Choose God (Hosea 4-8)

Last week, we began a study of Hosea, and covered the first three chapters. We looked at how Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute pictured God’s covenant with unfaithful Israel in the Old Testament, and how that serves as a warning to us. We need to learn from Israel’s example and not follow their pattern of repeatedly rejecting God, but rather hold fast to Him as He fulfills His promises to reestablish a marriage covenant with His people.

As we continue in Hosea, we see God addressing the reasons for Israel’s unfaithfulness. Everything that separated Israel from God was Israel’s fault.  God never let down His side of the bargain — Israel got into trouble because they walked away from Him. This holds true for the New Testament as well.

If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself. (2 Tim 2:12-13)

God is always faithful to His promises, including His promise that sin will be punished. Like with Israel, it is still up to us to choose between life and death, blessings and cursing (Deut. 30:9).

Lack of Knowledge

Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.” (Hos 4:1)

God gives three reasons for His “controversy” with Israel. They lacked truth, did not show mercy, and had no knowledge of Him. This resulted in “swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery” (Hos. 4:2). The farther they strayed from God, the more corrupt and destructive they became.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hos 4:6)

This verse specifically refers to knowledge about God and His ways. The New Testament tells us that “the wisdom of this age” — knowledge that the world esteems — is coming to nothing (1 Cor. 2:6), but that “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden for us to find in the Father and Christ (Co. 2:2-3).

Chapters 4 and 5 cover punishments for Israel, and deal with prophecies of an Assyrian invasion and Judah’s alliances with Egypt and Syria. In chapter 6, the people say, “Come, and let us return to the Lord,” but they are not sincere (Hos. 6:1, 4).  Their sham repentance is not what God was looking for.

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But like men they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt treacherously with Me. (Hos. 6:6-7)

God is all about relationship. He wants to know the people we’ll become when we learn to know Him. All the religious services and laws given to Israel weren’t the “point” of the Old Covenant. They were supposed to be an outward sign of an inward condition — a heart full of truth, mercy, and the knowledge of God.

Because of Unbelief

Israel’s lack of relationship with God was a result of choices they make to walk away from Him.

When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, and the wickedness of Samaria. For they have committed fraud; a thief comes in; a band of robbers takes spoil outside. They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before My face. (Hos. 7:1-2)

Wickedness, lies, adulteries (Hos. 7:3-4) — their sins kept piling up until God could say of the people that “none among them calls upon Me” (Hos 7:7). The entire nation rejected the One who they had entered into a covenant with.

Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds.
They assemble together for grain and new wine, they rebel against Me; though I disciplined and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me; they return, but not to the Most High; they are like a treacherous bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the cursings of their tongue.  (Hos. 7:13-16)

quotescover-JPG-96Israel did this continually in the Old Testament. Psalm 78 records that even though “their heart was not steadfast with Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant” that God was “full of compassion” and held back His anger many times (Ps. 78:37-38). He was grieved by their sins, because they would not let Him be their God. Though He acted as their Redeemer, Deliverer, and Rock, “again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Ps. 78:35, 41-42). By not believing in Him, they rejected His good works in their lives.

This rejection of God continued into the New Testament as well. Matthew 13:58 records that Jesus “did not do many mighty works” in His hometown “because of their unbelief.” Mark’s account of this incident phrases it, “He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them” (Mark 6:4-6). Where there was belief, simply touching the edge of Christ’s garments brought healing (Mark 5:27-29, 34). Where there was no faith, He was actually limited in how many miracles He could perform.

Make A Choice

Israel was given a choice whether or not to follow God and welcome His involvement in their lives. Many of them made the wrong choice, as Paul describes in Romans 11 when comparing God’s people to an olive tree where some of the natural branches were removed. In this analogy, Gentile New Testament Christians are wild olive branches grafted into the Rootstock. Once there, we also have a choice to make.

You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.  And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. (Rom. 11:19-23)

Like so many serious warnings in the Bible, this contains hope as well as caution. The Bible provides us with records of Israel rejecting God, being punished, and returning to Him again and again. God leaves as many doors open as possible for people to come back to Him, and He’s eager to “graft them in again” if they repent. These doors are open to us as well. But God still wants us to learn from Israel’s mistakes and choose not to leave Him at all, because even though He is a God of enormous mercy there is a point where we can go too far away to get back to Him.

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? (Heb. 10:26-29)

Like He did in Deuteronomy 30 with Israel, today God sets before His people a choice between life or death, blessings or cursing, and good or evil. He wants us — pleads with us — to choose life, blessings, and good, but the choice is still ours to make.

Love Languages and MBTI Types

Myers-Briggs types have much to tell us about ourselves and other people. Our MBTI type reflects our preferences for crowded parties or small gathering, describes how we connect with other people, shows us how we naturally respond to stress, and gives us a picture of our innate strengths and weaknesses. Another thing it’s often used for is trying to predict what type of person we’ll be attracted to, and most compatible with, in a romantic sense. Unfortunately, MBTI only gives part of the picture in this regard.

Types in Love

Use of the MBTI for romance is subject to much debate. Isabel Myer wrote in Gifts Differing, chapter 11, that “it seems only reasonable that the greater mutual understanding between couples with more likeness than difference should lead, on the whole, to greater mutual attraction and esteem.” This was supported by her study of 375 married couples who were most frequently “alike on three of their four preferences rather than on only two, as would be expected by chance.” However, Isabel Myer was an INFP woman happily married to an ISTJ man. According to her own personality theory, they “shouldn’t” have gotten along, especially since she thought that shared S-N preferences were the most important for predicting a couple’s happiness together and understanding of each other. Obviously type isn’t the only important ingredient for happiness.

Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, an NF – NT couple

David Keirsey’s book Please Understand Me II agrees with Myer on the importance of S-N pairings, saying that his SP Artisan types are most compatible with SJ Guardians, and that NF Idealists are most compatible with NT rationals. His ideal pairing is someone who shares your S-N preference and is your opposite in the other three preferences. For example, he would pair an INFJ with an ENTP.

Continuing with INFJs as our example, these theories have influenced many INFJ profiles online. Jennifer Soldner’s Guide To INFJ Relationships lists ENFP, ENTP, INTJ and INFJ as the best matches for an INFJ. The worst matches are ESFP, ESTP, ESTJ, and ENTJ (note that this last one contradicts Keirsey’s rule for pairing NF and NT types). For the most part, these suggestions seem logical at first, much like Isabel Myer said when theorizing that people will get along best if they are similar. It doesn’t explain, however, why one study found that INFJs were most likely to marry either INFJs or ESTPs, or why Myers herself was happy married to someone so dissimilar in terms of type. Clearly there’s something else going on here.

The “Something Else”

Even with their generalizations about which types get along most easily together, both Isabel Myers and David Keirsey admit there are other very important ingredients to a lasting romantic relationship.

Individual relationships defy generalizations, and it should be stressed that two well-adjusted people of any two temperaments can find ways of making their marriage work for them.” (Keirsey)

“Understanding, appreciation, and respect make a lifelong marriage possible and good. Similarity of type is not important, except as it leads to these three. Without them, people fall in love and out of love again; with them, a man and woman will become increasingly valuable to each other and know that they are contributing to each other’s lives.” (Myers)

The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman

A mutual willingness to work together and actively build-up the relationships is more important than compatible MBTI types. One aspect of this is understanding the other person and learning how to love them. Becoming familiar with their Myers-Briggs type will help tremendously, but it’s not enough by itself. You also benefit from an understanding of Love Languages.

The five love languages theory was first published in 1995 by Gary Chapman, a relationship counselor and pastor. He says every person has a “language” that they use to communicate and receive love, either Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, or Physical Touch. Everyone has one primary love language, and you might have a secondary love language as well. If someone’s partner is not speaking their love language, they will not feel loved. There’s a test on Chapman’s website if you don’t know what your love language is and want to find out.

Layering Love Languages

In theory, any MBTI type can be combined with any one of the five love languages. I’m guessing, however, that there are some love languages that are more likely for certain MBTI types. Let’s take a quick look at the characteristics for the four type groups as related to different love languages.

SP types are typically concerned with outward, concrete ways of viewing the world, and focus on the here and now. Keirsey describes their preferred role in a romantic relationship as “playmate.” I could see SP types being particularly inclined toward Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, or Physical Touch as a primary love language. These all involve doing something for or with the loved one, which would appeal strongly to SP types.

Duty-fulfilling SJ types tend to play what Keirsey described as a “helpmate” role in relationships. They are stable, traditional, and thoroughly dependable people.  SJ types might be most in tune with Acts of Service, Quality Time or Words of Affirmation as a love language. These love languages visibly or verbally confirm that a SJ’s loved ones appreciate their constant reliability.

NF types are idealistic, enjoy abstract thought, and are natural romantics. Keirsey described their role in a romantic relationship as “soulmate.” They search for deep, genuine connections. Quality Time and Words of Affirmation seem like the most likely love languages, though Physical Touch and Acts of Service are also good possibilities. The key for NF types is genuine depth in a relationship, so they are inclined towards a language that increases emotional intimacy.

The NT types are highly intellectual, and Keirsey described their relationship role as “mindmate.” They are logical, abstract, and have little tolerance for the superficial. Words of Affirmation and Quality Time seem like the most likely love languages for an NT type, but after reading two different forum topics on MBTI types and love languages (one on Typology Central and one on Personality Cafe) I learned many NTs favor Physical Touch as well. My personal theory is that NT types view Service and/or Gifts with suspicion, wondering what the other person wants from them, while the others seem more genuine.

What about you? What are your Myers-Briggs type and love language(s)? Do you see a connection between the two? Share in the comments!

 

 

Mercy For My People (Hosea 1-3)

Of all the minor prophets, Hosea is probably the one I spend the most time reading. But I usually just focus on the first three chapters, where God is talking about His marriage covenant with Israel. I thought it might be interesting to look at the book as a whole and see what God has to teach us in the entire prophecy. I still only had time to get to the first three chapters today, but we can save the rest for a later post.

An Unfaithful Wife

Hosea’s book begins with God telling him to marry a prostitute. This rather unusual marriage was meant as an illustration of God’s relationship with Israel.

When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son (Hos. 1:2-3)

The covenant established between God and Israel was like a marriage, to which Israel was unfaithful. To further illustrate God’s message to the people through Hosea, He gave Gomer’s children meaningful, specific names. The first child, which Hosea fathered, was named Jezreel. This name means “God will sow,” and is also a place name in the land of Israel.

Then the Lord said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, for in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. It shall come to pass in that day that I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away. Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen.”

Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.” (Hos. 1:4-9)

It’s chilling to hear God say He will not have mercy and will no longer call someone His people. This isn’t something we picture God ever saying in the New Testament church that we’re a part of, but Paul tells us that the things which happened to physical Israel were our “examples, and they were written for our admonition” (1 Cor. 10:11). We often think we’d never do anything like Israel did, turning away to worship other gods, but evidently the New Testament writers — and God Himself — thought there was a danger or they wouldn’t have given us warnings like John’s admonition “keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly — and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! (2 Cor. 11:1-4)

Paul is worried about the Christians he’s writing to doing exactly the same thing Israel did. They went after something that was not in line with the truth which God had given them. This started at Mount Sinai, when they made a golden calf to replace God just a few weeks after promising, “All the words which the Lord has said we will do” (Ex. 24:3). They made a covenant with God Himself, and when Moses took a bit longer to come back than they expected, they “corrupted themselves” by turning away from God’s commands and trying to replace Him with something else (Ex. 32:7-8).

Justice and Love

God’s covenant with His people is consistently compared to a marriage agreement. Because of Israel’s conduct, however, when Hosea was told to model the relationship between God and Israel in his own marriage he had to marry a harlot. That’s how unfaithful Israel was to God.

Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; for she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked and expose her, as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. …

She will chase her lovers, but not overtake them; yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now.’ For she did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold—which they prepared for Baal.” ( Hos. 2:2-3, 7-8)

You can read the full conversation in verses 2 through 13, but this gives the general idea. We might think these words sound excessively harsh coming from God. Isn’t He a God of love and mercy with loads of forgiveness to pour out on us when we do something bad? yes, but He is also justice (Ps. 89:14). And His justice involves consequences for sin. Is there any one of us who wouldn’t be upset, angry even, if our spouse used the gifts we gave them to entice other lovers? and how many of us would then die to pay the price for that unfaithful spouse’s transgression, and freely forgive them the way God already has died for and forgiven us?

Ammi and Ruhamah

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

And it shall be, in that day,” says the Lord, “That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ for I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their name no more. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely.

I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” (Hos. 2:14-20)

Hosea acts out this redemption in chapter 3 by buying back his unfaithful wife. He says, “I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley.” My study Bible notes that the price paid in verse 2 adds up to 30 shekels — the same amount Judas was paid to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:14-16). 30 pieces of silver to redeem an unfaithful wife, 30 pieces of silver to betray the One whose sacrifice made the ultimate redemption pictured by this transaction possible.

It shall come to pass in that day that I will answer,” says the Lord; “I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth. The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil; they shall answer Jezreel. Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ and they shall say, ‘You are my God!’” (Hos 2:21-23)

Remember the names God gave Gomar’s and Hosea’s children? This promise hearkens back to them, and reverses the decrees of “No-Mercy” and “Not-My-People” that were contained in the names Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi. This is was also addressed earlier in Hosea, in some verses we skipped over in chapter 1.

Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ there it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’ Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel!

Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ and to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’” (Hos. 1:10-2:1)

The King James translates this last verse, “Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.” Essentially, dropping the “Lo-” prefix changes “not my people” into “my people” and “not having obtained mercy” into “having obtained mercy.” God’s plan is to bring Israel back to Himself, and reverse the judgement that separated her from Him. This process began with Christ’s sacrifice, and will be completed after His return.

How To Be Friends With an INFJ

While trying to decide on my next topic, I saw that “how to be friends with an INFJ” was one of the top searches on my blog this past week. I’ve addressed the issue of friendship in some of my other posts about INFJs, but never written an entire post about it. It’s also something that has been on my mind recently, and it is a not infrequent topic of discussion between me and some close friends.

If you want to make friends with an INFJ, or get to know one better, there are a few key points to keep in mind. Some of these are true for all friendships, and especially friendships with INFJs, and others are more INF-specific. They are also a good first-step if you are romantically interested in an INFJ and want them to notice you.

Five Tips for Relationships

1) Make the First Move

INFJs use extroverted feeling (Fe) to relate to the outside world. This means that we can draw energy from emotional interactions, and may appear more extroverted than other introverts. This is also true of ISFJs, who are often considered the most “extroverted” introverts since they love people so much.

Still, we are introverts, and we’re most comfortable talking with people we already know. If you want to get to know an INFJ, you’ll probably have to be the one who initiates a conversation. That lets us know you are interested in talking with us, which puts us at ease since we aren’t worried about whether or not we’re imposing on your time when you’d rather be doing something else.

2) Be Genuine

from INFJoe

Pairing Introverted Intuition (Ni) with Fe gives INFJs an almost super-human empathy. Many INFJs literally feel other people’s emotions, and we’re quick to pick up on unspoken cues that don’t match spoken words. We might not be able to tell what you’re holding back or lying about, but we can tell you’re not being genuine and that’s a huge turn off.

If an INFJ suspects you of being less than genuine, they loose interest very quickly. If you’re a new acquaintance, they might simply avoid seeing you again. If you’re someone they can’t avoid, then they will keep conversations civil but superficial. We don’t trust our true selves with people when we can’t get a read on what their true selves are like.

3) Don’t Be Afraid to Go Deep

INFJs have little interest in shallow conversations. We would rather have a few close friends than many casual acquaintances. The way the word “friend” is used has always bothered me as being imprecise. I have acquaintances, friends, and then close friends, but I just refer to them all as “friends” to avoid offending anyone who thinks they are a friend and then finds out I think of them as an acquaintance. People who meet INFJs often think that they know them well, while the INFJ thinks “they really don’t know me at all.”

If you want to be one of an INFJs close friends, then you have to make an effort to get beyond the superficial. INFJs respond very well to this, so once you indicate that you are interested in going beyond small-talk the sharing will go both ways. We like conversation, and we will talk as well as listen if we feel safe and interested. Here’s a great article called How To Turn Small Talk Into Smart Conversation. When I read this as an INFJ, my reaction was, “I wish more people would introduce themselves like this. I would be so much more interested in talking to them.”

4) Be Patient

Even if you’ve taken the first step to initiate a friendship, been completely honest, and encouraged deep conversation it can take quite a while for an INFJ to really open up. We have many layers, and the longer we are in a stable friendship with you, the more layers we’ll let you see. INFJs form instant perceptions of whether or not we can trust people, so first-impressions are important, but we also modify our impression based on how we observe your behavior over time. A bad first impression can be reversed if we see you making an effort to be friendly and trust-worthy, and a good first impression can be deepened as we see that what we’ve already shared with you stays safe.

Patience also comes into play during conversations. INFJs have trouble getting all their thoughts out into words. If the topic of conversation is something they’ve already thought about, they can speak readily and coherently. If it’s new and unfamiliar we typically do one of two things: 1) nod and make some general comments while our brains frantically race to come up with something to say. Usually that “something” shows up a week later in the shower. 2) start putting our thoughts into words, and sorting through ideas verbally. The final idea might take some time to emerge.

The second reaction is the one you’re going for in a friendship with INFJs. If we’re comfortable enough to think out-loud, it means we trust you. As long as you give us time to come up with an answer rather than look at us like we’re crazy, then we’ll relax and the conversation can continue to move forward. If you cut us off or jump to conclusions about what we think before we’ve had time to express outselves, we feel like you aren’t really interested in what we’re thinking and be hesitant to share with you later.

5) Don’t Betray Us

INFJs hold grudges. We might forgive readily (depending on the circumstances), but we don’t forget. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it is my automatic response. The closer you get to an INFJ, the harder it is to bounce-back to a close friendship after you’ve hurt us. The more we like you and the more we have invested in you, the more chances we’ll give you, but there’s a point at which we just give up and shut you out.

An INFJ might not completely sever ties with someone who has hurt them (depending on the nature of that betrayal), but they will withdraw. For example, if you give an INFJ the impression that you want to carry on a regular correspondence filled with deep discussion and then ignore her for 3 months and forget to answer any of her questions when you do reply, she will have no interest in continuing the correspondence.

Why Bother?

So why go to all this effort? What do you get out of a relationship with an INFJ?

For one thing, INFJs are surprisingly good fun to be around. We have a great sense of humor, delight in occasional spontaneity, and can talk about pretty much anything you like. But you don’t see all that until you make the effort to become friends. Until then, INFJs will hover in the background (away from other people) or blend in like a chameleon (with other people) to avoid stressful, superficial interactions.

INFJs are also good listeners, and we love to offer counsel. Sometimes we feel like our friends’ therapist, but we rarely mind. We want to help, and we’re good at suspending judgement. Since we’re so empathic, we aren’t often surprised by anything you tell us even if you thought you were doing a good job of keeping it hidden. Once it’s out in the open, we are sympathetic listeners who ask questions and want to fully understand what’s going on before we offer suggestions or any kind of judgements.

We’re also fiercely loyal. We don’t let many people get close, and we want to hold on to the very few that do become our true friends. We’ll do just about anything to keep the people we love in our lives. INFJs take the time to build-up their relationships, cultivate deepening friendships, and keep in touch with what’s going on in the lives of people we care about. We’re supportive, encouraging, and willing to adapt ourselves to make others happy as long as it doesn’t conflict with our core values. So get out there and start making friendships with INFJs. I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Click to learn more about my upcoming INFJ e-book and contribute your story. Everyone whose stories are used in the book will receive a free copy once it is finished.

Click to learn more about my upcoming INFJ e-book and contribute your story. Everyone whose stories are used in the book will receive a free copy once it is finished.

Tabernacles and Temples

Why was Solomon’s Temple dedicated during the Feast of Tabernacles?

I’ve read 2 Chronicles several times, and I may even have heard someone point this out before, but I didn’t realize the Temple dedication was set during this holy day festival until just last week. Maybe I was paying more attention this time when I made it to 2 Chronicles 5-7 while reading through the Old Testament.

One one level, this was simply a logical time for an event of this magnitude, since people would have been traveling to Jerusalem anyway to keep the Feast. But I’m also sure there’s a greater significance to this “coincidence.”

Tabernacles Overview

Lets take a quick look at what was going on during the Feast of Tabernacles, or “Sukkot.” This year, Tabernacles runs from October 9-16, which makes today the Sabbath during this Feast.  The Jewish name for this holy day comes from the fact that the Israelites were commanded to build sukkah (H5521), which basically means a temporary dwelling place. Specific examples of a sukkah include a lair for an animal, a hut, a booth, “an arbor made of interwoven leaves and branches, a tent, a house” (Zodhiates).

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the Lord. On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it. For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it. (Lev. 23:33-36)

This is 15 days after the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) and five days after the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). In those days, we’ve been reminded that the King is coming and we must be ready to meet Him, and we’ve been given the privilege to deepen our relationship with God by being reconciled to Him at the mercy seat. Now, we have another special appointment with God to learn more about Him and His plan through the Feast of Tabernacles.

Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of the Lord for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest. And you shall take for yourselves on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees, the boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days. You shall keep it as a feast to the Lord for seven days in the year. It shall be a statute forever in your generations. You shall celebrate it in the seventh month. You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. (Lev. 23:39-43)

After listing all the holy days in Leviticus 23, this is the only one that God elaborates on (in this chapter at least. The other days are mentioned again elsewhere in scripture, as is Tabernacles). Two key points emerge from both sets of instructions given in Leviticus 23. 1) Tabernacles is a Feast of rejoicing, and 2) Israel lived in temporary dwellings to remind them of their sojourning in and out of Egypt (Neh. 8:13-18).

Rejoicing

We started out talking about Solomon’s temple, so let’s head over to 2 Chronicles and see how that relates to Tabernacles.

So all the work that Solomon had done for the house of the Lord was finished; and Solomon brought in the things which his father David had dedicated: the silver and the gold and all the furnishings. And he put them in the treasuries of the house of God. Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, in Jerusalem, that they might bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord up from the City of David, which is Zion. Therefore all the men of Israel assembled with the king at the feast, which was in the seventh month. (2 Chr. 5:1-3)

This event was accompanied by “trumpeters and singers” who made “one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord” (2 Chr. 5:13). There was much rejoicing, as befitted such a landmark Feast of Tabernacles.

At that time Solomon kept the feast seven days, and all Israel with him, a very great assembly from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt. And on the eighth day they held a sacred assembly, for they observed the dedication of the altar seven days, and the feast seven days. On the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away to their tents, joyful and glad of heart for the good that the Lord had done for David, for Solomon, and for His people Israel. (2 Chr. 7:8-10)

God wants His people to be joyful. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). In the Greek, this word is chara (G5479), which means delight, joy, or rejoicing, and it is part of the same word-family as charis (G5485). Charis carries the idea of joy being “a direct result of God’s grace” (Zodhiates). The most common translation of that word is “grace,” but other translations include “gifts,” “favor,” “benefit” and “pleasure.”

Chara is the word used when James writes, “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” (James 1:2). Basically, someone with chara is so delighted by the fact that they’ve been chosen by God to be part of His family that the trials seem unimportant in comparison.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Paul offered us an example of finding joy in the worst of circumstances. No matter what we’re going through, God gives us the opportunity to have joy through His Spirit.

But what does all this have to do with Tabernacles or temple dedication? I’m so glad you asked.

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. (Eph. 2:19-22)

During the Feast of Tabernacles, we usually focus on the fact that we are “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Heb. 11:13), as tied in with the Old Testament command that the children of Israel dwelt in temporary sukkah. But God doesn’t intend for us to remain homeless (John 14:2-3). We are strangers on the earth because we are not stranger to Him, and because He is making us His temple. And that is truly cause for rejoicing.

Temple Dwelling

The question of where God dwells was central to Solomon’s temple dedication. The temple was built as a house for God’s use, but Solomon was not so arrogant as to believe this house would be good enough for God to take up permanent residence.

The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever. … But will God indeed dwell with men on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You: that Your eyes may be open toward this temple day and night, toward the place where You said You would put Your name, that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. (2 Chr. 6:1-2, 18-20)

The Lord respected this prayer, filling the temple with His glory to the point that the priests couldn’t even go inside (2 Chr. 7:1-3). It was a very visible sign that God had indeed chosen to put His name in this place. It was not, however, God’s place of permanent residence, as Stephen brought up in the sermon before his death.

But Solomon built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest? Has My hand not made all these things?’ (Acts 7:47-50)

So where does God dwell? The heavens are an obvious answer, given what Stephen says here in Acts and what Solomon said in his prayer (2 Chr. 6:30, 33, 39). But God also has other residences, which are in some ways similar to a temporary sukkah. One was the tabernacle He commanded Moses to make, another Solomon’s temple, and still another the human body of Jesus Christ.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

This word “dwell” is the Greek skenoo (G4637). Strong’s dictionary says it means “to reside (as God did in the Tabernacle of old, a symbol for protection and communion).” Etymologically, it is very closely related to the words skene (G4633) and skenos (G4636), which are both translated “tabernacle.”

Jesus was fully God, became fully human, died, and was raised to have the same glory He had with the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). Just like every other human being, His physical body was a temporary dwelling place. In Christ’s case, this body let God tabernacle among men, and His return to eternal life gave us an example of what to expect when we also leave our tabernacles to live with God in the permanent residence He is setting up for His family.

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2 Cor. 5:1)

The Feast of Tabernacles reminds us that physical life is not a permanent residence. It’s the spiritual equivalent of living in a sukkah until we can move into a mansion. Our real home is with God as part of His family. Something else that reminds us of this is God’s indwelling presence. God doesn’t dwell, even temporarily, in a physical temple any more. He dwells in us, tabernacling with and inside His people until we reach the part of His plan when Christ returns and sets up a kingdom where all God’s family can be together as spirit beings.

For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:16-18)

The Martian Chronicles

I’d actually forgotten this was on my Classics Club Book List and just started reading it because I saw it on the shelf. Now I have to write something. But first …

MaskedI just read some really exciting literary news that I want to share with you. There’s going to be a web-series re-telling of The Scarlet Pimpernel in a modern setting (think something like what The Lizzie Bennet Diaries did with Pride and Prejudice). You can find more about it at Yet Another Period Drama blog or The Day Dream blog. It sounds fantastic, and I’m so looking forward to seeing it next year.

Anyway, back to Mars.

*insert obligatory spoiler warning*

I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. All I knew was that it was written by Ray Bradbury (which pretty much guaranteed it would be intriguing) and it had something to do with Mars. The inside cover of my edition reads, “Ray Bradbury’s Mars is a place of hope dreams, and metaphor.” With that introduction, I was not expecting more than 20 people to have been killed by page 65 (and many more in the following pages). Warning: this is not a “happy” book.

If you’re not expecting a light, happy read, though, this book is fascinating. I think most of us know by now that Mars is not inhabited (as least not by aliens of this sort), but the world Bradbury creates on Mars still seems entirely possible. He has no trouble convincing his readers into a “willing suspension of disbelief,” probably because he doesn’t try. He just writes these stories as if they are real (but more in the sense of myth than history), and we’re perfectly happy to go right along with this fiction.

One of my favorite parts of the book was actually Bradbury’s introduction (You might be a writer if … you’re as intrigued by the author’s description of his writing process as you are by the book itself). He describes the stories that became The Martian Chronicles as “a series of Martian penseés, Shakespearean ‘asides,’ wandering thoughts, long night visions, predawn half-dreams.” He thought they weren’t anything special, until an editor “suggested that I might have woven an unseen tapestry.”

The Martian Chronicles was published in 1950. Since then, it has never been out of print, and my edition notes that it “has been read by more readers around the world than almost any other work of science fiction.” But Bradbury himself didn’t think of it as “science fiction.” This is what he said this book was:

It is King Tut out of the tomb when I was three, Norse Eddas when I was six, and Roman/Greek gods that romanced me when I was ten: pure myth. If it had been practical technologically efficient science fiction, it would have long since fallen to rust by the road. But since it is a self-separating fable, even the most deeply rooted physicists at Cal-Tech accept breathing the fraudulent oxygen atmosphere I have loosed on Mars. Science and machines can kill each other off or be replaced. Myth, seen in mirrors, incapable of being touched, stays on. If it is not immortal, it almost seems such.” — Ray Bradbury, introduction to The Martian Chronicles

Religion on Mars

There are so many threads that weave together The Martian Chronicles. It covers book banning, inadvertent genocide, the nature of man, implications of telepathy, ethics of murder — the list goes on and on. So I’m going to pick just one “thread” to talk about here, and that’s religion.

On Mars, science and religion are not incompatible — they are interconnected. Unfortunately, we only learn this after most of the Martians are already gone and it is too late for the knowledge to help mankind put back together what we separated.

Science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that miracle.” — Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles

Mankind has it all wrong, according to one character who may or may not have lost his mind. Instead of letting science, religion, and art flow into each other, as the Martians did, we tried to separate them. In the process, we lost ourselves and our faith. Then, not content with damaging one world and its people, we moved on to Mars, and killed it.

But The Martian Chronicles isn’t just about all the mistakes humanity made as a whole. It’s about the individuals who lived, loved, killed, and died for a whole host of different reasons. It’s about the priest who believes that even the glowing blue lights on Mars — the last Martians — have a soul and deserve to hear about Christ. It’s about the father who launched his family toward an abandoned Mars to save them from a dying earth. It’s about the young Martian whose telepathy turned him/her into a chameleon as he/she tried desperately to cure their loneliness by becoming a human family’s dead child. It’s about how these people respond to the unknown, and what beliefs they cling to in the end.

I read this book quickly, because I was so intrigued by it, but not so quickly as I have read other novels. It demands more than a cursory glance, and I think it warrants at least one re-reading. If you like “thinking books,” or sci-fi of any kind, I highly recommend giving The Martian Chronicles a try.

 

At The Mercy Seat

Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) — today — is considered the most holy day in the Jewish calender. After finishing such an exciting study of Yom Teruah (The Feast of Trumpets), I spent the ten “Days of Awe” in between these two holy days on a study of Yom Kippur, which I’d like to share with you today.

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people. And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.” (Lev. 23:26-32)

The other Sabbaths and Holy Days also include an instruction to cease from all customary work, but the admonition is much stronger here and includes any and every manner of work. This is obviously very important to God — He repeats the commands to “afflict your souls” and “do no work” three times each, and says that the person who does not fast and rest on Yom Kippur shall be cast off, or destroyed, “from among his people.” It is also described as “a statute forever,” so New Testament Christians aren’t getting “off the hook” (see Acts 27:9). The depth and meaning of this Holy Day teaches us so much about Jesus Christ, and we still need those reminders.

Yom Kippur

The Hebrew word kippur or kippurim (H3725) means atonement or reconciliation. Strong’s Dictionary notes, “atonement may be a figure of covering over and therefore forgetting (forgiving) sin.” Zodhiates says “atonement means the condition which results when one makes amends, a satisfactory reparation.” He also includes an interesting note about the history of the English word “atonement,” which “has its roots in Middle English and means ‘to be “at one”.'” You can see this by breaking the word into the phrase at-one-ment.

Kippur is used only 8 times in the Bible, and typically refers to the Day of Atonement. It is also used of the sacrifices that were offered when consecrating Aaron and his sons as priests and cleansing the altar of the tabernacle (Ex. 29:36), and in reference to a monetary sacrifice given by the children of Israel to be used in the tabernacle/temple (Ex. 30:15-16).

Other times the word “atonement” occurs in the Old Testament it’s translated from kaphar (H3722). It’s the root word of kippur, and is where we get the idea of “covering” in relation to atonement. It can mean to hide sin, to annul a contract (Is. 28:18), or to make waterproof by covering with pitch (Gen. 6:14). Baker and Carpenter’s WordStudy dictionary says, “the word conveys the notion of covering but not in the sense of merely concealing. Rather, it suggests the imposing of something to change its appearance or nature.” It’s used most often “with reference to ‘covering’ (hiding) sin with the blood of sacrifices.”

Atonement Sacrifices

You’re probably way ahead of me in connecting this Yom Kippur observance to Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice. But before we move to the New Testament, let’s take a closer look at what happened on the Day of Atonement in the Old Testament.

and the Lord said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat.” (Lev. 16:2)

The Day of Atonement was the only time during the year that the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies, which was the inner sanctuary of the temple/tabernacle, and no one else was ever allowed inside. The rituals for Yom Kippur were quite involved, and you can read all about them in Leviticus 16. For now, I want to focus on what the high priest was doing inside the Holy of Holies on this day.

And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. And he shall put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die. He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.

Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. (Lev. 16:11-16)

quoted with Quozio

Notice how much of this ceremony is centered around the mercy seat. This was the covering of the ark of the covenant, and we’ll get back to it in just a moment when we go to the book of Hebrews.

This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a stranger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the Lord. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever. (Lev. 16:29-31)

Though we know Jesus Christ’s sacrifice did away with the need for animal sacrifices by fulfilling all that they pictured (Heb. 10:1-18), there is still meaning for us in the Day of Atonement. God said many times that observance of this day is something that would last “forever.” We are still to afflict our souls by fasting from food and water for 24 hours, we’re still to keep it as a sabbath of absolute rest, and we are still to be mindful of the sacrifice required to atone for our sins.

Christ, Our Atonement

In Hebrews 9, the writer speaks at length about the relationship between Christ’s sacrifice and the Day of Atonement. Following a description of the tabernacle, with particular attention paid to the sanctuary “called the Holiest of All” located “behind the second veil,” he talks about the priest’s daily ministrations and the high priest’s yearly role on Yom Kippur.

But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. (Heb. 9:7-8)

Up until the moment of Christ’s death, the average person had no right to enter the Holy of Holies or approach the mercy seat. But when Jesus died, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51). This didn’t mean the Jewish priests would let just anyone stroll into the physical Holy of Holies, but it did show that the way was open for us to approach the true Mercy Seat in heaven through the blood of Jesus Christ.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Heb. 9:11-12)

Christ’ one sacrifice did what none of the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament could do. The animal sacrifices were figures of His sacrifice, used to sanctify the physical representations of a heavenly temple, cover sins until the true Sacrifice came, and bind God’s covenant with Israel. In fulfilling the terms of that covenant, He paid the ultimate price for all past and future sins.

And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission. Therefore it was necessary that the copies of the things in the heavens should be purified with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another —  He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Heb. 9:22-26)

In the Old Testament, an animal sacrifice was required before someone could approach God. Those who are sinful are separated from God (Is. 59:2), and the repeated animal sacrifices taught that in order for us to be made right with God, someone has to die on our behalf. That Someone — whose sacrifice covers and puts away the sins of the whole world — is Jesus Christ.

The Mercy Seat

and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. (Heb. 9:3-5)

I personally think this last line is one of the most frustrating in the Bible. I’d love to know what would have been said if this writer could “speak in detail” about the mercy seat.

Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for “mercy seat” is kapporeth (H3727), and it is always used in reference “to the golden cover of the sacred chest deep inside the tabernacle or Solomon’s temple. This was the exact spot where God promised to meet with human beings (Num. 7:89)” (Zodhiates). The Greek word used in Heb. 9:5 is hilasterios (G2435). In the literal sense, it means the same thing as kapporeth — the lid of the ark of the covenant.  This word is only used twice in the New Testament, and the other use adds another layer of meaning.

being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed (Rom. 3:24-25)

The word translated “propitiation” here is hilasterios. Zodhiates says, “Paul, by applying this name to Christ in Rom. 3:25, assured us that Christ was the true mercy seat, the reality typified by the cover of the ark of the covenant. … He is designated not only as the place where the sinner deposits his sin, but He Himself is the means of expiation.” In the Old Testament, the high spriest sprinkled a sin offering for the people on the mercy seat once a year. Now, we can bring our sins directly to the High Priest, who Himself paid the blood price to cleanse us. In reference to Jesus, Zodhiates thinks mercy seat “is an inadequate translation of the Gr. word which is rather equivalent to the Throne of Grace.”

quoted with Quozio

Christ’s role as High Priest and ultimate sacrifice fulfill the role of the mercy seat in the Day of Atonement. It goes even deeper than that, through, since He also fulfills the role of the mercy seat as the place where God “will meet with” and “will speak with” His people (Ex. 30:6, 25:22).

Jesus is both High Priest within us as the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16), and High Priest in the heavenly places pictured by the physical temple. He is the only one with the right to enter the inner sanctuary of our hearts and minds, and He is the only one who can give us access to the heavenly Mercy Seat.

Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Heb. 10:19)

My dear readers, let’s take this time on this Yom Kippur to work towards at-one-ment with our High Priest, and invite Him to dwell in us as His temple. Let’s approach the Mercy Seat with boldness, humility, and repentance as we keep this day for Him.

Blog Updates

Some of you probably noticed there wasn’t a recipe post last week. There’s not one today, either. I want to start to focus this blog a bit more narrowly, and spend more time writing e-books and fiction. I’ll probably still post recipes as I find some that I want to share, but there will no longer be one every Wednesday.

I want to make this blog more helpful to my readers. Most feedback I receive has been on my posts about personality psychology and Christianity. With that in mind, the Christian-themed posts will continue every Saturday, and my immediate goal is to finish and release the INFJ e-book I announced a few months ago (it’s mostly finished, but you still have time to contribute if you like. Click the link for more information).

I’ve also been working for a couple years on a high school English curriculum for homeschoolers. My younger brother is working through it now (it’s great — I get someone to test my curriculum, and I’m being paid in books for teaching his English class). My goal is to make it flexible enough that parents can tailor the assignments for different students’ learning styles and personalities. If all goes well, the freshman course will be out in a year or so.

If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, please share. My goal is to write things that you want to read, and I like to know if I’m on the right track :)

Shy Introverts

Last week, when I wrote about reasons to homeschool introverts, I touched on the difference between “shy” and “introverted.” I said that shyness and introversion are often confused, but introversion is an inherited preference for how you recharge (alone, rather than with other people), while shyness is a fear response. We talked about how introverted children can become shy and insecure if they are told there’s something wrong with their preference for introversion, which reinforces a low self-confidence and increases feelings of shyness.

But looking at shyness this way doesn’t give a complete picture. It still assumes shyness is “bad,” while in reality the more mild forms of shyness might simply be traits of an introverted temperament. Also, for those of us who are both shy and introverted, being told that shyness and introversion aren’t the same thing is not very helpful. I agree with people who argue that introversion needs to be understood rather than overcome — introverts shouldn’t feet guilty for not being extroverts. But I’ve read articles that set out to prove introverts should be accepted just the way they are, and then turn around and start criticizing shy people for their fears and anxiety in social situations. It’s not very encouraging to be told that your introversion is okay, but you need to “get over” your shyness.

Is Shy Really So Bad?

While researching for this post, I cam across “A Quiet Rant About Introversion and Shyness” by Barbara Markway. Like this writer, I’m both an introvert and a highly sensitive person (HSP).  We’re also both shy, though not as “painfully shy” as we once were. Like her , I worry that we risk hurting shy introverts when we focus the conversation about shyness and introversion on the idea that introverts are not shy. Because some of us actually are.

Shyness is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just viewed as bad in current American culture. Other cultures see shyness as a sign of modesty, and treat it as a virtue (Asian cultures are typically used as an example). So for those of us who are shy, quiet, and introverted, know that there’s not necessarily something “wrong” with you. Extreme shyness becomes a problem when your fear gets in the way of you choosing to move forward with things you want to do, but a little shyness  can be a positive trait depending on how you look at it.

“the shy and the introverted, for all their differences, have in common something profound. Neither type is perceived by society as alpha, and this gives both types the vision to see how alpha status is overrated, and how our reverence for it blinds us to things that are good and smart and wise.” — Susan Cain

Shyness vs. Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is where “shyness” becomes problematic. Both shyness and social anxiety disorder are motivated by a fear of social situations, but social anxiety is more of a phobia-level fear. It’s often accompanied by a physical response (nausea, sweating, heart racing), and a person with social anxiety disorder might not appear shy all the time. It’s much more complex than simply an exaggerated form of shyness, as illustrated in the essay “Social anxiety is not the same as excessive shyness” by Chris Alaimo. I recommend clicking over there and reading what he wrote if you’re interested in this topic.

“Many people are a little bit shy. If you’re shy, you might be somewhat uncomfortable in situations such as going to a party where you don’t know anyone, but you do it. You give yourself a push, you go to the party, after a while you relax and talk to people. The social phobic person, at the prospect of the same party, would be overwhelmed by such anxiety that [he or she] would have a physical reaction — perhaps nausea, sweating, heart racing, dizziness — and would avoid it if at all possible. It’s a matter of degree.” Rudolf Hoehn-Saric, MD, head of the Anxiety Disorders Clinic at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (as quoted on WebMD).

I actually didn’t know about this distinction until someone asked what the difference was and I did some research. Now, I’m not sure anymore whether I qualify as shy or socially anxious. Using the above example, I do experience the the heart-racing, nausea, and panic-attack reaction to going to an event, but I usually go anyway (often because a family member pushes me out of the house. Literally, sometimes). So do I have mild social anxiety, or extreme occasional shyness? I suppose it doesn’t really matter, since WebMD says the typical treatment is anti-depressants and I’m not going to do that for something that’s not having a more drastic impact on my life.

I think it’s something worth thinking about, though, for people who are very shy. One of the reasons I like type psychology is because when you know yourself, you are better able to plan for and cope with your weaknesses, as well as utilize your strengths. Along the same lines, wven if you don’t plan on seeking medical help for shyness or social anxiety, knowing there’s a name for what you’re dealing with can help make it seem more manageable, and it helps you track down information like Must-Have Coping Strategies for Social Anxiety.

 

Shout For The King

These are the Days of Awe. That’s what Jewish believers call the 10 days between Yom Teruah/The Feast of Trumpets (which fell on Thursday, September 25th this year) and Yom Kippur/The Day of Atonement (Saturday October 4th).

Having recently started attending with a Messianic Jewish group, I wanted to focus my pre-Trumpets study this year on the Hebraic roots of this Holy Day. With the Feast of Trumpets just a few days past, I’d like to share some of that study with you today as we look forward to the Day of Atonement.

A Question of Trumpets

I found five different Hebrew words translated “trumpets” in the Old Testament. Let’s just take a quick look at each one:

  • chatsotserah (H2689). A metal trumpet (Num. 10:2, 8).
  • yobel (H3104). The signal of a trumpet or blast of a horn. A common noun referring to trumpets, horns , and the year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:10).
  • shophar/shofar (H7782). A ram’s horn. The word most often used in the Bible.
  • taqoa (H8619). A trumpet with a looped tube and flared bell that makes a shrill sound (Ezk. 7:14).
  • teruah (H8643). A shout of joy or alarm. The noise from a trumpet.

This last word is the one used in Leviticus 23 and in Numbers 29 in reference to the Feast of Trumpets. My Hebrew dictionary says it means “a shout of joy; a shout of alarm, a battle cry. It refers to a loud, sharp shout or cry in general, but it often indicates a shout of joy or victory. … It can refer to the noise or signal put out by an instrument” (Baker and Carpenter, 2003). A more literal translation of Yom Teruah, the phrase we translate as “Feast of Trumpets,” would be “Day of Shouting.”

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall do no customary work on it; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the Lord.’” (Lev. 23:23-25)

Now, I’m certainly not saying this day doesn’t involve blowing trumpets. Silver trumpets would have been blown for the new moon and because this was a high Holy Day (Num. 10:1-2, 10). Shofars (the ram’s horn trumpets) were blown as well. In fact, they were blown on every Sabbath and Festival.

Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day. For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob. (Ps. 81:3-4)

Based on this scripture alone, I’d say shofars belong as part of every Christian service. And there are other passages too, like Joel 2:15, which indicates shofars are a key part of calling solemn assemblies and sanctifying fasts, and Psalm 150:3, which instructs us to praise God “with the sound of the trumpet.” But I digress …

So, lots of trumpets blasts on Yom Teruah. There’s even a traditional pattern for how to blow them, and shofars are sounded at least 100 times in a typical Yom Teruah service. (Here’s a link for more about Jewish tradition associated with Yom Teruah, and a recording of the shofar sounds). But even though trumpets are a huge part of this day, looking into the Hebrew had me wondering if I’d been keeping the “Feast of Trumpets” my whole life when I should have been keeping “the Day of Shouting for joy and battle cries.” I also wondered if it really made any difference. Does a better understanding of the Hebrew add layers of spiritual meaning?

The Day of Shouting

The word “Teruah” is used 36 times in the Old Testament. It is translated “blow an alarm” as for war (Num. 10:6, 31:6) and to shout like when the walls of Jericho fell (Josh. 6:5, 20). The people shouted for joy when seeing the ark of the covenant and when the temple was rebuilt (2 Sam. 6:15; 1 Chron. 15:28; Ezr. 3:11-13).  Teruah is also translated “joy,” “rejoicing,” and “joyful sound” (Job 8:21, 33:26; Ps. 27:6, 89:15). It is used of praising God (Ps. 47:5), and of fighting with Him on our side (2 Chron. 13:12).

The meaning of Yom Teruah/the Day of Shouting can be interpreted several ways. A website for Karaite Judaism says it may be “intended as a day of public prayer. The verb form of Teruah often refers to the noise made by a gathering of the faithful calling out to the Almighty in unison.” The examples they give are Psalms 47:2, 66:1, 81:2, and 100:1. A Messianic website says the shofar and trumpet blasts are “a wake-up blast — a reminder that the time is near for the Day of Atonement.” There are strong themes of repentance, rebirth, and resurrection associated with this day.

Another element of Yom Teruah was brought out in the teaching given by the Rabbi at my local Messianic congregation. He said that the shofar is blow every day in the month leading up to Yom Teruah as a proclamation that the King is returning. We are to prepare ourselves to hear the voice of the Lord (traditionally, the shofar is seen as symbolizing God’s voice). In Hebrew, the word “prepare” is connected with the human face — we’re making ourselves ready to be face-to-face with God. In that sense, Yom Teruah is a yearly reminder of something we should be doing all the time. It’s also just the beginning of such reminders to repent and be at one with God, since it’s starts out the 10-day count to Atonement (which will definitely be the subject of next week’s blog post).

This preparation to meet God reminds me of the giving of the Ten Commandments. Before delivering His laws, God commanded boundaries to be set up so the people couldn’t get dangerously close to His presence on the mountain, but He did want them to be present as He delivered the words of the covenant. The people were commanded to consecrate themselves and wash in preparation for meeting with God, and then God commanded, “When the trumpet sounds long, they shall come near the mountain” (Ex. 19:10-13). Here, the trumpet acted as a call to assemble in God’s presence.

The King is Coming!

In the New Testament, trumpet blasts and shouts are strongly associated with Jesus Christ’s return. Traditionally, Christians who keep Yom Teruah have said that the Feast of Trumpets pictures Christ’s second coming and the first resurrection from the dead.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (1 Thes 4:16-17)

For my readers who aren’t familiar with this particular interpretation of future prophecy and “what happens after death” belief, here’s a quick summary of what I believe: Those who have died are “asleep,” waiting for a resurrection. The believers who have died “in Christ” will be raised to eternal life at His second coming, and the non-believers will be raised 1,000 years later to be given as second (or in many cases a first) chance to understand God’s truth (Rev. 20:4-5, 11-15)

Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed — in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Cor. 15:51-52)

Right now, we’re in waiting for our Bridegroom, Jesus the Christ, to return for us (John 14:1-3). If we’re dead when that happens, we’ll be brought back to life. If we’re still alive, we’ll be changed into spirit beings.

At first, shouting for joy and shouting a battle cry seem only distantly related. But if we turn to Revelation and read more about Christ’s return, the connection in Yom Teruah becomes more clear.

And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, “Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.” And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev. 19:6-7)

Here is where the shouts of joy, praise, and exhalation come in. We’ve been preparing to meet our Bridegroom, and here He is! Then, just a few verses down, we see how the shouts of joy turn into a battle cry.

Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. (Rev. 19:11-14)

The armies which follow Christ at His return are clothed in “white linen” garments just like His bride, so this is often read as a sign that we’ll be riding into battle alongside Him to set up the promised kingdom of peace.

Yom Teruah is already passed for this year, but our preparations to meet the King and become a suitable bride for Him are ongoing. In Matt. 22:2, Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who arranged a marriage for his son.” This marriage is an integral part of Their great plan, and we as the church are the focus of it. I pray we all hear and head the trumpet blast that calls out to us and says, “The King is coming! make ready to meet Him.”