Monday, March 7, 2011

Yahweh Yireh

It still surprises me what a profound effect such a name of God can have on my life. Ruminating on that name never ceases to get me through bad times. Let me explain to those who aren't familiar with Hebrew. In the OT story where Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his one and only son, he is on the brink of doing just that when God suddenly stops him. Abraham passes God's test of faith and God promises to provide for him descendants a plenty and to be God to him and his people to come, All because Abraham had faith in God and didn't hold a thing back. God even goes as far as providing this ram to be sacrificed in lieu of his cherished son, Isaac. Abraham names the hill where this whole story takes place "Yahweh Yireh" or "The LORD shall provide."

What does this mean for me? Well, just contemplating that name of God has always served to comfort me in my hard times, whether they be a period of time or just a crummy day. It helps to remind me that God will provide rest, he will provide rescue, and he will provide me security if I believe he will. And honestly, it never fails that when I do contemplate this name, God lives up to it. I shouldn't be surprised by it by now, but I still am. It's awesome!

Examples such as this just serve to remind me of the profound power and effect of scripture. And I'm not saying power in the figurative sense, but also in the literal sense. Is there something to why a chance verse can turn things in your life around completely? Perhaps there really is this mystical power to scripture that has been lost in translation over the years? It is crazy to think that some people were so devoted to scripture that they believed that the Words had actual power! Scripture could ward off evil spirits! Ancient Hebrews would guard the entrances to their house with charms/talismans of scripture that they believed had the power to ward off evil spirits!

Some words even contained God's power. Could this be why Orthodox Jews still wear phylacteries on their heads and around their arms? Is this why the name of God: Yahweh, was a word that a person would dare not utter? In recitation, when the divine name would come up in scripture, it would be replaced by Adonai, which simply means "The Lord." Could this be why some still refuse to spell out God completely but instead spell his name: G-D? This is just so awesome to me. I even heard that scribes took their work so seriously that the prospect of messing up while writing scripture was so serious to them that they felt if it did happen, the fabric of existence would be torn asunder! That's nuts!

I think there is something to this sacred power of scripture. I think a lot of that rich tradition has been lost to us as Christians, and I think we lose out on a lot of important features of scripture with it. I'm not saying we need to venerate scripture, I just think it's important for us to be familiar with it and understand the awesome power it has and the great impact it can have on our lives.

I appreciate the fact that Muslims treat the Qur'an as the literal words of God, so much so that they can't just set the Qur'an down on something. It must be on top of something else, symbolizing The greatness of God's word and it's importance above everything else. I'm not saying we as Christians need to do that, but I think we could learn a thing or two from that and appreciate scripture for more than just the typed words on thin paper. We should understand them for the earth-trembling, mountain moving, cloud splitting words that they are and how all of this was given to us by God for our benefit. GOD's WORDS in our mouths, in our minds, and in our hearts.