This brief Biblical word study is not intended to be encyclopedic, but rather to generate thoughts and questions in our walk before the Lord. Hopefully, we will see how truly related these words are.
Starting with "humble," we have seen how important that characteristic is in a true Christian walk. In our study of Humility, we saw that "humble" means to make oneself nothing so that God might be all. Interestingly, the English word, "humble," is derived from the Latin, humus, meaning earth or dirt. We might ask, "What is lower on the face of the earth than dirt?" In English also, "humus" is a rich soil containing much organic matter. What can grow out of that? (Think of this: in Jesus' Parable of the Sower the truly productive seed fell on "good ground" [Matt 13:8, 23; Mark 4:8, 20; Luke 8:8, 15]. Was that "humus," or one who is "humble"?) We know that Jesus taught about the importance of being humble (e.g., Matt 18:4), and was Himself the perfect example of such (Matt 11:29; Philip 2:6-8). But, of course, the importance of being humble was also taught in the Old Testament. One of the most beautiful verses in the OT is Isaiah 57:15: "For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: 'I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.' " (Isn't that a strong motivation for us to try harder to be humble, and to ask the Lord's help for that?) There appear to be three Hebrew words for "humble", anglicized (with their associated Hebrew "word pictures"): 'shach' ("destroy the wall")*; 'anav' ("see life's hooks"* or "see life secured"); 'shapal' ("destroy the mouth's authority"). Don't each of these say something interesting about being humble, compared to being prideful?
Now we'll look at "repent," a commonly-used "religious" word, defined by Webster as "to turn from sin and resolve to reform one's life." Some of us might say that it is to be sorry for our sins, and to promise to do better. And remember, the first Gospel message from both Jesus and John the Baptist was, "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Matt 3:2, 4:17). It is most interesting to look at the Hebrew use of "repent."
Matthew 22:18 [Jesus answered the Pharisees] . . . "Why do you tempt (KJV; other translations: 'test', 'try to trap') Me . . .?"
Jesus' response to the question of the Pharisees about whether it was lawful for Hebrews to pay tributes to Caesar sounded like some sort of personal irritation with the question. But one of the points of Andrew Murray's Humility in our recently-completed study was that Jesus had perfect selflessness. So could it be that Jesus' question was about something else?
Interestingly, in the Greek of the New Testament, the verb used by Jesus was something like peiratzete, which means "to annoy, tease, upset, disturb, tempt." Those sound again like words of personal irritation. But was Jesus speaking Greek to the Pharisees (a Hebrew teacher speaking to Hebrew scholars in a Hebrew setting)? Probably not. And there apparently is not an exact Hebrew equivalent to that Greek verb. The closest Hebrew word seems to be 'nasah,' meaning "to test by examining critically", weighing evidence as at a trial. (The "Word Picture" of nasah is, by my interpretation, "a life's twisting and turning revealed", an example of looking at one's life or actions from all angles.)
How does this help us interpret Jesus' question? We must remember: 1) Jesus had made His last entrance into Jerusalem; He was nearing the end of His ministry, yet the Jewish leaders had not recognized Who He was; 2) Jesus was being pursued mercilessly by those Jewish leaders, who were looking for any reason to accuse and kill Him; 3) Jesus knew it wasn't quite His time yet, so He was subtly trying to teach Who He was without open "blasphemy"; 4) He was dealing with individuals who knew every word of the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy of our Bible) by heart; 5) Jesus was the "Word" that "became flesh and dwelt among us" (John 1:14), and had taught that Moses, whom the Jewish leaders believed, had written about Him (John 5:46). So perhaps looking at something Moses wrote in the Torah would help explain what Jesus may have been teaching with His question.
There is this amazing Messianic prophecy in Zechariah: Zech 12:10 (NKJV) "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." This is clearly a reference to the intended sacrificial death of the Messiah, Jesus Christ our Lord, which was a Passover death. Think of this, if you will: at the first Passover, for the Israelites to be freed from their bondage to their masters, the Egyptians, there were two required sacrifices. First, there was the perfect Passover lamb, whose blood on the doorposts saved the Israelites from the passing death - it "passed over" the houses where the lamb's blood was posted. Most Christians know and understand some of that sacrifice. But there was a second sacrifice, an unwilling one, which actually freed the Israelites: the Passover death given to all of the firstborn in Egypt. It was only after the deaths of all the firstborn of their Egyptian masters that the Israelites under Moses were hurried out of the land.
Now think of Jesus' death. Not only was His shed blood the saving blood of the Lamb of God, shed on Passover as the ultimate Lamb of salvation, but He was also the Firstborn Son of the true Master of Israel (and all of us), Father God Almighty. So the question might be: as there was for Israel's freedom from bondage in Egypt, were two sacrifices needed to free Israel (and all of us) from bondage to sin and mortality - the death and saving blood of the Perfect Lamb, and the death of the Firstborn of the Master? Certainly, Jesus' death on the cross was both of these. Was that what Zechariah 12:10 was prophesying?
Getting back to Zechariah 12:10, we may also ask, who was it in Exodus who "grieved for a firstborn?" And just who is it that will grieve and mourn the most for that Firstborn Son "whom they have pierced?" That is something for us to ponder on.
One of the miracles of my life occurred in August, 2002, when the Spirit of the Lord came and claimed my wife and I to be His. That was purely an act of grace for a pair of badly backslid Christians. The change in our life was immediate and permanent. One of the great joys subsequently given by the Lord has been the "tithing" of time in studying His word.
I am not a legalist, but I believe in the Scriptural concept of tithing as a guideline of what we gratefully give back to God of what He has blessed us with. Jacob set the standard, saying to God, "Of all that You give me, I will surely give a tenth to You." (Gen 28:22) What more valuable gift does He give us than time? Tithing time was not an original idea or intent of mine. As an early riser, I have always cherished quiet, productive morning time, before anyone else stirs or arises. It was MY time until August, 2002, when the Lord showed me it was HIS. Just naturally, time spent in reading and studying the word was at least three hours per morning on days off, and sixty to ninety minutes on workdays. (I had never even opened the Bible for some years before.) And it turned out that the average amount of time spent per day was about two and a half hours - a tenth of our 24-hour day.
Starting with just reading the Bible from cover to cover, next I read it again and felt led to write a paraphrased version. After two years and four months of this commitment, the Lord gave me specific directions: "Study My words," and showed me a method of cross-referencing the red-letter words of the Gospels with the Old Testament. I am still doing that, and the joy of discovery awaits me literally every morning. Real joy! In fact, I go to bed each night now eagerly looking forward to my early morning time the next day. And the sense of the favor of the Lord for such a commitment is part of that joy. It's Biblical: Ps 37:4-5 "Delight yourself in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass." (One does not even know what the desires of one's heart can be until one truly delights in, and commits to, the Lord.); Ps 111:2 "The works of the LORD are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them." (Yes!!). There are many other such references: for example, Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 26:3-4; Habakkuk 2:1-4, and, in the New Testament, John 1:14; Acts 17:10-12 and 2 Timothy 2:15. Please read them and see. (Those who know me know that I am still a very flawed human being, but praise God, we are saved by the love, grace and Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ through God the Father! That fact is all over in the Book!)
So I urge my fellow believers, who haven't tried it, to make a similar time commitment in the word. I hear so many people say, "I don't have time." Time is a gift only the Lord can give us; we must give some back. Get to know your Lord; He has given us a beautiful "manual" for that purpose.
After looking at two Hebrew, with side-by-side English, New Testaments, and my favorite, The Jewish New Testament (in English, translated from the Greek by David Stern), and a fascinating little book titled New Testament Greek To Hebrew Dictionary, the word "world" from 1 John 2:15, which is "kosmos" in the Greek, is translated to the Hebrew as "olam" (spelled right-to-left ayin-vav-lamed-mem), which is defined as meaning, "Distant - a far off place as hidden beyond the horizon. A far off time as hidden from the present; the distant past or future. A place or time that cannot be perceived." (the above Dictionary, p. 66). That is a really interesting definition, suggesting that the "world" we are not to love has an unknown depth and time, features which are not suggested by our usual concept of "world." But that unknown seems to fit with how the enemy tries to use the "world" to entice and control people. What is really out there beyond what we see, and the now of today? What can we imagine?
By Hebrew word pictures, as we discussed in the previous blog, that Hebrew word, "olam," states, " to see what establishes the authority of chaos." We know that the "authority of chaos" is what opposes and challenges God's order and peace. ("Peace" in Hebrew - the familiar "shalom" - gives the Hebrew word picture of " to destroy the authority that establishes chaos.") These Hebrew ideas and definitions expand the concept of "world" presented by Watchman Nee in Love Not The World.
Recently I have seen some speculation that perhaps the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew, just as was the Old Testament. This is best summarized on the website, www.yashanet.com/studies/matstudy/mat3b.htm, from which the following excerpt is taken:
"Another contributing factor to misinterpretation is that the books of the 'New Testament'
are 'Greek documents.' The fact that the 'New Testament' texts we have are in Greek,
makes them no more 'Greek documents' than the Septuagint (Greek) version of the Old
Testament, which the rabbis wrote into Greek 200 years before Yeshua. The rabbis did
this (as did someone at some point with the 'New Testament' letters), for the benefit of
the non-Jewish world so that they could also learn of the God and faith of Israel.
Thus, the 'New Testament' documents remain Hebrew texts written in a Hebrew mindset,
and must be studied that way, if we are to determine what the authors' meanings are. . . ."
Happy to say that after Grover's instruction I am posting my first blog.
Watchman Nee was an amazing person, a true apostle of our Lord. But after he wrote just one book, The Spiritual Man, he decided that writing books was not what God meant for his ministry. All of the rest of his books, and there are many, were put together by editors from notes and texts of messages Nee had given. Love Not The World was first published in 1968, just four years before Nee died in prison, where he had been for twenty years, for his evangelism. As an ironic note, Nee left his ministry in 1939 for nine years to manage a pharmaceutical company for an ill cousin. Despite the fact that he gave many jobs to impoverished Christians, some of his colleagues turned their backs on Nee, thinking he had gone over to the world.
I have recently been focusing on the Hebrew nature of the New Testament, and I may try to add some of that flavor to our contemplations here. We will try to cover one chapter of Love Not The World per week, perhaps starting one week from today (on 10/06/13). I will post a brief synopsis and a few comments and will be eager to see the thoughts of others. May the Lord bless this venture. h