Ohr haOlam

Ohr haOlam

Word of the Week

Ohr haOlam
Hebrew

Today we will consider the Hebrew phrase “Light of the World.” It looks like this:

איר העולם

One of my favorite songs is “Here I Am to Worship” which begins like this:

Light of the World, You stepped down into darkness,

Opened my eyes, let me see…

Perhaps you’ve sung it in church; you’ve definitely read the scripture from which we get the phrase.

“Therefore Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. The one following Me shall not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life (John 8:12).”
Then He transfered that Light to us so that we would be a light to the nations.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16 NIV).”
But what does the word “light” mean in Hebrew, and how would the people of God have understood it?

The word translated light is the Hebrew word ohr, and it looks like this:

אור

The Hebrew Bible defines the word “darkness” by using the word choshek.  It includes not only the dark, but misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, and wickedness. 

In opposition to the choshek, stands the ohr. The same word translated darkness in Genesis 1:2 relates that the darkness was a state that was unlighted and against which God would not place His crown of creation, man. Instead, He divided the darkness and inserted the light (ohr). The word means “light of day,” but it is deeper than that, for it also means “light of instruction” and “light of God.”

Genesis tells us that the Holy Spirit was m’rachpet, moving or brooding (like a mother bird), over the face of the waters (mayim), which in Hebrew has not only the plain meaning of waters, but figuratively means distress and violence.

So into the choshek God shines His ohr.

The lamp promised to David’s house

The word translated “light” in 2 Kings 2:19 is a different word, ner, meaning lamp. It is the word that is used in prayer for the lighting of the Sabbath candles. Yet it is quite obvious that the scripture there is not talking about a candle or a lamp, but the Messiah who is to come. The Amplified Bible gives a better translation.
Yet for the sake of His servant David the Lord was not willing to destroy Judah, since He had promised to give him a lamp (enthroned descendant) through his sons always (2 Kings 8:19 AMP).”
Proverbs 6:23 further illuminates the Jewish understanding and use of both ner and ohr when it says:
For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: (Proverbs 6:23 KJV).”

Since the newborn church was a Jewish church, their understanding of light was the same as that of their unbelieving brothers with the exception of one crucial point.

Matthew (who wrote to Jews) said that Yeshua was the light of the world, the ohr ha-olam. Yeshua Himself said that we are now the light of the world, set on a hillside to draw the nations to Him, so that God may be glorified.

So now, that is our calling, individually and as a church. We are to set our light so evidently before men that they will lift up their hands in holiness and bless the Lord.

A current cultural note

Before our Shabbat meal on Friday nights just before the sun sets, we pray the prayer over the lighting of the Sabbath candles as a part of our celebration of the beginning of the Sabbath. Jews who do not see the true Light, Yeshua HaMashiach, pray the prayer this way (remember that Hebrew is read right-to-left):
But Messianic Jews, knowing that there is actually nowhere in the scriptures where God does, indeed, command us to light Sabbath candles, instead pray according to their knowledge of what Light we are  commanded to light, thusly:
 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 AMP).”

Hebrew words in this post

Hebrew

transliteration

translation

איר

ohr

light

חושׁך

choshek

darkness

נר

ner

lamp

מרחפת

m’rachpet

hovering

מים

mayim

waters

A final question: If you were taken to court for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

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What Hinders Prayer

What Hinders Prayer

What Hinders Prayer

God has made it possible for us to enter the Holy of Holies through the atoning blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. At the moment of His death, the veil that separated man from God’s most holy place was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. In other words, the Way was opened from the top, where God is, to the bottom, where man is. That’s significant.

When Esther wanted to see the king—her own husband—she could not just enter the throne room. To do so without the king’s summons could mean death. But if he held out his scepter, it meant she had found favor with him and could enter the throne room. It is significant that God is both husband and king (Isaiah 54:5). He invites us into His presence.

The Amplified Bible shows more fully the great privilege we enjoy in approaching the throne of grace.

Hebrews 4:16 reads: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (NIV).”

[bctt tweet=”At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil that separated man from God’s most holy place was rent in two, from the top to the bottom.” username=”suzi59344978″]

“Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment] (Hebrews 4:16 AMP).”

There are, however, some things that can hinder our prayers to our gracious Father.

1. Ephesians 4:26-27 shows us that we can give the devil a foothold, The Greek word topos means foothold and indicates a room or a place. We can’t expect to waltz into the throne of grace dragging a demon!

2. We give the devil a foothold when we have unconfessed pride, rebellion, deception, sexual impurity, and any other ungodly thing in which we participate.

3. Sometimes, we think so highly of ourselves that we try to usurp Jesus’ place as Savior and the Holy Spirit’s place as Counselor. We don’t trust the Holy Spirit in others but expect them to trust Him in us, ourselves.

[bctt tweet=”Sometimes we try to usurp Jesus’ place as Savior and the Holy Spirit’s place as Counselor. ” via=”no”]

4. Mark is very clear in his Gospel that forgiveness is necessary to an ongoing, deep relationship with God (Mark 11:25). We cannot expect God to listen to our pleas for help when we ignore the needs others have for our forgiveness.

5. Unconfessed sin of any kind will disrupt our intimate relationship with our Father.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV).”

The “race set before us” requires faith, stamina, commitment, and discipline. What athlete thinks he can win a contest without those four things.

The race’s parameters are set by God. They are encompassed in the meaning of the word holiness.

The Hebrew word kadosh (קָדוֹשׁ) doesn’t mean individual righteousness. Instead it indicates something set apart for a particular purpose, one of God’s choosing. If we desire that our prayers remain unhindered, we must remain “set apart” from the world. “Holy” is the exact opposite of “common.”

The cloud of witnesses are those who have already finished the race and have left behind a pattern for us to follow. If we follow their lead, we are sure to finish well.

Habitual sin will hold you in bondage. So how do you know if you are in habitual sin? Here are some clues.

You feel hopeless. You “did it again” even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t.

You see yourself as worthless.

You believe the lies the enemy is feeding you.

You feel like giving up.

You spend less time with God.

You feel ashamed and keep it to yourself.

Your sin is always on your mind and you feel helpless to overcome it.

It is interesting to me that Hebrews 12:1-2 says “the sin” and not “sins.” So what sin is this referring to? It is always the same sin that so easily entangles us. And that is thinking that Jesus’ blood was not sufficient for our lives. Yet we know that 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that we have everything we need.

When all is said and done, only pride will hinder your prayers. Because pride keeps you from coming humbly to God when sin has run roughshod over you and left you weeping once again. God told Cain that sin crouched at his door (Genesis 4:7), but the only thing we need to overcome sin in our lives, habitual or not, is reliance on Jesus.

“”For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3 AMP).”

You can do this. You can close the door Satan and not let crouching sin enter. The solution to the problem (hindered prayers) is contained in the problem. More prayer, unencumbered by sin!

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Baruch Haba

Baruch Haba

Word of the Week

Baruch haba

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew is actually 2 words: baruch haba. It looks like this:

ברוך הבא

“Baruch haba b’Shem Adonai—Blessed is He who comes in the Name of Adonai. We bless you from the House of Adonai.” Psalm 118:26 Tree of Life Version (TLV)

Although it is a phrase that Jewish people use to mean “welcome,” it literally means “blessed is [the person] who comes.”  Baruch means blessed.

Shem means name, and be means in, so b’Shem is “in the name.” (Parenthetical thought: Orthodox Jews never pronounce the name of God, instead saying HaShem which means the Name. Ha means the.)

Maimonides, the 12th century philosopher, astronomer, physician and rabbi, wrote his famous “Thirteen Principles of Faith” to encourage every Jew to remain faithful to Messianic expectation. Principle twelve states:

I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah. And even though he may tarry, I will await His coming every day. And he who doubts or diminishes the greatness of the Messiah is a denier in all the Torah for it testifies to the Messiah…And part of this principle is that there is no king of Israel except from the house of David and from the seed of Solomon alone.”

Interestingly, Orthodox Jews proclaim this today while at the same time actually doing the opposite. Their Messiah did come, and they did not recognize the day of their visitation.

and they will level you to the ground, you [Jerusalem] and your children within you. They will not leave in you one stone on another, all because you did not[come progressively to] recognize [from observation and personal experience] the time of your visitation [when God was gracious toward you and offered you salvation] (Luke 19:44 AMP).”

In Matthew 23:39, we read: “For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'” That’s a quotation from Psalm 118:26 which says: “Bless the one who comes in the name of the LORD. We bless you from the house of the LORD.”

It is that verse in Psalms that gives us the modern-day Hebrew greeting baruch haba. (Haba actually means the house. Remember that ha means the. The word for house is ba’it.) It’s kind of like people used to do in centuries past when they would holler “Hello, the house!” when riding their horses up to someone’s house to announce their presence. Only in this case, they are saying “the house bless you”!

That Messianic prophecy also includes: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” (I really love the last part of that verse!) They have rejected the very One who is the Cornerstone of their rebuilt house.

So while Jews recite principle 12, they are blinded to the Messiah who has already come and reject as Jewish those Jews who recognize Him. (Won’t they be surprised some day?)

It is because they refused to recognize the time of their visitation that God has blinded them in part until the “time of the Gentiles has been fulfilled.”

Some will fall by the edge of the sword, others will be carried into all the countries of the Goyim (nations), and Yerushalayim will be trampled down by the Goyim until the age of the Goyim has run its course (Luke 21:24 CJB).”

“I do not want you, believers, to be unaware of this mystery [God’s previously hidden plan]—so that you will not be wise in your own opinion—that a partial hardening has [temporarily] happened to Israel [to last] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25 AMP).”

One day, the remnant of the Jews that survive the coming day of God’s wrath will say Baruch haba!

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The Prayer Paradigm

The Prayer Paradigm

the prayer paradigm

W hat does prayer mean to you? Is it something you do when you’re in trouble and have run out of ideas to fix the problem? Do you pray when you want a new job, a new house, or a parking space closer to the mall? Many people seem to look at God as some kind of genie in the sky who is obligated to do for them or give to them whatever they say, so long as they start out with “Dear Heavenly Father” and end with “In Jesus’ name.”

Somehow along the way, we have forgotten that God is GOD. He’s the one in control, not us. He made us and He gets to call the shots. We ignore His will in our lives to our own peril. Instead of asking God what His will in a situation is, we tell Him what our will is and expect Him to line up with it.

But that’s not how prayer works.

We’re going to look at several verses in the Amplified Bible to see if what we’ve decided to apply actually is what was meant. As we read through these scriptures, remember that our Creator desires our fellowship. He never signed up to be Santa Claus.

2nd Corinthians 13:11 in the Amplified Bible brings out the truth that we must be walking closely in fellowship with God in order to enjoy the benefits that ensure peace, love, comfort, and like-mindedness.

The Hebrew word shalom really sums up the result of remaining in fellowship with God. It means peace, harmony, wholeness,

2nd Corinthians 13:11 says: Finally, believers, rejoice! Be made complete [be what you should be], be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace [enjoy the spiritual well-being experienced by believers who walk closely with God]; and the God of love and peace [the source of lovingkindness] will be with you (AMP).”

completeness, prosperity, welfare and tranquility. If you look carefully, you’ll discover that everything you pray for is found in one of those areas.

[bctt tweet=”Delight yourself in the LORD, not in things of this world.” via=”no”]

In this scripture, Paul is admonishing the community at Corinth because they were not behaving as believers should. He calls into question their very salvation if they refuse to obey, cautioning them that they need to examine their hearts to see if they are truly in the faith. That’s because those who are will do the will of the Father.

Jesus told the disciples that if they loved Him, they would obey Him. Just before that scripture, He told them that whatsoever they asked in His name He would do for them.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, anyone who believes in Me [as Savior] will also do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these [in extent and outreach], because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in My name [as My representative], this I will do, so that the Father may be glorified and celebrated in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name [as My representative], I will do it. If you [really] love Me, you will keep and obey My commandments. John 14:12-15 (AMP).”

When taken in context, this verse doesn’t mean what modern Christianity has led us to believe it does. It does not mean that Jesus will cater to our whims and selfish desires. Quite the contrary! Instead of Him doing our desires, what this text means is that we represent Him in our relationships and work. This scripture is about doing God’s will, not our own.

Now that in no way means that we should not bring our desires to God for His consideration. We are told to “delight yourselves in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).” So we need to look at what that scripture is telling us. Right off the bat, going to church on Sunday is not “delighting yourself in the LORD.” Understanding this scripture is paramount to knowing how to approach God.

Delighting yourself in the LORD means finding peace, fulfillment and contentment in God Himself.

When God is your delight, the desires of your heart begin to align with His desires.

Now let’s look at a companion verse in Matthew. (See sidebar).

Desiring gain in wealth or prestige will never satisfy you. Once walking along this pathway, you find that contentment is never fulfilled. You always want more.  On the other hand, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6).

 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.” Matthew 6:33 (AMP)

Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world. The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17

The world can never satisfy our deepest longings. But seeking God’s heart when you pray will be sure that your prayers are heard and answered. He always hears us when we pray, but like the good Father that He is, He doesn’t give to His children whatever they ask for. He always knows what’s best. Trust Him.

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Backhanded “Compliments” — How to Handle Them Biblically

Backhanded “Compliments” — How to Handle Them Biblically

What do you do?

When someone insults you, but disguises it as a compliment, how do you respond? Those kinds of comments are what are known as backhanded compliments, and it’s not usually intentional (but often it is). Some people are just socially awkward. They don’t mean to sound snarky; they simply don’t know how to deliver a compliment. Chances are, they don’t know how to receive one, either. Yet at other times, the spiteful comment is entirely intentional. That person may act innocent, but their rudeness still hurts. So from a Biblical perspective, what should you do?

Photo courtesy of Daniel Fazio on Unsplash

“You are really smart for such a pretty woman.”
“You got the job?! Congratulations! I’m so surprised!”
“You look beautiful today.”
“I wish I was as cool with clutter as you are.”

 

You could write your own list of these kinds of commendations, couldn’t you? We’ve all heard them; in fact, we’ve all said them.
And they sting.

So, again—how do you respond to backhanded compliments Biblically?

Here are five Biblical responses. Which will you use?

“Love is not easily offended (1 Corinthians 15:3).”

1. Assume the best.

Give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she meant no harm. Or maybe she did. Not responding in kind doesn’t mean you’re being weak. Thank her for the “compliment” and let it go.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6).”

2. Be gracious.

If you answer with gracious speech—even if she meant it as an insult—you will model Jesus for her. She will see that love does not act unbecomingly or use harsh or hurtful words. Remember that Jesus told us to answer evil with good.

“in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love (2 Corinthians 6:6).”

3. Apply kindness.

You have not walked in her shoes today. You don’t know whether or not she is acting out of hurt that someone else did to her. Gentleness is appealing and also contagious. Your kindness may just turn her day around.

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ (Ephesians 4:15).”

4. Speak the truth in love.

Especially when you don’t think any harm was meant, say, “Thank you for the compliment, but saying that today I look beautiful implies you don’t think I usually am. Is that what you meant to say?” Keep your tone non-combative, and gently let her know that she may not realize that what she said was hurtful.

“Luke 6:28 says: Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who insult you.”

5. Pray.

Whether the back-handed compliment was an attempt to insult you or not, the person who talks that way needs prayer. Sometimes she is hurting herself, sometimes she’s clueless, and sometimes she just didn’t think before she spoke. Since you don’t really know why, it’s best not to rush to judgement. Praying for those who offend us is the right thing to do, and then pray for yourself if you received offense. Remember, love is not easily offended!

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