My Feet Are on the Rock

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Happy Monday and welcome to another post on Renaissance Woman.

Does anyone remember the poem The Blind Men and the Elephant by John Godfrey Saxe?  It’s a poem about six blind men who seek out an elephant so that, by observation, they might understand the creature.  Each of the six men encounter a different part of the elephant and liken it to something familiar: a wall, a snake, a fan, etc.  The last stanza of the poem states, “So, oft in theologic wars/The disputants, I ween/Rail on in utter ignorance/Of what each other mean/And prate about an Elephant/Not one of them has seen!”

Last week I posted on the Hebrew letters that comprise Shin ש and how I’ve come across two schools of thought on that.  One is that the letter is comprised of Vavs and Yods and the other is that the letter is a Yod, a Vav, and a Zayin.  Which is correct?  I don’t care one way or the other because, as I followed both paths, I found myself in the same place: 3 Vavs and 4 Yods give me the number 7 which is Spiritual Perfection and the number of the Zayin is 7 which is Spiritual Perfection.  I found value in looking at both but the study did get me thinking.   

I cannot count how many times over the past weeks and months I’ve heard believers of various denominations stress the importance of “sound doctrine.”  I have found “that’s not sound doctrine” is used as the final hammer strike on the last nail in the coffin of another person’s argument but there are times when the speaker will explain just what they believe sound doctrine to be.  I listen and sometimes agree and other times disagree.  This made me wonder, just who decides what “sound doctrine” is?  I see one denomination convinced what they teach is the soundest doctrine of all unlike this denomination whose teachings are based on false interpretations of scripture and definitely not like this other denomination whose teachings are a delusion of Satan.  I must infer then, that by “sound doctrine” what they actually mean is, “what our denomination teaches.”

What is doctrine?  The definition of the word is, “something taught, teachings, something taught as the principles or creed of a religion, political party, etc.; tenet or tenets; belief; dogma, a rule, theory, or principle of law.”  There is nothing in this definition that suggests a personal knowing and relationship is necessary.  Such is also what I find in those insisting everyone have sound doctrine: there is only a rare mention of knowing God for yourself.  I am not concerned with sound doctrine.  I am concerned with knowing the Father because knowing Him and knowing Jesus Christ is the very definition of eternal life.  “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). 

I recently read a book called Evidence Not Seen by Darlene Deibler Rose.  When the author married her first husband, Rev. C. Russell Deibler, she and her husband both knew they were called to the Mission Field and, specifically, the Philippines.  Mrs. Deibler was several years younger than her husband and had just graduated from school.  She relates in her book that, before the Church would allow her to accompany her husband to the Philippines, they tested her in doctrine and theology.  She passed the tests and was allowed to go.  While in the Philippines, World War II broke out and Japan took over the islands.  Mrs. Deibler and her husband were interred in separate camps where her husband died.  Mrs. Deibler spent four years in various camps and I was struck by how it was not doctrine or theology that sustained her: it was the vitality of her relationship with Jesus Christ.  Mrs. Deibler-Rose writes, “Experientially, I was learning to understand the comfort of the Holy Spirit.  Sometime during the dark hours I slept.  The sword of sorrow had pierced deep within me, but He had bathed the sword in oil.”  

This book gave a graphic picture of the difference between having doctrine-which is by definition a lifeless thing-and having a vital relationship with the Living God.  To me, those quibbling over whether or not someone’s doctrine is sound are like the blind men quibbling over the elephant.  Not one of them was wrong per se but neither were any of them correct.  Not one of them had fully seen. 

There is a passage in Colossians I’ve been meditating on for some time: “Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God” (Colossians 2:18-19).  Our reward is Christ Jesus.  He is our very Life.  In Him, we are made one with the Father.  Everything the Father has belongs to Jesus.  Everything Jesus has is ours because His Spirit lives within us and declares it to us.  (See John 16:13-15)

I know this not only because the Bible tells me so but because I KNOW HIM!  He is real!  He is alive!  He is alive in me right now!  This is not something reserved for the future.  It is not something I earn if I follow Jesus’ example and live a moral life.  He freely gives Himself to me, teaches me who He is, and brings me into relationship with Himself.  There is no substitute for knowing Him and this knowing is my litmus test.  I don’t compare what I hear from others with any doctrine: the Spirit within me guides me into all truth.  Jesus Himself is that absolute living truth and, as He has joined me to Himself, I am one spirit with Him.

Let none of us allow ourselves to be cheated of our reward by anyone who has not seen.  Let us hold fast to the Head who is Christ Jesus.  Let us test everything and hold fast to what is true.  “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection…” and, finally, let us “no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the trickery of men in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ…” (Hebrews 6:1, Ephesians 4:15)

Amen.

All Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

References

The poems of John Godfrey Saxe/The Blind Men and the Elephant – Wikisource, the free online library

Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, Williams Collins + World Publishing Co., Inc., Cleveland • New York, 1970, 1974

Rose, Darlene Deibler, Evidence Not Seen: A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II, A Ruth Graham Dienert Book, Harper San Francisco, Harper Collins Publishers, New York, New York, 1988

You Need a Good Shoe

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Hello!  Welcome to a new month and a new post on Renaissance Woman!

I am continuing in my study of Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord do all these things.”  I have made it to “peace” in my study which in the Hebrew is shalom and in the Greek eirene.  I had planned for my next study step to be an in-depth look at the Hebrew letters comprising shalom and did touch on the Shin last week.  However, I have come across something in my study of the Shin that must be looked at so, this week, I am going down one of those little side tracks I do usually try so hard to avoid.

In my previous studies of the Shin, I came across two teachers who described the shape of the letter as being comprised of other Hebrew letters.  The Shin is like a flame with the three flame parts being Vavs, the tops of the Vavs are Yods, and the base is a Yod.  Four Yods and three Vavs total seven parts to the Shin and seven is the number of Spiritual Perfection. 

This is not the description Mr. Bentorah gives in his book.  He writes, “The letter Shin is shaped with a base that has three arms extending upward.  Jewish tradition teaches that the right arm of the Shin ש is a Yod י which teaches that we receive wisdom from heaven, the left side is a Zayin ז which teaches that from the left side there flows a weapon of defense to bring peace and the center of the Shin is the Vav ו which connects us with heaven.  Thus the Shin brings the Zayin, Vav, and Yod into balance and harmony.  The Shin teaches us that the peace of the Zayin, the wisdom of God, and the connection with heaven will bring us into harmony with God.”1

Mr. Bentorah speaks specifically to the Hebrew word shalom: “The left arm of the Shin is the Zayin which is a weapon to bring peace.  The Shin is the first letter of shalom which means peace.  Shalom has a wide range of meanings, not just an absence of strife, but the presence of wholeness and prosperity.”2

This idea of a weapon that brings peace sounds like an oxymoron to me.  Never in any history I have read-of any age in any place-has a true peace resulted from warfare.  While reading The Middle Sea, I was struck at how a battle would be fought because of the anger and resentment built during a previous battle which would then lead to another battle because an entirely different group of people would be outraged and then another battle, and another…any “peace” was merely a cessation of the actual killing.  There was no peace in the sense of harmony or covenant friendship.  I can think of no instance where a weapon of any sort brought a genuine peace.

I couldn’t think the idea was a scriptural one either.  Doesn’t the Apostle Paul say, “The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds…?” (2 Corinthians 10:4)  The list of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6 does mention peace but not as a weapon.  Paul does say, “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” but the actual weapons are the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6: 13-17).  Peace isn’t a weapon here, defensive or otherwise.

The only scripture I could think of where peace might be thought a weapon of defense is Philippians 4:7: “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  The Greek word translated “guard” in this passage (“keep” in the KJV) is phroureo (G5432) and means, “to be a watcher in advance, to mount guard as a sentinel, to hem in, protect, keep with a garrison”.  I know of no culture where a Watch would be set without that Watch being armed: not to attack but to defend from attackers.  Here, I can see the idea of peace as a defensive weapon but, wondering what more I might learn, I took a look at the Zayin.

There isn’t anything that immediately stands out.  I look up the Zayin in both Mr. Bentorah’s and Mr. Haralick’s books and both tell me the Zayin is the seventh letter of the Hebrew Alphabet and has a numerical value of seven.  The word Zayin (spelled Zayin ז Yod י Nun ן) means “arms” or “weapons”.  Both books tell me the Zayin is even shaped like a sword with the top being the hilt and the vertical part being the blade. 

Mr. Bentorah distinguishes between weapons and arms by writing, “Weapons are used to bring peace from those who are opposing peace.  Arms are used to settle conflict over possessions, something like land, resources, or food.”  He then goes on to write, “the Zayin reminds us that God has provided all we need when He created this world, He will sustain us or protect us.  Thus the Zayin also means to protect and sustain.  As a sword the letter Zayin is a symbol of power.  It is the power of God that will protect us and sustain us.”3

Both books point out the Zayin’s numerical value is seven and the seventh day is the Sabbath or the Day of Rest.  Elaborating on this idea of rest, Mr. Haralick writes, “True rest occurs when the desire to receive for ourself alone is at rest.  For work can be viewed as the activity we do to fulfill and feed the desire to receive for ourself alone.  When the work activity ceases, that is, when the desire to receive for ourself alone is put to rest, a stress-free state emerges.  In this stress-free state we are able to take a cosmic view, seeing ourselves as part of and connected to and identified with Godliness rather than separated and fragmented from Godliness.”4

My Mother commented on last week’s post that she saw the peace of God as rest.  In the Zayin, I definitely see the connection between peace and rest.  Yet the letter Zayin also stands for movement so this letter appears to be a letter of opposites.  It’s an active rest and it’s a peaceful warfare.  Such opposites are only reconciled inside the person of Jesus Christ and by understanding life lived in the Holy Spirit.  Jesus Christ is our rest and His rest is made real to us by the Holy Spirit living in us.  Yet the Holy Spirit is described as wind and living water in the scripture: always moving, increasing, and bringing refreshment and revitalization.  This rest is a dynamic rest.  Then, there is no denying our Christian lives are filled with warfare.  And yet, we do not make war as the world does.  We have no need to fight for resources:  God Himself is sufficient and “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). 

I think it’s interesting that Ephesians speaks of having our feet shod by the preparation of the gospel of peace.  Assuming the Apostle Paul has a Roman Legionary in mind when he is describing the armor of God, these warriors of Rome did a great deal of marching and carried heavy packs while they were at it.  Good footwear was important and Roman Legionaries wore heavy soled hobnailed sandal-boots called caligae.  The hobnails gave the wearer good traction on most surfaces.  Reliable footwear was probably one of the most important parts of a Legionary’s military kit and it makes me look at the passage in Ephesians in an entirely new light.

The peace with which our feet are shod is the peace of God: union, harmony, completeness, wholeness, well-being, tranquility, and abundance.  With this peace as our foundation, we stand on the solid ground that is Christ Jesus and we cannot be moved.  We are protected and sustained with Jesus Christ Himself as our defense.  When we do move, it is not in a state of warfare to claim more ground and resources or because we seek to put an enemy down.  When we move, it is because we are pressing toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Our steps are sure because Jesus is also the way and our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of His peace.

  1. Bentorah, Chaim, Hebrew Word Study Beyond the Lexicon, Trafford Publishing, USA, 2014 Page 149
  2. Ibid., Page 150
  3. Ibid., Page 90
  4. Haralick, Robert M., The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1995, Page 106

All Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

Other References

Matyszak, Philip, Legionary: the Roman Soldier’s Unofficial Manual, Thames & Hudson, Ltd., London, UK, 2009, Page 52-54

Norwich, John Julius, The Middle Sea: A History of the Mediterranean, Vintage Books, Random House, New York, New York, 2006

Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990

Wellspring of Peace

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Hello and welcome-or welcome back-to Renaissance Woman.  This week I am continuing my study of Isaiah 45:7 specifically “peace”. 

I remembered Malcolm Smith had done a lecture series on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5) and, curious what he had to say about peace, I found and listened to them.  The Hebrew word translated “peace” in my study passage is shalom and, in the first Peace lecture, Mr. Smith explores all the word means.

First of all, shalom is not merely the absence of war.  Shalom describes union-the fitting together of two or more, and it means harmony, melody, covenant friendship.  Shalom is reconciliation, wholeness, completeness, tranquility of heart, and a sense of well-being.  Mr. Smith also says shalom is abundance.  Shalom doesn’t stay inside of us.  It comes out through our words and hands and brings abundance because it springs from a mind that thinks abundance or thinks in terms of “enough”.

I have had ample opportunity to think about these definitions of peace.  I have been going through a great deal over the last weeks.  I believe it is a Holy Spirit truth that He does not guide me into a path of study without also guiding me through situations where I get to experience just what I’m studying.  I have wondered “how am I going to pay for this”, “what am I going to do about that”, and “I have no idea how to begin to deal with this other thing.”  I have needed Peace and there have been times I have felt anything but peaceful.  I have Mr. Smith’s definitions written down and my thoughts have not progressed far beyond the first definition he gives: that of Union. 

I know my Father is with me no matter what I am going through and no matter how I might feel about it.  He cannot leave me.  We are united, fitted together, One Spirit because I am joined to the Lord Jesus Christ in and through the Holy Spirit.  This is a truth that deserves celebration and peace and yet it is one that is also frustrating.  He is with me.  I am in Him and He is in me.  In Him I live and move and have my being every iota of every day.  This being so, if He would just tell me what I should do next, where were going, and what exactly is going to happen, then I would have peace. 

I don’t know about any of your experiences with living life out of the Holy Spirit but He has never done that for me.  I pray about a situation, put it entirely in His hands (something I often have to do over and over), trust that He will handle it, and then ask Him to open my eyes so I can see how He has chosen to handle it.  The path ahead is never completely clear.  A door will appear to open and all I can do is try and walk through it.  Sometimes it will be an open door but sometimes, while the door itself will close, it will have opened a pathway to learning something I did not know and experiencing something new: in this case, peace.

Union.  What does it mean?  There are various groups of people who are united around an idea or a creed but this is agreement rather than union.  True union belongs to God.  We find it in the heart of God in that mysterious union of Father, Son, and Spirit.  We are included in this union in Jesus Christ by His Spirit living within us.  This union is vital and alive.  I have seen a picture of this vital union during my study of the Hebrew Letter Shin and I was not surprised Mr. Smith’s first definition of shalom was union as the first letter of shalom is the Shin.

I’ve looked at Shin twice before and shared how the word Shin means urine and, without the Yod; means tooth, claw, or jaw.  The picture is of chewing food, breaking it down, digesting it, and then eliminating it as waste.  Shin represents the totality of an overall process, one that is whole, entire, intact, complete, integral, full, and perfect. (1)  This process is one that is repeated over and over and, considering the learning process, what we repeat over and over becomes inculcated within us.2

I have also found Shin is the letter in the Hebrew word for fire (esh), and begins and ends the word for the sun (shemesh).  The three upraised arms of the letter Shin represent the flames of fire.  Here too is the idea of consuming and, thinking of the refining of gold or silver; there is once more the idea of processing and completion.

While conducting my study on Isaiah 45:7, I have also been reading a series of studies on the Book of Revelation.  I have just finished the section on Revelation Chapter 12 so have the Woman in the Wilderness fresh in my mind.  She is persecuted by the dragon but is given two wings of a great eagle so she can fly into the wilderness to her place where she is nourished. (Verses 13-14).  The wilderness is a dangerous place where food and water are scarce and yet the woman has a place in it and it is a place where she is nourished.  This was called to mind when I looked up Shin in Mr. Haralick’s book and saw he gives it the definition of Cosmic Nourishment.

I can attest to everything I’ve written in this post being true because I’ve experienced it.  My life will be full of knowledge of the Holy Spirit and awareness that I am in the midst of great rivers and streams and then those rivers and streams dry up and I find myself in a barren wilderness with no idea what’s going to happen or where I’m going to go next.  I read in those same Revelation studies that God calls us to the wilderness places, not to torment us, but to bring us into a deeper revelation, relationship, and reliance on Him.  I see this is true because there is a specific place in the wilderness for the woman where she is nourished.  She is not cast into the wilderness to wander aimlessly until she drops dead.  No, she is cared for.

Knowing it is true doesn’t make it easy.  The pain is real.  The circumstances are real.  The worry and helplessness are real.  I do not feel nourished and cared for right away.  I know God is with me.  I know He will never leave me nor forsake me.  I know our union is one that cannot be dissolved no matter what happens.  Yet I know I am in a tight place with no way out, totally helpless, and all I can do is wait until He rescues me.  My attitude is not always one of faithful submission.  It’s more, “a little help here!  Now!”

I am still in the wilderness.  I don’t know what will happen from one day to the next.  I still feel the grinding and processing revealed by the Shin.  In the midst of it, the refreshing and nourishment has come so I can also attest to the faithfulness of our God.  He is with me, always, even unto the end of the age (Matthew 28:20).  He does make a way where there is no way and the spring of peace has just begun to bubble to the surface.   

Inculcate: to tread in, tread down, to trample underfoot, to impress upon the mind by frequent repetition or persistent urging

  1. Haralick, Robert M., The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1995, Page 295
  2. Ibid.

Other References:

(1) WEBINAR 273 – Peace Makers – YouTube

The Woman in the Wilderness

The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

Bentorah, Chaim, Hebrew Word Study Beyond the Lexicon, Trafford Publishing, USA, 2014, Pages 148-152

Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, William Collins + World Publishing Co., Inc., Cleveland•New York, 1970, 1976

Mindful of Meaning

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Hello and welcome back to Renaissance Woman!

This week I am continuing my study of Isaiah 45:7 looking specifically at the meaning of peace.  Since I have begun focusing my attention on not only the meaning of peace but its nature, I realize how often I have used the word peace without taking time to think about what exactly I meant.

For instance, over the last week, there was a situation I did not have peace about and yet I held my peace.  I saw others involved keep the peace-despite provocation-and strive to make peace.  I am using the same word to say what I mean and yet I mean different things each time.  I’ve been pondering the six definitions of peace in the dictionary.  Each definition is not diametrically opposed to the other: the dictionary tells me “peace” comes from the Latin pax (pacis, pangere) which means to fasten and the Latin pacisci to confirm an agreement. 

The first four entries under “peace” in the dictionary are, freedom from war, a treaty or agreement to end war, freedom from public disturbance, and freedom from quarrels.  Each one of these reflects that idea of confirming an agreement but, as I previously shared, does not necessarily mean the parties are in accord; merely the parties have agreed not to fight.  Entries five and six-an undisturbed state of mind, absence of mental conflict, calm, quiet, and tranquility-do not conform as well to the idea of confirming an agreement.  It made me wonder if it didn’t make more sense to use different words for these concepts.

Out of curiosity, I checked my thesaurus to see what words I could find to better express the substance of my thoughts.  I could say:  I was upset and uneasy when I found myself confronted with a situation ripe for conflict.  I remained silent and watched while others refused to be provoked, responded amicably, sought accordance and reconciliation rather than discord, and averted hostilities.  While my mind is still not tranquil, I find the more I offer the situation up to Jesus the closer I come to ataraxia. 

I admit I got a bit carried away at the end there but, as a side note, ataraxia is a great word and I am now going to practice interjecting it into my everyday conversation.  I do think my second description is more precise than the first where I only used “peace”.  As I began to study “peace” in the Hebrew and Greek, I found both languages to be equally precise.

I looked up “peace” in the Strong’s Concordance and took a look at the list of Hebrew and Greek words.  Holding one’s peace is charash (H2790) which has a range of meanings.  It does mean “to be silent” or “to let alone” but also, oddly, means “to scratch, to engrave, plow”. Leviticus 10:3 which records Aaron as “holding his peace” uses the word damam (H1826).  This word means “to be dumb…astonished…to cease…quiet self…tarry”.  2 Kings 2:3, Psalm 39:2, and Isaiah 42:14 (among others) use the root chashah (H2814) for holding one’s peace while Nehemiah 8:11 and Zephaniah 1:7 use the root hacah (H2013).  Both of these words mean “hush, keep quiet”.

The other words translated peace all come from the same family. “Making peace” or “being at peace” is the root shalam (H7999) except for Joshua 9:15 where Joshua makes peace and a covenant with the inhabitants of Gibeon.  The Strong’s has shalom (H7965) listed here.  The word for “peace offerings” is shelem (H8002).  Shalom then is the word translated “peace” the most often except for two instances in Daniel (4:1 and 6:25) where the word shelam (H8001) is used. 

The Greek also has different words that have been translated “peace”.  The word used most often in the New Testament, and the word I find in the Septuagint in my study passage, is eirene (G1515).  This word means “peace, prosperity, quietness, rest, to set at one again” and the Strong’s suggests it comes from the primary verb eiro which means “to join”.  Related to eirene and also translated “peace” are the words eirenopoios (G1518) and eirenopoieo (G1517).  Eirenopoios means “pacificatory, peaceable, peace maker” and eirenopoieo means “to harmonize, make peace.” 

There are four Greek words for “holding one’s peace”.  The first is siopao (G4623) which means “silence, muteness” but is an involuntary stillness or inability to speak.  This word is contrasted with sige (G4602) which is a refusal to speak but sige doesn’t appear in the Strong’s list.  Sigao (G4601) which comes from sige does and means, “to keep silent”.  Phimoo (G5392) appears in Mark 1:25 and Luke 4:35 and means “to muzzle”.  Hesuchazo (G2270) appears in Luke 14:4 where it is translated “held their peace” or “kept silent”.  Jesus has asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” and they kept silent.  The word hesuchazo does mean “to keep still” but this stillness is in the sense of refraining from labor, meddlesomeness of speech, rest.

I find all of this riveting.  It’s not like I don’t know what these passages mean when I read them in English and read the word “peace”: I can glean the meaning from the context.  And yet, I am missing subtleties by not knowing all of these are different Greek and Hebrew words with unique meanings.  Does it really matter?  I think it does.  I have seen written and heard said that scripture “means exactly what it says”.  I have also heard the word “infallible” used when it comes to scripture.  I cannot commit myself to agree with those who claim the aforementioned until I know exactly what they mean.  If they are referring to their English translation, I have to disagree.  Not that I do not value my English translation: I do and I enjoy reading it.  My quibble comes when dogmatic statements are made based on the English translation when it does lack the subtlety and precision of the Hebrew, Greek, and even Aramaic.

Last week I mentioned Jeff A. Benner and his YouTube channel.  In a few of the videos I’ve watched, he puts up a picture of a fast food meal and another of a steak dinner.  He asks if he were to invite us to dinner, which would we choose?  He then compares reading a translation of scripture to the fast food meal and reading it in the original language to the steak dinner.  Both will fill you up and satisfy hunger, but which would you prefer?

As I study, I find I agree.  I have used the word “peace” in all of its meanings throughout my life.  I’ve read scripture and had an intellectual grasp of what the passages meant when I read “peace”.  I understand but it’s a surface understanding and is like a fast food meal: something I’ve grabbed on the run because I don’t have the time to prepare a meal and sit down to consume it.  It satisfies at the moment but is not all the food there is and, stretching this analogy further, a diet of fast food is unhealthy. Studying, questioning, and looking up the different words and their meanings: this feels like the steak dinner with the trimmings (or a lovely lentil and vegetable meal for my vegetarian friends).  It’s not the word consumed on the run but it’s me taking the time to savor the different flavors and textures.  

What about those who cannot study the ancient languages, for whatever reason? I am so grateful for the opportunities I have to study but nothing compares to being in the presence of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. The best meal of all is the one we partake of in and by the Holy Spirit living and working inside of us. There is no better food than that which comes directly from the hand of He who made it.   

As I move forward in my study, I will be focusing on shalom and eirene, exploring beneath the definitions and usage, and seeing what can be unearthed.  I have seen eirene coming from eiro means “to join” and here I finally see the idea of “to fasten” found in the dictionary.  I am curious if I’ll find the same idea in shalom. 

To be continued…

References

The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, William Collins + World Publishing Co., Inc., Cleveland•New York, 1970, 1976

Rodale, J.I., The Synonym Finder, Warner Books, Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 1978

Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990

Having My Fill

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Image by Yinan Chen from Pixabay

This has been an interesting week.  In last week’s post, I asked questions I didn’t have answers for.  I had no idea where the Holy Spirit was going to take me as I began to seek to understand the Peace that comes only from Jesus Christ but I have been taught of Him long enough to know He was going to take me somewhere.  As I write this post, I still cannot say I have a complete understanding what peace is but I do understand why I haven’t been satisfied with any of the definitions for peace I have come across.

I subscribe to Jeff A. Benner’s YouTube Channel and so, when I set myself to study the Hebrew word for peace, I checked out some of Mr. Benner’s videos on studying Hebrew.  Lecture # 33 is titled “Eastern and Western Thought” and caught my attention because I’ve been thinking so much about the power of my thought life and the necessity for my thoughts to be brought under the rule of Jesus Christ.  This video is a short one and I’ll include a link to it at the bottom of this post.  It is short but it brought to mind something I hadn’t given thorough consideration.

I think we all understand the Hebrew People of the Old Testament had a very different culture, language, and thought process than we who live in the West.  Have any of us sought to acknowledge what that means?  I think it’s important to do so.  I am deeply grateful for my English Bibles.  To be able to sit and read it in my native language is a gift I never take for granted.  Such a gift is mine because of many people but I always have William Tyndale in the back of my mind whenever I look at the multiple translations I have on my shelves.  He dared to translate the bible into English, was condemned as a heretic, and was burned at the stake.  The Bible I hold in my hands is only there because William Tyndale, and others like him, so believed in the importance of it, that they gave their lives.  For this reason, I cannot disparage any translation.

That being said, what I have is a translation.  The English language comes with culture and a thought process very different from the cultures and thought processes in place when the Old and New Testaments were written.  Mr. Benner speaks of two schools of thought: the Greek and the Hebrew.  The Greek is equated with abstract thinking and the Hebrew is equated with concrete thinking.  What’s the difference?  Abstract thinking refers to the process of thinking deeply about some abstract idea and involves emotions such as love, hatred, anger, etc.: thoughts that are not real but a concept of our intelligence.  Concrete thinking involves thinking about physical things that can be felt, done, or processed by someone.  Is one better than the other?  I think that depends on whether we focus on one to the detriment of the other.

Malcolm Smith often utilizes an analogy of reading off a menu as opposed to eating the food the menu points to.  While Mr. Smith does not specifically attribute this analogy to abstract v concrete thinking, I think it works.

Imagine you are sitting at the table pictured at the top of this post.  Your friends and family are gathered around you.  The food has been prepared and set before you.  The aromas that wafted from the kitchen as the food was being prepared were indescribable.  They whetted your appetite and, now, as you sit at the table with the food before you, your stomach is growling.  The Host of the feast rises and begins to describe the food to you.  Perhaps the Host uses words like “delight”, “satisfaction”, “savory”, “sweet”, and “aromatic”.  All of these words are describing something real-the food is on the table before you-but then suppose the Host sits and everyone around the table begins to describe their favorite dish.  They share how it tasted that time they ate it, how wonderful it was, and how the taste would differ from anything on the table.  You’re ready to try the food for yourself.  All of your salivary glands are in overdrive and you can’t wait to taste what has been described to you, what you can smell, and what you can see on the table before you.  But then, everyone around the table sighs and says, “one day”.  They sing a song about how great the food was and how great it will be and then leave the table without eating a bite. 

The concrete mindset sees the food is there.  You can see it and smell it.  All you have to do is fill your plate and eat.  You do so and the food is just as wonderful as described!  You taste the promise contained in the smells.  You eat until you cannot possible take another bite and, while doing so, you and the others at the table with you laugh and talk and fellowship.  Perhaps one has tried a dish you haven’t tried yet.  He or she gushes about how delicious it is and the dish is passed down the table to you.  You taste it and find it is as marvelous as described.  You pass around your favorite dish and see the delight on your companions faces as they too experience it.  Perhaps no one wants to leave the table because the experience is too good and you all sit together enjoying each other’s company.  When the company finally does break up, it does so with the promise that you all will get together again and will eat together until you are filled to the brim.  Each morsel you taste between that meeting and the next is done so with the idea of sharing it with those who ate at the table with you. 

If you’ve stayed with me through that analogy, I hope you can see how abstract and concrete can work together.  I think abstract thinking can enhance the enjoyment of concrete thinking.  The Hebrew word for peace in my study passage is shalom and Mr. Benner covers it in his Lecture #8 video titles “An Introduction to Word Studies”.  He says shalom is not cessation from war but rather means “completeness”.  I take that definition to John 14 where Jesus says, “My peace I give unto you.”  I look at the Fruit of the Spirit as being “completeness”.  I remember Colossians 2:10 where the Apostle Paul declares I have been made complete in Christ.  Have been made!  Now! 

All of this is well and good but if all I do is remember it, it’s just the aromas.  Knowing all of this certainly whets my appetite but if I don’t actually eat it, I’m never satisfied.  I can look at peace as an abstract concept.  I can study it, compare and contrast it with other concepts, and learn all there is to know about peace.  This is not how the Hebrew people thought of peace.  The peace of God was something concrete with a very real application to their everyday lives.  So it is to my life today and I am convinced the only way to move from my enjoying the abstract to having my fill of the concrete is to leave my books and all my studying and allow the Holy Spirit to make everything I have learned real to me.  How do I do that?

I admit that as wonderful as it is, my abstract thinking isn’t enough.  I acknowledge I’m hungry and want Him to not only show me what peace is but to fill me with it until I overflow.  I ask Him to open my eyes that I might recognize the concrete reality of peace and then I rejoice along with the Psalmist because I know “my soul shall be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Psalm 63:5, NI).

Lecture #33: Eastern and Western Thought – YouTube

Lecture #8: An Introduction to Word Studies – YouTube

Difference Between Concrete and Abstract Thinking – Ask Any Difference

Great Britons: William Tyndale – The Man Who Translated the Bible Into English (anglotopia.net)

MalcolmSmithWebinars – YouTube