There is a moment in all of my studies where I come to a realization that I don’t know anything at all and, in fact-borrowing from that great sage Yoda-I must unlearn what I have learned. As I have come to know this great Father revealed in Jesus, to actually know Him personally via His Spirit living in me, to know him not as a second-hand or merely intellectual knowing; I have discovered that what I have been taught to believe about Him is not true. Not only do I discover God Himself to be very different than what I’ve been taught but I find great many other things I’ve been taught to believe do not, in fact, have their foundation in the bedrock of Jesus Christ.
Moving from an intellectual knowledge and study of God, as if He’s an object to be studied like one of my school day science experiments, to a vital relationship with the Living God is terrifying. There was a moment, years ago, when the God revealing Himself to me and the image of the god I’d been taught to know came face to face with each other. The false image was burned away by the vitality of He who is Alive Forevermore (Revelation 1:18) and I could feel Him moving from my head to my heart. I know, it sounds odd but it was a real experience. At once, I felt as if I was dying and being made alive. It was again, at once, a terrifying and electrifying experience.
I do try not to be negative in these blog posts but I do have to say the god I’d come to know in religious institutions was utterly destroyed by the consuming fire God is. This is not a pleasant experience in many ways. There were Christian friends who were genuinely concerned that, if I continued down the path I was being shown, I would lose my salvation and end up spending eternity in hell. These are subjects for another time. For the sake of this post, I want to say to anyone having an experience like this, God is faithful. The Shepherd isn’t going to let any of His sheep be consumed in the wilderness. I had to cling to a handful of scriptures while my world was shaken to bits and stripped to the bedrock of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. One is Isaiah 41:10; “Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you. Yes, I will help you. I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” I also clung to the various passages in Psalms which promised God wouldn’t allow me to fall, that He wouldn’t lose His grip on me, etc. I pictured myself held tightly in His hand and submitted to whatever the Holy Spirit thought was necessary.
Which is not at all what I’d intended to say in this week’s post! Perhaps all of that relates to my study of Isaiah 45:7 because I continue to come to places where I feel cast adrift. I see that I believe something I didn’t even know I believed and I see that belief is-rather than “wrong” should I say “mistaken”?-that scriptures aren’t saying what I’ve been taught to believe they say and that I don’t know anything. I am no longer afraid of these places of not knowing because I know I am held fast in the righteous right hand of the Father who loves me and that His Spirit will open my eyes to the Truth. I also anticipate because my Heavenly Father loves surprises and I know there will be a Wow! moment.
That moment came when I looked up the meanings of the Hebrew letters comprising my study word darkness. The Hebrew word is choshek (H2822) and the three Hebrew letters are Chet (ח), Shin (ש), and Caph [in its final form (ך)]. Mr. Haralick’s book The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters defines the three letters as Chet = Life, Shin = Cosmic Nourishment, and Caph = The Crowning Achievement. I had just finished looking up the definition for darkness in the Strong’s Concordance and read through the various scriptures and was still wrestling with my thinking of the darkness as something bad. These meanings made me sit back in my chair and think, “Wow!” Not only was there nothing bad here but these letters comprising my study word darkness actually contained the word life. I couldn’t believe it. I needed verification.
I have another book on the meaning of Hebrew letters titled Hebrew Word Study: Beyond the Lexicon by Chaim Bentorah. I looked up the three Hebrew letters and was fascinated by what I found. Mr. Bentorah’s book defines Chet as “new beginnings” and “the binding together of man with God”. The entry for the word Shin says, “The word Shin (note: the Hebrew letters themselves are spelled with Hebrew letters so there are meanings within meanings) means urine and if you drop the Yod in Shin you have Sen which means to chew, tooth, or jaw. This tells us that the Shin represents a totality of an overall process from eating, to digestion, to the elimination of waste. Thus, the Shin has the meaning of whole, entire, intact, or complete.” I looked up Caph (or Kap in Mr. Bentorah’s book) and found: “The Kap is shaped like a container that is empty and ready to be filled…this is the word for palm, hollow of hand, a pan, dish or a container.” This might make more sense when you see that my study word uses the final form of Caph and that the regular form of the letter is shaped like a backwards/sideways U: כ.
I am such a beginner in my studies of Hebrew and Greek that using the word beginner gives me too much credit. I always verify because the final forms of letters can look like the normal/regular forms of other letters and want to be sure I am looking at the correct letter. The internet is extremely helpful and, while verifying, I found two more sources that helped to further define these letters. The website alittleperspective.com defined Chet as “the wall, thus outside, divide, half”, Shin as “two front teeth, thus sharp, press, eat, two, again”, and Caph (spelled kaph) as “the open palm, thus bend, open, allow, tame”. I found a YouTube channel for studying Hebrew words called Rock Island Books and they defined Chet as “sanctuary or inner room designed to protect, a place of refuge, or a place of separation, cut off”, Shin as “crushed, pressed down, destroyed”, and Caph as “palm of the hand which either covers or uncovers.”
All four of my sources allow for both a positive or negative interpretation of darkness. Mr. Haralick writes of our lives being the manifestation of our thoughts and those thoughts either coming from the human mind or the divine mind. Mr. Bentorah speaks of a shadow meaning to Chet where that life of being bonded to God can turn to arrogance and rudeness or an addiction to newness. Both internet sources speak of Chet as being a place of protection, an inner sanctuary, or place of refuge but it can also be a place of being cut off like a prison. The same holds true for Shin and Caph as well. Which is true? Is Darkness positive or negative? Good or bad?
I think it’s a matter of perspective. Both darkness and light exist simultaneously in our present lives. This is true on a natural plane where one side of the earth experiences night while the other experiences day and this is equally true on the spiritual plane. The entire world lies in darkness. We believers once walked in darkness and there are a host of ideas, thought processes, and identities associated with the darkness. When our eyes are opened to the light that is Jesus Christ and we enter that light, we are confronted with an entirely different set of ideas, thought process, and identity. His light shines in our darkness, our death is swallowed up in His life, and we are transformed through the renewing of our minds. The process doesn’t always feel good: remember the chewing, crushing, destruction of Shin but also remember that Shin means whole, entire, intact, and complete.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed, always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifest in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:8-10). “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). “But he knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10).
What a hope we have! Truly, in Jesus, God our Father has given us treasures of darkness. And, I thank Him that this purging and processing and transforming takes place in His sanctuary, a place hidden from the eyes of those who do not see and cannot understand. He keeps us safe. He is our covering as He fills us with Himself. We are filled to overflowing until “as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17) and we too shine His light into the darkness.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Amen.
Unless noted otherwise, all scriptures are quoted from The New King James Version of The Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
Bentorah, Chaim, Hebrew Word Study Beyond the Lexicon, Trafford Publishing, 2014, Pages 92, 108, 148
Haralick, Robert M., The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1995, Pages 113, 161, 293