Love ‘loving-kindness’ – Micah 6:8

It is not only the Jewish people who love Micah 6:8 for it’s simple, yet extremely powerful message and instruction of how to live right before the Almighty.

This passage is also a favourite of many Christians (though it appears most of them have never looked very deeply at this verse in its broader context, and in particular at the truth shared in Micah 6:6).

But I do not wish that to detract from my recent, and fresh insight, on this passage that I have loved and very often meditated on over many years.

There are of course many English versions, and as is normal when trying to translate truth from the inspired Hebrew Scriptures into other languages, often something is lost in the translation.

Consider a few of these English versions:

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” – KJV

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – NIV

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – ESV

Quite a few are very similar and appear (as usual) to copy the KJV.

The Complete Jewish Bible (David Stern) is a little different:

“Human being, you have already been told what is good, what Adonai demands of you — no more than to act justly, love grace and walk in purity with your God.” – CJB

The Hebrew word חֶסֶד (chesed) is the word being translated as ‘kindness’ (ESV) and ‘mercy’ (KJV & NIV), and as ‘loving-kindness’ in many other places.

In fact, the word ‘chesed’ which occurs hundreds of times in the Tanakh (The Hebrew Scriptures) is most commonly translated as ‘grace’ throughout the New Testament (for some depth and interesting analysis of this aspect see my article ‘Amazing Grace’ here http://goo.gl/L9HgQo).

But note that if we use the translation ‘loving-kindness’ in particular to help us see the full picture here, we have the injunction that we are called to ‘love loving-kindness’.

We are to love showing and giving grace; to love acting with mercy, to LOVE being kind. We are not to just BE kind, but to LOVE being kind!

Kindness, mercy, grace should be so much a part of our heart that we can’t help practicing this attribute of the Almighty whose image we are made in!

You may ask ‘How do we get this way if we are not already in this place?’ I think part of the answer is to act as if our heart already loves being kind and gracious and full of compassion, and therefore we must do acts of loving kindness. It’s almost like ‘fake it to you make it’.

The more we act this way, the more the neural pathways in our brains will be stimulated to create a new pathway of truth and a new mindset, and a new heart, where we increasingly become ‘lovers of loving-kindness’.

In other words, in living this call we in fact circumcise our own hearts! (Deuteronomy 10:16, Jeremiah 4:4).

 

Thanks to the Mussar teaching of Alan Morinis in ‘Everyday Holiness: The Spiritual Path of Mussar’ for this insight. 

 

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The Messiah: A King, a Prophet, a Priest?

The Hebraic perspectiveWho the Messiah? 

Since the days of Moses, what were the people expecting from the Prophet that Moses foretold would appear (Deut 18). Were they expecting a King, a Prophet, or a Priest. Were they expecting 1, 2 or even 3 Messiahs?

Today there is a common Jewish understanding that there will be two ‘end-times’ Messiah’s:

“A Kabbalistic tradition within Judaism is that the commonly-discussed messiah who will usher in a period of freedom and peace (Messiah ben David) will be preceded by Messiah ben Joseph, who will die sacrificing himself while uniting all of Israel in preparing the world for the arrival of Messiah ben David.” – see http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/48909612.html

The Qumran scrolls, the Book of Jubilees and the Testaments of the Tribes—all of which are close to the Essene[1] worldview and written prior to the first century of the Common Era, reflected the belief in three messiahs: an eschatological messiah, along with the messiahs of Aaron and Israel.

So what were the characteristics of this eschatological (end-times) Messiah?

Messiah is the English transliteration from the Hebrew ‘Mashiach’ meaning ‘anointed one’ i.e. someone chosen specially by God for some purpose. This term is translated into ‘Christos’ in Greek and then to ‘Christ’ in English. The term occurs some 37 times in the Hebrew Scriptures (KJV OT version – Strong’s #H4886) and is not always a prophetic reference to the eschatological Messiah. It is used to refer to the kings of Israel, the high priest, the patriarchs, as well as the Assyrian Cyrus (see Isaiah 45).

Look at Isaiah 11 where we read of his characteristics. His seven main attributes are described in Isaiah 11:1-10 and they are:

(1)… and the spirit of Adonai will rest upon him,

(2) the spirit of wisdom,

(3) and understanding,

(4) the spirit of counsel,

(5) and might,

(6) the spirit of knowledge,

(7) and the fear(awesome respect) of Adonai. …

He was also to redeem the Land of Israel; remove the oppressors and return all of Israel from the four corners of the Earth. He was to introduce a time of great peace, a time when all would know the Almighty, as per the New/Renewed Covenant prophecy of Jeremiah 31. This would also involve the cessation of war; the universal conversion of the world to Judaism or ethical monotheism; the rebuilding of the Temple; the recognition that it is the Jewish people who know God as prophesied in Zec 8:23, and the ‘swallowing up of death’ (Isaiah 25:8; Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12)!

To read more – check out the rest of this article at www.circumcisedheart.info 

Part 2 of our Podcast on this topic will be available to listen to very soon – click follow to be notified.


[1] The Essenes were a fringe sect of the ‘proto’ – Judaism of Yeshua’s time.