Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, June 24, 2023
Day 37: Morning
God is Still Compassionate and Gracious
by David Harwood
He is “compassionate and gracious” (Exodus 34:6b) toward His people. It is a key to interpreting all of the Lord’s actions. It is something He wants us to love about Him, in fellowship with Him.
Come, let’s contemplate the quality of being gracious. What is this that God loves about Himself?
To begin our meditation, please consider this: the word grace translates the Hebrew, chen, and the Greek, charis. Chen is regularly translated as charis in the Septuagint. The Septuagint is the earliest translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek. It was begun over a couple of centuries before the Messiah came, and was completed about 130 BCE.
Despite chen being translated as charis, many translators think that charis should convey the word chesed (lovingkindness). It doesn’t, and this confusion weakens the understanding of biblical grace. But not a lot of harm is done because all these words describe aspects of God’s love and are related. They are like siblings, or neighbors. They definitely speak the same language. With that said, I still want to narrow the focus and get a closer look at what graciousness (chen) entails.
Quickly: Chen means favor. Charis is the Greek equivalent of chen. Charis means grace, or favor. Grace means favor.
When we look at the earliest uses of grace/favor referring to the Messiah, we simply see that Yeshua had captured God’s heart. When Father looked at Yeshua, He loved what He saw. Yeshua was worthy of His Father’s favor.
The Child kept growing and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor (charis-grace) of God was upon Him. (Luke 2:40 TLV)
In addition, the Messiah grew in even more favor with God.
And Yeshua kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor (charis-grace) with God and men. (Luke 2:52 TLV)
Obviously, this is not what is called unmerited-favor. Yeshua deserved His Father’s grace-favor.
To some degree I wish I could do away with the word grace and simply explore the various nuances of grace-as-favor depending upon the context. I would probably keep the term grace to describe the unmerited-favor which those who are justified experience when they’re standing before the Judgment Seat of the holy God. That’s how most people were taught to view grace, and thank God for imputing the favor our Messiah richly deserves to people like us. Worthy is the Lamb Who makes us worthy, too.
The foundation of someone showing favor (chen-charis-grace) to another is that they find the person to be worth favoring. The biblical idiom is that someone has found favor in someone’s sight (eyes).
This is so obvious as to be almost comedic: a person who favors another will do favors for that person. If they are liked (favored) a little, they’ll get little favors. If they’re really loved (really favored) they’ll be the recipients of huge favors. Degrees of grace-favor may vary, and grace-favor’s expression is not a one-size-fits-all.
Where are we on the favor continuum? We are really loved. We’ve received huge grace-favor. God’s great love for us provides the impetus for His grace-favor to us (Ephesians 2:4-5). The greatest expression of love, revealed in grace-favor, is the giving up of the Messiah. God is still compassionate and gracious.
Here is a baseline of grace-favor that is always relevant: unmerited-favor providing and guaranteeing eternal life and favor-that-enables us to do God’s will. However, grace does not always mean unmerited-favor. Grace does not always mean enabling-favor.
I’ve compiled a brief list of some ways grace-favor is applied in the New Covenant Scriptures:
Enabling-favor-grace to receive enabling-favor-grace (John 1:16).
Favor-grace that puts us in the sphere of favor-grace (Romans 5:2).
Favor-grace that rescues us through the prayers of others and favor that gives us the opportunity and ability to help others (2 Corinthians 1:10-11; 8:4).
Favor-grace may be connected with displays of power (Acts 6:8), peace (Titus 1:4), calling (Romans 1:5), the faith and love in Yeshua (1 Timothy 1:14), and the knowledge of God and the Messiah (2 Peter 1:2)
Favor-grace that blesses (Acts 7:10).
This God Whom God proclaimed in front of Moses is compassionate and favorably disposed toward His people. He gives them favor in their relationship with Him and in their circumstances. He wants you and me to know Him as our gracious-favoring God Who loves what He sees when He sees you. Please pray for insight into how favorably disposed He is toward you.
But God was rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us. Even when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive together with Messiah. (By grace you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5 TLV)
Out of His fullness, we have all received grace on top of grace. (John 1:16 TLV)
Through Him we also have gained access by faith into this grace in which we stand and boast in the hope of God’s glory. (Romans 5:2 TLV)
He who rescued us from so great a danger of death will continue to rescue us—we have set our hope on Him that He will rescue us again. You also are helping by your prayer for us, so that from many people thanks may be given on our behalf for the gracious gift given us through the help of many. (2 Corinthians 1:10-11 TLV)
begging us with much urging for the favor of sharing in the relief of the kedoshim. (2 Corinthians 8:4 TLV)
Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. (Acts 6:8 TLV)
To Titus, a true child of our common faith: Grace and shalom from God the Father and Messiah Yeshua, our Savior! (Titus 1:4 TLV)
Through Him we have received grace and the office of emissary, to bring about obedience of faith among all the nations on behalf of His name. (Romans 1:5 TLV)
And the grace of our Lord overflowed with the faith and love that are in Messiah Yeshua. (1 Timothy 1:14 TLV)
May grace and shalom be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Yeshua our Lord. (2 Peter 1:2 TLV)
He rescued him out of all his troubles and granted him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and all his household. (Acts 7:10 TLV)
Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarsson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Sat 24 Jun-2023 5th of Tamuz, 5783 Parashat Korach
Nu 18:21-32 1 Sa 11:14-12:22 1 Th 5:12-22