When I studied Isaiah 53 earnestly in the ancient Hebrew, I was taken back by the Hebrew word for "afflicted" (me-u-neh). In modern Hebrew this word means "tortured". When I was young, and first learned what torture actually involved, my soul was shocked that this could happen to people; in fact that it was happening to people. That a person could be kept alive for the purpose of intentionally causing him intense agonizing pain was an astounding enigma for my young soul. It really frightened me; and I think that fear of torture is probably the greatest fear that humans can experience. We read about people who have been tortured, with a kind of horrified awe. And quietly we wonder inside, "How can this be?" And, "Could this ever happen to me?"
The Hebrew word for "face" is "panim", (the Hebrew letters, peh-nun-yud-mem), literally "faces", a plural word. Normally, when we think about God, we focus only upon one of His "faces” at a time. God is "love" – or He is "holy"– or He is "just"— or He's a God of "wrath". Yet, of course, ALL these "faces" are His at once; and so the word "panim" accurately reflects the truth of God's multifaceted being. As we get to know Him better we begin to appreciate the complexity of His nature and the fact that our focus on one "face" is a very limited view, since there's so much more going on in His amazing "Personality".
Three thousand years ago, when Solomon dedicated the Temple to God, the priests offered up thousands of sacrifices. After the sacrifices were offered up — then the glory of God fell! The glory of God was so thick and heavy that the priests could no longer minister! Do you see the connection? First the offerings — THEN the glory fell!
When the twelve spies were sent into Canaan to spy out the land, ten returned with a bad report. Their assessment was that it was impossible to conquer the land that God had promised them. Forgetting how God had led them with a pillar of fire by night, and fed them manna from heaven during the day, brought forth water out of a rock, and parted the Red Sea, they saw the situation with only their natural eyes, failed to walk by faith, and succumbed to fear.
Sometimes, the more significant, powerful, or influential someone is, the less you know about him or her. There are some people of influence whose names most of us have never heard, and about whom we know almost nothing, yet they make decisions which affect millions of lives.
One constant pitfall we must watch for is taking credit for something that God does in or through us, or using the gifts and callings of God for self-exaltation. In that light it may be easier to handle poverty, weakness, or insignificance, than wealth, ability, power or authority, since poverty and frailty are not normally things we boast about, and they cause us to recognize our need for God. Prosperity, gifting, and anointing, on the other hand can be powerful temptations, leading to pride, covetousness, and self-sufficiency.
The African Impala (an African antelope) are amazing creatures that can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance greater than 30 feet. Yet Impalas can be kept in a zoo inside an enclosure with a simple 3 foot wall. Why? Impalas will not jump if they can't see where their feet will land. Do we have something in common…
Yesterday, we talked about "tashlich" — the traditional Jewish ceremony occurring between Rosh ha Shana and Yom Kippur, which involves casting bread crumbs into a river while confessing our sins and watching them be swept downstream. In this passage, however, we read about the importance of casting our crowns. These elders fell down before the Lord, casted their golden crowns and gave God the glory and honor He deserves. How much more should we do the same today?
When Elijah went up to to heaven, Elisha took up his mantle and walked in the power of Elijah. The Hebrew word for mantle is "aderet". It's root word is "adir", which means excellent, gallant, glorious, mighty, noble and worthy!