Jots & Tittles: A Closer Look at a Little Bit of Hebrew

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, He spoke into the chaos in order to bring the universe into being. His first recorded words are: ‘Let there be light.’ (Genesis 1:3 KJV)

At least, that’s how we report what He said in English. Just four words. There are even less in the original Hebrew: These two words are ‘yehi ׳owr’ which, translated into English, are more like: ‘Be, light!’ or ‘Exist, light!’

Now, an apology (but not much of one) for the following lesson in English grammar. If you’ve studied a foreign language, you might know a bit about the verb ‘to be’ and how it is conjugated. But if you haven’t, you’ve probably only noticed this when someone from another country says something like ‘you is late’ instead of ‘you are late’ or ‘we am waiting’ instead of ‘we are waiting’. If you’ve been speaking English all your life, you instinctively know the way the following pronouns and verbs match up:

I + AM
YOU + ARE
HE + IS
SHE + IS
IT + IS
WE + ARE
THEY + ARE

Now, notice that ‘I am’ is the first of the ‘to be’ sequence. But as it so happens, ‘I AM’ is one of the names of God.

So we can see that the very first word God spoke when He was creating the universe—‘Be!’—actually came from His own name. He not only fashioned the heavens and the earth, He introduced Himself to His creation by name.

His second word connects His name to ‘light’. Jesus said, ‘I am the Light of the World.’ (John 8:12 NIV) That word, ‘world’, is actually ‘kosmos’—and refers to the entire universe.

Look closely at His words:

They go right back to the very creation of the universe when God said, ‘Yehi, ׳owr!’ So Jesus was claiming to be the ‘I AM’, the ever-existing one who created all things. And both His friends and His enemies knew it. Some believed it—some did not.

What about you? Do you believe Jesus is the great ‘I AM’?

Be Patient

‘When the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it.’ James 1:3–4 TLB

You’re closer than you know to becoming the person God wants you to be. Sure, it seems like a trial and a test but, by His enabling grace, you’ll make it through and come out stronger and wiser. Paul says, ‘If God is for us, who can be against us?’ (Romans 8:31 NKJV) God is for you! That means you can do the thing you are afraid you can’t do.

It might feel like you’re in prison but the bars you’re beating against are in your mind. And since you put them up, with God’s help you can take them down. God wants to set you free from the fearful attitudes that hold you back. He wants to release you to live up to your full potential. The right attitude can overcome almost any barrier.

For example, the Bible says, ‘Love never fails.’ (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV) Why? Because love isn’t dependent on your emotions or circumstances, it’s a servant of your will. Love is a decision! Jesus said, ‘This is My commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you.’ (John 15:12 ISV) And if Jesus commands it, He will enable you to do it!

Beginning is usually the hard part. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step; after that it gets easier. But look out; old attitudes will try to resurface and come back stronger than ever. Don’t let them. Be patient; it will take time to get to your destination. But anything worthwhile is worth working for!

SoulFood: Acts 12–13, Matt 9:14–26, Ps 123, Pro 16:1

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2019

Today’s Readings

Acts 12–13 ()

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12:1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter's voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.

18 Now when day came, there was no little disturbance among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19 And after Herod searched for him and did not find him, he examined the sentries and ordered that they should be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and spent time there.

20 Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon, and they came to him with one accord, and having persuaded Blastus, the king's chamberlain, they asked for peace, because their country depended on the king's country for food. 21 On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat upon the throne, and delivered an oration to them. 22 And the people were shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

24 But the word of God increased and multiplied.

25 And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had completed their service, bringing with them John, whose other name was Mark.

13:1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.

13 Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem, 14 but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 15 After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16 So Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said:

“Men of Israel and you who fear God, listen. 17 The God of this people Israel chose our fathers and made the people great during their stay in the land of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 18 And for about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 19 And after destroying seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave them their land as an inheritance. 20 All this took about 450 years. And after that he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. 21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. 22 And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’ 23 Of this man's offspring God has brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, as he promised. 24 Before his coming, John had proclaimed a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John was finishing his course, he said, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. No, but behold, after me one is coming, the sandals of whose feet I am not worthy to untie.’

26 “Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. 27 For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him. 28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,

  “‘You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you.’

34 And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,

  “‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’

35 Therefore he says also in another psalm,

  “‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’

36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, 37 but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39 and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:

41   “‘Look, you scoffers,
    be astounded and perish;
  for I am doing a work in your days,
    a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’”

42 As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next Sabbath. 43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

44 The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying,

  “‘I have made you a light for the Gentiles,
    that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’”

48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed. 49 And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district. 51 But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. 52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 9:14–26 ()

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14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” 15 And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch tears away from the garment, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”

18 While he was saying these things to them, behold, a ruler came in and knelt before him, saying, “My daughter has just died, but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live.” 19 And Jesus rose and followed him, with his disciples. 20 And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, 21 for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” 22 Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. 23 And when Jesus came to the ruler's house and saw the flute players and the crowd making a commotion, 24 he said, “Go away, for the girl is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. 25 But when the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took her by the hand, and the girl arose. 26 And the report of this went through all that district.

Psalm 123 ()

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A Song of Ascents.

123:1   To you I lift up my eyes,
    O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
  Behold, as the eyes of servants
    look to the hand of their master,
  as the eyes of a maidservant
    to the hand of her mistress,
  so our eyes look to the LORD our God,
    till he has mercy upon us.
  Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us,
    for we have had more than enough of contempt.
  Our soul has had more than enough
    of the scorn of those who are at ease,
    of the contempt of the proud.

Proverbs 16:1 ()

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16:1   The plans of the heart belong to man,
    but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.

Sat 13 July, 2019


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