F is for Free

Back in 2016 I wrote this:

I drove across town for a free cup of coffee. A new convenience store opened up and they are offering free coffee for a few days, along with lots of other promotions such as $1 worth of free gas, which is about three tablespoons. I figure if I drive a few miles to get the free coffee but use the squirt of free gas, I’m still ahead. I simply cannot turn down anything free. Except puppies and kittens.

Last week I extolled the word “eat” and savored the fact that God said to Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden…” (Gen. 2:16) Free to eat!

But there’s a “but”. Verse 17 goes on to say, “…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Freedom often works like that.

There is plenty of room for a wide variety of expression and purposeful action — in-between the guardrails of God’s wise boundaries. In Psalm 119:45, David reveled in the freedom of walking in wide spaces while at the same time celebrating the commandments that limited his liberty to do whatever he pleased.

Paul had to set the churches in Galatia straight on this.

“You were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
rather, serve one another in love.” (Gal. 5:13)

Did you see that “but”? It’s a big one.

One more time:
“My friends, you were chosen to be free.
So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want.
Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.”
(Contemporary English Version)

We are supposed to use our freedom to do the loving thing for others,
which may mean setting aside our individual desires for a season.
We are free to choose to yield our rights.
We are free to be selfless.

I don’t love doing Bible study on Zoom, or worshiping with a video on Facebook, or not hugging my grands. I don’t enjoy wearing a face mask at the grocery store, or postponing our family reunion, or singing Happy Birthday on FaceTime. I’m sad that I can’t gather with my church family on Sunday mornings. I grieve the loss of grad parties and weddings, Tommy Bartlett’s Water Show and baseball.

I miss going wherever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want.

This pandemic is limiting me like never before.
I don’t like these constraints.
I want my freedom back.
But.

What if the most loving thing I can do right now is to set aside what I want?
What if I serve you best right now by yielding my rights?
What if this is opportunity, not oppression?

serve

“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “F” is FREE.

Vav

Wow! We’re on the sixth letter already — WAW!

Vav (also written as Waw) is the sixth letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Vav has the same sound as “v” as in “vine”. Every line in Psalm 119:41-48 starts with this letter. Vav looks like this:

vav

The meaning of the word “vav” is “hook”.
Can you see it?

The word “vav” is found only in Exodus, in reference to the tabernacle, where the curtains were to be hung from “silver hooks“. (Ex. 27:10, 11, 17) The tabernacle was the place where God lived while the Israelites traveled in the wilderness. Rabbis teach that in the same way, God now resides in the Torah. So scribes developed a system that made the sacred documents a reflection of the tabernacle by calling each page a “curtain” and at the top of each page is the letter “vav”, hooking the words to the parchment. (Side note: Every time a scribe copied the name of God onto a new scroll, he had to say a blessing and dip his pen in fresh ink.)

Just as a hook was used to connect the curtains in the tabernacle, the “vav” was seen as a connecting letter. When placed at the beginning of a word, the letter is read as “and”, such as “heaven and earth”. So within a sentence, “and” is the hook that connects two words. In the Hebrew text, every line of Psalm 119:41-48 starts with “vav”, or “and”, making it one long run-on sentence!

Because “vav” is the sixth letter in the Aleph-Bet, it is associated with the sixth day of creation, the day man was created. But because of sin (Jews believe the Fall happened on a Friday), the “vav”, or connection, between God and people was broken.

“So God in His goodness sent Jesus as the second Adam to reverse the curse in order to restore the connection between heaven and earth. Jesus died on the sixth day, a Friday, to make atonement for the sin of the first man and woman so the blessings we lost in Eden could be restored.” (Rabbi Jason Sibol)

Rabbi Sibol also points out that Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine mentions six stone jars. (John 2:6) That’s a detail that is easy to miss and we might think it’s unimportant. But there are no wasted words in the Bible. Six stone pots were filled to the brim to show that “Jesus came to restore the Lord’s original blessing for creation” — one for each day.

There’s one more thing you need to know about this letter.
The letter “vav” is not only seen as a hook, but also as a nail.
Can you see it?

The Messiah
was nailed to a cross to
reconnect
us
with
God.

“For there is one mediator
between God and human beings,
the man Jesus Christ.”

(1 Tim. 2:5) 

vav1

Next: My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “F”.