This blog post is going to have to be broken down into two parts. It’s got some depth to it and we really need some time in between to chew on the first bit before we try to consider the Dog (yes, the Dog). The connections that God revealed, and I’m certain there are so many more He is yet to unfold, are just too much to take in while at the same time trying to explain how it hooks to “Life Outside the Tomb” and “The Love Life.” So, I’m asking for a little stick-to-it-tiveness for these next couple posts. I think if you will snug up your hiking boots and keep moving up the mountain, you’ll find it to be worth the work.
Eventually, I’m hoping to share with you the way God used our family pet to perform open heart surgery on me. You know, the kind that separates joints from marrow and divides spirit and soul. Like all my stories do, this one begins quite a while ago, back in May of 2011. This was the beginning of what I have come to affectionately call my “season of loss.” It began a period of heart reconstruction that as necessary as it was, has been the most painful of all my life – including the accident in 1993. I’ve recognized God beckoning me, disciplining me, challenging me, and even sitting me in the corner but this is the first time I have recognized being carved out by His hand. Engraved by His Holy touch.
That is what I intended to write about today; the lessons of love that God has taught and continues to teach me through losing our beautiful, bossy cocker spaniel–Baby. That was MY plan. His is ALWAYS BETTER!
Imagine yourself settled into your favorite reading chair consumed with the material in your hand and suddenly, Someone (capital “S” intended) comes in and hands you a new book. Same subject but a deeper exploration than you might have anticipated. That is exactly what happened to me as I began preparing this post. I sat down with my laptop along with a vague notion of the verses I might reference and God unfolded beauty that I simply wasn’t prepared for. It’s taken me well over a week to just begin—and I cannot stress “just begin” enough—grabbing hold of it and I’m so praying that I can articulate it with some clarity because it’s just so . . .well, it’s just so Him.
I don’t know if you write in your Bible or not, but I do. I put question marks beside things that pull at my heart but I don’t understand. I draw arrows to verse references I feel like connect to one another and in many margins you will find definitions of words my soul has gravitated toward. After I make these marks and notations, I pray off and on over the verses for God to give me clarity and explain it in terms that even the heart of this very thickheaded woman can understand. I’m convinced that in His timing, He’ll address each one and if not on this side of Glory, on the other.
Hebrews 1:3 is just such a verse for me and when I originally typed “recognized being carved out by His hand ” it popped into my brain because I remembered the definition I had scrawled in the margin of my Bible beside it years ago. (I wish I would remember to date entries in my Bible so that I would have a tangible reminder of how patiently He works with me when I’m tempted to lose my patience with others!) I have revisited that definition many times but never really felt I got the significance of it. Sister, I could not have been more correct!
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory
and the exact representation of his being,
sustaining all things by his powerful word.
After he had provided purification for sins,
he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:3 NIV 1984
So I had all these thoughts rolling through my brain about Baby Dog and being carved out and I was trying to come up with a cohesive way to put them on paper. I jotted Hebrews 1:3 down with the intention of drawing your attention, as He had drawn mine, to “exact representation” in order to give you the definition of the Greek word before I moved into the bulk of the post. See, this particular Greek word is only used once in the entire New Testament and since it isn’t a definition I have worked with a lot, I thought I should flip to it in my Bible just to be certain I had the right meaning in my mind.
You can see the Bunny paraphrase in the margin: “to carve; something engraved, cut-in or stamped; refers to Jesus Christ as the perfect expression of the Divine essence.” I thought, yep, that is exactly what I remembered, but I couldn’t shake the nudge to confirm it further. So I got out my Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible just to make certain I hadn’t written something down wrong and turned to the Lexical Aids in the back where I located the Greek word and definition:
Charakter: to carve. The –er suffix signifies agency, hence the word originally denoted an engraver or engraving tool. Later it meant the impression itself, usually something engraved, cut in or stamped, a character, letter, mark, sign. This impression with its particular features was considered as the exact representation of the object whose image it bore. In the NT, representation, expresses image. Occurs only in Hebrews 1:3, where it is translated “exact representation,” referring to Jesus Christ, who is the perfect expression of the divine essence. (#5917, Pg. 1686, HGKWSB)
I was happy with the accuracy I had noted it with in my Bible, but the thing that caught my attention was the appearance of the Greek word: Charakter. Doesn’t that bring a very familiar English word to your mind? It sure looks like “Character” to me. And I started to roll over in my mind all the verses that talked about looking like Jesus, living like Jesus, showing Jesus to a watching world, and Him being made perfect in suffering. I thought about God being much more concerned with developing my character as a Kingdom citizen than the Kingdom work I might do and I decided to look up the origin for the English word.
Character (noun): the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing. early 14c., from O.Fr. caractere, from L. character, from Gk. kharakter “engraved mark,” from kharassein “to engrave,” from kharax “pointed stake.” Meaning extended by metaphor to “a defining quality.”
I didn’t want to rest on just one source for the origin so I went to one more sight and read down through it. It gave much the same information but I hadn’t realized that I had stumbled onto a Bible based dictionary and right at the bottom there was an additional note: Strong’s 2801 with the reference Exodus 32:16. Now if you’re not familiar with the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, it’s a wonderful, enormous reference book that lists every occurrence of every word in the King James Bible according to a numerical system that is linked to the definition of the root word. You can find it online but I prefer my big, old, clunky hard copy. Not just because I love the feel of the pages but more so because of the hearts that blessed me with it. So I got out my KJV and looked up the verse:
And the tables were the work of God,
and the writing was the writing of God,
graven upon the tables.
Now, certainly the word “graven” is used in other verses, but this verse, according to Strong’s, stands alone. This particular Hebrew word, harut, is only used one time in the whole Old Testament (sound similar to exact representation?) to describe what appears to be the first recorded account of the writing of God. The short definition is to engrave. There are about five other words that mean simply engrave. So why might God, the Creator of language, have chosen that particular word, to use this single time in the Bible? Might I suggest to you that it is the relationship that it shares with the Hebrew word “herut’ which means liberty and freedom. My Jewish Study Bible beautifully described it as “there was freedom upon the tablets.”(Pg. 185, JSB-JPS)
So, it seems accurate to me to say that what we have upon the stone tablet, engraved by the Divine Hand, is the perfect expression of His love and His will for His chosen people. Are you tracking with that? Little “s” stone is displaying the message of God. He has carved His Holy character into the stone, by His own Hand, to plainly show Himself and speak freedom to His people.
I know I’m getting long but oh, if we can keep plodding forward, I think He will show us new ground outside the tomb that we want to claim as our own. Read over the following verses and see where your heart lands. (I’m going to add some bold-type and capital letters.)
Exodus 24:12 KJV
And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
Exodus 32:16 KJV
And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
Psalm 118:22 NIV 1984
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
Acts 4:11 NIV 1984
This JESUS IS THE STONE that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.
Hebrews 1:3 NIV 1984
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
- The stone ( Exodus 24:12) engraved, carved out by God, His Word given to His children to display His character (Exodus 32:16).
- The Stone (Acts 4:11) engraved, carved out by God, the WORD given to His children to display His character (Hebrews 1:3).
- The stone and The Stone bore the writing, the carving, spoke the Word of the Holy Engraver and expressed His Divine essence:
On display for all in Heaven and Earth to see! The Holy Engraver was shouting love from the MOUNTAIN TOP to the hearts of His children and, Girlfriend, He still is today. Oh my goodness Beloved, that we could grasp how high, how deep and how long is His love for us.
Engraved by God (Part Two)–Lessons from Baby Dog on the way. In the meantime, chew on this (no Dog reference intended but it did make me smirk), leave me a comment and let me know if you’re tracking with me. And I’ve had some questions about following the blog. On the sidebar, you’ll see “Follow” underneath the calendar. Just click it and follow the instructions. Happy to have you along for the ride!!!