Challenge Accepted

A friend of mine challenged me on FaceBook to 7 days of posting memorable or personally significant bible verses.

Now the challenge is over, I decided to share all seven post in one area.

I would like to challenge those who would want to take up this 7 day challenge to either privately do a write up of your memorable or personally significant bible verses for personal meditation or post them in the social media platform you are involved in.

Here we go:

Day One:

Proverbs 2:1-5

“My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
2 So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
3 Yes, if you cry out for discernment,
And lift up your voice for understanding,
4 If you seek her as silver,
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will understand the fear of the Lord,
And find the knowledge of God.”

I was 19 and was given a choice to make by my pastor. For a 19 year old this was a difficult choice. At the time my life revolved around the church I grew up in, this was where the majority of my friends were. And now I was faced with a choice to give up a friend that had started to live an immoral life and told to leave the church. I either could keep my friend and be told to leave as well or put him away and stay in church. This was a major test for me at 19.

I had a question for God about a subject I had always heard in church but did not understand. I prayed to God to help me understand what “the fear of the Lord meant” and if He answered me, I would know the way I needed to choose.

I placed my bible on my bed and the above passage was what first appeared before my eyes.

I made my decision and stayed with God as I knew it at the time. This passage has been before me since that day, I think on it often. I am now heading into my upper 50s.

Around 21 years ago I began my journey into the Hebrew Scriptures, over the years I learned to dig in, discover and receive the commandments of my Creator that He has for me. And in doing so I am continually learning the answer to the question I asked Him 37 years ago.

Day Two:

Psalms 119:97

“How I love Your Torah!”

The hymn book of the church I grew up in was made up of the Psalms set to music. My favorite hymn was, “O How I Love Thy Law”. It is has been a very interesting spiritual journey for the fact that since 2010 the Torah/Laws of the Creator has become the center point of my life and present spiritual journey.

Below is a short video of the song with lyrics sung as we did when I was a child. This song and tune is a permanent part of who I am.

Day Three:

Genesis 4:6-7

“And HaShem said to Cain, “Why are you annoyed, and why has your countenance fallen? Surely, if you improve yourself, you will be forgiven. But if you do not improve yourself, sin rest at the door. Its desire is toward you, yet you can conquer it.” (Artscroll Chumash)

Some time around 2007-8 I began having strong sense to read and meditate on this passage. This strong urge stayed with me for what seemed to be at least a couple of years, practically a day didn’t go by without me either reading it, spending time pondering it or both.

In my years now studying this passage, I have uncovered a wealth of information the Creator has given to us through it. For this post I only want to share the first thing I saw in it.

There is something missing in this conversation between God and Cain.
What is missing, is the fact that God does not throw Cain’s sin in his face, He does not even condemn him. Instead, God tells Cain what he must do to get past his sin and to a better day.

This is another one of those life changing Scriptures that has changed my life and relationship with my Creator.

Day Four:

Genesis 1:7

“And HaShem God formed the man of the dust of the ground, and He blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and he became a living being.” Artscroll Chumash)

Going on now 6 years the majority of my biblical studies have been within the book of Genesis, mostly contained in the first nine chapters.

In a recent study, I began meditating on the above verse. During that time of meditation, something I had already known became even more enlightening.

“…He blew into his nostrils the soul of life…”

Not only did the Creator give us a part of Himself to us so that we would become a living being, He gave us a lesson on how He desires us to live.
He shared His life force with us so that we could live, in doing this, He has shown us by example that we should also share our lives with others that they may live.

This is why lifting the hands of the needy is very important to Him.
Death came to Sodom because of this very issue, by not sharing what the Creator had given to them so others might live, brought death not life.

Ezekiel 16:49
“Behold this was the sin of Sodom your sister: pride, abundance of bread, and careless ease were hers and her daughters’, and she did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”

Day Five:

Genesis 1:11-12

“And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, seed yielding herbs and fruit trees producing fruit according to its kind in which its seed is found, on the earth,” and it was so. And the earth gave forth vegetation, seed yielding herbs according to its kind, and trees producing fruit, in which its seed is found, according to its kind, and God saw that it was good.”

Over the past year the study and meditation of the above verse has made a major impact on my life.

As I have mentioned before, the book of Genesis was given to us by the Creator, for us to study and learn how to live the life that He desires for humanity.

The study and meditation of these passage are important in learning about yourself and God’s creation of you, who you are and the part you play within His creation according to His will.

The following is just a few quotes from Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsh’s teachings on these passages.

“We learn from all these countless varieties of creation are governed by one and the same law: The law of kind/species (“according to its kind – according to its kind, and God saw that it was good.”) . Each one of them is to work only for its own species and develop within the circumscribed sphere assigned to its kind.”

“This great law, which is made manifest to us in the plant world, governs everything.”

Within humanity the Creator has made male and female, Israel and the nations. These are the separate kinds/species of humanity each with its own law of kind that governs them.

With the help of the Priestly Nation in whom the Torah/instructions of the Creator was given to through Moses, they teach us the laws of the Creator that pertains to our specific kind.

Religion does not define who we are nor how we are to live according to our specific kind, only the Creator does this through His Torah.

Over the past 6+ years this has been the emphasis of my biblical studies and it has been an amazing journey to learn and live within the laws of kind/species that the Creator designed for me.

Day Six:

Psalms 139:8

“If I ascend to the heavens, there You are, and if I make my bed in the grave, behold, You are there.

Several years ago while studying the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, he used the above passage in a teaching on repentance. His teaching has stuck with me and has become a breath of salvation in times when I am at a spiritual low.

Below are a few quotes from his teaching on repentance and Psalms 139. May they comfort you and be a ladder out of spiritual despair as they have been for me.

“Even in the lowest pit of hell, a person can draw himself closer to God Almighty, for even there He can be found.”

“Whatever comes upon him, he must search out and entreat God and remain strong in whatever way he can, whatever position he is in. Even in the lowest pit of hell. God is found. There, too, a person is able to attach himself to God.”

“The essence of God’s greatness is that even those who are farthest of all from Him can still draw near to His service.”

“It follows from this that nobody should ever despair of drawing close to
God’s service on the account of being removed from Him because of the many sins he has committed.”

Day Seven:

Ezekiel 18:20-22

“20 The soul that sins, it shall die; a son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and a father shall not bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. 21 And if the wicked man repent of all his sins that he has committed and keeps all My laws and executes justice and righteousness, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22 All his transgressions that he has committed shall not be remembered against him: through his righteousness that he has done he shall live.”

I saved this one for last.

Around 14 years ago, I was challenged by a friend to do some biblical research on a particular subject. My research lead me to Ezekiel 18, for what I saw in this chapter, it caught me off guard. I read it over and over to make sure I was seeing what I saw within its words. This single chapter is by far them most life changing and transforming set of passages in the entire Bible for me.

The above passages are only a small part of the whole but they are at its heart, it is a clear message from the Creator to the Prophet.

When I read and meditated on this set of verses, it hit me like a dump truck. That for all my life that I had been praying to, placing my faith and believing in the wrong one. I was confronted with the fact that I was an idolater.

When this reality slapped me in the face, I did the only thing I knew to do. I got up, went and stood before the Creator – the God of Israel and confessed that I had been praying to and serving another god. I made repentance on the spot, I confessed that He alone was GOD and there was no other (just like Jethro and Naaman). I told the Creator that I was scared, I did not know what to do and that I needed help.

Since those eye and soul opening days, Blessed be the Creator, He has guided me to the path that He had prepared for me and all mankind from the beginning of creation.

The Creator spoke these words to the Prophet Ezekiel and He has been true to His word and there is no better life.

“And if the wicked man repent of all his sins that he has committed and keeps all My laws and executes justice and righteousness, he shall surely live.”

Ezekiel 18:21

Terry W. Hayes

Photo Credit: Terry W. Hayes

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