Thursday, May 02, 2013

Truth - Part 2

0571 tma emeth eh’-meth

Firmness, faithfulness, truth.

Contracted from

0539 Nma aman  aw-man’

To support, to confirm, to be faithful
To be established, to make firm
To stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in.

0571 tma ‘emeth eh’- meth

Firmness, faithfulness, truth.

Contracted from 

0539 Nma ‘aman aw-man’ 

To support, to confirm, to be faithful
To be established, to make firm
To stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in.

And so, the Law establishes that Truth is that which is firm, established, and therefore can be trusted.  The 10 commandments establish the soundness of God as Creator, Savior and Preserver; as well as the validity of familial and societal institutions.  We therefore know that God and man exist to live at peace.  But we also know that mankind is undependable on its part.  In the historical books of the Bible, we find this seen in the chosen and appointed leaders of God's people.

In the book of Joshua (Josh. 2:12), the prostitute Rachab displays her trust in the true God while asking for a promise from men who have told her that they serve Yahweh.  She wants to trust them, so she asked for a "true sign," that is, an oath by Yahweh that she and her family would be saved.  Having secured this, she saved them.  This is the first case of a Gentile showing faith in Yahweh based on verifiable wonders that He had done.

Later, in Joshua 24:14, Joshua called on all of Israel to trust God, based on the very same evidence that Rachab had believed true.  He calls on them to "serve him in sincerity and in truth."  This is to say, with a whole-hearted faith in what has been shown to be reliable.  In the next verse, their civil leader holds himself up as an example.  He would serve Yahweh along with his family.  He could not make that choice for others, but he could lead by example.

In the book of Judges "truth" only shows up in a parable.  In chapter 9, a parable is told of various plants looking to choose a leader.  It came down to who wanted to lead rather than who was suitable.  The occasion of the parable was the rise of Abimelech, son of the reluctant judge Gideon, to rule as a "king."  To do this, though, he had gathered a band of hoodlums to kill his own brothers whom he saw as a threat to his authority.  His youngest brother, though, escaped and told the parable of the bramble bush becoming ruler over all the worthy trees of the land.  In order to server "in sincerity and in truth" (as Joshua had said), trust had to be put in that which was worthless.

The people had chosen to follow other gods, and not the truth.  The examples of this folly are throughout this book, for they "did what was right in their own eyes."  There was no abosolute truth upon which to stand.

Finally, a true prophet and priest arose to rule over the people.  But they asked this man, Samuel, to give them a king.  It was to them that Samuel warned that this king was not their savior in whom to put their trust.  That kind of faith could only be put in the true God - Yahweh - who had proven Himself in history (even among the judges, though they had been mostly evil men).  In 1 Samuel 12:

24  Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
25  But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.

The requirements had not changed.  Without trust in Yahweh, no earthly ruler would prevail among men.  Saul would prove to be just as much a disappointment as had Abimelech.

After the reign of the first godly king (David), the subject of the truth once again arises.  David wants to honor Yahweh with a beautiful temple rather than the mobile home in the form of a tent (the tabernacle) which had been designed by God Himself.  The prophet Nathan received a vision from Yahweh pointing out that the tabernacle was just fine, fitting the purpose for which He had designed it.  Instead, God told the prophet that He would "build a house" for David -- a family and a nation founded in the truth of His unchangeable nature.  But David was persistent, going to God in prayer, bringing God's promise of a permanent family and nation back to a permanent temple in which to worship.  In that prayer David says:

2 Samuel 7:
26  And let thy name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of thy servant David be established before thee.
27  For thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee.
28  And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:
29  Therefore now let it please thee to bless the house of thy servant, that it may continue for ever before thee: for thou, O Lord GOD, hast spoken it: and with thy blessing let the house of thy servant be blessed for ever.

Not only are the acts of God to be trusted, but also His Word.  We know God answered this prayer with plans for the temple apparently via Nathan or Gad, his prophets, because David so informs his son Solomon (1 Kings 28):

11 ¶  Then David gave to Solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries thereof, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place of the mercy seat,
12  And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit ...

19  All this, said David, the LORD made me understand in writing by his hand upon me, even all the works of this pattern.
20  And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.

The building of the temple was left to Solomon whom David entrusted to Yahweh to fulfill the promise of a perpetual dynasty.  Solomon finds himself before God in a dream (1 Kings 3):

5 ¶  In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee.
6  And Solomon said, Thou hast shewed unto thy servant David my father great mercy, according as he walked before thee in truth, and in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with thee; and thou hast kept for him this great kindness, that thou hast given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.
7  And now, O LORD my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of David my father: and I am but a little child: I know not how to go out or come in.
8  And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
9  Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?

Solomon had seen how God was real to his father David, and he wanted the same relationship.  He raises up God's covenant loyalty (chesed) and David's trust in God (walking in truth) in a prayer for wisdom.  Yahweh answers that prayer, along with so much more, as the Queen of Sheba would declare (1 Kings 10):

6  And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. [also 2 Chron. 9:5]

Here truth is just straight reporting of the facts -- what IS.  The rumors were squelched when she saw the proof for herself.  She had had her doubts, but evidence banished them.  So it is with truth: the measurable facts outweigh mere mortal speculation.  Generations later, the nation had split due to Solomon's apostasy to such a point that the kings of the northern kingdom (which kept the name "Israel") had got so bad that the prophet Elijah had to seek support among Gentiles.  There a widow saw the work of God and was convinced that anything Yahweh said was the truth (1 Kings 17):

24  And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.

It took calamity in the southern kingdom for the godly king Hezekiah to pray to God for relief (2 Kings 20):

3  I beseech thee, O LORD, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore. [see also, 2 Chron. 20 and Isaiah 38]

Truth is synomous with that which is good in God's sight.  To walk with God is to do what is right, that is to be righteous.  That is an impossible task for fallen mankind, but it remains a goal.  God's creation, in its original state was good - that is, beautiful or pleasant.  How could it have been otherwise, since it was the work of his Word and his hands.  God healed Hezekiah but brought the delayed curse on the land through his yet to be born son Manassah. 

Years later, returning to Jerusalem after years in captivity, Nehemiah would recall in prayer the works and words of Yahweh:

Neh. 9:
13  Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments:
14  And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandedst them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:
15  And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.
16  But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments,
17  And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not. ...

33  Howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us; for thou hast done right ["emeth" = that which is true], but we have done wickedly:
34  Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened unto thy commandments and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them. 

Indeed, even when the authorities in the land did not believe in Yahweh, the letters of believers ended with "Peace and Truth" (Esther 9:30).  This same combination was used by Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:19; Isaiah 39:9) and by Jeremiah when the time had come for both to end.  Jeremiah confirmed that a time would come when both peace and truth would return (Jer. 33:6) in a period after God had made a ''new covenant" with his people (Jer. 31:31).

God is the ultimate source of all that is true.  He created the world -- as confirmed throughout history and by simply observing what he has done.  That which is observed is true because it is verifiable evidence.  God also saves his people, no matter how bad they seem to be.  This is an observed phenomenon as well, for the evidence has been there since recorded history began.  These two undeniable truths are clear from the Old Testament.

In the next post, we will look to the songs of worship -- the Psalms -- to see what the concept of "truth" means on a personal level.

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