Monday, December 29, 2008
looking beyond the mark
Jacob 4: 14
But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall;
Here is an additional way to think about Jacob's description of the Jews as a people who sinned by looking 'beyond the mark'. Using the Hebraic viewpoint, sin is often described as missing the center of the target-the bullseye-because you looked beyond the goal and didn't maintain focus.
Het (Strong’s #2399) is a Hebrew word that is often mistranslated as “sin.” But “sin,” like the word “God,” has been so distorted through time that it brings up all sorts of erroneous associations—the devil, hellfire, damnation. So let me define the word in the context of the Torah. Het has its own original meaning with no adequate translation in English. But I learned exactly what it means while I was taking a stroll in Jerusalem one Sunday afternoon. I was walking along, chatting with my wife, when I heard from afar a thousand voices shouting, “Het! Het! Het!” I looked around to see where the sound was coming from, imagining that perhaps some sort of religious sect was holding a revival meeting nearby. But then I realized that we had come near a soccer stadium and it was the fans in the bleachers who were yelling, “Het! Het!”
In soccer, that’s what you yell when someone’s missed the goal. Het! Het! means nothing more than “Miss! Miss!” And that’s precisely how the Torah defines sin. You’re off the mark. You haven’t hit the goal. You played the music off-key, missed your cue. (Aaron, David., Endless Light, Simon & Schuster, 1997, pgs 70-71)
We can liken Jacob's words to ourselves. Isaiah also describes Ephraim as prideful and "stiffnecked", so the Jews don't have a monopoly on those qualities. Any time we take our focus off the Savior, we are apt to miss our most important goal. He is the mark.