MY SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE: Thoughts on sacred language. (31 DEC 2016…A new year arrives! Happy New Year my friend!)
My thoughts today, as I enjoyed another Sabbath, were on sacred language. On the one hand I thought of the traditional belief that YHWH Himself helped fashion/inspire the “sacred letters” of Paleo-Hebrew, which in turn were used to build sacred texts & sacred prayers. The Hebrew word for letter=Ot & means not only “letter” but “sign” or “revelation from heaven”. Moses is believed to have used Paleo-Hebrew to write down God’s Torah. On the other hand, I thought of the Spirit of God & how He speaks in Spirit. When the Holy Spirit descended on the Pentecost crowd, everyone heard things in his own language.(A) Christ emphasized to his disciples at one point, that everyone who belonged to him (“my sheep”) would hear His voice, & follow Him.(B) Later he tells them this from a slightly different angle: “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”(C) Clearly, Christ does not speak to “everyone” in a single human language. And while He does audibly speak at times, many times the still small voice of the Spirit, is speaking in Spirit to the person of faith. Christ says at one point: “It is the Spirit who gives life. The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life.” (D) One sacred language is the language of prayer, spoken at times without words, even just with groanings.(E) “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”(F)
SPEAKING BY THE SPIRIT. We are encouraged in spiritual warfare to: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,…”(G) In the early church people would speak as the Spirit gave them thoughts.(H) And this is very helpful in our prayer life: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.”(I) At times the Spirit gives me remarkable prayers, that on the surface might seem outrageous–but I have total confidence that the prayers WILL happen, because the Spirit of God has placed those prayers in me. These are my favorite kind of prayers!
HOW DID CHRIST PRAY?? At times Yahshua prayed aloud, and as he was at least tri-lingual…he could pray audibly in Aramaic, Hebrew or Greek. What would you pray for if facing torture & death? Christ prayed: “Father, the hour has come; glorify thy Son that the Son may glorify thee… glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the World was.”(J) The hour has come. No fear, no dramatics, just faith simply saying, “The hour has come.” The other thing I note here in our Lord’s prayer is that throughout the entire prayer we see a love relationship–Yahshua gives to the Father, so that the Father gives back to the Son so that he can give back to the Father… So from this it is clear: a deeply spiritual prayer is one of relationship & faith…not of fear.
NO SACRED LANGUAGE…So this is why Christians say that Christians have no sacred language, because Almighty God speaks to us in whatever language we speak. It is why the complete OT & NT is translated into 533 languages, the complete NT into 1,333 languages, and another 2,000 or so languages have portions of the Bible in their language. And so God’s words can resonate in each person in his mother tongue. And yet…there is something spiritually profound about Hebrew.
LESHON HA-KODESH (the Holy Language). In ISA 6:3, the seraphims praised the Father, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts”. “Holy, Holy, Holy” comes out in the original Hebrew: “Kadosh, Kadosh, Kadosh”,…and perhaps these words are not impactful to the reader…but quite a few Christians who have experienced the profound spiritualness of Hebrew in a service for the first time, have broke down & cried. So I can’t help thinking that there is indeed something special about this language that God choose to reveal Himself in, and to write His Torah & prophecies. I know for me to say/sing “ani li dodi, v’ dodi li” (Hebrew for: “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”) has far more impact than the English. So does “Gam zo l’ tovah” (Hebrew for: “There is good even in this.” A similar thought to ROM 8:28.) The name Yahshua which means “Yah (Jehovah) is salvation” has far more meaning than the English “Jesus”. (This is not to attack the name “Jesus” because I have witnessed power in that name–but Yahshua has just as much power–plus it retains the meaning of the name.) In fact, we have retained part of the Hebrew in our English language, for instance Michael (in HEB=”who is like God”) and Hallelujah (“praise Yahweh”). And Greek & Latin scripts (fonts) were orig. derived from the Canaanite-Paleo-Hebrew alphabets of Palestine…so that our A,B,D match the paleo-Hebrew letter if it is turned on its side, and the H,L,M,Q & T are nearly identical. The Biblical Hebrew has some richness that gets lost in the meaning. Just as the USA means “United States of America”, likewise the first word of the 10 commandments “anokhy” (“I am” in English) is an allusion to Ario Nafshoy Katovit Yahovit (which means “I have written & given myself to you in this book.”) Some think that because the holy scriptures were in the past in Hebrew, this means Hebrew will last into eternity. God the Father & Son both said their words were eternal.
Certainly Hebrew is not sacred in the sense that the Moslems treat Koranic Classical Arabic. The only true Koran is one in this Arabic…and interestingly, some of the more radical violent verses are toned down in foreign translations! The translator can alter the meanings–because the translators know a translation is never a true Koran. The Hindus do most of their rituals in the dead Sanskrit language, and their devotional hymns to Vishnu & Shiva in the dead Tamil language. Sanskrit is another “sacred” language. But Hebrew is not a dead language…in fact, archeologists can read ancient Hebrew scrolls without much difficulty, modern Hebrew is that close. But the modern use of the sacred Hebrew language in everyday secular life…a language of the Holy Scriptures (Tanakh)…has the Ultra-Orthodox Jews upset. They feel the secular everyday use of the Leshon Ha-Kodesh (the Holy Language) has profaned it. So instead they use Yiddish (a German-based language). Gershom Scholem, who I studied in order to understand the Kabala that so many occult groups are based on, felt that Hebrew was the language of God. In a private letter in 1926, he warned that the Zionists, by allowing Hebrew to be spoken in everyday secular contexts, were going to destroy it…that the danger to Hebrew was “apocalyptic”.(K) He used the word “abyss of a sacred language” and that it would be destroyed again by the Zionists. His use of the term abyss is a reference to PS 36:7 where the Hebrew word “tehom” occurs.
SUMMARY. I believe there are words that are sacred; the Words of our Holy Bible are sacred. Both Hebrew & Greek were profound languages…Hebrew is spiritually deep…Greek is deep intellectually & philosophically. Many people familiar with the Hebrew find it an awesome vehicle to communicate holy truth. But ultimately, the Spirit of God can transform any language into sacredness–God will speak in tongues to the nations. And on an even more profound level, speak in the language of Spirit…which is really more the thoughts of the Spirit which are beyond human language. People ask me, what is the best Bible translation? I say, the one the Spirit is speaking to you through. Likewise, if I were asked, what is the best language? I would say, that one that the Spirit is speaking to you through. If you find a special spot to commune with God, you can transform that into a sacred spot. God’s Spirit turns things holy. This is why Moses out in the middle of no-where desert, realized he was on holy ground when God appeared. May God bless you my friend, and turn the mundane things in your life into sacred things.
(A) ACTS 2:6 (B) JN 10:3-4,16,27 esp. 27 (C) JN 18:37b (D) JN 6:63 (E) ROM 8:26, ACTS 7:34, 2 COR 5:2, JN 11:33 (F) JN 15:7 (G) EPH 6:18 (H) ACTS 2:4, 1 COR 1:5, 12:3, 2 COR 8:7, EPH 6:19, COL 4:4 (I) ROM 8:26 (J) JN 17:1b,5 (K) private letter to Franz Rosenzweig, written in German
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