The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives."
(Isaiah 61.1 -2a)
In Luke 4, Jesus/Yeshua read from the Old Testament/Tanakh in the synagogue of his home town of Nazareth. As is the custom for Jewish men, he was called up (aliyah) to the pulpit (bimah) to read from the Torah scroll. And the above passage from the prophets (Nevi'im) is where He turned.
"And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to bind up the broken-hearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:17-21)
If we look at just five words - anoint, sent, bind, broken and heart - in this passage of Isaiah/Yesha'yahu, and explore each in Hebrew, what treasures of God will we find?
Firstly, the name Isaiah in Hebrew literally means: Yahveh is Salvation. No wonder the Jewish Messiah announced that "today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing"!
Next, one word for "anoint" in Hebrew is "mashach" and literally means "olive oil". It is one letter different from the Hebrew word for Messiah "Mashiach", which means "One Anointed With Olive Oil." The one letter difference in Hebrew is the letter Yod, which is not only by far the smallest letter but it has a beautiful meaning.
Every Hebrew letter has a meaning. Yod represents the omnipresence of GOD, since it is found in all other Hebrew letters as the tiny curve in the top right hand corner. Here's one mind-blowing example:
In the Jewish faith, the letter Yod also represents the humility of GOD, as it is the smallest letter. Being anointed by God is the humble touch of God's Open Hand that makes the oil of ministering turn into something Heavenly. As in the old Yiddish phrase "Man, you've just been yodded". Actually, I just made that up :-)
So, back to the verse in Isaiah at the start. "Anoint" (mashach) means: "anoint, usually referring to pouring sacred oil on a person in a ceremony of dedication, symbolising divine empowering to accomplish the task or office."
It is impossible to anoint oneself. This is because in the original Hebrew, there are only five places where people anoint, or choose not to anoint, themselves: (Deuteronomy 28.40, Daniel 10.3, Micah 6.15, Ruth 3.3 and 2 Samuel 14.2). And here a completely different Hebrew word is used - 'sukh' - which sounds just like the Middle Eastern word for 'market-place'.
It's really obvious that some, many in offices from politics to the apostate church, either anoint themselves, or appoint people who are not anointed by God for that position, character-test or service to mankind. Or they once were, but like Saul, their anointing was taken away through persistent disobedience to the Word of God. In the modern church, this will be regularly connected to making the church a business or a market-place. And this is ironically why so many get "broken hearted" within the church - by those appointed without being anointed.
The difference between the two is the presence or lack of humility. The anointed have usually suffered for following Jesus/Yeshua, the appointed usually haven't. Sometimes the anointed will be broken precisely by the un-anointed in church, by being given loads not meant to be carried by God's man or woman. It takes courage to listen to God's voice above all others and follow His alone. But He anoints us with His courage to do so. All the greats in the Old and New Testaments stood out from the crowd and were misunderstood, sometimes by those who should have comforted them; those supposedly close to them.
So, this brings to the surface the Hebraic understanding of the English word "anoint." Now to the rest of the introductory verses from Isaiah: "He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted." It's truly beautiful in a bitter-sweet way and when it happens you know it's happening. When someone is sent to "hold" me, support me as I learn to fly again, they in some way take my weight, give me their protection while I find my voice again. This is rare, heaven-sent and to be cherished, even if not fully understood. And if I'm really blessed it becomes totally, completely 100% mutual, I get to comfort and bless them at the same time.
Next, let's look at the phrase "He has sent me": "Sent" here is the word "shalach". In Hebrew it means: sent, let go, stretch forth, sow, appoint, loose, shoot forth, spread out, suffer to grow long.
How often have you felt sent by the LORD in a direction where your heart feels stretched forth and where your soul suffers to grow long, where in order to be sent you have to let go of something or someone? It has the potential to be terrifying. When this occurs, I need to tell myself regularly that He is doing the sowing, the sending, the shooting forth into my life, and that I can trust Him completely.
The words "to bind up" comes from the Hebrew word "chavash" which means: girded about, govern, healer, wrapped about, to tie, bind, to be saddled, twisted, wrapped around.
This sounds like the words you'd need if you were making up a poem about Jesus Christ (the Jewish Messiah). The King of the Universe saddled on a donkey, a twisted crown of thorns awaiting Him from the worldly powerful or mocking ideological hypocrites. From the Hebrew it is plain to see that while He was being bound to the cross, while His body and soul suffered twisted pain, while His body was wrapped around in a white cloth, He was still the Healer and the One sent to govern all things. It's all there in the Hebrew words, hidden in plain sight, like His Unrequited Love to a frankly increasingly mocking world/ liberal intelligentsia. His binding brought our healing. His perfect poetry is contained in one Hebrew Word.
To continue through the verses in Isaiah, in "the broken of heart", the word break here comes from the Hebrew word "shavar" and the word heart in Hebrew is "lev".
First,"shavar" means: to break, destroy, crush, to be smashed, shatter, to bring to breakthrough, break in pieces, quench. There is always something redemptive, something new about to break into our lives, through His breaking. In His beautiful Grace He will sometimes let us see it before we have to do the final letting go. How often have you felt your heart smashed, shattered? The English word "broken" makes it sound like a fairly neat and tidy process of one break down the middle. All of us who have had our heart broken by life's circumstances know it feels more Hebraic - it feels like a shattering because we really don't know if we will ever find all the smashed pieces, let alone put them back together again.
Sometimes we don't break, sometimes a part of us inside goes numb. For years we cover it with a barrage of daily noise. Without Yeshua we won't be able to un-numb ourselves, or put the pieces back together. To put back together a broken heart can only be done by a Supernatural God, because spiritually He knows where all the pieces have gone, while we don't. Only He knows which massive parts of us have gone numb and exactly how to wake them up again. Because, if it's gone numb inside of us, we by definition have stopped listening. But He shouts back our dreams.
Yes, sometimes He wakes us up with a whisper; gentle, persistent and like being woken up in the morning by the strongest lover. But sometimes He just keeps shouting at me, in His love, until I get it, because He's trying to get me fit for service to save my life and others. Contrary to the politically correct: "Let's sit on coloured bean bags and talk about it each Wednesday for 19 months", the LORD God of the Universe sometimes really wants us to get a move on, for our sake or someone else's. He has a pace, an energy that is extremely masculine. He is my Heavenly Commander in Chief.
LORD forgive me for all the times I've doubted, second-guessed and put something down you wanted me to run with. And run with. And run with.
Heart (Lev) in Hebrew means: heart, by extension the inner person, the self, the seat of thought and emotion, conscience, courage, mind, understanding, wisdom. In English we think our heart as just being our emotions. In His Hebrew, it is our thoughts, mind, courage, understanding and emotions all rolled into one. It was the Greek mindset that separated out thinking from feeling until our feelings lacked thought or logic. The Hebrew mindset keeps the two together. My emotions sometimes offer the most powerfully logical guidance in my life. And sometimes I think so strongly I can feel the passion of my thoughts glide down into my chest. You cannot separate your heart from your mind in the Hebrew. That is a Greek/Hellenistic view, which sadly the church has often had as its flavour.
I use my mind to study His Word deeply - it is a very passionate and emotional act of worship and love. Yet some in the modern church think loving the Word of God for its literal meaning is being legalistic. No, I'm being free. I want to find where He is hiding, in plain sight, because I want more and more of Him. And then an amazing thing always happens. I find He can't get enough of me! The only thing that stops our intimacy is when I hesitate or try to pull away. I know something is from God because His arms through that situation surprise me with their tightness and strength and never let me go.
But, while there is only one word for heart in Hebrew (lev), the LORD uses several Hebrew words for "break." The particular Hebrew word for break which is used in the introductory verses in Isaiah 61 (shavar) is only used around 30 times out of all 130 times the word break appears in the Old Testament/Tanakh in its different forms. If I write out all the times "shavar" appears, we begin to see His pattern:
Genesis 19.9 - break down the door with Lot so that evil tries to come in
Exodus 12.46 - not breaking the bones of the Passover Lamb
Numbers 9.12 - evil cannot break His Purpose
Exodus 23.24 and Exodus 34.13 - breaking down idols
Leviticus 11.33 - breaking something unclean
Leviticus 26.19 - breaking the pride of your power
Deuteronomy 7.5 and 12.3 - idol images breaking down
2 Kings 25.13 - the Chaldeans broken in pieces
Psalms 10.15 - break the arm of the wicked and evil
Isaiah 14.25 - break the Assyrian in My Land
Isaiah 30.14 - breaking it as breaking the potters
Psalms 38.13 - lion breaking bones
Psalms 42.3 - a bruised reed shall He not break
Isaiah 45.2 - break gates of brass (human empire)
Jeremiah 19.10, 11, 28.4, 28.11, 30.8 - break yoke of Babylon/Nebuchadnezzar
Jeremiah 43.13 - break idol images
Jeremiah 49.35 - break bow of Elam
Ezekiel 4.16 and 5.16 - break the staff of bread in Jerusalem (prophecy of breaking self-sufficiency with the gift of the unleavened bread of Yeshua)
Ezekiel 30.18, 22, 24 - break yoke of Pharoah (Pharoah is a type of satan, Assyrian, Chaldean etc)
Hosea 1.5 and 2.18 - break the bow of Israel (self reliance)
Amos 1.5 - break Damascus (human empire against His People)
Nahum 1.13 - break his yoke off of thee (satans yoke)
I believe God is saying through His use of the word "shavar" in Isaiah above that if we can see that even when evil breaks our heart, the LORD redemns it to break off of us our pride, idol worship, self-sufficiency and satan's plans, then we have a choice. We can choose, with His strength, to follow the Biblical pattern of shavar (breaking). This is often extremely painful and, where injustice and evil have occurred, involves a high degree of submission to the LORD and forgiveness and discernment on our part.
*Note: the Passover Lamb was not broken in this way, a different Hebrew word was used, to show that Jesus/Yeshua did not need any sin breaking off of Him, because He was the perfect sacrifice.
When the evil tried to break down the door in Lot's time, the evil did not get in. Evil still happened but it was outside the house (Judges 19). A small detail of the story is that the concubine who was put outside the house to suffer evil had been unfaithful (verse 2). She was unfaithful to a Levite (good man of God) from the tribe of Judah (the Messiah's tribe) from the town of Bethlehem (means the "House of Bread" in Hebrew). So, she was in a house that fed her with the bread/word of God and she, of her own accord, made a very ungodly choice and threw away what was a very privileged position. Her husband actually gave her a second chance, precisely because he was such a good man, but sometimes consequences eventually catch up with those big life-changing wrong choices. Human unfaithfulness switches something off, sometimes permanently. It ends something that Biblically does not have to be recovered. Forgiven, yes. The same relationship as before, no. Those of heaven were not put outside the house and did not suffer evil, although they felt the anger and grief of evil and still sought justice for it. It is a hard truth that sometimes people suffer because they put themselves outside of God's house, outside of His walls and boundaries of obedience. Contrary to the modern false doctrine of hyper-grace, it is therefore logical that there are sad but permanent consequences to that.
I also believe, however, that as we get closer to Him, we do suffer this breaking, sometimes greatly like Joseph/Yosef, as He allows our hearts, pride and self-sufficiency to be broken off us. Sometimes we think we have the Christian life licked. And then something comes along to cause doubt to all we thought we could hold together. This is sometimes a gentle sign that He loves us very, very much. And it is a sign that you're climbing higher up the mountain, as things and people fall off you, or refuse to climb up with you, through their choices. To know there is great soul purifying in our broken-heartedness can redeem even the deepest heart-pain. The beautiful literary classics "Pilgrim's Progress" by John Bunyan and "Hinds Feet on High Places" by Hannah Hurnard both explore this journeying upwards towards God as an allegory, with those who were once close deciding a different or easier path. Parting is sorrowful but to choose the other over God is more sorrowful and has eternal consequences.
Sometimes, just occasionally, to those of you who minister to others, we seek to heal the broken-hearted before the LORD has broken off what He has to break off them. We try to make the process too comfortable for those to whom we minister. Grief is grief. Bottom line: it didn't matter how much Joseph/Yosef banged again his prison door, it was only ever going to be opened from the outside and only when he accepted the shavar/breaking of God.
But then boom! Get ready to go from prison to second in command in 24 hours. If you've ever gotten really comfortable in your prison and accepted it from God, the test is to start praying how to cope with the (potentially terrifying) moment the door will open from the outside and you step up. I can imagine nothing worse than saying "No thanks, I'll stay here." That's not an option for me because, thankfully, I have my Commander God with me shouting "Jennie, get up! Move! I'm calling you!" I'd often wondered how Joseph/Yosef actually handled that moment. But he stepped up anyway. Biblical badass. LORD, make me a Biblical badass when it matters!
So, in conclusion, Jesus/Yeshua's breaking on the cross is intertwined with the deep Hebrew meanings found in this beautiful passage of Isaiah/Yesha'yahu. I am by now not surprised at this, but I am in awe that the entire Hebrew Scriptures are ultimately about the Jewish Messiah. As we saw, the word "anoint" is just one tiny Hebrew letter away from the word "Messiah" and that one letter is to humbly allow the touch of the open Hand of God to move our broken hearts into heavenly places.
Get ready! Soon be time to step up!
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