you been half asleep?  Have you heard his voice?

I’ve heard Him calling my name.  Is this the sweet sound

That calls the young sailor? The voice might be one and the same,

I’ve it too many times to ignore it, something I’m suppose to be

Someday I will find it, the rainbow connection, a lover,

A dreamer that’s me.