Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Our Core Beliefs

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. Hebrews 3:12

We think of the heart as the seat of the emotions, but the Hebrews thought of it as the core of a person—emotions, intellect, and will. The heart is the wellspring of motivation. When the author speaks of the heart believing something, he is talking about deep convictions held in the core of one’s being, the beliefs that really determine what one does.

Likewise, to harden one’s heart is to make one’s will, intellect, and emotions all insensitive to God’s presence and truth.

(NavPress Bible study, Hebrews, Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1989, pg 54)

Monday, August 30, 2010

An Exalted Horn

And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
1 Samuel 2:1

Horn is exalted.
“The figure is that of an animal carrying its head high and proudly conscious of its strength” (Driver). [Donna note: Think of Bambi's father on the ridge-in a kingly posture]

Mouth is enlarged. A gesture of exultation and triumph.

Mine enemies. According to Rashi and Kimchi, Peninnah is meant.

(Hertz, Dr. J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed., Soncino Press, London, 1992, pg 954)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Spirit and Breath

Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: John 20:21-22

We should perhaps bear in mind that in Greek the word we translate “Spirit” also means “breath” or “wind.” It was thus very appropriate that Jesus should use breath as an outward sign of the gift of the Spirit that he was giving the disciples.

Sometimes Christians have taken this kind of thing very literally. R.E. Brown tells of a time when the Coptic Patriarch in Alexandria used to breath into a skin bag, which was then firmly tied and taken up river to Ethiopia. There it was released on the man chosen to be head of the Ethiopian church!

We cannot think that Jesus meant anything like this to happen, but the custom shows how suitable it was in the ancient world to use breath to convey teaching about the Spirit.

(Morris, Leon. 2000. Reflections on the Gospel of John. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers., pg 710)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Power of Speech

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. Genesis 2:7

A person should not profane the valuable power of speech with which man alone was endowed. It is this ability to speak which manifestly symbolizes the uniqueness of the human being. The supremacy of speech and the power it gives humanity does not stem from the mechanics of articulation. The movements of tongue and lips are only facilitators of speech. It is rather the intelligence capable of creating the spoken communication that marks the distinction between man and animal and endows him with his crown of humanity.

The attribute of speech with which man alone was endowed is like an intelligence unto itself, coming to him directly from the Creator, and has not evolved or been synthesized from other factors. This is revealed clearly in the verse, “And He blew into his nostrils the spirit of life, and Man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). Onkolos translates this, “And He blew into his nostrils the spirit of life, and it was transformed within man to the spirit of speech.” And the Ramban explains that he who blows into the nostrils of another instills in him his own soul, and that is as it says, “And the soul of God shall make them understand.”

For it was the intelligent soul which God instilled, so to speak, in his nostrils, that became the speaking soul with which he could be clever and speak, etc.

(Kaplan, Aryeh, ed. 1991. The Torah Anthology, Book Fourteen. Brooklyn, New York: Moznaim Publishing Corporation., pg xv)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Fragrance of Christ

And the Lord spake unto Noah, and he blessed him. And Noah smelled a sweet savor, and he said in his heart; I will call on the name of the Lord, that he will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; and he will not again smite any more every thing living, as he hath done, while the earth remaineth; JST Gen. 9:4-6

The fragrance of Christ must fill our being and overpower the stench of evil. G. Campbell Morgan related that he often went into the home of a man who entertained him, and in one room he always detected a strong fragrance of roses. He said to his host one day, “I wish you would tell me why, whenever I come into this room, I smell the fragrance of roses.”

The gentleman smiled and replied, “Ten years ago I was in the Holy Land, and while there I bought a small tube of attar of roses. It was wrapped in cotton wool, and as I was standing here unpacking it, suddenly I broke the bottle. I put the broken container, cotton wool and all, into the vase on the mantel.”

He then walked to the beautiful vase and lifted the lid, and the fragrance of roses filled the room. The fragrance had permeated the clay of the vase, and it was impossible for someone to enter the room without being conscious of it.

The goal of every Christian should be for the Rose of Sharon to so fill the clay vessel of the human house that His fragrance would linger on and on and ever influence the surroundings.

(Haney, Joy., May I Wash Your Feet?, Word Aflame Press, Hazelwood, MO, 1991, pg 22)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Open the Eyes

And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. Genesis 21:19

And God opened her eyes. i.e. she now perceived the well of water which was quite near her, but which in her anguish of mind she had overlooked.

“The Hebrew phrase to open the eyes is exclusively employed in the figurative sense of receiving new sources of knowledge, not in that of regaining the sense of sight” (Maimonides).

(Hertz, Dr. J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed., Soncino Press, London, 1992, pg 72)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Anointing Symbolism

I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. Daniel 10:3

Oiling the body was considered a necessity and not a luxury, and this was done by a majority of the population.

One of the gestures of hospitality in the NT home was to anoint your visitor with oil, along with washing his feet, giving him a cold cup of water, and/or burning incense in your home to freshen the air.

The wealthy used unguents and creams composed on a base of vegetable oils, such as olive oil, almond oil, sesame oil, or of the fat of geese, sheep, goats, or cattle. Added to these were minerals, salts, milk, and/or honey. Fragrant resins or aromatic flowers were added to give them a sweet scent. The common man used oils of inferior quality, like castor oil.

So customary was anointing oneself with oil, that it was a sign of mourning to refrain from it, “...be a mourner and put on mourning apparel and do not anoint yourself with oil(2 Sam. 14:2). Anointing with oil was also used in religious practice, including the anointing of kings by a prophet or priest, “And Zadok the priest to the horn of oil from the tent and anointed Solomon (I Kgs. 1:39).


Friday, August 20, 2010

The Payback Ratio

Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:5-6

Another insight we have we see in a number of places, the 10 commandments being one, where it says, (20:5-6) "...a zealous God Who visits the sins of the father upon children to the third and fourth generations, for those who hate Me; but Who does kindness for thousands of generations for those who love Me and observe My commandments."

There is a principle that when something is mentioned in plural but without a number we assume it to mean the minimum plural, two. So “thousands of generations” = two thousand generations.

In summary, punishment is paid to the 4th generation and reward to the 2000th. That's a 1:500 ratio between payback for sin and payback for deeds. Joining this with the first insight of midah k'neged midah-Measure for measure- we have the payback for sinning is 1 to 1 while reward is paid back 500 times the good deed.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Two Ways to Come

And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, John 12:14

The most natural points of comparison for Jesus’ work are found among these Jewish Messianic expectations. He rode into ‘his own city’ choosing a donkey as a sign of lowliness and subjection.

There is a hint in this which we find also discussed in the Talmud:

"The Son of David will come only in a generation which is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked.

‘In a generation which is altogether righteous;’ as it is written: ‘Then will your people be righteous and they will possess the land for ever’ (Is 60:21). Or ‘altogether wicked;’ as it is written: ‘He was that there was no-one, and he was appalled that there was no-one to intercede’ (Is 59:16)... ‘And behold, one like the son of man, coming in the clouds’ (Dan 7:13). It is also written, ‘gentle and riding on a donkey’ (Zech 9:9): if they are righteous he will come in the clouds. If not, he will come humbly and riding on a donkey."

(Santala, Risto. 1992. The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Jerusalem: Yanetz Limited., pg 55)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

All Things from the Father

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Matthew 11:27

My Father has given me all things” is a technical term for the transmission of doctrine, knowledge, and holy lore. It designates the mystery of revelation, and the first line means: “My Father has given me a full revelation.” …

The final line, “and any one to whom the son chooses to reveal him,” suggests: because only a son really knows his father, he alone is in a position to pass this knowledge on to others. Thus Jesus is explaining the communication of revelation with the aid of a comparison between father and son. …

It was customary for the son to learn his father’s craft. Many trades had their secret processes, which were carefully guarded, and into which the son was initiated by his father. In the same way, this metaphor of the pupil suggests, Jesus’ Father has initiated him into the revelation.

Jesus explains his theme exactly the same way in Matt. 11.27 par.: “My Father has given me all things” (line I) is developed by means of a father-son comparison (lines 2 and 3): “Only father and son really know one another.”

What Jesus wants to convey in the guise of an everyday simile is this: Just as a father talks to his son, just as he teaches him the letters of the Torah, just as he initiates him into the well-prepared secrets of his craft, just as he hides nothing from him and opens his heart to him as to no-one else, so God has granted me knowledge of himself.

The fourth line, “and any one to whom the son chooses to reveal him,” is the one that is stressed. It remains within the framework of everyday experience (because only a son really understands the intention and actions of his father, only he can make them understandable to others), and leaves the hearer to draw the consequences for Jesus’ claim for his mission.

(Jeremias, Joachim. 1971. New Testament Theology. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons., pgs 59-61)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Co-equal With the Father

I and my Father are one. John 10:30

"The age of 30 was the age of maturity, of “adoption” and of priesthood. At this age, a Jewish Father would take his first born son, take him to the city gate at which sat the leaders of the city and declare him co-equal in their business. The word of the son would be the same as if speaking to the father. They were one."

(I lost the reference for this info--sorry.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Spirit Finds Rest

And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. John 1:32

But in the case of Jesus the coming of the Spirit was an equipment for life; it was the permanent indwelling of the Spirit in him. A surviving fragment of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, preserved by Jerome in his commentary on Isaiah 11:2, seems to seize upon this very point:

And it came to pass, when the Lord was come up out of the water, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descended and rested upon him, and said unto him; My Son, in all the prophets was I waiting for thee that thou shouldst come, and I might rest in thee. For thou art my rest, thou art my first-begotten Son, that reignest for ever.”

It was no portion of the Spirit which came upon Jesus; it was the very fountain of the Spirit. It was no temporary gift of the Spirit; it was the permanent abiding of the Spirit in him. In the moment of the baptism Jesus was divinely equipped for his task.

(Barclay, William., The Mind of Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco, United States of America, 1960, pg 29)

Friday, August 13, 2010


Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Matthew 1:23

“ ‘Immanuel’ — This lovely name of Messiah is, in effect, the Alpha and Omega of Matthew's gospel.

It is there in chapter 1: 'They shall call his name Immanuel... God with us.'

And the last words of the gospel are, 'Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.’ ”

H.A. Whittaker

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Cryptic Hint

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. Isaiah 53:2

Hebrew: "He grew up before him like a TENDER SHOOT, and like a root out of dry ground."

A Rabbi once said that there was here a cryptic hint of the Messiah’s miraculous birth, in that he will be born, as it were, from ground "which has not yet been ploughed and in which no seed has been planted". Anyone who does not understand the figurative language behind those words cannot understand the nature of the Old Testament Messianic hope.

(Santala, Risto. 1992. The Messiah in the Old Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Jerusalem: Yanetz Limited., pg 197)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Seven Redemptive Names Of God

JEHOVAH-JIREHThe Lord our provider” – This is also the name Abraham gave to the place where the Lord provided a sacrifice in place of Isaac. (Gen. 22:14).

JEHOVAH-NISSIOur banner, a banner of love and protection” – Also the name Moses gave to the altar he built after defeating the Amalekites (Ex. 17:15).

JEHOVAH-SHALOMOur perfect peace” – Also the name Gideon gave to the altar he built at Ophrah (Judges 6:24).

JEHOVAH-TSID-KENUThe Lord is our righteousness” – The name is applied to a future Davidic king who would lead his people to do what is right and thus bring peace (Jeremiah 23:6) and to the restored city of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 33:16). The name is possibly a play on the name of Zedekiah ("Righteous [is] the Lord") who reigned from 597 to 587 B.C..

JEHOVAH-SHAMMAHThe One Who is with us everywhere for He is Omnipresent” – The Jerusalem of Ezekiel's vision (see Ezekiel 48:35 margin) was known by this name. Compare text at Isaiah 60:19-20 and Revelation 21:3.

JEHOVAH-SABAOTH The Lord of Hosts, our Protector.” – C.H. Spurgeon said this about the phrase “The Lord of Hosts”: The Lord rules the angels, the stars, the elements, and all the hosts of Heaven; and the Heaven of heavens is under His sway... [the Lord] is on our side — our august Ally; woe unto those who fight against Him, for they shall flee like smoke before the wind when He gives the word to scatter them. See text at Psalm 46:7.

JEHOVAH-RAAHOur Shepherd Who tenderly leads us, loves us and will keep us safe.” – The famous Psalm 23 tells us that “The Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not want....” Being illustrated as a shepherd implies a relationship with His sheep (His believers). The term shepherd appears approximately 80 times in the Scriptures, denotating meanings of: feeder, keeper, companion, friend, pastor and herdsman.

(Holman Bible Dictionary and the book All the Divine Names And Titles In The Bible by Herbert Lockyer used as source for this material.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The KJV Code System For Divine Names

If you look at the KJV text carefully, you will notice that there are various names for Deity in the Old Testament, including "God," "GOD," "Lord," "LORD," or some combination of these terms.

Different words and spelling variations were used by the King James translators to designate the various Hebrew words for God. The three primary Hebrew words for God are Elohim, Jehovah (Yahweh), and Adonai.

Elohim. This is a general Hebrew name for Deity that designates God as our Creator and the object of all true worship. It occurs 2,570 times in the Old Testament (Jack B. Scott, s.v. "elohim," in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 vols. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980, 1:44.). In most instances it is rendered "God" in the King James Bible, that is, with a capital "G" and with the letters "od" written in lower case.

Elohim is plural in form, however, when it refers to the true God, it designates only one Divine Being. We know this because it is consistently used with singular verbs, and with adjectives and pronouns in the singular, so that by the rules of Hebrew grammar it must be understood and translated as singular (Ibid.). Because Elohim is a general term for God, it is also used when describing false gods.

For instance, Exodus 20:2-3 declares: "I am the LORD thy God [Elohim] which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt . . . Thou shalt have no other gods [elohim] before me." Since the same word is used for the one true God and for false gods, the KJV translators simply used a capital "G "and made it singular when the context is speaking of the one true God, to prevent confusion.

Jehovah/Yahweh. This is the personal name of the God of the Bible and speaks of Him as the holy, self-existent God who hates sin but provides redemption. It is used 5,321 times in the Old Testament (J. Barton Payne, s.v. "Yahweh," in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1:210.). The Hebrew word Jehovah is written as "LORD" in the KJV Bible. Notice that all the letters are capitalized.

In some instances Jehovah is also written as GOD. Again, with all the letters capitalized. Wherever you see the words LORD or GOD in the Bible written in all uppercase letters, you will know that in every case it is the word Jehovah (or Yahweh, as modern scholars believe it should be pronounced) in the Hebrew text.

Adonai. This word means "Sovereign," or "Master," and emphasizes the Lordship of God. It is used more than 300 times in the Old Testament as a designation for God (Robert L. Alden, s.v. "adon," in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 1:13.). It appears as "Lord" in the King James Bible. Notice that it is spelled with a capital "L" and lower case "ord." Like Elohim, Adonai is a special plural form. In this plural form it always refers to God (Ibid.). The singular form, Adon, is used to designate men who are lords over other people. There is a rare exception where a singular form for Lord (Adonai) is used for God.

Joshua 7:6-7 illustrates how the different names for God in the Hebrew text are coded into the King James Bible:

And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of the LORD [Jehovah] until the eventide, he and the elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. And Joshua said, Alas, O Lord [Adonai] GOD [Jehovah], wherefore hast thou at all brought this people over Jordan, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us? would to God [Elohim] we had been content, and dwelt on the other side of Jordan!

Monday, August 9, 2010


This was sent to me by a friend who was taking a Hebrew class (Thanks, Amy H.) and I thought it had some interesting implications:

The name of God in Hebrew is “Elohim.” This word comes from the feminine singular word “eloah” (el-o’-ah). By adding “iym” to the end of it, it changes it to a plural name. However, “iym” is usually a masculine ending, yet here we see it added to a feminine word.

This gives the word “Elohim” the sense of uniting both feminine and masculine qualities. The idea of combining these two attributes suggests uniting of a man and woman, which would suggest the idea of a family.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Sharing the Light

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12

"We form a circle of hope.
We pass the flame to one another.

If my candle goes out, yours will light it.
Together we make a brighter light...

And each candle promises something of its own:
That darkness is not the last word."

David McCauley

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Born Again

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. John 3:3

"We are born not all at once, but by bits.

The body first and the spirit later; and the birth and growth of the spirit, in those attentive to their own inner life, are slow and exceedingly painful.

Our mothers are racked with the pains of our physical birth; we ourselves suffer the longer pains of spiritual growth."

Mary Antin-immigrant to the US 100 years ago.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Another Prayer Request

This one comes from a book Of the Imitation of Christ by Thomas a' Kempis:

Grant me, O Lord,
to know what I ought to know,
to love what I ought to love,
to praise what is most pleasing to Thee,
to esteem what appears precious to Thee, and
to abominate what is foul in thy sight.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Prayer Before Study

"I seek truth and do not want to be limited by my own narrow-minded conception of what it should look like.

I will open myself to new teachings with one condition: Whatever is true should enter my life and take root; whatever is false should pass through and leave no impression.

With Thy help, Father, I trust that it will be so. Let me embrace truth and deflect falsehood. "

Monday, August 2, 2010

Doctrine as the Rain

My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass: Deuteronomy 32:2

Doctrine. Better, teaching, message or instruction; cf. Prov. 4: 2. The message conveyed by the Song shall, like rain and dew falling on plants, penetrate to the hearts of the Israelites; refresh, stimulate, and give birth to a new spiritual life. The Song, therefore, is not only one of warning, but on comfort also, to awaken new hope in a suffering Israel.

Distil as the dew. God’s word is as the dew which, though it falls gently and unheard, yet has a wonderful reviving power; cf. Micah 5: 6.

Small rain. The tender grass needs the small drops for its revival. Even so is the Divine teaching tempered to meet the wants of the weak and the young.

Showers upon the herb. The grown-up grass needs the strong forceful showers.

(Hertz, Dr. J.H., The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, 2nd Ed., Soncino Press, London, 1992, pg 896)