I spend a lot of time in the Bible. Much of that time is spent looking up words in the context of their original meanings. Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic words are often complete thoughts, not just the pared down version which we find in most modern translation. It fascinates me. The most familiar example of this is the word which we read as “love”. There are three different “loves” used in the New Testament. We can miss the intention, if we aren’t aware of the context. “Eros” defines sexual attraction. “Phileo” refers to the love of a brother; hence Philadelphia the city of brotherly love. “Agape” is the unconditional love which is personified through the life and death of Christ. Contrary to the 1969 “summer of love” message; when Jesus told us to “love one another” and “love your neighbor”, the word used is NOT “eros”.
So, the context defines the intent. I found two little words which I believe are the most overlooked. Those words are “a” and “the”. “A” indicates alternatives. “The”, on the other hand, is singular in nature. For those of you thinking; “Big Deal!”, you’re right! It is a Big Deal!”.
Moses asked God His name, because he knew that the people would ask him under what authority he planned to deliver them. Imagine if God had responded with “I AM a lord, a god.”. I think Moses may have gone back down the mountain and back to tending sheep. After all, by accepting God’s mission to deliver the Hebrew people from bondage, Moses was going back to Egypt to confront the authority of Pharaoh’s multitude of “gods”. One more “god” wouldn’t do much to impress anyone. God told Moses; “I AM The LORD, Thy God!”. No alternatives. No options. He isn’t One of many. He’s the Real Deal – The One and Only God. Who deserved the credit for Israel’s deliverance; a god or The God? See the difference.
When David approached Goliath, he boldly announced; “I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.”. “The name, The LORD, The God”! While the Philistines had Dagon and other “gods”, “The armies of Israel” needed but one God. It was in “The power of The Name” that a runt of a lad dared confront the power of a giant and the Philistine army, with full confidence. Confidence isn’t present with alternatives. Reliance on alternatives, loopholes, options means you have no faith in any of them actually working. David had faith because he trusted in The LORD.
Paul addressed this while in Athens. The Greeks had a multitude of “gods”, each representing a different power, or attribute. Among the statues, shrines and memorials each to “a god”, Paul found one which stood out. The inscription read; “To The Unknown God”. Paul used this simple inscription as the basis of his witness to these people. He pointed out that “The God” is the Creator of Heavens and Earth. Then he said; let me introduce you to Him.
I believe the best Biblical illustrations of the difference between these two small words came from Jesus. “I Am The Good Shepherd” verses “a hired hand who cares nothing for the sheep”. “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep”. I know which one I’d rather follow. “I Am The Bread of Life”, I Am The Light of the world”, I Am the Door”, “I Am The Son of God”, and I Am The Resurrection”. Not one mention from Jesus of Him being a good alternative.
“I Am the Alpha and The Omega, The Beginning and The End”. I’m aware of many theories regarding the formation of all things. They are falsely prefaced with “The”. Theory indicates alternatives, not fact. “The big bang theory”, “The theory of evolution” and other lesser known theories are examples of “a” methodology; unproven and unsubstantiated. I have never seen, even in argument, Creation referred to as “a theory”. Perhaps that’s because it’s The Truth.
Speaking of which… Truth in today’s society seems to be in question. “Absolute truth” is a redundancy. If it isn’t absolute, it’s an opinion. If it’s truth, it’s already absolute. Controversial? Hard to accept? That’s because we hate to admit that our way isn’t always the right way; that our paths need forks in the road, in case we don’t like where we’re headed. Choices! We like choices. Unfortunately, we’re not very adept when it comes to making the especially difficult ones. Before you hit the ceiling, please note that I said “we”; another very important small word. I included myself in that less than favorable evaluation – because it’s The Truth!
“That’s not politically correct!” I’ve been told. My response? “Thank you! When it comes to The Truth, I’ve got The Perfect Role Model”. Notice I didn’t say “a” role model. “A” role model is okay when it comes to sports, art and other activities which may incorporate different styles and tastes – all of which are subject to change. But, when it comes to life, I try desperately to live in “The” Way. Jesus wasn’t politically correct. By stating: “I AM The Way, The Truth and The Life”, He stepped on toes then and continues to do so today. People seem to like loopholes. Jesus left none. He followed His bold statement with; “No man comes unto the Father, but by Me”. One Way – “The” Way – never “a way”. The best thing about this is that The Way isn’t subject to change. I don’t ever need to stop at a fork in life’s road, wondering which way is right. The Way is The Only Way and Jesus blazed the trail. All I need to do is keep my eyes on Him and He’ll keep my feet on The Path.