The concept of sin from a Hebrew perspective
During a friendly “spiritual conversation” with another believer, he said, “I believe we can get to a place where we no longer sin.”
While some of us in the modern-day age have become used to thinking of sin as bad practices or actions taken against God’s law, the concept of “sin” is a much more profound and deep for me, than wrong doing or good deeds. Sin is something which affects, influences and impacts way more than we sometimes superficially understand.
Sin vs. Sin
When reading carefully through the bible, there seems to be many different ways in which the bible authors use the term “sin”. For example, sin can be referring to actions and practices, but also to a condition, a state or a power.
Below are a few examples of verses referring to sin not as actions, but as a power, a state or a condition:
“Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psa. 51:5);
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29);
“for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin” (Rom. 3:9);
“For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners.” (Rom. 5:19);
“knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Rom. 6:6);
“But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind” (Rom. 7:8);
“For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.” (Rom. 7:14);
“through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin” (Rom. 5:12)
To sin (chet\chata) in Hebrew = “to miss”
In our Hebrew language, the word חֶטְא (“sin”) literally means “to miss”. From which the Hebrew speaker understands that “to sin” means to “miss” the will of God.
Unlike the Mosaic Covenant, where to stay away from sin meant not to break laws (such as not to hurt your neighbor), under the New Covenant, that is no longer enough! You saw your neighbor in need and you did not help him? You have sinned – you have missed the will of God.
“To one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
For Israel, the Mosaic covenant was like receiving first aid treatment. The Mosaic law limited the wrongdoings of our wicked hearts, which were heavily affected by the evil civilization all around. However, the New Covenant raises the bar much higher, setting the standard back as in the days of creation – the ultimate will of God.
NOT to miss the will of God (not to sin) therefore, goes much deeper and much farther than not to murder someone or not to rob a bank. We miss God’s will in more ways than we begin to realize – we miss God’s will in our lifestyle, in our cultural practices, in our ways of thinking, in what we say, in what we eat, in what we buy and in many other ways. We miss the will of God in simple everyday actions that we don’t even stop to think about – such as polluting God’s creation because of using electricity or driving a car (pollution which leads not only to diseases but also to natural disasters ). Or when we buy an iPhone, without realizing we support modern slavery as children as young as thirteen are forced to work in the mines for as little as $2 a day . Or when we give our little ones sodas, pumping their body with sugars and artificial chemicals which cause obesity and other sicknesses. Or when our materialistic culture drives us into buying a $50k leisure boat while there are starving children on the other side of town.
There are endless other examples of realities, situations and things that we do, that are “missing the will of God”, simply because we live in a world which is in a sinful condition, many times even contributing to its condition without realizing.
Everything is tangled together, it is practically impossible for us to escape the infinite cosmic loop of sin we are all stuck in. The implication is that if we like it or not, we are an integral part of the butterfly effect caused by the condition of sin in the world – and in us.
What we do is who we are
Sin, of course, goes much deeper than the external actions we do, as the source of what comes out externally emanates from who we are inside. It has to do with our inner being, with our identity deep inside – and with missing the will of God in who we were created to be.
In his book, “The Reason for God”, Dr. Keller gives this definition of sin:
“Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity, apart from him. …So, according to the Bible, the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things.”
Or as 19th century Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, beautifully and simply puts it:
“Sin is building your identity on anything but God.”
Meaning that even loving our loved ones (which is a good thing in itself) more than we love God is to miss the will of God – to sin.
The swamp of sin
The condition of sin is like a swamp – the more we try to fight it ourselves, the deeper we sink. A cosmic swamp that all creation is affected by.
Due to the sinful condition humanity is in, no one can escape, we are all affected. No one can stand before a holy God, claiming “I had nothing to do with this”.
Just as being stuck in a swamp, there is nothing we can do but only to hope that someone from the outside will reach out to rescue us and pull us out – we need for God Himself to provide the way of justification for us.
Considering the fact that sin is a condition and not only an action, then moving from the condition of sin to the condition of being righteous is not something we can “do” on our own. It is also not a process or a procedure in which we slowly achieve or earn from God, nor it is something we can maintain in our own power – it is God who pulls us out of the swamp, not we who are climbing out, trying to grab onto him. Either we agree that He will pull us out or we reject his offer of rescue. It is simply a swapping of states – either you are still in the swamp because you rejected help, or you are out of it because you allowed God to take hold of you.
The world is divided into two: those who are justified and those who are not. There is no in between, there is no progress, nor a process of slowly climbing out of the swamp, as if completing the race successfully in order to win a computer game.
In other words, it is not your sins that keep salvation away from you, is it your deliberate rejection (disbelief) of the help of the Savior that keeps salvation away from you, and keeps you in the condition of sin (in the swamp).
The only way for you NOT to be saved, is by deliberately refusing to catch on the only life line being offered that can pull you out of the swamp. How do you take hold of the life line? By simply saying “YES” to the rescue God is offering in Messiah Yeshua (aka – the famous “Sola fide”; justification by faith alone through grace alone ).
Not being able to understand sin as first and foremost a condition is what I believe causes good hearted believers to fail in grasping this fundamental doctrine of salvation. A good example comes from the Pentecostal pastor and author David Pawson who holds that salvation is something you need to obtain and maintain yourself and by your own power, through a process of being able to stay away from sin: “Salvation is clearly therefore a process. And a process that is not yet complete for any one of us!”.
Pawson’s statement is based of his lack in understanding the concept of sin as a condition from the first place: “Sins are the same in believers as unbelievers. For “saints” to think they will get away with it is a fatal mistake, when actually they are storing up wrath against themselves.”
The good news is that I have security in the new condition I have in Yeshua the Messiah – the condition of justification. And with all due respect to David Pawson, I can sleep at night knowing that it’s not even up to my abilities to maintain in that condition, but merely on what Yeshua did for my on the cross!
“It is Finished.” (John 19:30)
 Strong’s Concordance, 2398: chata: ‘to miss’ חָטָא
 Natural Disasters Tied to Unnatural Causes (Live Science, Apr 5, 2012)
 Apple admits child labour was used to build iPods and iPhones in Chinese factories (Daily Mail, Feb 27, 2010)
How the iPhone Helps Perpetuate Modern-Day Slavery (Huffington Post, Nov 10, 2014)
 Timothy Keller, “The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism” (Penguin Books; 2009), page 162.
 “Sickness unto Death” by Soren Kierkegaard
 One of the doctrines that most distinguishes between Protestant denominations and the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Church.
 David Pawson, “What We Believe About Salvation” (part of an 8-part series titled WHAT WE BELIEVE).
 David Pawson, “Once Saved, Always Saved?: A Study in Perseverance and Inheritance” (Hodder & Stoughton, 1996), page 8.
This article originally appeared on One for Israel, August 22, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Eitan is ONE FOR ISRAEL’s Media & Evangelism Director.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
As Yeshua prayed, “He was transfigured before them” (Mark 9:2). The Greek text of Matthew and Mark uses the word metamorfoo from which we derive the English word “metamorphosis.” A metamorphosis is the process of substantially changing (or transfiguring) from one physical state to another. In what manner did Yeshua change from one state to another?
From the description in the Gospels, it appears that he became like a luminous being, clothed in light: “His face shone like the sun” (Matthew 17:2) and “His garments became radiant and exceedingly white, as no launderer on earth can whiten them” (Mark 9:3). What’s the significance?
We find a clue in Matthew 16:27. Shortly before the story of the transfiguration, Yeshua told his disciples that some of them would not taste death before they had seen the Son of Man coming “in the glory of his Father” (Matthew 16:27). The Bible often depicts the glory of God as visible light. For example, Isaiah 60:1 compares God’s glory to the light of the sun: “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.” Likewise, when the angels announced the birth of the Messiah, “glory shone around” (Luke 2:9). The mystics called the light of God’s glory “the radiance of the Divine Presence.”
Human beings sometimes reflect the radiance of God’s glory. For example, after Moses had spent forty days and forty nights in the cloud of glory on Mount Sinai, his face shone resplendently reflecting the glory of God. The rabbis said, “The radiance of Moses’ appearance was like that of the sun and he was like an angel of the Lord of hosts.”
According to Jewish legend, garments of light and glory clothed Adam and Eve prior to their sin. The rabbis said, “Adam’s garments blazed like a torch. His heel outshone the globe of the sun; how much more the brightness of his face!” When they sinned, Adam and Eve forfeited their divine garments and found themselves to be naked.
Jewish eschatology teaches that the pious will shine like the original Adam in the time to come:
How do we know that the original glory of Adam will be restored to man in the days of the Messiah? We can infer that Adam’s resplendence will be restored from the text in Judges 5:31, “Those who love Him will be like the rising of the sun in its might.” (Numbers Rabbah 13:12)
A brilliant countenance and blazing garments of glory appear frequently in apocryphal and rabbinic literature to describe angels, celestial beings, and the resurrected righteous. White and luminous garments clothe them. When the risen Messiah appeared to His disciple John, “His face was like the sun shining in its strength” (Revelation 1:16). Moreover, Yeshua told His disciples that at the time of His coming, “the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father” (Matthew 13:43).
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion and is reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Hugs, horses and happy memories for children of single mothers
School is out for the summer!
Though children eagerly look forward to the long lazy days, working parents often struggle, trying to find ways to keep their children cared for and safe for the months when school is no longer in session. For single parents, this is an even greater challenge.
CBN Israel is continually seeking ways to serve the community of single mothers here in the land. This summer, in partnership with Revive Israel, our team helped make it possible to send 23 kids from single parent homes to attend a unique 2-week summer camp, a camp with horses!
8 year-old Danielle is one of the children that attended the horse camp this July. When Veronica, from the CBN Israel staff came to pay her a visit at the camp it was clear that Danielle was thrilled to be around all the horses. She ran up and gave Veronica a big hug and was smiling ear to ear as she explained the different activities she was participating in. Veronica stayed and observed how with gentle strokes Danielle brushed the horse and continually looked for ways to give the horse extra hugs.
When Veronica spoke with Danielle’s mother, she shared a sweet story about what the camp had meant to her daughter. “Danielle woke up one morning and said ‘Mom, please give me your phone, I would like to bless Veronica for helping make it possible for me to go to the horse summer camp.’ “
Veronica later received that text message saying, “Hi, this is Danielle, … I wanted to tell you thank you, because it has been so amazing going to the summer camp with the horses, it was because of you that I could have this free opportunity, thank you!”
CBN Israel is thankful to the partnership with Revive which made it possible to send the children of the single mothers we work with to camp this summer!
This article originally appeared on CBN Israel, August 6, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Since its establishment in March 2012 CBN Israel has helped thousands of people through its various operations. As the foundation of Project Light Shine, CBN Israel gives help to the community through three avenues; Humanitarian aid, education and economic development. CBN Israel serves with a spirit of humility and love. Their mission is to prepare the Land and the people of Israel for the coming of Messiah Yeshua and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. The vision of their work is to see the hungry fed, the needs of the needy met, businesses established and to improve the spiritual, physical and financial situation of the local body.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Hebrew roots of ordination
We see today the rather absurd phenomenon of people claiming to have spiritual authority and anointing, primarily by giving themselves titles and publishing advertisements about themselves in social media.
The Hebrew concept in the Law, Prophets and New Covenant is much different. Authority and anointing comes from God, and it is passed on to people together with the personal affirmation of those involved.
In Numbers 27:18-19 we see Moses hearing instruction from God, to lay hands on Joshua and impart into him a measure of the glory of God that was already on Moses.
In Acts 13:2-3 at Antioch, we see a similar process in which the saints, pray, fast, and through the leading of the Holy Spirit, lay hands on Paul and Barnabas to impart to them the anointing and authority to do the mission set before them.
Both of these passages include the laying on of hands. The Hebrew root of this idea is Sa-Ma-Kh, סמך.
- In the causative form this means to “impart by the laying of hands.”
- In the simple form it means to “trust.”
- In the passive form it means to “be based upon” or even “lean on.”
- In the adjective form it means “close to” or “connected.”
- In the noun form it means “authority” and “ordination.”
- In a modern form it can mean “authorized” or “official document.”
The recognizing of spiritual ordination involves a personal process in which trust is demonstrated and earned. There must be two groups or types of people involved in ordaining someone (I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6).
The first is the older people, veterans in the faith, who impart the type of authority and anointing that they already have. The second is the people who are receiving blessing from this person, who affirm that they trust in him. The first imparts and the second affirms.
[In my own case, for example, the “imparting” elders included Ari Sorkoram, Dan Juster, Eitan Shishkoff, Paul Wilbur, Eddie Santoro, and others; the “affirming” elders included a larger number of congregational and ministry leaders in active participation with us.]
Ordination is recognition of what God has already done (and will do in the future). First the person serves; then hands are laid upon him. The laying on of hands is a serious moment; doing it superficially can be spiritually dangerous (I Timothy 3:6, 5:22). A person can’t just print a “business card.”
At the moment of impartation there should be real people present who lay on hands. The veteran elders impart authority; the younger leaders affirm that they have experienced the fruit and integrity of the person’s life. You can’t impart what you don’t have, and you can’t affirm what you haven’t experienced.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, August 24, 2017, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
LISTEN: Matthew 15 – Perseverance moves God’s heart
Rev. David Pileggi, in focusing in on the Canaanite woman, describes Jesus, when He meets a non-Jewish woman who understands that He is the Son of David. When people call upon Jesus as the Son of David they do so out of desperation. She comes in the context of worship, calling him Lord, a term of great respect and honour. The disciples urge him to send her away. She kneels down before the Lord in honour and respect. God can always be persuaded; for example with Moses ‘argument’ about the Children of Israel. Does this woman know Psalm 67? All the nations will come into God’s blessings. Jesus reminds her that He is sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This is a reflection on the leadership not the sheep, led astray by poor leadership. She replies, and touches his heart; and He says, “Your faith has accomplished what you have asked for.” Perseverance makes up for many weaknesses and it is this that Jesus commends her for. Faith requires risky, total obedience. Every blessing is available to us in Jesus the Messiah.
Readings: Psalm 67 • Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32 • Matthew 15: 10: 28
David Pileggi lives in Jerusalem with his wife Carol and their three adult children where he is the rector of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem. They have lived in Israel for 33 years where David has worked as a journalist/researcher and for 19 years was director of a study program dedicated to teaching Christians about the Jewish context of their faith. David has an M.A. from the Hebrew University in Jewish Studies and is a licensed tour guide.