Saturday, March 13, 2010

Let My People Go, Part 1 (RVL)

Central Wesleyan has one of the largest auditoriums in Holland and it was packed for Ray Vander Laan. Here is the link to his teaching series at our church: At the end of this post is a 2 minute video that shows Ray teaching overseas to one of his many tour groups, which often have students from his school. By the way, the waiting list to go on one of these trips is over 8 years (or so I was told).
The 3 TV cameras that are stationed throughout the floor were busy following Ray as he constantly moved around the stage and audience. This last week, Rita and I sat near the very front on the middle aisle and he came right alongside us several times. On his first session, he wanted us to appreciate the need to understand the Hebrew meaning of the text behind the English. God loves a story; He is looking for people to become part of His story. Take the story of Joshua; here is a verse from Joshua 1:8.
“This Book of the Law [Torah] shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
He then singled out three Hebrew words (not all of which are in this verse):

...take the word meditate: it brings to mind quiet, still, contemplation. But this misses the meaning. In the Hebrew this word is HAGAH...
Ray demonstrated the word, HAGAH with a GROWL, just like a lion. To the audience, he said: Say the word HAGAH. We responded meekly: hagah. Not very impressed with our response, the teacher in Ray then began his lesson on Hagah. There are many words in Hebrew that use what is called Onomatopoeia (Greek) which is when a word imitates the sound it is describing. In this case, you have to picture a lion that is feeding on a fresh kill and is announcing to the world that nothing else better come near. At this point Ray showed a video of a bunch of lions storming a kill and devouring it. They growled together in the feeding frenzy; it was mayhem. (I tried to find it online, but couldn’t so you’ll have to use your imagination) Now Ray turned to us and said again, with more expectancy, Say HAGAH!! We upped the decibel level and animated our growl: HAGAH!! Again he said: HAGAH!!! The pride responded with increased enthusiasm and fierceness: HAGAH!!!!
That is the way we are to approach God’s Word. We feed on it with HAGAH!!
Ray walked swiftly across the platform, for Halak means walk. From this we get the Hebrew word Halakah, which is often used to described how a person obeys the commandments in their life. Fortunately, the audience didn’t have to demonstrate this word! But he was referring to the words “you may observe to do”.. 
This word means to cheer each other on. Ray showed another video that was taken at the Western/Wailing wall in Jerusalem. It showed a crowd of Jewish rabbinic students who were taking up a chant as they approached the wall for prayers. The chant kept going with increased intensity and was meant to bring fire to their souls as they approached the Lord.
[mine:I also thought of the way that our Torah club study group ends a chapter of Torah. Our group of 8 recites together this phrase: HAZAK, HAZAK, VENEET, HEZEK, which means BE STRONG, BE STRONG, AND LET US BE STRENGTHENED. Coincidentally, our leader in our Torah club group went to Israel with Ray Vander Laan several years ago.]
He then showed a series of 3 pictures on the overhead screen. The first was of a sheep on top of a rock. Nothing too spectacular about that. But this cropped picture was part of a bigger picture, so he zoomed out; the next frame showed that the rock was part of a landscape that had a rock on the left and a rock on the right. He zoomed out again and now we saw that the rock was wedged between two cliffs, with a sheer drop below the rock. How did the sheep get there? Understanding the BIG picture brings more understanding and interest to the story. The Egypt story is part of Jesus’ story. The New Testament is not the whole story. 
John the Baptist came to entreat the people to repent for the Kingdom of Heaven was near. Jesus came and he preached that the Kingdom of Heaven was here. He said to preach it, so why do we talk so little about the Kingdom of Heaven? The Kingdom of Heaven is an Exodus message.
Kingdom of Heaven is Malchut Ha-Shamayim. The Jews in Jesus’ day never spoke the Name of God. They took very seriously God’s warning that He would hold someone guilty if they ever took the Name in vain. So they came up with some circumlocutions, such as the Kingdom of Heaven or Ha Shem.
Ray closed the session by saying that God wanted His people to care for the hurting, the sick, the oppressed. He says this no fewer than 46 times in Exodus. 
Exodus 23:9: Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
But remembering that commandment is hard to do (that’s for next post)

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