Monday, March 14, 2011

Lent, Day 5: YHWH

Recite the Primo Credo Today in the Morning and in the Evening:

Hear, O Israel:
the Lord our God, the Lord is one;
you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.
The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no other commandment greater than these.
~Mark 12:29-31

Today, on the Fifth Day of Lent, we continue to discuss the Primo Credo, a variation of the Hebrew Shema Yisrael that Jesus himself told us was the bedrock of our entire belief system. In fact, He said it was so important that “all the law hangs on it.”

And so, since Jesus is the “fulfillment of the law,” then we are going to spend some time understanding these few short lines in the hope that we will know The Truth more intimately.

We have been meditating on it now for four days (today is the fifth day) and will continue to do so until Resurrection (Easter) Sunday.

We have been reciting it every morning and every evening, as faithful Followers of YHWH have been doing for thousands of years.

I have mentioned this from day one, and it bears repeating… As we recite the Primo Credo, we must keep in mind that the mere recitation of any set of words cannot gain us a single inch of territory in The Kingdom of God. We do believe, though, that focusing on the Word of God intentionally, with great thought and care, rather than practicing hollow repetition, places us in a position of surrender to the Living Word of God, Christ Jesus. Our goal is to let The Word dwell in us- informing our thoughts, feelings and actions; work in us, forming us spiritually to be more like Him; and working through us, to transform the world. Our goal is for us to learn together new ways of following Jesus and to discover the difference that following Him makes, not only within us...but to a world in desperate need of Him.

Today’s Verse~

THE LORD gives, THE LORD takes.
The LORD’S name be ever blessed.
Job 1:21b

The SHEMA in Hebrew:
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד
Shema Yisrael YHWH Eloheinu YHWH Echad

Hear, Israel Yahweh our God Yahweh is One.

YHWH is the third and fifth word of the Primo Credo. You can read it above. (Remember Hebrew is read from right to left.) The four letters (י-ה-ו-ה) are called the ‘Tetragammaton’ and are usually transliterated from Hebrew as IHVH in Latin, and YHWH in English. This is where we derive the name ‘Yahweh’ or ‘Jehovah.’ The Hebrew scripture limits the writing of the name of God to these four letters out of respect for the name of God, and as an act of literal obedience to the third commandment: “Do not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” (Exodus 20:7)

Rabbinic Judaism teaches that because the Tetragammaton, the (י-ה-ו-ה/YHWH), is the ineffable name of God, it should never be read aloud. Hence, in the Shema, it is traditionally replaced with the word “Adonai” ("Lord").

For this reason, the Shema is recited aloud as:
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad
Hear, Israel The LORD our God The LORD is One.

But we are talking about the name of YHWH and how it is a name that is to be blessed above all names. One way in which the name itself is blessed is that it denotes a singularly all-powerful deity. Additionally, we “bless His holy name” out of deep and profound gratitude for His preeminence.

This preeminence is highlighted in the primary theme of the first verse; the Oneness of God.

The Lord is One…what does this really mean?

On the face of it, it appears to be a command to recognize that there on not multiple gods, each in charge of one or two small things, but rather ONE God who is in charge of everything. It certainly does draw our attention to the preeminence of YHWH…and that is a good start.

‘Oneness’ is central to Jewish belief. This oneness extends to all that God is and all that He does. The Shema declares that God is one, but also that all events are from Him and that all that happens (both what we call ‘good’ and ‘bad’) is part of ONE grand eternal plan that is from God and therefore, by definition is good and blessed.

Another interesting fact about the Shema is that the letters "Ayin" and "Daled" of the first verse are enlarged in a kind of a ‘code’ spell out the Hebrew word Aid, which means ‘witness.’ This was done by ancient scribes to denote that when we say the Shema, we are testifying to the Oneness of God.

This concept is clearly expressed when Job makes his declaration in the passage above…God gives and He takes- two things that are seemingly opposite, but both stem from the oneness of God and therefore, must be good.

To believe this takes immeasurable trust.

Understanding God in these terms can change the very way in which we view life. We can much more clearly understand what Paul wrote when he wrote: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) As a righteous Jew, we can safely assume that he recited Shema at least twice a day and from the content of his writing, it is also clear that the truth in those words had penetrated his deepest parts. Paul understood that the goodness of YHWH, the God who is One, has many facets, and that all of these facets emanate from God’s oneness. Further in the same passage, Paul writes: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) Notice how Paul uses these opposites for a purpose. He is showing us here that God is One: Preeminent over all that is. Paul is not afraid of being separated from God by any of the ‘things’ listed because Paul knows that God created them all and has control over them all, and that at the End of Time, all will be reconciled.
Paul’s writing expresses bold confidence in the sovereignty of God and in the preeminence of His reconciliatory power.

We share in this confidence, for we know that, at the End of Time, we too will come to understood how even the "bad" was actually for the "good."

So too, while saying the Primo Credo, we intentionally strive for this same level of belief and understanding.

Watch the video below and listen to the lyrics of the song:

So, this Fifth Day of Lent, continue to let God do His Good Work in you, as He forms and transforms your trust in His goodness and your faith in His sovereignty.


Bless We the Father,
Bless We Son,
Bless We The Spirit,
Bless We the Three in One.

God, and Spirit, and Jesus,
We Bless You in the Light of Day...
We Bless You in the Dark of Night...
We Entrust Our Hearts,
We Entrust Our Souls,
We Entrust Our Minds,
That You Would Renew Our Might.
©Tracy B. Dickerson, 2010

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