The Commandments of God

Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 (ESV)

There are roughly 613 instructions regarding how to live like a child of God in the Torah. The New Testament contains approximately 1030 commands for walking in a Godly fashion. It’s something to think about.

A Poem

Here’s a poem by Ben Witherington III that I greatly appreciated.

 

We demand the evidence,

A clear and certain sign,

We show no bit of reticence

Ask God to please divine.

 

Here a little miracle,

Or there a stellar light

To shine upon our darkness

And give us all insight.

 

But what if God’s not hidden,

Not remote or too aloof,

What if we’re just blind

And cannot handle proof?

 

What if all the world’s a stage

And the play’s long been going on,

But we’re not paying attention

Or listening to the song?

 

What if the heavens shout ‘glory’

And the rocks and all the trees

But we’re too damn distracted

To fall down on our knees?

 

What if believing leads to seeing

Not the other way around,

What if believing’s our 3-D glasses

To see the more profound.

 

In a world of truth decay

We perish for lack of hope

We settle for compensation

For that which helps us cope.

 

A visionary person

Is one who believes the most,

She sees the path before her,

But she trusts the Holy Ghost.

 

If you ignore all the evidence,

Then you cannot handle proof,

Only open hands receive it,

Only open minds find truth.

BW3 2/17/07 (Ben Witherington III)

Words for Torah

In Psalm 119:129-136 the psalmist uses seven different words to describe the Torah: today we look at the second word. It is “word/s” (devar). Psalm 119:130: “The unfolding of your words gives light;it gives understanding to the simple.”

Jesus Creed » Bible words: Word

It is great to read a traditional evangelical scholar focusing on Psalm 119! The reason I wanted to highlight this is that Scot McKnight has recognized the seven words used as synonyms for torah. Too often this reality is ignored when we Christians read the psalms.

We all ought to go through the Psalms and Proverbs on the lookout for the following words:

  • word
  • instruction
  • teaching
  • commandments
  • precepts
  • light
  • truth

I think it would revolutionize our concept of the way Torah (throughout Scripture) is supposed to interact with our day to day life. (I think it might change our understanding of a few other things as well, but I’ll look forward to hearing about that from you.)

Gazelles

Have you ever wondered why Jewish boys were prohibited from reading the Song of Songs until age 13?  I distinctly remember the first time I heard this as a young adolescent.  Guess what I went home to read that evening?  I also recall my disappointment…”is that all there is to it?”  Now, of course, I realize that a lot went over my head (isn’t God masterful?).

Rabbi Akiva said,

The entire world, all of it, is not equal in worth to the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel. Why? Because all other books in the Writings are holy, whereas the Song of Songs is holy of holies. (Sefer Ha-Aggadah, Section 136 – Song)

So while I have a more mature appreciation of Shir HaShirim these days, one phrase has continued to puzzle me–until today.

Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies. Song of Solomon 4:5 (ESV)

And then I ran into this fascinating insight on the Blue Cord biblioblog:

…He (Marvin Pope) notes that in Akkadian, anpu means “nose,” just as its cognate ap does in Hebrew. But in Akkadian, it also means “nipple.” Hebrew probably also had this meaning, but it is not preserved. So, just as the face of the gazelle slopes down to the nose, so does the breast slope down to the nipple. It is not only a wonderful image but a great play on words as well.

So there you go, you’ve always wondered and now you know.  I have a totally new appreciation for gazelles.