Tag Archives: Hebrew language

HEBREW – Sin (1)


The pictorial power of the Hebrew language,” writes one Hebrew authority, “is seldom exhibited more clearly than in connection with the various aspects of evil.” Of the four main words that indicate sin in the Hebrew, chātā’ (H2398) is used most often and means “to miss the mark.” It is used in this literal sense, for example, in Jdg_20:16, where Benjamin’s 700 left-handed slingers “could sling stones at an hair breadth, and not miss.” It also refers to breaking civil law (Gen_40:1, “offended”).
Human failure and sin, however, are the prominent focus of chātā’. Sin, therefore, means “missing the mark.” Which mark? God’s mark, the mark He sets as the standard, namely, His righteousness and commands. Just as an archer sets his sights on a specific target, it is God’s righteousness at which we “shoot” our arrows, but miss every time.
It is extremely significant that the Septuagint translates chātā’ using the Greek hamartanō (G264), which also means “to miss the mark.” The pivotal NT verse, of course, is Rom_3:23 : “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Again, what is the mark for which we shoot? The glory of God, which includes His righteousness and perfection but we always miss, whether deliberately or unintentionally. As Paul wrote earlier, “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom_3:10, paraphrasing Psa_14:3).
If there is one doctrine that has been diluted by modern thought, it is most certainly the doctrine of sin. Opinions vary from “a low self-esteem” and “psychological self-abuse” to simply “felt needs” and personal problems. Even worse, while the word sin, along with its other forms (sins, sinner, sinners, sinful), appears some 900 times in Scripture, many “preachers” refuse to even mention the term. When asked in a television interview about the gospel, one popular leader (who proudly never preaches on sin) said, “To me good news is letting people know that God loves them, Jesus came, that we can overcome any obstacle, that we can be forgiven for our mistakes. I don’t see how beating people down [apparently by preaching about sin] . . . helps them grow closer to God.”
That, however, is not the gospel, as we will see. Oh, how we need to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jud_1:3).
Scriptures for Study: Compare Rom_3:10-18 with the following OT passages, from which Paul either quotes or paraphrases: Psa_5:9; Psa_10:7; Psa_14:1-3; Psa_36:1; Psa_140:3; Isa_59:7-8. His indictment of the Jews has the authority of Scripture behind it.


1 Comment

Filed under Hebrew



Name (1)




Today we begin a study that will continue throughout the month, one which I pray will touch our hearts and lives like nothing else can, namely, a study of the names of God used in the OT. This is critically important in our day, for many of the problems we see in the church come from a wrong conception of God. We simply do not know who He is. To combat this, instead of the shallow fluff (and even heresy) that lines the shelves of many Christian bookstores, would that pastors encouraged their people to read books such as A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy, or Arthur W. Pink’s The Attributes of God. To go deeper, Puritan Steven Charnock’s, The Existence and Attributes of God, will furnish them with a lifetime of depth and meditation.


Before plunging into the many names of God in the OT, however, let us first consider three words that will help lay a foundation: name, remember (January 5), and meditation (January 6). While the etymology of the root šēm (H8034), which appears some 864 times, is uncertain, some scholars believe that it comes from “the Arabic root wšm ‘to mark or brand,’ hence an external mark to distinguish one thing or person from another.” Names in the Semitic world—the “Semites,” descendants of Noah’s son Shem, were the racial family to which Israel belonged—were much more significant than in our Western culture. A person’s name, in fact, “often carried more significance than an identification mark; it was considered to be a description of character or conditions.” Nabal’s name, for example, reflects the fact that He was a fool (1Sa_25:25);Eve means “the mother of all living” (Gen_3:20); Isaac means “he laughs,” a reminder of his parents’ laughter at the thought they could conceive a child in their old age; and Babel means “confusion,” hence the name of the tower where God confounded earthly languages.


The names of God, therefore, are extremely significant. So important are His names that some theologians call this “name-theology.” I like that term. “Theology” is the study of God, and to know His names is to know Him. As we study “name-theology,” let us seek God with a dedication of mind, devotion of heart, and depth of soul.


Scriptures for Study: What do Psa_20:5; Psa_44:8 encourage us to do concerning God’s name? What, then, is our responsibility, according to Exo_9:16?





Filed under Hebrew

Education: a wonderful thing

Education is a wonderful thing. Every one needs an education. I am reminded though, of the old farmer that sent his son off to college to get an education. The son came home for a visit and the next morning at breakfast the son exclaimed as he sipped his coffee, oww, that is hot. The father said, “saucer and blow your coffee son.” The son , ignoring his fathers advice; sipped his coffee and said, oww, that is hot. The father, highly indignant wrote the president of the college and said, I sent my son to you to be educated and you sent me back a fool. The college president sent back the reply; we educated what you sent.

To often this seems to be the situation. People become educated beyond their usefulness. They do not seem to be able to evaluate the statements that they make. One such is the seminarian that  pastors a church begun in the fifties or sixties and then decries the idea of missions when the church he is pastoring began as a mission by a missionary. For that preacher to be true to what he says he believes must find a church that began as a church. Admonition: be true to what you say you believe.

Let us take this one step further. There are those that think they are expert Greek and Hebrew translators because they have had 4 years of each language. This is a laughable situation. The language scholarship of today does not begin to  touch the scholarship of the King James translators. How many today know 17 different oriental languages? How many keep their daily diary in Greek? How many sauntered around the house as a preteen reading both Greek and Hebrew. There is an insinuation that if you don’t know the language, you cannot be adept at understanding God’s Word. This has cast into a very bad light many of the preachers that built our churches as ignorant buffoons. Some of the best preachers I have known and read about did not know the languages and we have many churches that are doctrinally sound because these ignorant men had a closeness to God that brought a true diligence to their study and they were aided by the Holy Spirit.

I desire a day where superiority because of education were mitigated by a humility that honor’s Christ. There are many things that can be learned from those that have not had the advantage of seminary studies. This might be a blessing because they have not sat under those teachers that are biased in one way or another.

We should have a hunger for the Word and an open mind to accept what it says.

Leave a comment

Filed under Commentary