Jesus, John, and Judgment: A Survey of krinos in the Gospels

     The primary word translated “judge” or “judgment” in the New Testament is the word krinos which is pronounced “krinos.”  Joseph Thayer describes the word as “a separating, a sundering, separation, selection; a judgment opinion or decision given concerning anything.” (1)  Most all leading lexicons of the Greek New Testament will concur with this definition.  This is the implied idea in the New Testament when we read the word “judgment.”  In the last article that I wrote regarding judgment in the Old Testament, we discussed the word “shaphat.”  What we discovered was that “shaphat” like “krinos” carried the similar meaning of separation. (Please see Ezekiel 20-22:  A Study of Old Testament Judgment)  This brings congruency between the Testaments.  This continuity of linguistic ideas is paramount in the understanding of scripture.  The English definition of judgment may not exactly represent what is intended by the Greek and the Hebrew.  Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language defines judgment as:  “The act of judging; the act or process of the mind in comparing its ideas, to find their agreement or disagreement, and to ascertain truth; or the process of examining facts and arguments, to ascertain propriety and justice.” (2)  There are some obvious pitfalls to this definition when it is imposed upon the biblical text.  The English definition has little to do with the establishment of God’s order like the Hebrew “mishphat.”  It has little to do with separating the holy from the unholy as “krinos” and “shaphat” implies.  The English seems to deal with judgment as an exercise of the mind that an individual makes based upon their own examination of facts.  Mishphat, krinos, and shaphat carry the similar idea of an individual using their experience to make a determination but the Greek and Hebrew have the idea of making that judgment based upon God’s order of the universe and not man’s order.  The English definition leaves things open to the individual subjective opinion of what is right and wrong.  Meanwhile, the biblical terms separate right and wrong under the umbrella of God’s established order.  There is a difference and Jesus will describe that difference to us.  The reader will notice in the title that this is a study in all of the gospels of the use of judgment.  However, the title also singles out the gospel of John.  The reason for this is that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, only deal with judgment in terms of the “day of judgment” which will be examined at the end of the article.  The bulk of material given to us comes from John who seems to make it his personal aim to explain Messiah’s idea of judgment.  This article is an examination of this theme.

    Any examination about Jesus and judgment should begin with how He, Himself, describes the way that He judges things.  He states, “By myself, I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but Him who sent me.” (John 5:30)  Jesus is giving us some key insights into New Testament judgments that being, “He hears!”  He only makes judgments from what the spiritual influence of God’s heavenly established Mishphat revealed to Him.  This was not Him making a determination out of His own best thinking.  His judgments came as a direct revelation from the eternal realms of Heaven where right and wrong are determined by God’s established mishphat. (That being, love.)  Because Jesus doesn’t judge out of selfishness He can be trusted to “judge.”  He states, “Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father.” (John 5:22-23) and again, “And He has given him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27)  The method of judgment that Jesus was using was to place Himself under the influence of the heavenly realms and this put Him in a position to judge righteously and not selfishly.  Jesus gives us an example of this later on in the gospel.  He states, “Jesus said to them, ‘I did one miracle, and you are all astonished.  Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath.  Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?  Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.’” (John 7:21-24)  The English definition of judgment seems to be the “modus operands” of religious leaders of the Jews.   Messiah is calling them back to “krinos” according to God’s established “mishphat.”  A similar exchange takes place in John 8.  It states, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.  But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am no alone, I stand with the Father, who sent me.” (John 8:16)  Jesus reiterates that His judgment comes under the influence of God.  Additionally, He tells us that this same insight is available to others.  He states, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” (John 8:39)  The irony of this statement is clearly evident.  Those who were supposed to have spiritual insight into God’s mishphat were completely ignorant of it while others who shouldn’t have such insight do indeed, have it.

The final statement from John comes from chapter 12.  It states, “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him.  For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it.  There is a judge for the one who rejects me and doesn’t not accept my words, that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day,” (John 12:47-48)  Two interesting observation from this passage.  First, Jesus primary mission was not to “judge.”  He makes this clear in this passage and in previous passages that we have examined (John 8:16).  His primary purpose was to bring about salvation to all mankind.  However, when there arose occasions for Him to make judgments, He made the correct judgment by hearing from the eternal realm through the Spirit.  This allowed His judgment to be true and unbiased as it was not rooted in selfishness.  Secondly, once Jesus had revealed the heavenly purpose behind His mission that information was now available and folks were held accountable for it.  This is not Jesus fault.  His job was to present truth.  Then individuals will make “judgments” upon the truth that He presented.  He was not responsible for their reaction to His truth.  His job was only the distribution of it.  So likewise, it is with all of us who share His gospel.

The Day of Judgment

     The synoptic writers go out of their way to mention the Day of Judgment.  It is mentioned in Matthew 10:15; 11:22 &24; Luke 10:14, among other places.  If we break this word down, it would be the “Day of Separation according to God’s Mishphat”.  Jesus gives us an example of how this definition describes the day.  He states, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on his throne in heavenly glory.  All the nations will be gathered before Him and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.  Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.’” (Matthew 25: 31-34)  Again, we see here that judgment is the separation of what is clean from what is unclean.  The distinction between what is holy and what is not.  At the last day, it will be mankind which will be separated.

Judge Not?

     One cannot leave a discussion about Jesus and judgment without discussing the “judge not” passages that are found in Matthew and Luke.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.   For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure yahoo use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:1-2)  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged.  Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.  Forgive, and you will be forgiven.  Give and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you sue, it will be measure to you.” (Luke 6: 37-38)  Clearly the passages caution against passing judgment.  Equally, it stands to reason that there will be times when God will call upon us to judge certain things.  Following Jesus example, He did not come to judge and neither should we.  Our responsibility is the same as His.  We are called to present truth and not to judge someone’s response to that message.  We are not called to pronounce judgment upon individuals.  At the same time, there are clearly times when the heavenly realms will influence the people of God to exercise some judgment to discern what is clean versus what is unclean.  To separate what is unholy from what is holy.  In these instances, we are to act as Jesus acted and ‘listen.”  What we “hear” is how we judge.  Judgment for the Christian is not something that is produced inside the mind of the believer.  It is given to them as an instruction from the heavenly realm.  What we hear, is what we speak.  Anything else, is to speak about things that we may not have extensive knowledge about.  Hence, we should reserve judgment.  The way that we implement this is the way that it will be implemented towards us.  We are the ones who set the standards for ourselves by the way that we act in love towards others.

1. Joseph Thayer, Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament

2. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language.

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The Manifestation of Messiah Necessitates Law

“Behold!  My Servant whom I uphold My Elect One in whom My Soul delights!  I have put My Spirit upon Him.  He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.  He will not Cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.  A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.  He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His Law.” (Isaiah 42:1-4)

 

     No real question that this passage refers to Messiah.  The New Testament quotes it in Matthew chapter 12 with reference to Jesus.  The Jewish Targums reference it to Messiah.  Hence, it would seem appropriate to break this verse down to examine its deep meaning.

     What one will notice immediately when comparing the Old Testament passage with the New Testament is an apparent discrepancy in translation.  Mainly, that the Septuagint, which is quoted in Matthew 12, has a seemingly different translation than that of the Masoretic text of the Old Testament. (the Hebrew manuscript used for just about all English translations) The passage in the New Testament is this:  “Behold!  My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!  I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles, He will not quarrel nor cry out, Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.  A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax, He will not quench Till he sends forth justice to victory; And in His name Gentiles will trust.” (Matthew 12:18-21 NKJV)   The bulk of the passage seems to be congruent.  However, it is verse 4 that comes into question.  There is a huge difference between, “The coastlands will wait for His Law.”  And, “In His name, the Gentiles will trust.”   Or do they?  While discrepancies between the Septuagint and the Masoretic do exist, this particular passage, if examined closely, doesn’t seem to be one of those occasions.  Let’s examine this latter part of verse four from the Hebrew and then the Greek, and we will arrive at a consensus of meaning but not of wording.

     The Hebrew here is “oooWljy mya WjrWtlO” which is roughly translated. “And on His Law the coastlands will hope.”  The Greek of the Septuagint reads, “Kai epi tw onomati autou eqnh elpison.” Which is also roughly translated, “And upon His Name, Gentiles will hope.”  Again, here are the verses linguistically, now let’s dissect their meanings and I believe we will arrive at a consensus of ideas if not of words.

     First, we will begin with the Hebrew.  The first word of the verse is “WjrWtlO” Let the dissection begin.  The “O” in the beginning of the word is called the conjunctive vav and it is the most frequently occurring word in all of the Old Testament (over 50,000 times).  Its meaning is “and, even, but, or also.” The Hebrew student will notice that this is also a vowel called a “shoorook” which makes the sound “oo”.  It is different from the consonant vav but when the conjunctive vav is attached, it oftentimes will become a “shoorook” which changes it pronunciation but does not change its translation. The “l” which follows is called an inseparable preposition.  They are called inseparable prepositions because they attach to the root word and become part of that word.  With the lamid “l”, the meaning is “to, toward, for.”  The next part of the word is “hrWt” and is pronounced “torah.”  One need not be a Hebrew scholar to determine the meaning of this word, it is “law.”  Lastly, the “W” on the end of the root word is called a pronominal suffix.  Its meaning is simply third person or “His.”  So, to summarize all that encompasses this first word, “And for His Law” is the literal translation.  The next word “mya” is an obscure Hebrew word.  It is roughly translated,, “regions or coastlands.”  However, we must consider what this word would have meant to the Jewish people of the 1st century and the subsequent time previous, particularly, to the time when the rabbis where translating the Septuagint.  All the “regions” surrounding Israel were bordered by the Mediterranean Sea.  The passage must be referring to the peoples of those coastlands that they would be the ones hoping or trusting in His Law.  The rabbis of the Septuagint translated that word “eqnh” in the Greek.  The Greek meaning of this word is actually “race; people, or the Gentiles.”  From the Jewish perspective the people of the coastlands would be considered the “eqnh” of the coastlands.  This is evident in the New Testament with the writing of Paul. He refers to the Gentile Christians as “eqnh” (please see Romans 10:13, 15:27, 16:4, Gal 2:12)  so, our first discrepancy is resolved.  The coastlands and the Gentiles are really referring to the same group of people.  To reiterate, the Masoretic text and the Septuagint are using different words but they are saying the same things.  Now, what we have from the Hebrew so far is, “And for His Law, the Coastlands (or the peoples dwelling therein, namely the Gentiles).”  The final Hebrew word is “ljy”.  This is a fantastic Hebrew word.  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament explains it much better than I could.  It states, “This “yahal” is not a pacifying wish of the imagination which drowns out troubles, nor is it uncertain, but rather “yahal” is the solid ground of expectation for the righteous.  As such it is directed towards God…no greater testimony to such confident expectation is given than when Job cries out, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him.” (Job 13:15).” (1)  This type of “hope” for the Gentiles can only come through the Messiah of Israel.  Without Him, we are a lost cause.  Hence, the passage in question is strongly Messianic and refers particularly to the ministry of Jesus to the Gentiles.  Let’s put this together:  “And for His Law, the coastlands (the people dwelling therein, the Gentiles) will hope.” This seems to reconcile any apparent discrepancies between Gentiles and coastlands,  However, there is another discrepancy that needs to be cleared up.  Mainly, Law vs Name.

     The Greek reads, ““Kai epi tw onomati autou eqnh elpison.”  Again, this is roughly translated, “And upon His name, the gentiles will hope.”  Having cleared up the issue of the Gentiles, let us move into “the name.”  The Greek word “onomati” means “fame, reputation, character, and the sum of all a person is.”  The rabbis who translated the Septuagint, used this word as a reference to the Messiah (This is my own supposition.)  Meaning, that in His character and Person will all the nations hope.  Here is the first point of the verse.  That the character of Messiah would be such that it would usher in order and good government which the nations of the world would confidently place all their expectations.  In His complete character comes Law.  Here is the second point, for the ministry of the messiah to establish a system of lawlessness would be outside of the bounds of His character.   Modern theologians would have us believe that Messiah would come and “do away with the Law” and establish a system of lawlessness. This doesn’t seem to make much sense for two reasons.  First, Jeremiah testifies, “Why does the land perish and burn up like a wilderness, so, that no one can pass through it?  And the LORD said, ‘Because they have forsaken My law which I set before them, and have not obeyed My voice, nor walked according to it, but they have walked according to the dictates (“Imaginations” in Hebrew) of their own hearts and after the Baals, which their father taught them.” (Jeremiah 9:12-13) For the Messiah to come and “do away with the law” and establish a system of lawlessness, would not make any sense.  Why would God send Messiah to reconcile us so that we can live a lifestyle that is exactly like the lifestyle of the children of Israel when he sent them into exile?  Secondly, Paul clarifies this in the New Testament.  He writes, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”  What the apostle is saying is that it makes no sense for Messiah to “set us free to commit sin or break the Law” because this would make us slaves of sin.  Messiah has set us free for obedience out of love and not out of fear.  Thus, Paul clarifies, “And having been set free form sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” And again, “But now having been set free form sin, and having become slaves of God you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.” (Romans 5:16-18-22)  For pastors and theologians to tell us that Messiah has nailed the law to the cross is simply not acceptable.  The character and nature of God is to establish order and government.  This must have been the intention of the rabbis translating the Septuagint.  Torah finds its ultimate fulfillment in Messiah.  The very character and nature of Messiah and His ministry towards us establishes order and government by making the goals and proposals of the law possible.  Through Jesus, it’s possible to consistently love God and love your neighbor as yourself.  The Law without the Messiah is an incomplete system.  This is why the Old covenant needed to be updated with something New.  However, Messiah without Torah makes no sense either.  It creates a lawless system.  The Messiah establishes upon the earth a system of good government by making the demands of the law an achievable reality in the life of all who believe in His name, both Jew and Gentiles, through the Holy Spirit.

     All of these principles find agreement in the first part of the passage. In the passages quoted at the beginning of the article, the word “justice” is mentioned three times.  It is something that Messiah is going to “establish.”  The Hebrew word for justice is the word “tpvm” which is pronounced, “mishphat.”  Justice doesn’t quite effectively convey the essence of this Hebrew word.  An example of what it means may readily explain what it means.  Solomon, when he prays for wisdom, asks God to give him wisdom so that he can “misphat” the children of Israel.  Mishphat means to establish an order.  The establishment of the correct understanding of order or government.  The essence is the establishment of an order where justice is the normal function of the established system.  This word has also been translated as manner or custom meaning that the system that is established yields a social more or law that all are expected to order their lives according too.  Mainly, that of Torah, according to this passage.  The Greek word that is used in the Septuagint carries a very similar meaning but also carries the idea of separation.  This implies that judgment will separate the people of justice from the people of lawlessness.  This is exactly the function of a life ordered around the torah, it separates from the world making one holy.

Another Possibility

.  In all fairness, there may be another explanation for the discrepancies in the text.  We may be seeing a corruption of the Septuagint by pro-anti-nominal Christian (anti-nominal means without law or torah) scribes.  This is a possibility for two distinct reasons.  First, the Greek word for torah is very similar to the Greek word for name.  The Greek word for Torah is “nomos” pronounced “nomos.”  The Greek word used in the passage for name is “onomos.”  The simple addition of an “o” can completely negate the role of law and replace it with name.  It is a faulty theology, as we have already established that God would not establish a system of lawlessness for this is out of order with His character.  Secondly, the other manuscripts of the Old Testament (The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Latin Vulgate, the Aramaic Peshitta, the Masoretic text) all use the word law.  This points to an issue with the Greek of the Septuagint.  Even if the passage has been corrupted, we can still obtain its original meaning, as we have demonstrated above. Isaiah is telling us here that Messiah would establish a system of government for the Jews and the Gentiles that are hoping and trusting in His name.  That system of order would be His law or, the Torah. It was long held by Jewish rabbis that Messiah would come and completely explain the Law of Moses.  This is so evident with Jesus in his “Sermon on the mount” and in the “Sermon on the plain.” 

     In conclusion, the Messiah of Israel will establish a system of justice and order.  The torah finds its ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah.  The believer that accepts Torah as a standard of holiness and orders their life according to it by the power of the Holy Spirit, will find fulfillment of all the promises that the law has given.  It is the way of “life” and it is beautiful.

 

 

 

Endnotes

  1. Harris, Laird R., Archer, Gleason L., Waltke, Bruce K., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.” Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL, 1980, page 373.

Keep Justice and Do Righteousness, Its Just What We Do

“Keep Justice and do righteousness…” (Isaiah 56:1 NKJV)

     What does it mean to covenant with God?  Before we answer that, maybe we should define what we mean by covenant.  A covenant is an agreement that is reached upon by two parties.  Both are in agreement and both enter into the contract of their own free will.  They choose the covenant.  There is no coercion or manipulation in the covenant.  In Scripture, we use the terms “Old” to describe the “Testament, or Covenant” that existed prior to the advent of Christ.  We also use the term “New” to describe the “Covenant” that is inaugurated at the Last Passover meal of Messiah.  Both are covenants that God has made with His People.

     Who are the covenant people of God?  This also is not an easy answer and it is not really the purpose of this article.  However, one consideration will be taken into account.  That being, the person who is in a covenantal relationship with God is one who has had an internal change of “heart” or character or awakening and this has caused them to order their lives where God is the top priority.    The people of God make covenant with Him after this spiritual change has taken place.  This is “just what we do.”  What happens next is the “living out” of that covenant.  It is the “doing” of the covenant that becomes the lifestyle. Having established this, we will state the thesis of this article.   God and His People have an objective standard in the covenant relationship, and that standard is “mishphat” and “tzaddik”.  These are to be guarded, kept sacred, and considered precious, holy, and something that is to be watched over with great care.  It is what we do. It is how we live our lives.  Everything that we do, from the most menial task to the most paramount of activities, we do all of these with mishphat and tzaddik.  This is the covenantal standard of how we conduct business.  Let me explain what these are as we break down the verse that is quoted above.

      The first word in this passage is the Hebrew word, “rmv” pronounced “shamar”.  It carries the basic meaning of “to exercise great care over.”  It is generally translated as “to guard or to keep.”  The gist of it is to consider something as being precious, sacred, and something that has value that needs to be watched out for and considered/protected.  This is the essence of this word.  OK, so what is it we are supposed to watch over and consider sacred, holy, and the normal standard of operation.  It is the Hebrew word, “mishphat.” And later on in the chapter, it is the Sabbath.

         The Hebrew word for judgment is the word “tpvm” which is pronounced, “mishphat.”  Judgment doesn’t quite effectively convey the essence of this Hebrew word.  An example of what it means may readily explain what it means.  Solomon, when he prays for wisdom, asks God to give him wisdom so that he can “misphat” the children of Israel.  Mishphat means to establish an order.  The establishment of the correct understanding of order or government is mishphat.  The essence is the establishment of an order where justice is the normal function of the established system.  This word has also been translated as manner or custom meaning that the system that is established yields a social more or law that all are expected to order their lives according too.  This is what Solomon asked God for and this is what was granted to him.  It became what he “did.”   The Greek word that is used in the Septuagint and the New Testament is “krinos” pronounced “krinos.”  Krinos carries a very similar meaning but also carries the idea of separation.  This implies that “mishphat” will separate the people of covenant from all other peoples.  Mishphat is just what we do.  In Mishphat, there is no favoritism and all deserve to be treated equally.  There is no bias regardless of talents, looks, or personal attributes.  Holiness is the standard.  Law is not mishphat but the “doing” of the pentatutacheal ordinances by God’s people is considered mishphat.  Mishphat is how we relate to God, who holds the ultimate seat of government” and how we are to respond to Him, as His covenantal people.  God says “do” and in our “doing” we are guarding and keeping Mishphat. The application here of the commandments/torah of God is self-evident.  It is just what we do as will be evident in the next word.

      The next Hebrew word that is translated “to do” is the Hebrew word, “hve” pronounced “asah.”  The basic sense of the word is just “do.”  It does carry with it a sense of ethical obligation.  In other words, as a covenant people, this is “just what we do.”  Covenant people are frequently commanded “to do” certain things in scripture.  This is not because God is some power hungry ogre whose desire is to dictate the terms of our lives without care for us.  He commands us “to do” because the things that He says to “do” are just what “we do” as a covenantal and holy people.   The “doing” is simply the observable demonstrable act that we are the covenantal people of God.  For example, keeping the Sabbath.  God tells us plainly in scripture, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak also to the children of Israel saying; Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD. Who sanctifies you.  You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you…Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.”(Exodus 31:12-17)  On a side note, for those of you who say, “Well, that just applied to the Jews of old and I’m not a Jew so it doesn’t apply to me.” Or “that was the Old Covenant and now in the New, we can keep whatever day we want to keep as holy.”  My response is twofold.  First, the position that God would move from a position of order (a specific day-the Sabbath) to a position of lawlessness and subjectivity ( I can keep whatever day “I” think is best) doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the standard presented in the whole of scripture. (see my article entitled the Manifestation of Messiah Necessitates Law)  Secondly, it is also written in the New Testament that Sabbath observance is for the Christian.  The purpose of it is to proclaim to the world that we are the people of grace and faith.   We have entered into salvation by grace and faith and not by works; hence, we rest on the Sabbath day from our works just as God rested from His works and kept the Sabbath day holy. (Hebrews 4:9) If He keeps it holy, then, we, as His covenant people, should keep it holy also.  It is just what we “do.”  We guard, keep sacred, and value the Sabbath.  For more information on this see my article entitled, “The Sabbath and the People of God.”  The fact that we value the Shabbat is the demonstrable act that confirms our guarding of Mishphat. 

     The Hebrew word for righteousness here is the word, “qdoooox” transliterated as “tzaddik.”  It is also a wonderful Hebrew word.  Its meaning is also somewhat complex.  In essence, it refers to an ethical and moral standard or conduct in life.  That standard springs forth from God who is ultimately the standard of righteousness.  It is also significant that man requires relationship with God to be an outlet of His character.  Hence, because covenant people are internally changed and motivated out of a love for God in the affairs of their lives, “tzaddik” is oftentimes, “just what we do.”  Modern Hebrew still uses this definition and a person who does consistent good and lives a holy life, is called a “tzaddik.”  The outworking of righteous living that stems from a right standing with God is tzaddik.  It is the natural bi-product of what happens when we are rightly related to God.

     Speaking of “what we just do” and the Sabbath, The Lord makes some statements about these things.  In the passage quoted above, “Keep justice and do righteousness” it would be appropriate here to quote the bulk of the passage.  Here it is:  “Thus says the LORD: Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come, and My righteousness to be revealed.  Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”  (Isaiah 56:1-2)  In this passage God is making some statements about what Mishphat and Tzaddik look like and what happens to the individual who “gaurds and values” them.  First, the word that we discussed previously, “shamar” is the same Hebrew word that the LORD uses here regarding the Sabbath.  No small coincidence as it is the sign of the covenant, as we have previously discussed.  God equates mishphat and tzaddik with “guarding, valuing, protecting, and regarding as precious, the Sabbath.”  For the covenant people it should be just a knee jerk reactions like “keeping his hand from doing evil.”  It even goes so far later in the chapter as to welcome “sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him.”  Again, the heart that has been changed to honor the LORD and serve Him, becomes a covenantal person.  The verse states, “Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast to my covenant, even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My House of prayer.” (56:6-7) Again, the demonstrable act that confirms the covenant is that of Sabbath honoring.  “It is just what we do.”

Revival through Justice and Burning

“When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning then the Lord will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night.  For over all the glory there will be a covering.” (Isaiah 4:4-5)

 

     When I read passages like this one, I get pumped for revival.  I can imagine being in the assembly when the cloud and smoke and fire of the presence of God manifest itself.  This is what revival is built upon, the continual abiding presence of God.  Here in this passage, God gives us two distinct spiritual elements that usher in revival.  Let’s examine the two phrases, “spirit of judgment” and spirit of burning” to see if we can develop a fuller understanding of what takes place as a precursor of revival.

     The Hebrew phrases are “reb hOrbO tpvm hOrB” which is correctly translated “the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning.”  The Hebrew word for spirit, “hOr” is used twice in the passage. (It is used as hOrB and as hOrbO respectively.  The reader will notice the O in the front of the second occurrence, this is the conjunctive vav and means and, but ,and also.  The reader will also notice the b which occurs in front of both occurrences.  This is an inseparable preposition and it attaches to the front of the word.  It’s basic meaning with “b” is with.  The reader will also notice the dot in the middle of the first occurrence.  This is called a dagesh lene and occurs with certain letters called beghadkephat {a pneumonic device for Hebrew letters that will receive the dagesh lene namely tpkdkb.}  These letters will receive the dagesh lene and occasionally will change the pronunciation, though not the meaning of words.  In this case, the first would be pronounced as a “b” sound while the second would be pronounced as a “v” sound.)  The basic idea of spirit is “wind in motion.”  That these two spirits are separate and distinct from the Holy Spirit can be evidenced by the missing title “cdooiioqh” pronounced Ha-kodesh” meaning Spirit of the Holy.  It seems to me that these are two spirits that are sent from God to accomplish His purposes.  God lives in a realm that is spiritual and He is Spirit (John 4:24)  God reigns supreme in ths realm and beings such as spiritual ones complete his purposes.  This is what we are looking at in this passage.  We will come back to this momentarily.

     The Hebrew word for judgment is the word “tpvm” which is pronounced, “mishphat.”  Judgment doesn’t quite effectively convey the essence of this Hebrew word.  An example of what it means may readily explain what it means.  Solomon, when he prays for wisdom, asks God to give him wisdom so that he can “misphat” the children of Israel.  Mishphat means to establish an order.  The establishment of the correct understanding of order or government.  The essence is the establishment of an order where justice is the normal function of the established system.  This word has also been translated as manner or custom meaning that they system that is established yields a social more or law that all are expected to order their lives according too.  This is what Solomon asked God for and this spirit of Mishphat was granted and it brought about huge revival during the reign of Solomon including the aforementioned cloud and smoke of the presence.  The Greek word that is used in the Septuagint carries a very similar meaning but also carries the idea of separation.  This implies that judgment will separate the people of justice from the people of lawlessness.  To the verse in question, this tells us that order and justice is an actual spiritual force that is released by God to counteract the prevailing spirit of lawlessness that operates where wanton sin abounds.

     The Hebrew word for “burning” is the word, “reb” which is pronounced “va-er.”  The basic idea here is to seek out, to glean, or to collect in order to destroy by fire.  Basically, mishphat separates and identifies evil and sin and vaer completely destroys and consumes it.  The Greek of the Septuagint carries a similar idea “to suffer from feverish burning” as in the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah when God rained down fire from heaven which yielded complete destruction of evil and sin.  To the passage in question, God releases an actual spiritual force that yields the complete consumption of the effects of sin and evil.  This spiritual force, like a raging consuming fire, completely destroys whatever it is targeted against, in this case, the evil that is identified through mishphat.  Once this takes place, only that which is good; pure; and holy remains.  Then, the presence of God will swell with us as a cloud by dire and a fire by night.  This is the essence of revival.  No compromise with evil and sin.  The Presence will not tolerate moral compromise and injustice.  Evil must be completely eliminated and the establishment of justice; order, and the proper use of government ushers in revival. Perhaps our prayer should be for God to send the spirit of judgment and burning into our lives, our churches, and our nation, in order to usher in real individual, corporate, and national revival and reform.

Judge Me?

Judge me, O Lord, for I walk in my innocence (Psalm 25:1)

     In this Psalm, David is asking God to judge him because he believes in his own innocence.  Wow!  That’s a pretty bold statement.  Who among us is so brave that they are asking to stand before God so that they can be judged?  Certainly not me.  However, if we examine the Hebrew and the Greek of this passage, we will begin to understand that this is not what David is asking for at all. 

     Both the Hebrew of the Masoretic text and the Greek of the Septuagint use similar words for “judge.”  The issue comes into play because neither of them translate very well into English.  The Hebrew word is “fpv” which is transliterated, “shaphat.”  It’s primary meaning is to exercise the process of government.  Basically, to establish a governmental process that protects the innocence.  The Greek word “krinos” carries much the same meaning but adds the idea of separation.  Meaning, to separate the evil from the good.  This is really what a theocratic process of government does.  It separates good from evil and destroys the evil.  This is what David is praying for when he cries out, “Judge Me!”  He is saying that his desire is to be separated from the assembly of evildoers to remain in the assembly of the righteous.

     Innocence.  Is David really claiming that he is innocent before God.  This is the man that had Uriah killed because he got his wife pregnant.  Is David really ready to stand before God for judgment and make a case for his own innocence?  I think not.  The Hebrew word for innocence used here is the word, “hMf” which is transliterated “temah.”  It is a derivative of the word for completion.  It is the word that is used to describe the sacrifices that the law required to be “temah” and perfect.  The Greek equivalent “akakon” is used of Christ in Hebrews 7:26 describing Him as perfect, innocence, and the righteous sacrifice and high priest.  Things still aren’t looking to good for David so far.  However, Job was also described “temah.”  Job was described as blameless not sinless.  This tells us that inside the establishment of God’s order and government, there has been provided a system by which sin can be atoned.  In the OT it was the blood of “temah” bulls and goats, in the NT it is the blood of the “temah” Lamb of God.  What I mean here is that inside the government of God, sin does not distinguish between the righteous and the wicked.  The distinction is made between the heart that desires to follow God’s law and order and the lawless and wicked who desire to follow the devices of their heart.  Theirs is a theology built upon selfishness.  The government of God is a theology built upon the human hearts response to the established order of God.  The psalms use the same word to describe both groups of people.  It is the word assembly, congregation, or church.  There are only two types of assemblies.  Those of the wicked and those of the righteous.  The assembly of the wicked takes delight on doing evil and encourages it.  The assembly of the righteous takes delight in the presence of God, living according to His law and order, and loving one another.  The basis for the assembly of the wicked is selfishness.  The basis for the assembly of the righteous in the covenantal love (Hebrew Hesed of verse 3 in this Psalm) that has established the order and us within it.

     Let’s regroup.  This is what David is really saying.  “Make a distinction, LORD, between me and the assembly of the wicked because I have arranged my life according to your established order which is built upon your love and in this order, my sins are atoned for so I  can have boldness to stand before your throne.”  Indeed, Judge us, Oh God!”