Mighty One of Israel

by Scott Leys

“I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Exodus 20:2 (World English Bible)

The Hebrew language is a language short on vocabulary. Often times a single Hebrew word can have many nuances of meaning depending on suffixes, prefixes, and context. One word may serve to convey many different ideas or word pictures, making for a very poetic, but not a very concise language. There is one glaring exception to this rule though.

Have you ever stopped to consider what our Heavenly Father means when He identifies Himself as our God? In the passage above, the Hebrew word translated as God is Elohim. To the Hebrews it carried the connotation of Yahweh as the creator of all things. Interestingly there are several other Hebrew words that have been translated as God in our English versions of the Bible. So while the Hebrew language as a rule is word poor, the writers of the Hebrew Scriptures under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were very specific in assigning attributes to the Almighty.

Other Hebrew words translated as God include: El(identifying Yahweh in all His power and magnificence); Eloah(identifying Him as the mighty one to be worshiped, contrasted with false gods); Elyon(usually translated Most High God – identifying Him as the possessor of heaven and earth); and El Shaddai(usually translated as God Almighty – identifying Him as our nourisher and all bountiful giver).

What significance does this have for us? Our Father intended for us to know Him in a very personal and intimate way. He shows Himself to us by letting us in on these different personality traits. He wants us to understand every aspect of who He is and what He does for us. Many of us have a personal relationship with our Savior Yeshua, but we sometimes fail to realize Yahweh revealed Himself to His creation from the very beginning in this same personal way.

The next time you come across God in the Old Testament, pull out a concordance and look up the Hebrew word. You might be surprised at the treasure you find.

Learning About Prayer From Jesus

by Lois Tverberg

It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God. Luke 6:12

Jesus was a man of prayer. He stayed up all night in prayer, arose early to pray, and taught his disciples to pray. How did people pray in Jesus’ time, and how did he probably pray? Understanding the traditions of Jewish prayer adds depth and meaning to Jesus’ teachings on the subject.

For instance, the prayer that Jesus probably prayed before he broke the bread at the Last Supper was probably something like, “Blessed is he who brings forth bread from the earth.” If the very next thing Jesus says is “This is my body, broken for you,” could he be hinting that just as God brings bread from the ground, he will bring Jesus, the Bread of Life out of the ground? It is an interesting thing to ponder. Our understanding of that passage is enriched by knowing the prayers of Jesus’ day.

Jesus also teaches many parables on the importance of prayer – about the persistent widow, and about the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We can learn much about the mind of Christ on prayer by grasping his teachings as they would have been understood in his time.

We can be especially enriched by understanding the prayer that Jesus taught us. Although we know it by heart, many struggle with some of the phrases like, “thy kingdom come” and “keep us from evil” that may seem foreign to us. Understanding his prayer in the context of the other prayers of his time will help us pray as Jesus intended for us to pray.

Of course, we need to be not just hearers of the word but doers as well. These articles will only be worthwhile if they inspire you to a new level of prayer, and a more intimate walk with your Heavenly Father.

Photo: Conniemod / CC BY-SA