Patience. I wait for peace, I wait for the Messiah, I wait for rest from all of this. I can't keep up. Every day more news comes out of Israel. In the first week of violence against the Jewish people, 14 Jewish children were orphaned. Now I have lost count. You may not read about this in the English or American mainstream news. I think my friends in Jerusalem will be OK. But I'm not sure. Then there is wider Islamic terrorism, Iran, Russia, Syria, the U.S. and China. The world is jolting downwards into chaos, madness and a devil-may-care moral ambivalence. I live in relative peace, hidden away in a quiet place. But spiritually my close friends and I can feel it; whether they are near or far from me physically, we can all see what is going on in the world. We intercede, we pray, we talk, we worry, we intercede some more, we sit still in the Word of God, we intercede, we laugh, we cry, we wait for Messiah.
King David wrote, "Be still before Adonai; wait patiently till He comes. Don't be upset by those whose way succeeds because of their wicked plans." (Psalm 37.7)
In Hebrew, that is not quite what it says. Or, at least, it does not reveal all the treasure His Holy Hebrew words hide within themselves.
As an introduction to the Hebrew understanding of Patience let's briefly look at the words "be still" in the above verse, as that is the first half of the command. In the Hebrew this word is "daman." Depending on its verb stem, it can mean any of the following: "Perish, be still, be silent, be laid waste, be destroyed, to quiet, to doom, to perish, cut off, cut down, keep silence, cease, forbear, hold peace, rest, stand still, wait, tarry."
In the Hebraic mindset we often live between two places, whereas the Greek mind seeks to come to a neat conclusion of either/or but not "both." A well known Jewish phrase is: "On the other hand." There is one position, and then "on the other hand" there is the other. So, with God, we often live in a fulcrum balance between two states.
I am to be still, to be silent, to quieten myself down in the LORD, while on the other hand I am to put my worry and ego to death and repent. I control my lack of wisdom to hold its peace and to let it be laid waste before the wisdom of HaShem. This is what it means Hebraically to "be still." While we wait patiently, all the evil of the world is doomed to perish. Yet on the other hand, evil seems to rise for a season and there is grief and great pain for the people of God. The Jewish people sing: "I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah; and even though He may tarry, nevertheless, I wait each day for His coming." Based on Habakkuk 2.3 this is the twelfth of thirteen principles of the Jewish faith. Said every day, this principle is simply called "I believe" (Ani Ma'amin). Did you know that the Jewish people of faith wait for the Messiah, just like people of a Biblical Christian faith? We are both waiting for Him and we are called to wait, patiently.
So what treasures are to be found in the Hebrew meaning of "Patience" that we simply cannot see in any other translation? Does it mean what we think it means?
In this verse of King David's Psalm 37, the Hebrew word for patience is "Hool" and it can mean all of the following: "to swirl, turn, fall, dance, writhe, tremble, endure, be in labour, give birth, be in deep anguish, be brought forth, be in distress, be in torment, to swirl like a whirlwind, to be born, have great pain, grieved, wounded, abide, look for, be sorrowful, travail, wait patiently, wait carefully."
Is this not how the Jewish people feel today, as they wait for their buses, as they walk to pray at the Wall? Do they go, or do they stay inside? Today will one of their loved ones be stabbed or blown up? How their hearts and minds must know this word "hool", their swirling like a whirlwind, their sorrowful travail. I was aching for the Messiah to come recently and it reminded me of pregnancy; when I knew I had to wait but all I wanted to do was see, hold and kiss the face of the life I love more than my own life. Premature birth is not healthy. But, on the other hand, waiting is painful even when it has the promise of joy all through it. It is a joyful aching; a painful waiting. Just like waiting for our Beloved Messiah. This joyful, painful pregnant meaning of patience in "waiting for the LORD" is hidden in plain sight in the New Testament:
"For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Yeshua HaMashiach/Jesus Christ."
(1 Thessalonians 5.2-9)
I can't think of a more relevant description on how it feels to wait for the return of Messiah in these last days, if we are a follower of the Word of God. Large sections of the church now believe to follow Jesus means to follow worldly success, self-fulfilment of one's dreams, receive glory here on earth or any number of new age and psychological Greek-based mindsets. It is a seductive, pervasive malaise and its weeds can slowly grow over the best of us. The cure to this deception is to sit down with just the Bible and the Holy Spirit, read it, believe it at face value, and most importantly do what it says. Spend a week blocking out all other filters. It would be wise to make sure we spend deep, intimate time in His actual Word each week, so that we cannot be deceived. It may take a while for our brain to actually read and understand what the Bible says, not what our brain has been programmed to think it says, in these modern but last days.
Then a Biblical patience has a hope of coming to life in us. But be prepared to pay the cost. We will most likely begin to suffer for our true Bible-believing faith and actions, or at least feel painfully at odds with the world and easy modern religion around us. "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you." (1 John/Yonatan 3.13) Death to self and the crowd is never pretty, particularly socially. But then, on the other hand, neither was the Crucifixion! And on the other hand we will find the LORD and His sweet Presence like never before pervading our heart. What is better than blessing the LORD's heart with our reaching for purity, humility, repentance and obedience before Him, in response to the searing Truth and Holiness of His Word?
Interestingly, in this verse in Psalm 37, the verb stem used for "wait patiently until He comes" means an action performed by the subject on oneself. The six other Hebrew verb stems are either performed by us on someone else, or by someone else on us. But this one alone means we take responsibility to act upon ourselves. It is up to us to choose to wait patiently. This verb stem also "normally expresses an action that is repeated, customary and becomes habitual in nature. It can also sometimes be used to express actions that are contingent upon other factors." (Biblical Hebrew by Page H. Kelley) In this case we can see that "waiting patiently" is contingent on us "being still in the LORD" and in actually "believing that He will come." The New Testament (Brit Chadashah) says, "Love is patient." As Jews and Christians, do we wait patiently, encouraging each other, in our mutual love for Messiah? Or do we turn our back on our fellow suffering bride?
The word "Patience" - as far as I can see and I may be wrong - seems to only appear twice in the Tanakh/Old Testament, whereas it appears many, many times in the New Testament (Brit Chadashah.) Words like "be not hasty" appear in the Old Testament (Ecclesiastes 7.8) but that is a negative of hasty, not a definition of patience. The only other time "patience" appears is again through King David but in this verse a different Hebrew word for patience is used:
Psalm 40.1 "I waited patiently for Adonai, till He turned toward me and heard my cry." This Hebrew word for Patience is "Kava" and it is beautiful in its hidden Messianic meaning. It literally means: "to hope in, to be gathered, gather together, look for" and again "tarry." It also shares its root with one other Hebrew word: "a measuring line / ruler."
Now do we see? He is coming again to gather the wheat together, He is preparing His Kingdom in Heaven with His measuring line ("I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand." Zechariah 2.1) and this waiting is painful. In times like these, our hearts may feel He is tarrying. But He will come! And it gets even more beautiful. In the Hebrew Psalm 40.1 it actually says "Waiting, I waited for the LORD." King David repeats the verb to literally say "Hoping, being gathered together, looking for Him even if He tarries, I gathered together, I hoped, I looked for Him." I get the impression our faith will be stretched as we wait for Him through the coming days. If we really love Him we will want Him to return now. Many Orthodox Jewish Rabbis sign off their teachings, and even emails, with two words - "Mashiach Now!" But again, if we go back to the Hebrew in Psalm 40, it doesn't actually say "I waited patiently for Adonai, till He turned toward me and heard my cry." The verb for "turned" here can more fully mean "stretched out to me." Who stretched Himself out on the cross in order to reach me through my sin? We wait as if moving through a painful pregnancy for Him, yes, we stretch out our faith as we wait for His return. But He was stretched out in pain waiting to win us to Him. When He returns it is I who will be the newborn, collapsing in rest and breath onto His breast and knowing my eternal life in Him has come out into the light for all eternity. Oh, the rest my soul will finally feel!
A Final Note: Both my children were born prematurely in the world's eyes; one by a full month. But they were both perfect, healthy and small enough to be delivered naturally, as I am slim. The hospital had all the emergency life support ready for my first born child, a son, including machines and extra staff at the foot of the bed. But he needed nothing except to be in my love and embrace. They waited briefly as they watched. Then I will never forget as they quietly backed out of the room in pleased wonder, seeing him contented and wrapped up in my arms, against my chest in tiny, dependent health. The LORD our Father knew the perfect moment to surprise us all with the appearing of this life, that would neither harm the one coming into the world or the one receiving such a gift. I was ready. I had instinctively packed my bags just hours before, even though it looked as if I had over a month to go before my due date. Then, suddenly, life came out of the secret hidden place into the light. It was a long labour but I said one word over and over and over in my mind and heart through the pain: "Yeshua, Yeshua, Yeshua." We named our tiny premature son Benjamin - "son of the Right Hand" - and he is now taller than me!
In conclusion, please pray for the Jewish people and the nation-faith of Israel in these days and for another Benjamin, Prime Minister Netanyahu, as together, both Jews and Bible-believing Christians wait for the Messiah's Return. If you would like to learn more about the Jewish song Ani Ma'amin ("I believe"), about waiting for the Messiah through the pain of Jewish history, please click here. The short story may break your heart for His Jewish people.
LORD please protect Your land and Your people Israel, and help us glorify Your Name even through the painful waiting of these difficult days. Mashiach now!
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