Friday, 22 July 2011

Three foreign words

The Bible was mostly written in Hebrew (the Old Testament) and Greek (the New Testament) — although there are some exceptions to that rule. When we read from the King James, or a similiar version, these different languages are translated for us into English; except for some stray words (usually place-names) which the translators decided to transliterate (“write using the closest corresponding letters in another language”) rather than translate (“express the sense in another language”).

Consider three examples of foreign words that were not translated in our English Bible. They outline a life lived in fellowship with God.

The past: Ebenezer (“stone of help”, I Sam 7:12). Samuel said: “Hitherto [thus far] hath the Lord helped us”. The name given to the stone was a testimony to the faithfulness of God in helping His people.

The present: Mizpah (“watchtower”, Gen 31:49). Laban and Jacob recognized that the Lord would be continually watching over them and between them (neither of them trusted the other).

The future: Maranatha (“Come, Lord!”, I Cor 16:22). The epistle ends the same way as the Bible ends, with our blessed Lord’s coming as our hope, and His grace as our portion.

As we survey the past we can trace the faithfulness of a caring, loving Father carrying us in the arms of a wonderful Saviour through the power of the Holy Spirit. Granted, it hasn’t always been easy sailing! Many have been the difficulties, deep have been the valleys, frightening have been the storms, lonely have been the deserts; but Ebenezer! Thus far hath the Lord helped us! See Psa 34:19.

As we look around us today, may we never forget that the Lord is watching over us. Think of the grace and the glory involved in this. Consider the security and the solemnity of being under His constant gaze! Let your moderation be known unto all men, but be not bowed down with care for the morrow (Phil 4:5-6). Remember Mizpah — the Lord is watching!

As we try to pierce the darkness that lies ahead, all we see is this glorious hope, shinning in all the fresh beauty that only eternal truths possess: Maranatha! The Lord is coming! “Amen! Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20).

Ebenezer: He has brought me to this day; Mizpah: He will carry me through; Maranatha: He is coming to take me home!

Note: the examples above are transliterated in versions like the KJV, Darby, ASV, NASB, but translated in modern versions.

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