Sunday, March 13, 2022

Hebrew Word Study: Shavah Bekal Livah Return with all your Heart

Have you heard of the "weeping prophet?" This man truly had a difficult mission. He had to speak the word of the Lord boldly to a people who would refuse to listen to him. His name was Jeremiah. He began his ministry at a young age, under a good king. But later, would serve under a corrupt king. But even during his early years, the Lord knew, and spoke through Him, that the people were not really willing to return to God. 

In Jeremiah 3:10, we see God declaring, “In spite of all this, Israel’s sister, unfaithful Judah, has not turned back to me with any sincerity; she has only pretended to do so,” says the Lord.”

The time in which Jeremiah the prophet lived was a dark time for the ancient nation of Israel. The kingdom had divided into Samaria and Judah. Samaria had been destroyed and taken captive by Assyria. And Judah was now under imminent danger from Babylon. Babylon was poised to destroy Judah once and for all. Judah was ruled by corrupt kings which refused to listen to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah often found himself arrested, beaten, argued with by false prophets, and even through into a muddy pit and left to rot.

And during this time, Jeremiah was calling the people to return to God with all their heart. And instead, the people would make an appearance of returning to God, they would pretend to return, but they were not really returning to God in their hearts, but only half-heartedly.

So we see our Hebrew word today, or more so, our Hebrew phrase, Shavah Bekal Livah “shaw-vaw’ kawl lay-bawb’ return with all your heart.

So our challenge today as Christians, followers of Jesus, is to ensure God has our whole heart. But how often do we offer our hearts to God, and yet we know within that it is not complete as it should be. The word translated by the NET as “pretended” is shaqar in Hebrew which means “to be deceptive.”

The word translated by the NET as unfaithful Judah, is in the Hebrew bagad which in it’s root carries the connotation of a wrapper, or a covering. So very often we put on a new Christian t-shirt, with a cross on it, but, our hearts remain far from God.

I want to avoid that at all costs. I want God to have my whole heart in his hands. I will turn to Him with all my heart.

Now in the time of Jeremiah, he spent his life speaking for God, to good kings like Josiah. But later in his life, to corrupt kings, like the last king, Zedekiah. Yet Zedekiah and the people of Judah seemed unwilling to return to God.

Chaim Bentorah shares in Hebrew Word Study, that shavah, rendered as “return” carries at it’s root the concept of being taken captive, or imprisoned.

So we find ourselves challenged to return to God, yes, but also to allow ourselves to be taken captive by God, or taken under God’s care. We allow ourselves unreservedly into His arms. And he then rules over our hearts. And we allow God to guide our hearts whichever direction he chooses. We keep our hearts close to God, the center of our choices, our affections, our emotions, our choices, and then our choice, our affections and our emotions will be in alignment with God’s heart.

The nation of Judah did not want to make their hearts captive under God’s authority and control. So instead, they went their own ways. And as a result, they ended up in a different sort of captivity, that which we call the Babylonian captivity. Judah was conquered, like Samaria before it, and taken captive to Babylon.

We find ourselves surrounded by a sort of end times bablyon, a sinful broken society on the verge of chaos and destruction. But we as Christians must not have Babylon in our hearts, our hearts are ruled by God and close to God’s heart. Though we be in Babylon, we are not of Babylon. We are in the world, but not of the world.

shaw-vaw' kawl lay-bawb' Return to God with all your heart. Put your heart under his sacred control. Place your heart completely in His hands, and he will transform your affections, your desires, and your emotions. Then, you will live as one run by God, guided by God, and your life will become a beautiful story.

Let us pray together now, and turn our hearts afresh and anew entirely over to God. We turn our hearts to you God. We place our hearts in your hands. We place our hearts in the center of your heart. Make us like you, entirely yours, we are captive, held by you, we return, and are thus run always, by you, in Jesus Christ name, amen.