Hebrew WOW!   ישועה

Hebrew WOW! ישועה

Word of the Week

yeshua

Hebrew

To Christians, salvation comes through Jesus. In Hebrew, the name of Jesus is Yeshua. So is the word salvation.  It looks like this:

ישועה

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Yeshua, [which means `ADONAI saves,’] because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21 (Complete Jewish Bible)

Jews do not view salvation the way a Christian does.

To be a Jew is not necessarily to embrace Judaism so much as it is to identify with Jewish culture. Many current-day Jews don’t even believe that God exists. Those who do often do not believe in an afterlife.

In speaking of Japanese resistance to the gospel message, Peter Lundell introduces the concept of “Nihonkyo.” The concept actually speaks to one’s ultimate loyalty. That loyalty is not to a particular belief or even to a nation, “but rather to one’s identity and obligations as a Japanese person.” Similarly, there is an expectation of loyalty on the part of individual Jews despite their religious convictions. Part of that loyalty is defined as not believing in Jesus. — David Brickner | Nov 20, 1997 referring to Lundell, Peter. “Behind Japan’s Resistant Web: Understanding the Problem of Nihonkyo” Missiology: An International Review 23:4 (October 1995), p. 409. 

Salvation for a Christian rests on the knowledge of original sin, acceptance that we are born with the sin nature, and that salvation is an individual experience that converts our souls. There is no individual salvation necessary to a Jewish way of thinking because they do not believe in original sin.

“O my God, the soul Thou gavest me is pure; Thou didst create it, Thou didst form it, Thou didst breathe it into me. Thou preservest it within me, and Thou wilt take it from me, but wilt restore unto me hereafter.” — Jewish Siddur (prayer book)

In cartoons when you see the devil sitting on one shoulder and an angel on the other, you may think that it is a Christian doctrine, but you would be wrong. However, it’s a pretty good representation of how Jewish people think of sin. Believing that each person is born neutral with an inclination toward good and an inclination toward bad, Jews believe that there is nothing to stop us from choosing good.  Their rabbis teach that we have both a yetzer ha tov (good inclination) and a yetzer ha ra (bad inclination). Most will admit to making mistakes and poor choices, but they do not see themselves as sinners.

Therefore, why would they need a Savior?

Salvation, they believe, is not an individual thing but a corporate one. Salvation nearly equals survival in the eyes of the Jew. They see themselves as tikkun olam (correcting the world), in partnership with God to bring about a better earth.

Since the destruction of the second Temple, Judaism has changed out of necessity. With no place to offer sacrifices for sin, the modern Jew uses good deeds and repentance as a substitute. They do not believe they are separated from God and don’t need a Savior to reconcile them to Him.

A common misunderstanding among Jews today is that they think Christians believe that a man became God and not vice versa.

You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” John 4:22

Sharing the Gospel with our Jewish friends may help them see that salvation comes from a very Jewish God Who desires closeness and fellowship with His children: hayeshua bemashiah Yeshua. Salvation in the Messiah, Yeshua.

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Hebrew WOW!  זכור!

Hebrew WOW! זכור!

Word of the Week

Zachor!

Hebrew

This verb occurs 252 times in the Bible.

זָכַר

1 Corinthians 11:24-25: “and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” (NV)

So if we’re learning a Hebrew word, why are we starting in the New Testament?

Zachar is the Hebrew verb “remember.” It is used as a command (zachor!)ˆ 148 times in the Old Testament, but it was something so important that Jesus used it as one of the last things He would tell His disciples before He died.

“Do this in remembrance of Me” has a couple of alternative renderings that may help us understand more clearly. It can be rendered more literally, “Do this for the remembering of Me,” or “Do this in case you forget.” — John W. Ritenbaugh

Genesis 9:15 gives us an account of God using the verb “remember” for the first time in the Bible.

“and I will [compassionately] remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again will the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. (Genesis 9:15 AMP).”

In Genesis, God tells us that He will remember. In 1 Corinthians, Yeshua is telling us to remember.

Why is this verb so important? Because it is a promise from God that He will remember the covenant He made, and because He wants us to always keep in mind the sacrifice Yeshua made on our behalf, paying with His life for we who were so utterly defiled.

We generally have no problem remembering Yeshua’s personality. We know all the Bible stories. But there is so much more than just the charismatic, itinerant rabbi who did miracles and died on a cross. Yesua was indestructibly connected to the Old Testament through Passover. We are admonished to remember His life that exemplified the way, the horrendous death on the cross for the remission of sins, and that it was He  Who said in Genesis: I will remember.

Remembering the sacrifice of the One Who made covenant with Abraham and went on to die for His children is the foundation for every loving relationship with our Creator and His family. Because He did all of this for us, our lives are not spent in vain. We have this hope, that He Who promised is able to bring to completion all the terms of His covenant in His blood, not to mention all the Old Testament covenants that remain in effect today.

Zachor! Remembering motivates us to recognize that the first sin was one of not remembering Who God is. The “Lord’s Supper” in the New Testament reminds us of one thing: His unfathomable love.

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Ezrah—An “Help Meet” for Adam

Ezrah—An “Help Meet” for Adam

Word of the Week

Ezrah

Hebrew

Let’s take a look at an often mistranslated word. Ezrah looks like this:

עֶזתָה

“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18

Understanding the meaning of Hebrew words is essential to our complete understanding of the Scriptures.

The trouble with reading the Scriptures without knowing how the original writers thought is that the interpretation can leave out much that is essential to understanding the Word of God. Such is the case when we read Genesis 2:18, where “an help meet” makes it sound as though Eve were an assistant, someone sent to “help” Adam, but in a second-in-command role. Nothing could be further from the truth.

וְיֹאמַר ה אֱלֹהִים, לֹא טוֹב שֶׁהָאָדָםצָרִיךְ לִהְיוֹת לְבַדּוֹ אֲנִי אֶעֱשֶׂה לוֹ עֶזְרָה שֶׁתִּפְגֹּשׁ אוֹתוֹ.

v’yomar Adonai elohiym, lo tov sheha’adam tzariykh’ lih’yot l’vado aniy e’eshoeh lo ezrah shetif’gosh oto.

With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles.” 2nd Chronicles 32:8

עִמֹּו זְרֹועַ בָּשָׂר וְעִמָּנוּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְעָזְרֵנוּ וּלְהִלָּחֵם מִלְחֲמֹתֵנוּ

Imo zro’a bashar v’imanu Adonai eloheinu l’azerenu uv’lehillachem milchamotenu.

“Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

נַפְשֵׁנוּ חִכְּתָה לַֽיהוָה עֶזְרֵנוּ וּמָגִנֵּנוּ הֽוּא׃

Naf’shenu, chib’tah laihvah ezrenu uv’maginnenu hu.

I’m sure you would agree that the God who fights our battles is not in a second-in-command role nor an assistant to our own strength and might. Indeed, we know that if victory in the battles we face were up to us alone, we would surely lose (the idiom “crash and burn” comes to mind).

So what was God talking about when He said that He would make “an help meet” for Adam? The Hebrew word ezer is actually a combination of two roots words: one means “to rescue, to save.” The other meaning is “to be strong.” The first root is י – שׁ – ע, which is where we get the name Yeshua. The other root is ח – ז – ק, meaning “to be strong, to make strong, to strengthen.” Together, they embody the essence of the word “savior.” In fact, in eight out of the 22 times ezer appears in the Bible, it is translated “savior.” The rest of the time, it refers to how God strengthens man.

1 Samuel 7:12 says: “Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

The Hebrew word eben means rock. When ezer is attached, it means “rock of salvation.” So Eve was not just to “help” Adam, she was “to save” him. That paints an entirely different picture of how Eve was to help Adam. 

The word translated “meet” is kind of tricky. Most people think that God was saying that among the beasts, there was none “worthy” of Adam, so He made Eve “worthy” of being a companion to him.  In Hebrew, the word kenegdo only appears one time. It is related to the word neged,  which means “against.” But it can also mean “in front of” or “opposite of.” The best translation, though, means “exactly corresponding to.”  Eve was Adam’s mirror opposite, half of a whole, completing him. What Adam lacked in qualities, responsibilities, and attributes, Eve supplied.

Not only did it require both of their sexual organs created in opposition to fit perfectly together to bring life, but it also meant that they were to “co-steward” the earth and all that was in it. She was his complete spiritual equal and had an essential saving power opposite his but equally as important.

So how does woman save man?

Most obviously, she gives him life and guides him toward the light of the world. Women are a gateway into the mortal world for children and without this saving power, there would be no opportunity for progress toward God. When a baby is born, he or she is ushered into a place of unconditional love. The first thing a baby receives is an explanation of how God loves His creation. The woman is a perfect picture of willingness to give one’s own life for the sake of one you love.

Many people will look at Eve in the garden and say that she brought death to the world. God sees it differently. It was through a woman that the Savior would be born, and without her ability to bear the infant Jesus, mankind would be hopelessly lost forever. Thus, Adam’s “helper” literally saved him from eternal spiritual death.

Perhaps a better understanding of Genesis 2:18 would be:

“It is not good that man should be alone (incomplete): I will make him a strong companion who will have the power to save him and will be his spiritual equal, completing him.”

Now that’s a powerful idea!

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Shema

Hebrew Word of the Week: Shema

Word of the Week

Shema

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew contains one of the most sacred words in the language:

שָׁמַע

“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is thy God, the Lord alone.” Deuteronomy 6:4

In the ancient book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people to understand this concept. He commands them to listen, but not listen alone.

Shama means listen, take heed, and obey. It is the imperative form of the verb listen, and could be rendered in English thus: HEAR! LISTEN AND OBEY! See all the exclamation marks? It is an emphatic verb that goes much deeper than simply listening or hearing.

“In other words, in Hebrew, “hearing” and “doing” are basically the same thing, but what is Israel to do in response to hearing that the Lord alone is their God?” – The Bible Project

Moses goes on to tell the Israelites exactly how they are to obey the commandment to hear. The very next verse explains what they should do.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being].” – Deuteronomy 6:5

Translating Deuteronomy 6:4 is a bit difficult, because Hebrew has no word for “is” in the present tense. Due to the grammatical usage of putting nouns next to each other to express the present tense of “to be,” It could be translated one of 4 different ways.

  1. The Lord our God is one Lord.
  2. The Lord is our God, the Lord is one.
  3. The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
  4. The Lord is our God, the Lord alone.

So in whatever translation we use, the verse proclaims that God is God alone, and there is no other. (We’ll talk about the Trinity in the prayer in another post.)

Though Deuteronomy 6:4 may be a bit ambiguous, Deuteronomy 6:5 is as clear as day. God is to receive our love in all our capacity to love. We are to love Him with all of our being, holding nothing aside, and preferring Him above all else. Our total devotion and obedience is to God and God alone. (I’ve highlighted the word is in the previous sentences so that you can see how common it is in English.)

Jesus answered, “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Listen, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:29-31

The threat of polytheism

As Moses prepared to die and turn leadership over to Joshua, he was probably very concerned that once the people crossed the Jordan, they would be surrounded by many “gods.” In fact, they were already surrounded by pagan deities. He also knew that he had had a difficult time keeping the people on the right path and was worried that they would quickly abandon God’s commandments after he was gone. So he taught them a prayer that would remind them that they were the chosen people and as such had loyalty to and devotion for one God, the true and only God.

“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand (forearm), and they shall be used as bands (frontals, frontlets) on your forehead.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-8

Followers of God were to be marked by obedience and love. All paganism was to be strictly avoided because it would cause His people to be separated from Him. In the New Covenant, followers would see God face to face and will know as they are known. This is only possible when one’s whole being is focused on our God, and on Him alone.

“There will no longer exist anything that is cursed [because sin and illness and death are gone]; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve and worship Him [with great awe and joy and loving devotion]; they will [be privileged to] see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads.” – Revelation 22:3-4 (AMP)

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hebrew

Hebrew Word of the Week:

עִברִית

Did you ever wonder what the original language was? Many scholars believe it was Hebrew. I agree that it may have been so, and in this post, I’m going to tell you why.

But first, let’s look at the word Hebrew in Hebrew.

Hebrew is a language based on roots, shoresh in Hebrew. Most roots have three consonants (and no vowels) but a few have two or four. The root for Hebrew is “ayin-vet-resh” and it looks like this:

While roots themselves are not pronounceable as words, the consonants are pronounced. So the root is pronounced ayin-vet-resh. The word derived from that root is pronounced ee-vreet.

I woke up this morning wondering when Hebrew was first spoken, and though of course, we don’t have a written record of who first spoke Hebrew and when it was first spoken, there is good reason that the answer is Adam and in the garden. Here’s why.

We know that at the tower of Babel, all the languages were “confounded.”

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth (Genesis 11:9).”

Interestingly, the very next verse introduces the lineage of Shem. As you’ll no doubt remember, Shem was one of the descendants of Noah. It is from Shem’s name that we get the word Semitic. In Genesis 10, he is called “the father of all the people of Eber.” The word Eber is the root ayin-vet-resh with vowels added (the second letter, vet, is also pronounced bet, so it can make the sound “v” or “b”).

The Hebrew verb avar is the same word as eber, and it means pass, cross, traverse, undergo. It implies being nomadic, which the Hebrew people were from the time Abram left Ur until they settled in the Promised Land.

After the tower of Babel, Noah’s three sons went in different directions and established their own civilizations with their own languages. (Apparently, God didn’t even leave Noah’s family speaking the same language!)

But what language was spoken before the flood? What was the original language of humanity? What language did God speak to Adam?

Here’s why it might have been Hebrew.

Despite what you may have been taught in “history” books, language did not evolve from grunts and groans that early cavemen spoke. God spoke to Adam in the Garden of Eden. The language of God was the language that Adam and Eve spoke with their Creator. Since one language was spoken by all the world until after the flood, it’s helpful to see what clues we can find in the Bible that would tell us what that language was.

One clue that might help us is looking at names. In Hebrew, every name has a meaning. If we consider the fact that all the names from Adam to Noah were Hebrew names, it follows that Hebrew was being spoken. Look at the following chart to see one of the names of Adam’s children and the meaning behind the name.

(Prophecy was fulfilled. Remember that Methuselah was named 969 years before the flood!)

It wasn’t until Noah’s grandchildren came along that the names were no longer Hebrew. For instance, Nimrod (spoken of in Genesis 11:18) is not a Hebrew name. That makes sense because he lived in ancient Sumer where Japheth’s descendants lived.

According to the roster of ancient names, Adam and his progeny spoke Hebrew!

Hebrew Word of the Week: Torah

Hebrew Word of the Week: Torah

Word of the Week

Torah

 

Hebrew

If I’m following Messianic Judaism (or Hebrew Christianity), am I putting myself under the law?

תורָה

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).”

What does it mean to “keep Torah”?

In the book of Galatians, the fifth chapter, Paul seems to be saying that “keeping Torah (the law)” puts you back under the law and that means you have fallen from grace. So does it follow that Messianic Jews and Christians who choose to keep the law have fallen from grace? Not at all.

The Bible records for us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), but many Christians today have forgotten some very important parts of Scripture—namely, the “instructions” of God, or in Hebrew, Torah. — Shema.com

But when people have the idea that “keeping Torah” means an obligation to follow the Mosiac law as a way of justification before God, they have indeed fallen from grace.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17).”

Jesus Himself said that He did not come to abolish the law. The word “abolish” is the Greek word for “destroy or do away with”. The Greek word translated “fulfill” means to make complete (Matthew 5:17). So does that mean that “the law and the prophets” are done away with?

It’s interesting to me how today’s Christians are willing to toss God’s law out the window but follow prophecies to understand the times in which we live. Jesus coupled the law with the prophets. To say that He meant only the prophets that prophesied about Him is a weak argument at best, as those prophets combined messianic prophecies with other events as well. So did He only fulfill part of the prophets but all of the law?

What law did Jesus come to fulfill? Certainly not the Ten Commandments, which were the foundation of the Torah. Yet some will say they are good people because they keep the Ten Commandments. But do they? How many “remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy”?

In fact, Jesus came to bring a more stringent law when He came.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28)
Of course, He absolutely did and for all time fulfill the demands of the law which required repayment for transgression. I owed a debt impossible for me to pay because to transgress the law in any point is to transgress the whole law. I am a sinner saved by grace. I owe my salvation to Yeshua’s completed work on the cross, where He unequivocally said, “It is finished.”
In light of that, how am I now to live?
I look back in the Old Testament at those first five books—the Torah—and I see instruction on how to live a long, healthy and happy life. No sacrifices are necessary to pay for transgressions, because Yeshua was the ultimate sacrifice. Yet His feasts and His Sabbaths were enjoined forever. They are God’s moedim (not the feasts of the Jews), His appointed times, which He established forever.

The law of justification by works was never supposed to achieve salvation. No one was ever able to keep the law perfectly—until the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua. Therefore, I must rely on and trust in His finished work alone for my salvation. And I do.

Romans 7:12 tells us that the law is holy. Why in the world would we do away with something holy? The law was designed to show us the holiness of God. Its purpose was to expose man’s sinfulness and the sinfulness of sin.

“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).’

Sanctification comes by the grace of God. It means to be set apart and made holy. When I look into the mirror of the law, I see that my face is dirty. It shows me how unholy I am. Yet looking into the mirror does nothing to cleanse my face. Only God’s grace, provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, can do that.

Yet in my heart of hearts, the thing I want most to do is walk in a manner pleasing to God. This requires that I know what delights Him. Do I think that weaving patterns of the world into His holy things is pleasing to Him? Now that the Bible is completely written as our textbook for life, do I then act as I please, adopting the cares and concerns of the world but leaving out His will?

And what is His will? That we should live in the righteousness provided to us by His Son, our Savior.

The Torah was often compared to fire, water, wine, oil, milk, honey, drugs, manna, the tree of life, and many other things; it was considered the source of freedom, goodness, and life; it was identified both with wisdom and with love. – The Jewish Virtual Library

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Colossians 10:9-13).”

I love the Torah. It is God’s letter to His beloved children, written with the object of making them one with Him. I find fulfillment in keeping the Jewish feasts, the Sabbath, and in learning the language it was written in.

But not for one iota of a moment do I ever think that if I don’t keep the law I will suffer eternal damnation.

 

Yeshua took care of that for me.

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