Tag: Out

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WORD STUDY – A STRONGHOLD IN THE DAY OF TROUBLE למעוז בימ צרה

Nahum  1:7: “The LORD [is] good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.”

 

Nahum was a prophet in the days of King Josiah.  He was an Elkoshite, a religious order devoted to peace and trusting God in everything.  He served under King Josiah of Judah who was a Godly king all the way up to the end of his life when his faith failed him.  The Assyrians were the world power at that time but were in decline due to internal conflicts with the rising power of the Babylonian Empire who would soon overrun Nineveh their capital city and then the Babylonians would set it up as their capital.   Egypt had been  under the rule of the Assyrians but with the weakened state of Assyrian the Egyptians were able to establish some sort of independence from the Assyrians but were very much aware of the rising threat of the Babylonians. Located right in the middle of the Assyrian Empire and the Egyptian empire was the Kingdom Judah.  Assyrian had attempted to conquer Judah as it had its Northern Empire but because of Godly kings of Judah Jerusalem was not conquered by the Assyrians.

 

Not only that but because of the internal conflicts of Assyria and Egypt trying to reestablish itself as an independent kingdom, Judah enjoyed relative peace and prosperity under the Godly King Josiah who became a king at the age of 8 and through the influence of a Godly mother and priest. He instituted great religious reforms and turned the people back to God and away from idolatry. Yet at the end of his life, he failed to listen to the voice of God though the Prophet Nahum and failed to trust God to take care of world affairs.  When Egypt attempted to come to the aid of Assyria against the Babylonians, King Josiah tried to stop them as he felt that if the Assyrians did throw off the Babylonians they would use their renewed power to take down Jerusalem.  Yet, God said: “Hey don’t sweat it, I have everything under control.  But King Josiah still had to do something so he attacked Egypt in the Valley of Megiddo as Egypt tried to join up with the Assyrians.  A brutal battled ensured and King Josiah was killed. Egypt went on to join the Assyrians but still lost to the Babylonians which is what King Josiah wanted in the first place and what God had predicted would happen without King Josiah’s interference.   .

 

Still, King Josiah was well aware of the prophecy of Nahum and chose to ignore it. King Josiah was afraid of the Assyrian Empire even though it was in decline.  He feared it was rising back up and once reestablished they finish the job they started with Israel.   Yet, through the prophet Nahum, God clearly told King Josiah and Judah they had nothing to worry about.  Nahum 1:15: “Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace!  Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; pay your vows, for never again will the wicked one pass through you, he is cut off completely.”

 

Nahum then proceeds in the next two chapters to give in precise detail just how the destruction of their  enemy would take place.  Their warriors would be dressed in scarlet with red shields.  This was done so that if the warrior was wounded his enemy would not see the blood and would not realize he struck a fatal blow.  Assyria would be destroyed with the very weapon that made them a world power, chariots.  Only these chariots had those Ben Hur wheel covers, you know the ones with the razor sharp knives and they would run through the cities to and fro slicing and dicing.  The razors shinning off the sun’s reflections like lightning flashes. With a prophecy like that from a well established holy man and prophet like Nahum, you would think a Godly King like Josiah would utter those famous words of Alfred Newman: “What? Me worry?”  But he did worry.

 

Nahum tells King Josiah, the Lord is good or tov in harmony with you. As a result He is a stronghold in the day of trouble. A stronghold is ma’oz which is a place of safety.  It comes from a Phoenician word. The Phoenicians were great ship builders and merchants of the seas. During times of stormy weather their ships would seek a ma’oz or a safe harbor to ride out the storm.  That is what God is saying, when you are caught in the storms of life, just pull into God’s harbor which is a safe harbor and ride out the storm.  King Josiah felt a storm was coming and rather than seek a safe harbor in God, he got an army together and took matters into his own hands, resulting in his death.  The verse goes on to say; “He knows those that trust Him.”  Safe harbors meant you must have treaties with the country providing the safe harbor, if they don’t recognize or know your nation, you are going to be riding out the storm in the storm.  That word know in the Hebrew is yada’ which is an intimate knowing.  God knows  you intimately, you are not only welcomed to find shelter in His safe harbor, but he will wine and dine you while you ride out the storm.

 

I recently faced a storm in my life.  I could not help but related to King Josiah.  A man who served God since the age of eight. I too served God from an early age, I loved Him and sought to always put Him first.  As a result He did many wonderful things in my life. You would think by my later years it would be snap to trust God when that storm came, to pull into His harbor as I had done some many other times in my life.  Yet, even after all those years, I found myself seeking the arm of the flesh, taking matters in my own hands to weather this storm until God brought me to the Book of Nahum and the failure of King Josiah to remind me that no matter how many years I faithfully served God and trusted Him, that is no guarantee that the enemy can’t send a storm in my life and cause me to panic and seek the arm of the flesh rather than just trust God.

 

I think the enemy just delights in taking us older, experienced, seasoned believers like King Josiah and throw a storm in our life that causes us to reach out to destroy Egypt through our own power rather than just sitting back and trusting God to care of it. No matter how many years we served God, the enemy can still take us down.  It cost King Josiah his life.

 

1 Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”

WORD STUDY – THE ROCKS CRY OUT – אבנ תזעק

Luke 19:40:  And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out.

 

Habakkuk 2:11 For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it.

 

“If just a cup of water, I place within you hand,

The just a cup of water is all that I demand. –  Ira Stanphill

 

I just dropped off Raphael at the hospital. This is a big old guy in his sixties, former champion weight lifter, wrestler and bouncer. Even though he is in his sixties I guessed that he was in his fifties until he volunteered to say that he was 62.  I was amazed that he looked so young and appeared to be the  epitome of perfect health. Yet, I was taking him for a cumin test.

He confessed that he had lived a pretty fast life and was paying for it now. He has diabetes, a pacemaker, high blood pressure, bad knees, a real wreck. He said he died last year but was revived. He was sitting in his living room with his grandson who just brought him a tall glass of ice water as he was not feeling well. Suddenly he passed out. He woke up in the hospital with a bunch of tubes running out of him. The only thing he remembered was someone yelling to get the pads. Then they  put something on his chest and he said it felt like someone “cocked him.” I guess it means punched him. He said it made him so mad he wanted to punch the guy but found he could not lift his hand.  He then passed out.
His wife later told him the whole story. After he passed out his five year old grandson had just walked in with the tall glass of ice water and he could not get his grandpa to respond. He called out, “Grandma, Grandpa fell asleep and he won’t wake up.” His wife came running into the living room and seeing his pale face screamed and picked up the phone to call 9-11. The Grandson shouted, “I’ll wake ’em” and tossed the glass of ice water on him. It actually did revive him long enough until the medics arrived. The doctor even said that reviving him just might have saved his life. So I guess his grandson is a hero of sorts.

Anyways, I asked if he seen a light or dark tunnel. He said he saw nothing but he also said, “You know I lived a wild and fast life and did not pay much attention to God, but I sure do now and I told Him my life belongs to Him and He can do whatever He wants with it.”

I guess God  can use anything to wake someone up to His presence, even a cup of cold water.

I could not help but think of the verse in Luke 19:40 and Habakkuk 2:11 which speaks of stones crying out.  The word in Hebrew for crying out is not your standard word in Hebrew for crying out as it is the word za’aq.  The Aramaic word used in Luke 19:40 is qea which corresponds to the Hebrew word za’aq which means to make a statement.  What is unusual about both words is that it refers to an audible sound.  Now how can a rock make an audible sound. Will obviously this is just a metaphor.  But a metaphor to express what?  That even inanimate objects praise God.  I can buy that, everything in creation speaks of a Creator and its beauty speaks only in praise of the Creator.

But you know what?  The Bible often speaks ahead of its time.  In Job 36:27-29 you would render from the Hebrew, “He draws up the drops of water which distill as the rain to the streams, the clouds pour down their moisture.” Check Amos 5:8, “Who calls forth the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the earth.”  Clearly the Bible is speaking of water evaporation which then turns into rain and even refers to the oceans as evaporating to return as rain.  Job lived in about 950 BC, Amos lived about 755 BC.  But man’s understanding of the hydrological cycle did not come about into the fifteenth century AD, particularly that water could evaporate as a gaseous state and return as rain water from seawater or salt water evaporating from the ocean and returning as fresh water in a distilling process.  This whole idea was unknown during the day of Amos and Job, yet they wrote about it. It is science catching up with the Bible. Today the rocks are crying out all the time and we think absolutely nothing about it.  Yet, every time you turn on your IPOD or I PAD, the rocks cry out.  How so?

Go to our website and click on a little You Tube box at the bottom of our home page and you will hear a recording of my voice made one year ago. In that recording I am giving praise to God.  Now stop a moment and think. You are listening to a recording recorded on a microchip.  I am not talking but that microchip is.  That microchip that is crying out this praise to God is made of silicon. According to Wikipedia over 90% of the Earth’s crust is compose of silicon dioxide (silica), rocks to an ancient mind. In Hebrew we would use the word ‘even which means a rock.

I am not saying yea or nay on the rapture question, but just suppose that suddenly all the Christians in this world were to disappear. Jesus is telling us that if there were no believers left in this world to praise God that the rocks will still cry out.

Most of us have an opportunity to fulfill Scripture right now. It is an opportunity our grandparents did not have.  Just take your smart phone, switch it to record and start praising God.  Play it back and you will hear the ‘even za’aq, the rocks crying out.

WORD STUDY – POSSESSED WITH DEVILS – דיונא

Matthew 8:16 “When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with [his] word, and healed all that were sick:”

 

I found this rather interesting that it was during the daytime Jesus healed Peter’s mother in law of a fever.  Such news travels very quickly in little villages in the Middle East.  Yet, it was not until the evening that the sick came to Jesus to be healed.  Scripture does not say why the people waited until evening. Some have speculated that it was too hot during the day and waited until cool of the evening.  I mean when you are sick and have the chance of being healed a hot sunny day is not going to stand in your way of getting a healing.

 

More than likely this was the end of the Sabbath and the people knew that a holy man could not heal on the Sabbath so they were waiting until the Sabbath ended.  It officially ends, according to the Talmud with the appearance of the third star. Once they saw that third star, they were off like the wise to find Jesus and claim their healing.

 

Many were brought to him that were possessed with devils and he cast out the spirits with his word.   Healers and exorcists were pretty common in those days and they were passing through all the time. They had their little herbs and medicines and rituals.  Exorcists were particularly entertaining as they would blacken their face, beat on a drum, shake some beads, chant, sing and recite many incantations.  Yet Jesus cast these spirits out with a word.  The pronoun his is not found in the Greek and indeed most our modern translations will simply render this as a word.  That is important because exorcists and divine healers tend to use many words, spoken very dramatically to show power and authority.  Jesus simply spoke a word or logos in the Greek.  I suppose most people reading this could say more about the Biblical word logos than I could.   The word logos is a very important word in Greek used in philosophy, psychology, rhetoric and religion. Aristotle used the word to refer to a reasoned discourse or argument, philosophers used the term as reference to the divine.  Hellenistic Judaism  around the time of Christ used the word to express that which through all things were made.  This is most likely what the people heard when Jesus spoke, if He even spoke at all. It just says the demons took to running with logos. By the time Jesus finished clearing his throat the demon was gone.  The Aramaic uses the word malatha which means a mandate or an order.   Not many pious, authoritative words, just simply a word, mostly likely a one word command, “go” and the person was delivered from the demonic spirit. That would have been a major disappointment for those expecting a real road show.

 

Note that the passage say that those who had devils came to him and Jesus cast out the spirits. Why did he not just cast out the devils, why the spirits.  I know good journalism, you don’t want to repeat a word.  I doubt that.  There is a difference between devils and spirits.  In the Greek the word for devils is daimonizomenous which means demonized or possessed or controlled by demons.  The Aramaic uses the word daivana which is the word for demon but in its Semitic root has the idea of rulership, controlling and making judgments.  Basically this is the manifestations of the person who is possessed.  Jesus just did not deal with the depression, the erratic behavior or the violence, he spoke to the cause of these manifestations which were the shedehs or the evil spirits. The Greek used the word pneumata or spirits.

 

Then he healed the sick.  Not all were possessed with demons, some just had sickness and/or mental illness. Jesus was able to look into their souls and knew if it was a demon or just a physical affliction and he addressed them both.  The word for sickness in Greek is kakos which is used for illness as well as bad behavior. Not all bad behavior stems from demons.  The  word used in the Aramaic is ‘evad which is a strange word to use because it means labors or working. In its Semitic roots it is a word for a slave.  To use that in this context would mean that it was anything that holds you captive. Illness will hold you captive.  We recently had a flu outbreak and everyday people were calling saying they could not go to work or school or perform their normal duties because the illness held them captive. I recently had a friend tell me how depression held her captive such that she could not accomplish anything. People didn’t just come to Jesus with broken arms, bad backs, fevers, they also came with anything that was holding them captive like depression, sadness and brokenness.

 

The Bible says that Jesus healed them.  The word used for heal in the Greek is therapeuo where we get our modern word for therapy.  It has the idea of caring, serving, attending, restoration and treating. Jesus didn’t just heal these people he cared for them, encouraged them, and uplifted them.  Perhaps with the depressed he just imparted peace to them, for a broken arm he restored it. The word for healing used in the Aramaic is asa which means cure in the Aramaic but comes from the root word sata which means to cover and protect.  Jesus did more than just heal these people he covered them and protected them.  They were not just healed but they joined their hearts with Him and they became his followers. I remember reading an ancient rabbinical text where it said that the soul must be healed before the body can be healed.  I believe this passage in Matthew uses the words it did in the original languages to show that Jesus did just that.  He spent more time with the spiritual healing than he did with the natural healing. For once the spirit is healed, the physical part is easy.

 

 

 

WORD STUDY – GOD IS MY PORTION FOREVER חלקי אלהימ לעולמ

PLEASE NOTE:  Our readership has been dramatically increasing over the past year. Some of our earlier studies have proved to be very popular and we have decided to occasionally repost some of the most popular studies from the past for the sake of our new subscribers.  These studies will be updated and slightly revised with new material so as not to bore our older subscribers who read the original study. This study was posted in June of 2012.

Psalms 73:26: “My flesh and my heart fails, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.”

I have no problem with someone using this Psalm to find comfort when their physical flesh is failing them and their heart is discouraged. After all God’s Word is eternal and God is our strength when our hearts or flesh fail us. That may not exactly be the context, but even I will pull this out of context and find comfort in it when I need it.

Yet, there is also a literal interpretation or what is called in Jewish literature as the Psahat. Literally, Asaph is trying to understand something that makes no sense to him. The word flesh here is the word she’ar in the Hebrew which means flesh, but flesh in the sense of a near kinsman, or one you trust as someone of your own flesh, a close advisor. It is also a word used for food as food, once ingested, becomes a part of your body and becomes one with you. So when Asaph says that his flesh failed he is likely saying that even those closest to him, his closest counsel who are the ones with him in thought and motive have failed to explain why the unrighteous should prosper and the righteous do not.

When even our closest friends or relatives cannot advise us, we then look to our own hearts and let our hearts decided. But Asaph is saying that even his own heart will fail, he cannot trust his own heart for a correct understanding or discernment. So who or what can he trust?

Asaph says that God is his strength. The word in Hebrew for strength here is sur which is really a word often rendered as a rock. It is spelled Sade, Vav and Resh. This offers a sort of built in commentary. The Sade represents humility. This humility or Sade is followed by the Vav. A Vav is a letter that connects. The Vav before a word is often is used as a conjuction (and/or/nor) which connects words. The Vav is connecting you to something.  What this Vav connects you to is the Resh which is the letter which represents the Holy Spirit. God is our rock who is our connection to the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit which leads us into all truth. How do we find that connection with the Holy Spirit.? The first letter, Sade, tells us. It is the first thing we must do which is why the word starts with a Sade. We must humble ourselves to Him. Humility means trusting only in God, admitting you do not have the answers. That is humility. We can follow good advice and follow our hearts only when we are certain it does not conflict with the revelation that is given to us by the Holy Spirit.

The last part of this verse is the reason I started to study this verse in the first place. My study partner commented to me how the words: God is my portion forever really blessed her. I too felt a quickening in my spirit and a spiritual thrill whenever I hear those words. It is the reason I love the song: “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” The first verse of the song says:

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows fall,

Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,

When Jesus is my portion, my constant friend is He,

His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.

 

I love that phrase, When Jesus is my portion, but when my study partner asked what it really meant, I was at a total loss as to what it meant. Does it mean we get just a part of Him or does it mean He is our inheritance? Do you ever have that experience when you hear something, you just thrill at hearing it, but you haven’t the foggiest idea what it means.

I started studying this word kalak which is rendered as portion which means territory, equal portions, and separation. When you look at the context you find that this whole chapter of Psalms 73 is speaking of discernment. Asaph is saying that his flesh and heart can fail him in discernment, only the Holy Spirit can give true discernment. Thus Asaph says that God is his portion or separation. God separates the truth from that which is not true.

But say, there is more. Asaph may very well be answering his own question here by saying that God is his portion. He is using the same word used in Numbers and Deuteronomy with regard to the portioning out of land among the tribes. Only eleven tribes received a portion of land to farm and feed their families. One tribe, the tribe of Levi, received no earthly, material portion. They were not to spend their days cultivating land but cultivating their knowledge of God and to lead the members of the other eleven tribes to an understanding of God. In return the members of the eleven other tribes tithed a tenth of what they grew to the Levites so they could feed themselves and their families and be free to spend their time in the service of God.

Thus, Asaph, who was himself a Levi, was making a reference to this division of land when he said his portion was God. In other words, the wicked and unrighteous may prosper materially, but he seeks no such portion of material blessings from God, he only seeks God. If God is his portion then it does not matter if the wicked prosper materially, Asaph is prospering spiritually and he will leave his material needs in God’s hand as his ancestors had done.

With that in mind we can say: “Why should we feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, why should our hearts be lonely and long for heaven and home, when Jesus is our portion forever, our constant friend is He, His eye is on the sparrow and if he meets a sparrows need, He will meet ours.”

 

 

 

WORD STUDY – CRYING OUT TO GOD

Exodus 14:10b “And they were sore afraid and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.”

 

Every major translation I have looked at will render the word sa’ak as cry out. Now sa’ak does mean to cry out but it also means to summon or to appeal.  It comes from a Semitic root SQ which is found in the Akkadian and used to express the idea of an army being assembled together with just one mind and purpose.  Now translators have applied exegetical principles to decide what English word to plug in here, although I question the use of exegetical principles in the Hebrew as with any Semitic language, it is still a useful tool and the decision seems pretty obvious, the children of Israel were afraid so naturally they would cry out.

 

Yet, there are a couple things that bother me about this rendering. In

English we have adjectives and adverbs which show degrees of comparisons. For instance we have good, which is your regular verb and is called positive. Better is called the comparative and indicates a greater degree and then we have best which is called a superlative and indicates the greatest degree. The comparative and superlatives are irregular. In Hebrew you do not have these forms, however with certain adjectives and adverbs, you do have certain forms which determine intensity. You also have regular and irregular verbs.  Sometimes just a repetition of a word could, but not always, suggest a superlative. Verbs are given degrees of intensity.  For instance, a verb may be found in a Qal form which indicates a regular verb and would be positive.  It may be found in a Piel which indicates a comparative or a more intense form or it could have a paragogic added to it which creates its greatest degree of intensity.  Although there is a school of thought that the paragogic does not exist in Hebrew, I tend to believe it does exist in the Semitic languages which would include the Hebrew and Aramaic.

 

Those who reject the idea of the paragogic in Semitic languages would point to a verb like SQ (cry out) and show that by its very nature it would suggest forms of intensity. With SQ you could simply call out or summon (positive), you could appeal (comparative) or you could cry out (superlative).  All are usages for the word SQ, or  sa’ak in Hebrew.  So how do you know which is positive, comparative or superlative?   You could use an exegetical approach and say the people were sore afraid so that would naturally cry out or you would use the most intensive form.  However, the word in Hebrew is a verb and is used in a simple Qal form and grammatically you should use its simplest form which is to summon and make a request.  Yet, in defense of the exegetical approach, the very context suggests that they cried out to God and then went to Moses belly aching that God sent them out to die. So obviously they must have been crying, weeping and calling out to God.

 

Yet, there is another grammatical issue to consider. This verb sa’ak (cry out) is in an imperfect form, which is an incompleted action and should be rendered in a future tense.  They will cry out to God. This makes no sense in the passage so again you must resort to an exegetical approach and decide to make it a completed verb even if it is grammatically in an imperfect form. You can do that with the Hebrew.

 

Still one would have to ask just what the Masoretes were thinking to point this up a Qal imperfect form. Maybe they were trying to show something other than what our English text is suggesting.  If we kept this in a Qal imperfect form about the only way to render this in the English is:  Because they were sore afraid, they would have assembled themselves to summon God.

 

In other words by putting this in an imperfect form they would never have gotten around to crying out to God or making an appeal to God, instead they just went to Moses and started to belly ache. Ok, I will admit this might be really stretching the grammar here, for if they did not cry out to God, there would be something to indicate that they did not cry out to God, like maybe using a word such as lo’ (word used to indicate a negative) somewhere in this verse.

 

The fact is that they did most likely cry out to God, got no response and then went complaining to Moses. Perhaps that is why the Masoretes pointed this up as a Qal imperfect.  They did get together to summon God, but they really didn’t sa’ak or cry out to God. They got together to just belly ache to each.

 

You see when you break down this word sa’ak and examine its built in commentary, you find the word is spelled Sade, Ayin and Qof.  The elements of the crying out are first with a Sade or with humility and surrender to God.  Next you must demonstrate the Ayin which is to look beyond the circumstances and see the ultimate will of God.  Finally you must demonstrate the Qof by making peace with change.  Often the stress in a situation comes from the fact that we are about to enter a change and we do not want that change.

 

When we cry out to God we are humbling ourselves and surrendering our selves to His will, looking beyond our present circumstances to where that is taking us and making peace with any change that will come as a result.   Perhaps the children of Israel did cry out to God but was not in surrender to God’s Divine purposes.  Sa’ak also carries a shadow, which is blindness to the unholy tendencies embodied in that cry.  When Israel cried out in its shadow form, there was no response from God, so they complained to Moses.

 

Do you have times when you cry out to God and there is no response. Perhaps you are just crying out as we understand crying out but not really sa’ak which is a cry of surrender and submission to the will of God as well as a petition.  All we are doing is just crying out a petition.  As a result we end up like Israel and start to belly ache that God doesn’t care, when in reality we are crying out in sa’ak’s shadow, blinded to the unholiness in our cry. We have cried out without first submitted ourselves to the will of God and accepting whatever change God is seeking to bring about.

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WORD STUDY – A BRUISED REED Isaiah 42:3:

reed flute

Isaiah 42:3:  “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench.  He shall bring forth judgment unto truth.”

 

There is a beautiful double meaning in the word for reed (qaneh).  But first a little history lesson.   Ever wonder where David got his musical ability?  He obviously had spent considerable time writing and composing his own music that he played for King Saul as a young man.  More than likely his musical experience developed through a common practice among many shepherds who spent considerable time in solitude.  To pass the time of day shepherds who had some musical ability would bind two reeds together which they hollowed out and put holes in the sides and made a little flute.  A shepherd would then spend countless hours playing little tunes on his flute.  This little flute was easily made and very fragile.  If it was damaged in the slightest, I like the word used for bruised which is rasas and means slightly damaged, the shepherd would toss it away, sometimes just crushing under foot and make a new flute.  After all it is easier and quicker to make a new flute than to try and repair the old one.  Doesn’t take much to total out a flute.

 

Sometimes, however, a shepherd may form an attachment to his little flute, and develop sentimental feelings for the instrument. In this case he would tenderly make repairs, binding up it’s broken parts until once more it made the beautiful music he enjoyed.  Do you ever feel like a broken flute, you’ve been totaled out and you expect to be tossed on the trash heap?   If the Shepherd has a special attachment to you, He will restore you so you can once again make beautiful music for Him.

 

There might be some of you who would say: “Golly, I didn’t know that, why doesn’t he just call it a flute, why a reed?”   There is a very good reason why the word qaneh (reed) is used rather than using the Hebrew word for flute which is uwgab.  The writer is making an interesting play on words here for qaneh can also mean to redeem, to purchase in the sense of redemption.  In other words the prophet is saying that for those that God has redeemed, he will play beautiful music. However, if we are bruised in anyway by sin, he will not just toss us away, and step on us and shatter us.  But he will lovingly piece us back together so he can once again make beautiful music through us.

 

“The smoking flax shall he not quench” is an interesting picture.  The ancients used to have little oil lamps that they would fill with some type of oil.  They would set a piece of flax in the lamp and let it float on the oil.  Then they would light it like a wick and let it burn.  When the oil ran out, the person would simply toss the old flax or wick away and fill the lamp with oil and place a new wick in the lamp.  Yet, the prophet is saying that we, like the old wick in the oil lamp, are not tossed out after the oil runs out.  Instead, God will simply refill the lamp with oil and relight us.

 

Now this is one verse that we can really relate to in our 21st Century Western culture.  We live in a  disposal, throw away society.   Our economy it built on the premise that as things wear out, we do not initiate repairs, we simply toss it out and buy something new.

 

The prophet in Isaiah 42:3 is telling us that God is in the recycling business.  If we are  a broken instrument or even a burned out wick, God will not dispose of us for someone younger, newer or fresher, even if that seems to be the most economical route to take.  Instead he keeps us on the payroll, initiates whatever repairs are necessary and continues to make beautiful music out of us or uses us to lighten the way for others.

 

 

Devotional: Psalm 16:8

Good Morning Yamon Ki Yesepar and Nevim Arith Hayomim:
John 3:3: “Jesus answered and said unto him, verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
As a small child in Christian Service Brigade I memorized this passage of Scripture to earn my merit badge and ever since that time I never understood this passage.  I have read this passage in the Greek and could not reach any conclusion. I have discussed this with Jewish rabbis and gained insight, but still I felt there was nothing conclusive to hang my hat upon.  I always suspected there was something much deeper going on in this exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus.  Now fifty years later I decided to give this passage one more crack and read it in the Aramaic Bible and see if I could get any deeper insight.
As I read this in the Peshitta (Standard Aramaic Bible), I became fixated on the word Mitheelad which is rendered as born and comes from the root word Yalad and the word dresh which is the word for again in Aramaic.  There has been a ton of research on the Old Galilean dialect of Western Aramaic  done by Catholic and British scholars in the last 15 years and new light has been shed on this ancient language which was spoken by Jesus.   For one thing we know now that the dialect spoken by Nicodemus would have been the Chaldean Aramaic spoken by the Jews of Judea.  There is a subtle difference that scholars point out.  In this case when Jesus said mitheelad min dresh (born again) Nicodemus would have taken the expression literally but Jesus using the Old Galilean would have not been speaking of a physical birth but a spiritual birth.   Hence Nicodemus response in asking how one can be born when he is old.
What I find troubling about this, is why would Jesus make such an error.  I can understand my liberal friends saying: “Oh, poor Jesus he forgot about the difference in dialect and pulled an embarrassing error in front of the great Pharisaical leader.”  I, however, believe Jesus was divine and such an error was fully intentional on His part.  For my part I cannot help but point out the similarities between the Aramaic word yalad  (born) and the Hebrew word yalda (child) both which have identical consonants.  Not only that both Aramaic and Hebrew have the word “dresh” only in Aramaic it means “again” or “from above” but in Hebrew it means “to search and seek out.”
Now let me point out that this is original research which I am doing for my doctoral dissertation and any such original research must always be taken with a grain of salt and subjected to much scrutiny  before it is accepted as reliable.  Yes, I am saying I am not reliable here.
Be that as it may, I am at a great disadvantage as I have not yet found a source studying the Old Galilean Western Aramaic that would fall into our Evangelical conservative camp.  In others the only resources on the Old Galilean I have been able to locate have no problem with saying Jesus was not divine and as such would be subject to error.  I am one of those  crazy people who actually believe Jesus was both human and God at the same time and thus unable to commit error.
So the only way I can interpret this exchange and have Jesus coming out divine is to say He intentionally used the subtle difference in dialect to cause the confusion on the part of  Nicodemus so He could pull off a very clever play on words and tell this old, respected, learned Pharisee in a very loving and gentle way that he spent his life barking up the wrong tree.
Although communication between the two dialects  is possible; just as it would be with us in the United States and someone from, say, New Zealand.  I say New Zealand because I once had a student from New Zealand who was telling about a famous preacher in his country and he said: “Aye, we’re mates.”  I remember my immediate thoughts, “I didn’t know they both served in the Navy.”  Then as I continued thinking of the word mates as used in our culture, I had a horrible thought, which I quickly dismissed.   All my student meant was that they were best buds.
Jesus would have been very much aware of the difference in dialect, but he threw out the words Mitheelad min dresh to throw old Nicodemus off balance, because, as learned scholars, both would have been fluent in the Classical Hebrew and there would have been no misunderstanding when Jesus said: “You are master in Israel and you don’t know these things?”  In other words Jesus was telling him that as a master of Israel, he was fluent in Classical Hebrew and he was to think on this in Hebrew.   Mitheelad min dresh in Aramaic means born again or born from above, but in Hebrew it means: “Search and seek like a child.
I reviewed my research on the Pharisees and Sadducees before this study and found that the Pharisees believed Oral tradition was as authoritative as the Torah where the Sadducees believed only the Torah was authoritative.  In other words the Pharisees revered the teachings of their fathers.  The doctrines of man substituted the teachings of Scripture for the Pharisees and Jesus was telling Nicodemus, aside from the fact he had to be born again as we understand born again, that he also had to become like a child and divest himself of a lifetime of study of the teachings of man and begin to search for God like a child, simple, pure and harmless and not filled with the complexity of man’s reasoning, intellectual conclusions and rationale.  Only then could he truly become mitheelad min dresh (born again).
Well, I am personally comfortable with this further insight into John 3, except for the fact that there is a lesson in this for me personally and I think I may have to revert to the mind of a child me to comprehend it.