Revealing the heart of God. Christmas 2020
Christmas is that time when we celebrate amazing giving from God to His undeserving but loved people. εμμανουηλ (em-man-oo-ale’) God is with us.
“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel– which means, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23) c.f. Isaiah 7:14
In the NIV and some other versions the expected letter “E” is written as “I.” Linguistically we can have a vowel time sorting even a single letter out.
Immanuel is a Hebrew word whose meaning is well known (thanks Matthew) and not lost in translation. What’s in a name?
Even before translation between languages, language in itself can struggle to communicate meaning faithfully. Feelings, motives, love, ideals…
I find communication particularly limiting whilst trying to use our finite capability to grasp an infinite God. Our words will never be enough. THE Word always has been. I refer of course to my favourite verse, John 1-1.
During my recovery from brain injury my awareness of God has changed in a way I find impossible to describe or define. A huge shift in perspective and focus…
Recently I have been introduced to another Hebrew word “Hesed”, one that is new to me despite being biblically sourced for translation about 250 times.
Hesed is also incredibly hard to define and translate. There are numerous words in an English Old Testament which attempt to translate and convey its meaning appropriately in different contexts.
Since the accident I have become aware of receiving goodness I don’t deserve because of the “character” (for want of a better word) of God.
What words would you use to describe his character? Loving, Merciful, Kind, Steadfast, Faithful, Unfailing…? Hesed has been translated into more than these. Angry?
Being faithful to God results in changes of action, lifestyle, mindset… My experience of the presence of God post accident, like “hesed” is inexpressible but it’s spiritual dynamite. A key to the very heart and presence of God.
The presence of God:
“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin…” (Exodus 34:6-7)
Hesed has been translated as love in this instance. Twice in these verses -and we are only in the second book of our bible. Should we share with His hesed? How would we do this?
Since the accident I have described the new me as having a simpler approach to faith. Relationship with God. He has always engaged with ordinary people, like me, extraordinarily. His love is inclusive.
In writing this I have discovered that, for better or worse, some of the old me is still there. Simpler faith, perhaps yes. Easier to communicate linguistically, no. A truly frustrated, No!
God is bigger and more amazing than our brains (damaged or otherwise) could ever fully grasp.
At Christmas time we quite rightly celebrate and retell the birth of our Emmanuel. My name, “David” is another Hebrew word.
My hope this Christmas is that our hearts will not only be aware of God with his people historically, but remember that He has always been with His creation and God is with His people in the present.
Emmanuel, God with us, now! What should we do now?
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Co 12:27)
Our actions communicate and reveal His heart. I believe Mission and Evangelism are beyond words alone. Our actions and words should align. We must act with God’s Hesed as demonstrated by THE Word.
I love the liturgy based on Micah 6:8
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.“