Friday, August 19, 2016

Of Apples & Eyeballs

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for today: Zechariah 1 & 2
mark this: Zechariah 2:8 --
"For he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye."
Did you have to take a foreign language class in high school?
Many of us who did so had to purchase a little translation book where we could look up a word in one language and then find the equivalent in another language. It worked okay for simple understanding and communication of basic words or ideas, but failed miserably when you wanted to convey more complex phrases and idioms. Thus, I could figure out how to say "hello" or the all important "bathroom" fairly easily, but a joke or catchphrase would be far more difficult. (Just try conveying the saying "It ain't over til the fat lady sings" in Japanese and see what happens.)
In today's passage, we are faced with such an expression that could be somewhat lost in translation. In these first two chapters, God is calling for the remnant of Israel to both repent, and be strengthened, and does so by sending a series of rather unique visions. (More on that in the days to come.)
In chapter two, he reassures them that they are precious to him and to convey that nearly all English versions of the Bible include the phrase "the apple of His eye." This does convey the meaning, but there is no such phrase in Hebrew. Certainly there are apples in the Old Testament. If you look up the phrase "apple of his/my eye" in the Old Testament in English, it shows up four times (1)
But the Hebrew language knows no such expression- it's from Old English. The Hebrew literally says "the little man" in the eye.
Huh? What's that supposed to mean?
Think reflection. The pupil of your eye reflects a tiny image of what it is seeing. (You can try it out in a mirror if you like.) Now think about how close you have to be in order to make out that image in your eye.
God is close. Much closer than you think. Much closer than often acknowledged. If we, his people, are called the apple of His eye, that means He is close enough to us where we become that "little man" or "little woman." Remember that you are literally precious in His sight because you are created in the very image of God (2). Furthermore, even when we as people collectively & purposely chose darkness over His light, when we became blind by sin (3), God sent His son, the Perfect Image of the Unseen God (4) to redeem us from that blindness so now "we with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory." (5)
(1) Deuteronomy 32:10, Psalm 17:8, Proverbs 7:2 & here in Zechariah 2:8
(2) Genesis 1:26-27
(3) 2 Corinthians 4:4
(4) Colossians 1:15
(5) 2 Corinthians 3:18

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