Tuesday, March 27, 2012

a Note on DEVOTE


The meanings of words amaze me. It probably started in the late 80’s for me when we as kids thought we were cool for using seemingly new words like “rad” and “gnarly” or phrases like “Cool beans” or “gag me with a spoon”. And certainly, when my parents moved our family to Mississippi, a whole new world of southern Euphemisms exploded onto my ever developing personal glossary.
As I got older, I thought it was even cooler to have communication with friends all using either quotes from my favorite movies or music. Sometimes people just didn’t know how to take it. Yeah, you know some of you still do that.
Anyway, it was interesting to me how a word or phrase used in one context could be interchanged to be applied in others situations. All the while the phrase could still maintain the original intended meaning, at least as meant by the one using the terminology. Similarly, it has always made me laugh that while in a car we say “turn up the air” meaning make it colder but while inside a building we say “turn down the air” to get the same result. Ahhh!

The spiritual application came much later in life while in seminary. Through one professor, I heard a few meanings behind old sayings like “it’s raining cats and dogs” or the classic “that’s an old wives tale”, whereby an interest in words origination's reignited. Now, by God’s grace, I was not required to take the Hebrew & Greek classes. However, I was exposed enough to them via preaching classes that for the first time in my own studies of Scripture the variation of meanings of words or phrases used interchangeably in our modern translation of the Bible was not only apparent but astounding.

Just this week, for example, in the reading of the one year format “Reading God’s Story”
of the Bible, I came across a word that has grabbed my attention. Maybe this brief note will do the same for you...

The word is DEVOTE. In the book of Joshua chapters 6-8, the word is used in a few different references. Either a city was to be “devoted to the Lord” that the Israelites were taking over or “devoted things” from that city that were to be destroyed. Not only was the constant use of this idea striking to me but also the basic liner notes of the NIV of the modern English Bible. The note reads as the following: The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

Ok. So, in modern Christendom, it seems to me that we have completely misunderstood the usage of Devotion to the Lord whether via other Scripture passages, in songs we sing, in reference to reading a “Devotional”, or in everyday conversational usage of the word devotion. If you have prayed or sung or thought something like, ‘Lord, I want to be devoted to You‘, in essence it is a prayer for destruction of anything in you not of the Lord. It is not an emotion or a wish to be devoted to the Lord. In fact, Jesus defined following him more in relation to this Hebrew meaning of devotion than our own modern feel-good versions of being a Christian. Think of this terms definition when you read Matthew 16:24-25
Whoa, this Heavy (sorry, couldn't refuse to insert a movie quote from the 80’s).

Alright, so back to the point. Event though you cannot purely take every English word in scripture and cross apply it with others, the meaning of the term DEVOTE as used in the passages in Joshua become incredibly deeper when done so.
Take the following verses that use the words devote/devoted/devotion and apply the original Hebrew term meaning into the context of the selected passage and you may just be astounded at the indication:

1 Chronicles 28:9 ; Jeremiah 30:21 ; Ezekiel 33:31-32 ; Acts 2:42 ; Romans 12:10 ; 1 Corinthians 7:34-35 ; 2 Corinthians 11:3 ; Colossians 4:2 ; 1 Tim 4:13 ; Titus 3:3-8


Making this up as I go, (name the source of that quote...)

Matt Loving

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