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Shavuot and the Spirit of Freedom
Shavu'ot

The Spirit and Freedom

Further thoughts on Shavuot...

Shavu'ot

The great holiday of Shavuot is regarded as the culmination of the experience of redemption, sometimes called Atzaret Pesach, the "Conclusion of Passover." It is therefore the end (τέλος) or goal of the redemption experience for believers. Just as the redemption by the blood of the lambs led to Israel's deliverance and the giving of the Torah at Sinai (סִינַי), so the redemption by the blood of Yeshua led to the world's deliverance and the giving of the Holy Spirit at Zion (צִיּוֹן). And just as the covenant at Sinai created the nation of Israel, so the new covenant at Zion created the worldwide people of God, redeemed from "every tribe and tongue" (Rev. 5:9).

The goal of Passover redemption was to set us free to become God's own treasured people (עַם סְגֻלָּה, am segulah), a light to the nations: ambassadors for Heaven's voice. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit (רוּחַ הַקּדֶשׁ) is therefore the climax of redemption, imparting the presence of the Comforter (παράκλητος) to help us live sanctified lives (Acts 1:8).
 

רוּחַ אֲדנָי יְהוִה עָלָי
 יַעַן מָשַׁח יְהוָה אתִי לְבַשֵּׂר עֲנָוִים
 שְׁלָחַנִי לַחֲבשׁ לְנִשְׁבְּרֵי־לֵב
 לִקְרא לִשְׁבוּיִם דְּרוֹר
 וְלַאֲסוּרִים פְּקַח־קוֹחַ

ru·ach · Adonai · E·lo·him · a·lai
ya·an · ma·shach · Adonai · o·ti · le·va·ser · a·na·vim
she·la·cha·ni · la·cha·vosh · le·nish·be·rei · lev
lik·ro · lish·vu·rim · de·ror
ve·la·a·su·rim · pe·kach · ko·ach
 

"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
 for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;
 he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
 to proclaim liberty to the captives,
 and the opening of the prison to those who are bound"
(Isaiah 61:1)



Yeshua recited these very words (see Luke 4:18-19) to proclaim the advent of His Messianic ministry to Israel (the word translated 'has anointed' (i.e., mashach: מָשַׁח) is the root of the word for "Messiah" (i.e., mashiach: מָשִׁיחַ), "anointed one"). The good news is proclaimed "to the poor" (Matt. 11:5), that is, not to the world at large, nor to those who are at home in this age... The Spirit of the LORD brings good news to the afflicted ones; the Spirit binds up the brokenhearted and proclaims liberty to the captives.

The Spirit of the LORD heralds "good news." The root meaning of the verb basar (בָּשַׂר) is "to bring news, especially pertaining to military encounters," and hence the Septuagint (and the New Testament) renders it, Ευαγγελίσασθαι - "to proclaim the victory [of God's redemption]." Interestingly, the word basar also means "meat" or "flesh," whereas besorah means "good tidings." Perhaps the connection between the two words has to do with the proclamation of a feast during times of "good news" after a significant military victory. In the New Testament, the connection between the flesh of Messiah offered in sacrifice for our sins should also be noted, especially since the "good news" concerns deliverance from the sickness of spiritual (i.e., eternal) death...

The poor (i.e., anavim: עֲנָוִים) are the meek, the lowly, the afflicted, the needy, and so on. The Hebrew word anavah (עֲנָוָה) means "humility," suggesting inner poverty, bankruptcy, and hardship. The primary meaning of the root (עָנָה) is "to force, " or "to try to force submission," "to punish or inflict pain upon," or "to oppress."

The Messiah was sent to "bind up" the wounds of the brokenhearted (נִשְׁבְּרֵי־לֵב). The Hebrew verb chavash (חָבַשׁ), "to bind up," can also mean to govern or to restrain... The LORD is near to the nishbar lev, the one with a broken heart. He restrains its woundedness and salves its hurt. The Hebrew word "lev" (לב) metaphorically refers to our inner life, that is, our affections, mind, and will. This is revealed in the letters of the Hebrew word itself: the Lamed (ל) depicts a "staff" used to direct something (i.e., the will), and the Bet (בּ) depicts the "house" of the physical body. Lev then represents our inner life of thought and feeling expressed in our actions. Those who are broken in heart – the nishberei lev – have discovered that they cannot control their own lives, that they are inwardly "shattered," and therefore need divine help. Yeshua comes to those truly humbled by their sin; to those cut to the heart, to those who have bruised and wounded spirits and who live in great pain. It is for these the Savior rises to bring comfort....

Healing ultimately leads to deliverance, and therefore the LORD proclaims liberty (דְּרוֹר) to the captives and sets the prisoner free... The Hebrew word denotes the straight, swift flight of a swallow, hence freedom of movement, freedom from tzarah, constriction, compression, bondage. The word "liberty" here recalls the Yovel, or year of Jubilee, when captives were set free and inheritances were restored (Lev. 25:10). The Hebrew phrase pekach-koach (פְּקַח־קוֹחַ) means not merely the opening of prisons but universal liberty, complete and perfect redemption. Some scholars believe that the phrase refers to "the most complete opening," namely, the opening of the eyes of the blind, and this seems to be the way the New Testament refers to it (Luke 4:18). The Spirit of the LORD gives freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).

The message of the good news, the gospel, is for the poor and lowly in spirit (Matt. 5:3; Isa. 66:2). It is a message for sinners, not for the self-righteous... In Matthew 5:3, the word translated "the poor" (οἱ πτωχοι) is derived from a word that means "to crouch as a helpless beggar." This word provides an image of someone in abject poverty, totally dependent on others for help. The "poor in spirit" are those who are painfully aware of their exile and need for help from God....

This seems to be the divine pattern. "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). The hard "outer shell" of the seed must be broken so that the life of the Spirit can come through... Plainly put, God (and only God) can "deconstruct" the self so that life's priorities, focus, and passions are redirected to Him alone, the true Source of life.

One final note. Yeshua quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2 when He read the haftarah at synagogue (Luke 4:17-20), though He stopped halfway after he read "to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor," and did not go on to finish the verse, "and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion -- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified" (Isa. 61:2-3). He stopped short because His ministry as Mashiach ben Yosef centered on proclaiming the year of the Lord's favor (שְׁנַת־רָצוֹן) as our Savior and Redeemer, rather than His ministry as Mashiach ben David who will first herald the Day of the Vengeance of our God (יוֹם נָקָם לֵאלהֵינוּ) at the End of Days and then establish the kingdom of Zion upon the earth.

It needs to be stressed, however, that the Day of Vengeance, the great Day of the LORD (יוֹם־יְהוָה), is fast approaching, chaverim. "The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast" (Zech. 1:14). Let us prepare to meet our King!


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