The Book of Life

In a recent discussion,  we reflected on the meaning of Jesus’ statement: 

And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you’…Matthew 7.

I would like to elaborate on how this relates to the topic of memorial and remembrance. These words share a common root, and as a result are often mistranslated; memorial rather than remembrance, and vice versa.

The root word ‘zakar’ is mostly translated remembered or remember, and this demonstrates the real difficulty with Bible translation in general. Translators are determined to find one English word to represent the one Hebrew word, which is essentially impossible.

For example, the first time we see zakar in scripture is in Genesis 8:

Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the animals that were with him in the ark.

Finding difficulty in the idea of God ‘remembering’ something when He knows everything, I concluded that this was just a way of expressing God taking action in the affairs of man. This satisfied my understanding for a season, until studying Memorial and Remembrance. These three words form a three corded rope for understanding God’s covenant interests.

 The correct understanding of zakar is expressed by the definition:

‘To perpetuate the memory of’.

This now expresses Genesis 8:1 as ‘God perpetuated the memory of Noah (and mankind) and all creation.’   For another example:

And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.          1 Samuel 1:19. 

In restoring her fertility, God perpetuated the memory of Hannah, who gave birth to the great prophet and judge Samuel. Rachel, Hannah, Mary and Elizabeth are ‘memorialized” in the narratives of scripture, not just as mothers to famous men, but women of great faith and boldness in prayer.  Therefore, ‘the remembrance of them’ is the resulting inspiration throughout the generations.

Now, to being known by the Lord.

But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.     Revelation 21:27.

Jesus told his disciples;

Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.   Luke 10:20.

Those who serve the Lord, who are the called, and the elect and the faithful (Revelation 17:14.) are ‘memorialized’ in heaven. Only they will be among those who hear ‘well done, my good and faithful servant.’

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The Face of God

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”                                      Genesis 32:30.

After wrestling with an angel all night, Jacob experiences being “caught up” by the Spirit of the Lord.

My Life is preserved. Nephesh Natsal.

This is an outlier translation of the Hebrew. 

Nephesh is most frequently translated soul.

Barak YHVH nephesh=

Bless the Lord, O my soul.                 Psalm 103

Natsal is most frequently translated delivered.

Shamar Nephesh Natsal=

O keep my soul and deliver me.      Psalm 25:20.

Natsal literally means to be snatched up and carried away from danger.

This terminology is common in the apostolic writings, for example;

And have mercy on those who are wavering,  save them by snatching them out of the fire.                                                           Jude 22.

The Lord Our Deliverer gives us this assurance.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.                       John 10.

 

When the scribes translated Genesis 32:30 into Greek in the Septuagint, ‘my life is preserved’ is rendered  sozo ego psuche.  In apostolic writings, this expression is most likely rendered as ‘saved my soul’.

Even better is to translate, ‘my life is made whole’. 

To come face to face with God is to ‘experience’ salvation and remission from sin.

To give ‘knowledge of salvation’ to His people by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God, with which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”                                                    Luke 1:77.

Remission of sin is deliverance from the carnal nature.

O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.                  Romans 7.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.  So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.       Romans 8.

To ‘experience’ the ‘knowledge of salvation’ brings clarity to Romans 7, to enjoy the ‘Spirit of Liberty’ in the remission of sin described in Romans 8.

To come face to face with God is to be enraptured.

I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or whether out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a one was caught up to the third heaven.  And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.                                                             2 Corinthians 12.

This being ‘caught up’ in Greek: harpazo;  is used to describe the experience of Philip in Acts 8.

Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. 

And ultimately, by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The ultimate personal experience in devotion to the Lord is face to face.

Hebrew: pahneem pahneem;

Greek: prosopon pros prosopon. 

And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken.                 Hebrews 3.

When there is a prophet I reveal Myself to in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses. He is faithful in all My house, I speak with him face to face, plainly and not in riddles.                           Numbers 12.

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.                      Hebrews 4.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known.                               1 Corinthians 13:12.

So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.         Exodus 33:11.

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.                 John 15.

A Spirit made Willing

And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.                  Exodus 35:21.

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.                                                 Exodus 35:29.

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.                           1 Chronicles 29:9.

When the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, a miracle occurred which had happened only briefly in the lives of God’s people in the past. The disciples numbered approximately 120 in the upper room that day. Immediately after they received the gift of the Holy Spirit corporately, there were added about 3,000 souls! Even more impressive than the numbers though, was the immediate change of heart.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need.                                 Acts 2:44,45.

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.                                               Acts 4:32.

So we see the need of God’s Spirit to move for people to have a willing heart; to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, to prepare for Solomon to build a Temple, and for the saints to build a New House for God in the body of Christ.

In these last days, will our hearts be willing when God pours out His Spirit?

Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.                                  Psalm 110:3.

 

The Blasphemy of a Messiah

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.   Acts 9:20.

How much significance should be placed on this point that Paul immediately began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.

First, consider the evidence that came out at the trial of Jesus Christ.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate said unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.  

The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.           John 19:5-7.

At a public trial, the testimony of His accusers was that Jesus must die for claiming to be the Son of God. Now the man who was previously persecuting the church, one of high esteem among the religious leadership, was preaching this very thing! This is an extraordinary turn of events, that the one who was identified and accepted by the original disciples as the “apostle to the gentiles”, would first boldly preach in the synagogues of every place he visited.

For many have come before and after claiming to be a messiah, a fact of which is much attested. For messianic Jews to simply proclaim Yeshua haMashiach in Israel or anywhere in the world in nothing new under the sun.  If you want to stir up the status quo, preach the Son of God. 

Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.  For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.                                 Acts 5:34-39.

It is noteworthy that this same Gamaliel was the headmaster of the school of the Pharisees where Saul trained. (Acts 22:3). And who was the one man that disregarded this advice and set off on a murderous rampage against the church?  Irony!

Before appearing at the judgment seat of Pilate, Jesus was examined by the High Priest, along with the scribes and elders. Many false witnesses came forward to accuse Jesus, but none of the charges held. Then the High Priest played his trump card:

But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.                                  Matthew 26:63-66.

And so the religious authorities found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death for claiming to be the Son of God. Then Saul, upon his conversion immediately preached this in the synagogues, thereby, bringing the same charge against himself. Then he gave this testimony of himself before his conversion..

Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.                                                 1 Tim 1:13.

This is his conversion, to embrace what was called blasphemy, and reject what was before:

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.                                Acts 22:3.

The Lord Jesus Christ expects us to preach His Blasphemy, for this is the most excellent glory that He received:

For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.              2 Peter 1:17.

Do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?                John 10:36.

Memorial of Mary of Bethany

Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, wherever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she has done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:9; Matthew 26:13.

Ironically, in these two accounts, the words are spoken on behalf of an unnamed woman who came in during a dinner with Jesus at the table. “There came a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment and poured it on His head.”  The gospel of John fills in the missing pieces. Chapter 12 of his gospel identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of Martha, and Lazarus, who Jesus raised from the dead. Martha is serving the dinner.

This set the stage for Jesus to enter Jerusalem, for word of Lazarus having been raised from the dead had ignited the large crowds on hand for the Passover. The chief priests consulted to also see Lazarus put to death, because by reason of him many of the Jews believed in Jesus.

We are also informed by John 11:2 it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. This account is found in           Luke 7:37-50. The Lord uses this opportunity to make a very important point: “to whom little is forgiven, loves little.

This is not to say that some people are less of a sinner and need less forgiveness, but some fail to acknowledge their condition and need for reconciliation with God. The Pharisee saw himself as having a relationship with God, while looking down on Mary as a sinner. Thus she is told; “your sins are forgiven”, and “your faith has saved you, go in peace.”

In Luke 10:38-42, we find another narrative involving Mary and Martha, with Jesus a guest in their home. Martha was busy with much serving while her sister sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. Martha exclaimed, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her to come help me.” To which Jesus replied unto her, “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things but one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

We cannot imagine wrong in someone with a heart to serve, but can see where there is a time for everyone to be still and know the Lord. However, Jesus is not just speaking to a willingness to serve.

We can see a greater concern for someone who is careful and troubled and should fully consider what the Lord is addressing.

The word translated careful here is used by Jesus repeatedly in His sermons, but the more typical translation in the KJV is “take no thought”, and means to be anxious.

Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than clothing? Take therefore no thought for tomorrow, for tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.                                                                               Matthew 6:25,34.

Jesus also uses the same word to tell us not to worry about what we should say if our faith is put on trial, saying if we are delivered up, “take no thought how or what you shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same moment what you should speak.”                                                                   Matthew 10:19.

In His parable of the sower and the seed, Jesus describes the seed among thorns as someone who hears His word, but are choked with “cares” of riches and pleasures in life, and brings no fruit to maturity.                   Luke 8:14.

Paul tells us: “be careful” for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.                                             Philippians 4:6 & 7.

Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.                                            1 Peter 5:7.