Tag: Israel

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WORD STUDY – HE WILL NOT SLUMBER אלינומ

   

Psalms 121:3: “Behold, he that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps.”

 

Many years ago when I taught school in Arlington, Virginia , which bordered Washington D.C.,  I took a room in a house with three other borders.  One was an engineer working on the new rapid transit system for Washington, D.C., the other work for the CIA (never saw much of him as he was always on business out of the country),  and a third who worked for the secret service in the White House., Whenever he was off duty, he was sleeping. I asked him if he ever got drowsy while on duty guarding the White House.  He looked at me as if I just swore at him and said: “If you were responsible for the life the most important and most powerful man in the world, would get drowsy?”   I had to think on that one.  Being a teacher I knew if I do not keep my classes interesting I would be hearing a wide variety of snoring among my students and sometimes I did.

 

No matter how tired you get, if you are involved in something stimulating or some interesting activity, you will under most circumstances be able to overcome drowsiness.  I recall working  a couple jobs and going over 40 hours without sleep and never once getting drowsy as I was active the whole time.   I also know what it was like to get  consistent 8-10 hours sleep  and to sit in a boring classroom counting sheep rather than mathematical formulas.

 

Some years ago I worked the midnight shift as a security guard for a high rise apartment building.   I was very tired and was fighting sleep.   As I caught myself dosing, I began to think of those words, “If you were responsible for the life of he most important and  powerful man in the world, would get drowsy?”   I was “guarding” a building filled with Newscasters, soap opera actors,  athletes, lawyers, physicians, etc.”   Sure these were people ordinary human beings who happened to achieve the ultimate success in their chosen field just like the President of the White House, only no one was gunning for the news anchor of Channel 9 News, or some soap opera character.  So with practically zero threat, I found myself getting drowsy.  But if my supervisor gave me notice that the newscaster had a fatwa of death ordered for some news report she gave and I was to be on alert for some bearded, white robed guys with long curved knives, I don’t think I would have gotten very drowsy on the job.

 

So on the surface, the fact that God neither slumbers or sleeps for Israel, those he deeply loves, the very nature of these words indicates that he takes his job and the threat against those he loves very seriously.

 

The word keep in Hebrew is shamer which means to guard and watch over.   For the one who guards Israel He neither slumbers or sleeps.  The Bible makes it clear in the New Testament that even gentiles who love Him are brought under the umbrella of Israel.  So the one who guards Israel  is guarding me.   But this is a guard who takes his job so seriously that he will not slumber or sleep. 

 

Slumber in Hebrew is num which means to be drowsy,  to sleep but lightly sleep such that you are easily awakened.  Examining this word’s built in commentary I discover that it is spelled Nun, Vav, Mem.   The Nun suggest that slumber comes from being blocked off or  having you attention diverted.   I may allow God to nod off every so often, but one thing I would not want is for his attention to be diverted for even a moment.   As I pass through the valleys of life I know God is not sleeping but sometimes I wonder if His attention is diverted away from me and in that moment the enemy could jumped in and got his grubby hands on me.  Not so according to the word num.   That Nun tells me that his attention is never diverted from me.   Check out the Vav.  The Vav is described as a hook, or dependency  upon someone or something.  The Vav is our connection to God from earth to heaven, from the flesh to the spiritual.  If God never num or slumbers then he will never allow his connection with us to be severed by some distraction or diversion.   Finally, and this I love, the word slumber ends with a Mem.  The Mem’s shadow shows a drowning in  destructive passion.  God will never allow any destructive passion to separate us from His watch.  No matter what God thinks or feels about our life style or sins, that will not influence his watch care over us.

 

Years ago when President Regan was shot and taken into the operating room, he looked up at his surgeons and said: “I hope you guys are Republicans.”   The surgeon replied: “Mr. President, right now we are all Republicans.”   I asked my Secret Service roommate one time if being a Republican had any effect on guarding a Democratic President.  That was not a good question to ask him, even as a joke. Just as politics had no bearing on my roommate’s duties, so too, the Mem tells me that no sin nor anything we do would have a bearing on God’s watch care over us.

 

I may fall deeply into sin, but having been cleansed by the blood of His Son Jesus Christ  God will still God will not slumber in his watch care over me.  He will not num  (slumber), or let his attention be distracted from me (Nun), server his connection with me (Vav)  nor will he allow sin to influence his watch care over me.  After all I have a big advantage with my Divine Body Guard that the President  does not have with his body guard who may disagree with his politics and that is My Body Guard died on the cross for anything sins or adverse politics I might have with Him.  Come to think of it, our President does have the same Body Guard if he wants it, regardless of his politics.  That Mem belongs to him just as much to me, all he has to do is ask for it.

 

Oh, by the way, I just noticed that num is in a Jussive form which makes it permissive.   God will not allow Himself to slumber.  Slumber sometimes sneaks up on you. It may sneak up on a pilot flying a plane, a soldier on guard duty, a mother with her baby, but with God, slumber is in a jussive form, he will not allow or permit it to happen, it just will not happen.

 

 

 

WORD STUDY – THE DOGS DID NOT BARK לא יחרצ כלב לשׁנו

Exodus 11:7: “But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue, against man or beast: that you may know how that the Lord doth put a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.”

 

I saw a photo on the internet not too long ago of what was considered the most emotionally moving photo of the year. It was a picture taken of the casket of a fallen Navy Seal and lying before the casket was his service dog who had accompanied him in Afghanistan. He was lying down with his head in his paws looking oh so sad.

 

Many people have found a deeper understanding of God through the faithfulness of their pet dog (Sparky my neighbor’s pet bull dog excluded).  They see how a dog will love unconditionally, regardless of one’s race, occupation or appearance. He doesn’t question who or what you are, he will just love.  It is said that a dog has a sixth sense.  They believe that a dog can sense when someone is dying, is aware of impending danger, and can almost read their master’s mind.   Sometime ago soldiers were testing a dog’s ability to navigate a minefield.   They strapped a radio receiver around the neck of the dog while his master stood on hill almost a mile away and observed his dog through a telescope. He whispered directions through a radio.  The dog obeyed each one of his master’s command to turn, back up, move forward etc.  When the dog returned they discovered that they had failed to put the batteries in the receiver.  There was no way the dog could have heard his master’s commands except through some sixth sense. This is likely how the Hebrews communicated with the dogs in Exodus 11:7

 

There is a sort of love/hate relationship between Jews and dogs.  Some aspects of Judaism view dogs as dirty, scavengers and others give great honor to dogs.  Many orthodox Jews today so honor dogs that they will feed their dogs before they feed themselves.  This respect for dogs is the result of this verse in Exodus 11:7.

 

Exodus 11:7 tells the story about the time that the Jews fled Egypt.   You see the Jewish men who worked as slaves under the Egyptians numbered up to 600,000.  In order to keep the slaves in line the Egyptians employed guard dogs.  If any slave attempted to escape the dog would bark out a warning or even attack the slave.

 

What happened at the time of the Exodus is explained in Exodus 11:7.  The Lord was going to show the difference between the Egyptians and Israel by the fact that the dogs would favor the Hebrews and not their masters, the Egyptians.  They would not bark out a warning or attack the Jews when they sought to escape from the Egyptians.  The Talmud teaches that the Jews were actually able to speak and have a conversation with the dogs and the dogs listened and followed their instructions.

 

In Genesis 1:26 God gave man dominion over the animals.  If you have been following my blog you probably remember an earlier study over the debate of the root word for the word that is rendered as dominion.  Christians say the root word is radah which means to subdue.  The sages. however, teach that the root is yadah which means to come down to.  They believe the ability to speak to the dogs comes from this understanding of yadah, that you come down to their level and their world.  That is they speak not with their lips, but with their heart.

 

There is also a spiritual understanding here.  The ancient sage Chazal, which is really the initials for three sages Chochmenu, Zichrona and Levaracha, teach that the Holy Scriptures were given without any vowels and thus you are allowed to assign each vowel as you wish according to the idea behind your personal revelation from God.

 

The Hebrew word for dog is a good example. You see the word for dog is kalev.  This is a play on words.  For kalev also means like your heart. The Kap could be the preposition as or like before the word lev which is the word for a heart.  The literal understanding of this passage in Exodus is that the dog would not wag his tongue or bark out a warning and thus the Jews could escape from slavery.  The ancient teaching is that there is a double meaning in this passage. One is that the dogs did not bark and the other is the alternative rendering like their heart was their tongue.   The difference that God showed between the Egyptians and Israel is that their heart was like their tongue.  What they said with their speech was what was in their heart.  The Egyptians speech was filled with falsehood and unbelief.  This led to their destruction.  Israel’s speech was filled with truth and faith, this led to their deliverance.  When one’s speech is filled with truth and faith, judgments are eliminated. By the way, I think many dog lovers can appreciate the play on the word Kalev as meaning both dog and like a heart. That does not apply, of course, to Sparky.

 

Anyways, the sages try to teach that to exercise yadah (dominion) over a dog; one’s speech must be as ones heart.  A dog does not listen to the words you say.  He does not understand your speech. However, he pays close attention to you facial expressions, your movements and the tone of your voice. These are all expressions of your heart.  He cannot discern if you are fearful or angry, he is just able to discern if you are a threat to him and if you are, he will react accordingly.  Sparky knows I am a definite threat and so he barks a very unfriendly bark when I pass by.  You don’t fool a dog.  The same way you do not fool God.  God does not hear the words you pray. You may say some very pretty words, but they are meaningless to God.  You can go on and on with a prayer, “Lord, help old Charlie, he is in a tough way, he has that cancer you know, he wants to be healed, so Lord go ahead and heal him.”  The Bible tells us that God knows our needs before we even ask Matthew 6:8. Like Sparky, He listens to our hearts, not what we say. The Bible also says we worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). You are not going to fake out God any more than you will fake out Sparky.  God knows your heart, you motives, and He knows if you really care about old Charlie or you just care about making an impression on people with your pious prayer and words.

 

HEBREW WORD STUDY – FIRST CHURCH OF THE WILDERNESS

 

Exodus 35:1-2, “And Moses gathered all the congregation of the children of Israel together, and said unto them, these [are] the words which the LORD hath commanded, that [ye] should do them.  Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.”

 

Today is Sunday morning; it is the Sabbath day for most of Christianity.  The Jews, of course, celebrate the Sabbath from sun down Friday to sun down Saturday and our Christian Sabbath is celebrated from midnight to midnight on Sunday which is something started during the Roman era. I don’t get hot and bothered about the day we celebrate the Sabbath because Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27) so I don’t think He was into splitting hairs on the matter of which day we celebrate the Sabbath. He just said it was to be the seventh day and as far as I have been raised in this Western culture we practice Sunday as the last day of the week and to me Sunday is the seventh day.

 

It is taught by the Midrash that the implementation of God’s instructions for the Sabbath came along with the instructions for the building of the tabernacle and that the calling of the assembly to give the instructions on the Sabbath was done on the day of the Sabbath at the site of the tabernacle.  Hence according to the Midrash, what this passage is teaching us is that Moses instituted the practice to assemble on the Sabbath to listen to the reading of the Torah.  The events, customs and practices that Jews follow to celebrate the Sabbath are really quite beautiful and meaningful.  There are basically three important elements that occur during the 25 hours of the Sabbath.  As it is forbidden to light any fires or turn on any lights during the Sabbath the women of the household will light the Sabbath candles on Friday night at least eighteen minutes before sundown announcing the beginning of the Sabbath.  They share a Sabbath meal attended by every member of the family sometimes with friends or guest.  This is followed by attending a service.  The purpose of all these rituals actually does serve a practical purpose. They serve to create a space to connect with God, family and friends.

 

The Sabbath was not meant to be celebrated alone. If someone was alone he or she would be encouraged and indeed invited to join another family for the Sabbath meal so they would not be alone. Even the Apostle Paul in the New Testament encouraged us to not forbid the assembling together. Hebrew 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some [is]; but exhorting [one another]: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”  I have to admit that I fall into that category of the manner of some as I found Sunday a perfect time to do my research and study for writing my books.  Although noble in its attempts it is a practice for which I confess to have come under conviction and I now stand to be corrected.  The Talmud teaches that we are not to study the Torah alone, but we are to assemble ourselves together or find a study partner and study the Word of God with others.  Some Jews will even pay someone to study the Torah with them.

 

But as I study this passage of Scripture that takes us back to the time when Moses brought the Sabbath into Hebraic law I discovered something I had never seen before.  The Hebrew masters, the sages and rabbis did not follow the Masoretic text in their placement of the vowel pointings of the words  shashet yamim tha’aseh melaikah.  The Masoretic text renders this as six days you shall do not work.  Yet, the sages say this word for doing or performing tha’aseh is passive and not active and hence you should render it as six days work shall be done.  In other words your work days are not to be considered as a source of your sustenance but are merely a vessel from which you receive the blessings of God.  This really follows the root word for tha’aseh which is ‘ashah and is sometimes used to express the preparation for presenting an offering.  Our work days are to be an offering to God as preparation for that special day of the week, the Sabbath.  There Persians used this word to describe an unchaste woman.  We are to keep ourselves pure throughout the week as we prepare for the Sabbath day.  For many people going to church on Sunday is the only time they think of God and then the rest of the week belongs to them to do whatever they want.  Be every day of the week belongs to God. Each day of the work week we are to prepare for the day of the Sabbath, the day we consummate our love for God.

 

So I guess in a way, Moses was the first pastor of  a church so to speak.  He pastored the First Church of the Wilderness.  Every Sabbath the people would cease from their labors which were performed as an offering to God and then they would use that preparation to  assemble together to hear the Word of the Lord, not so  unlike what we do today.

 

So, if you excuse me, I need to get ready for church.

 

p.s. We just thought we’d mention that there was more content added to yesterday’s devotion, Enoch the Bride, in case you would like to read the updated version.

 

HEBREW WORD STUDY – IT’S THE ATTITUDE

 

Psalm 9:10: “And they that know your name will put their trust in you.  For thou O Lord hast not forsaken those who seek thee.”

 

A name in our culture is quite different than a name in the ancient culture.  Today a child is given a name by the parents because they like the sound of the name. Sometimes they are named after someone in family to honor that family member.  On some occasions a child receives a name that has special meaning and the parents hope the child will demonstrate the characteristics of that name.  In ancient times a person was given a name which described who or what he or she was.  That name could change over the years.   The name would describe the person’s reputation. Those that know God’s name or reputation will put their trust in Him.   The word know is yada which means an intimacy.  It also means to have first hand knowledge from experience.  It is also used as a participle here.  So David is telling us that those who not only know God’s reputation, but are also experiencing it’s benefits first hand, will put their trust in Him.

 

If He has proved faithful in the past He will surely prove faithful in the future. He has earned our trust.  To whom much is given much is expected.  The more God has shown His faithfulness to us, the more we are expected to trust him. This is why the nation of Israel was judge so harshly.  They had a whole portfolio of faithfulness from God and yet when they faced a difficult situation, they could not trust God..  Before we start to threw rocks at Israel, we need to look at ourselves.  You face a tough situation and you worry and fret over it.  Yet, when you stop to consider the long history of God’s faithfulness in your life it really makes no sense to worry about the situation as God has proven Himself over and over.  His reputation is solid.  After having become intimate with the name of God, it would be insulting to Him if we began to doubt his watchcare over us when we go through a difficult situation.

 

We know from first hand experience that He has not forsaken those who seek Him.  The word forsaken is azav.  I like one usage of this word azav which is to give up to quit.  He will not give up or quit on those who seek Him.  I have watched in the business world where an employee may be well qualified to do a job, very skilled, and quite successful in what he does, but he may have a very poor attitude, always complaining, never happy with anything, and making everyone’s life miserable.  They usually end up letting that person go.   Then I have seen some who just don’t quite have the skill level for the job, they really struggle yet they maintain a positive attitude, keep trying their best and usually the company will work with that person and do all they can to help that person succeed.  You all know the word, it is called attitude.

 

God will not give up on those who seek Him.  The word seek is daresh which has the idea of searching for, asking, consulting, applying oneself, promoting the welfare of another, in short a good attitude. I remember when I was in grammar school during a music class our teacher gave the class a good tongue lashing because we all had such poor attitudes.  Then, I swear, right after that speech she had us turn to a song called  “Jimmy Crack Corn and I Don’t Care.”   I couldn’t help but think: “Now what kind of attitude is that?”  The Lord will not give up on those who have a proper attitude.  As long as we do really care to do the right thing, that we  really do desire to serve God and to do our best for God. He will not give up on us.  But if we start to be like Israel in the wilderness and start to complain about the manna, or the way things are run or handled,  the Lord may just “crack our corn.”  Then see if you care.

 

WORD STUDY – PA’AL HAT

 

Isaiah  49:3: “and said unto me,  ‘You are my servant, O’ Israel, in whom I will be glorified.’ ”

 

God is saying  that we are his servants. The Hebrew word for servant is ‘aved‘Aved has a very broad use in the Hebrew, it has the basic idea of laboring for the advantage of someone else.  What is the advantage that God is seeking from us?  To be glorified. The word used here for glorified is ‘athepa’ar.  This is in a Hithpael  imperfect form from the root word pa’al.  This has the idea of adorning with brightness, a beauty that is lite up for all to see. As a Hithpael, God is saying that he wants to light himself up in us. We are just a lamp and he wants to be the light for the lamp.  The word is also used for a very fancy headdress.  This headdress is one that people immediately see and it is very beautiful.  Those who study human behavior will tell you that if you wear some sort of hat or something on your head, it will be the first thing someone notices about you. That is why king wears a crown, a soldier a beret, or State Trooper Smoky the Bear hat. A hat may actually define your personality. That is why we take such care in grooming our hair as that is the first thing someone will notice about us.   Thus, we have the word pa’al used here.  God is saying that as His servants, the world will see Him through us.  We are to live our lives such that the first things others see is us will be God and His beauty.  As servants to God, this is our most important job.

 

The Talmud teaches in Kisvei Kodesh, 24c:  “God cannot laud Himself, for who can comprehend His essence?  Therefore, He exalts Himself in His children, like a father prides himself in his son. With this love, God created us, in order to be exalted through them.”  It comes out that spiritual delight is revealed in this exaltation.

 

God has given each one of us certain talents and abilities.  A better way to put it is that God has given each one of us a pa’al or  hat to wear.  It may be a musical hat, a speaking hat, teaching hat, giving hat, sharing hat, friendship hat… well you know the list of spiritual gifts.  We may have more than one hat to wear.   Each hat, however,  is a headdress, a pa’al.  When people see your pa’al or your hat, who do they see?  Do they see you or do they see God. We may prophesy in His name, we may cast out devils in His name, we may do great and mighty things in His name but if we do it to draw attention to ourselves, Jesus just may say: Depart from me, we were never intimate or we were never that intimate that people saw me, they only saw you.

 

WORD STUDY – NO OZAR

II Kings 14:26-27: “For the Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was bitter, for there was not any shut up, nor any left, nor any helper for Israel.  And the Lord said that he would not blot out the name of Israel from under heaven: but he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam, the son of Joash.”

 

This prophecy was given at a very curious time in Israel. It had been close to 200 years since the kingdom of Israel split into a Northern and Southern Kingdom.   The Southern Kingdom, Judah, had off and on periods of swinging back and forth from serving God to turning away from God.   The Northern Kingdom left God and never came back.  During this period the Northern Kingdom of Israel suffered many defeats, prophets were coming and predicting future destruction if Israel would not return to God, yet, they continually forsook God.  About 70 years before the final conquest by the Assyrians over Israel and Israel entering captivity, something happened.

 

Israel’s greatest threats came from Assyria and Aram-Damascus.  These two nations started to suffer great internal turmoil and they were forced to briefly abandon their expansionistic goals to deal with their own problems. This re-opened up the trade routes for Israel and under Jereboam II, who was a gifted administrator and organizer, the nation suddenly entered 40 years of great prosperity. This is odd because our general belief is that if a nation does not serve God it will not prosper. Hence you have Christians who plead with God for a Christian president so this nation will return to God, no so much for the honor of God as they are seeking all the goodies that come with serving God.  If history and the Word of God is any indication, a nation’s blessings are not always dependent upon whether one worshipped God or not.  In fact that is a pagan belief and the reason that nations worshipped pagan, false gods. In ancient history it was believed that the strongest and most powerful nation was worshipping the most powerful god so everyone, including Israel, would jump on the band wagon and worship the god of the most powerful and prosperous nation in the hopes of getting in on the pay dirt. We Christians seem to have joined in lock step with this thinking and end up worshipping God Jehovah because He offers better pay.  If the blessings cease, well that is just an indication that we are not serving God with all our might like we should.

 

Yet, prosperity is often built on the backs of the unfortunate.  The rich and powerful take what they want and toss the banana peels to the poor. The prophet Amos addressed this very situation of prosperity in his book and condemned the wealthy barons who took advantage of the poorer people to increase their wealth.  So even in this time of great prosperity, there was terrible abuse and suffering and the wealthy were warned by the prophets, like Amos and Hosea, that this prosperity was meant for all and they would suffer for their misuse of this prosperity that God allowed them to have.

 

Yet, it is odd that in the midst of their decline, their wickedness and refusal to turn to God, that God would suddenly turn around and seemingly bless this nation with prosperity. Why would God suddenly pour out his blessing on these people who have shown no signs of repentance and give them 40 years of prosperity before their final fall, sort of like a last meal for the condemned?

 

Recent archeological finds dating back to 1990, have turned up the name YHWH with great frequency in Israel during the time of Jeroboam II. Although Jereboam II himself was a pretty Godless man, there is evidence of a remnant that were seeking God in Israel at this time. Perhaps for their sake God brought this prosperity. Well that is one theory if we stay with the God is a good paying employer theory.

 

Another reason can be found in Scripture itself, here in II Kings 14;26-27. The people were suffering so much that God took pity on them and gave them a break. The Lord saw, which is ra’ah or seeing through spiritual eyes, the affliction of the people. The word used here for affliction is ani which could have two possible roots.  One possible root is ayin which describes deep spiritual insight.  The other root could be anah which means affliction, but could also mean a testimony. This would be a testimony of humiliation.    This testimony of humiliation was very (mo’ed) bitter.  The word bitter is marah. It is the same word Naomi in the Book of Ruth took when she returned to her home in poverty. The English word bitter, however, may not really be the best word for marah. Indeed the person is in bitter circumstances, but the clearer idea of this word is abject poverty due to disobedience. I believe what happened here is that there was a revival that took place in Israel at this time. The extreme poverty that the people found themselves in had humbled them to the point where they began to seek God. This verse tells us that there was no ozar or helper for the people. An ozar is one who helps you in your relationship with God. The nation had been so spiritually barren, that there was no one or anything to guide them back to God.  So He sent prosperity as a sign of His caring or as an ozar.  But the people did not use it to re-establish their relationship with God, only to better their own existence at the expense of others, as Amos and Hosea so clearly pointed out.

 

God said He would not blot out their name from the heavens. The word for blot is machah which is in a Hiphal infinitive construct form.  Hence it would be rendered “The Lord will certainly not cause their name to be destroyed from under the heavens. The word name means a reputation and the name of Israel means prince of God. In other words God will preserve the people, if not for anything but to protect his reputation as a merciful God.

 

It would seem that God allowed Israel to enter a period of prosperity as an ozar, to help bring them back to God. When the remnant returned He blessed the whole nation, yet they took this renewed prosperity and abused it, and turned it around and used it to oppress the people further. After forty years their prosperity declined and the nation fell into captivity.

 

I hear so many people talk of a coming breakthrough in their lives. It may be in finances, ministry, or health. Yet, should God bring this breakthrough we need to ask ourselves, “Are we going to use it to enhance our relationship with God or to just feather our own nest here on earth?”  Like Israel, that breakthrough could just be God’s ozar or helper to bring us to repentance.

WORD STUDY – ABAD (SERVICE) BEYOND THE DALETH

II Chronicles 34:33:  “And Josiah took away all the abominations out of all the countries that pertained to the children of Israel, and made all that were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God, and all his days they departed not from following the Lord the God of their fathers.”

 

“How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?”  Vincent Van Gogh

 

Josiah purged the nation of Israel of all its idolatries and caused the people to serve God. The word serve that is used here is abad which is in a Hiphal form.  Not being in a Piel for or having a paragogic, I would be reluctant to render this as Josiah forcing the people to serve God. In just a simple Hiphal form he would be causing the people to worship God, or creating a situation for people to worship God.

 

Vincent Van Gogh expressed it well; there is something inside of us that longs to be of service to someone or something. You see famous movie stars to whom much is given getting involved in causes from saving whales to building refugee camps in Haiti.  Even those who receive the service of others have some inward drive to provide a service.

 

In II Chronicles 34:33 the word service is repeated in the Hebrew. Some translations, like the KJV, will render this as “to serve, even to serve the Lord.”  That really is about the best you can do to put this into English. What the text is trying to express with this repetition is that Josiah’s primary focus was that the people would serve God totally, entirely. If they served him as a king, then they had to serve God.  If they didn’t serve God they could not serve him as a king. In this way Josiah caused the people to serve God.

 

That brings us to the primary question, the question that I have been pondering for many weeks.  How do you serve God? What does it mean to serve God?  Do you join a church and serve on a committee to organize a church picnic?  Do you forsake all and start up a ministry? Is service merely reading your Bible and praying?  I think we all have our own idea as to what service to God really is and we may all be right.

 

The word service in Hebrew is abad. You can check your Strong’s and your Lexicons and you will find the usual words that apply: bondage, slavery, tiller, performance, laborer, and worship. We get the general idea that abad is any activity that is performed for the sake of someone else. However, in its Semitic root this adad (service) involves performing an activity for someone without an expectation of receiving anything in return.   A waitress services with the expectations of getting a tip.  A service station owner expects payment for the repairs and services he gives.  But an abad gives and does not expect and often does not receive anything in return.

 

As I pondered this matter of serving God, I began to get sleepy and suddenly Abad (service) jumps out of my Hebrew Bible. The word is spelled “Ayin, Beth, Daleth.”   Ayin, Beth and Daleth were dressed in orange jump suits and joined together by chains. Like a chain gang, they slowly made their way to my Looking Glass hanging from my Daleth and walked through the Looking Glass. I followed them through my Looking Glass and found myself in a prison yard. There were rocks all around and Ayin, Beth and Daleth each took a sludge hammer and started to breaks the rocks. I looked around and found I was surrounded by a concrete wall with guard towers. The sun was beating down and it was hot and humid.  Suddenly, I was approached by a Daleth dressed as a prison guard. He asked what I was doing here. I explained I followed Ayin, Beth, Daleth here as I was seeking to understand what service to God meant.

 

Daleth looked at me strangely and asked: “This is what Ayin, Beth, and Daleth, told you what their meanings were?” I explained that I hadn’t really asked them what their representations meant in that particular combination. Daleth, then explained that they just took on the form that I imagined they represented. I had to admit that for me service was hard duty, a sacrifice and like being a slave or a prisoner. Daleth then led me to the gate, pointed to a mansion on a hilltop and said if I wanted to understand service to God I was to ask the Abad (Ayin, Beth, Daleth – service) who lived there.

 

When I arrived I was greeted by a Daleth dressed as a Butler. He greeted me with a smile and said Abad was busy in the service of the master of the house.  Daleth took me to the library where the Ayin to Abad was in deep study.  You see, “said Daleth, “The Ayin represents deep spiritual insight. The Ayin is your guide to the Master’s heart. Only in knowing the Master’s heart will you understand how you can best serve Him.

 

Daleth then led me to recreation room where I met the second letter to Abad (service) which was the Beth. Beth was dressed in white with a painter’s cap and a bucket of white paint in one hand and paint brush in the other. Beth shook his head and said: “Busy, busy, I am. I must keep the house of the Master clean and pure looking. Look at all that filth on the walls.” I saw graffiti painted on the walls spelling words, like jealousy, greed, selfishness, etc.  Beth continued; “I have the hardest job of all, keeping the Master’s house pure and clean. True service is keeping the Master’s house clean.”

 

We then went to the dining room where Daleth pointed out his cousin who was the Daleth in Abad or service. This Daleth was busy serving all the guest in the Master’s house with all the fruits of the Spirit. Some were eating fruits called love, some were joy, some were peace etc. My Daleth guide explained that the third letter for service or Abad was Daleth which shows that a servant of the Master is a door way to all the blessings of the Master.

 

When I returned to my office, I was followed by the Ayin, Beth and Daleth Abad (service) dressed in their orange jump suits and chained together.  I pulled out a little key that the prison guard Daleth gave me and unlooked the chains. “Ok, guys,” I said, “You made your point.” I looked to Ayin and said: “You taught me that the first step to serving God is to understand God’s heart.  Beth, you showed me that the next step to serve God is to keep His dwelling place clean. As He dwells in my heart, I must keep my heart pure for Him. Daleth you showed me that the final step to serving God is to bring the fruits of His Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith and meekness to others. These are all joyful things and not deep heavy sacrifice and slave labor. Ayin, Beth and Daleth just saluted me and jumped back into II Chronicles 34:33.