Thursday, September 19, 2019

1888 Message Study : To Love Mercy




Syntax is the arrangement of words and phrases which create well-formed sentences; in other words, it is the way in which words are put together to form phrases or clauses. Syntax denotes the rules for using words, phrases, clauses and punctuation. The word itself originates from the Greek word: suntaxis – a compound word, formed from sun - 'together' + tassein, meaning to 'arrange.' Hence the literal meaning is to arrange together, in a systematic way.

Each language has its own rules, or syntax, which indicates how the speakers or writers of the language will organize the words to make grammatical sense and give meaning. In general, English and Spanish languages use a similar basic sentence structure. However, when describing nouns, the general rule in Spanish indicates that the noun goes before the adjective and in English, the adjective precedes and modifies or describes the noun. For example, the red book, translated into Spanish, is "el libro rojo" (The book red), distilled water is "agua destilada" (water distilled), and the remote control, remote being the adjective and control being the noun, is "control remoto". Same meaning but the nouns and adjectives are switched.

The rules of each language, its syntax, also indicate the arrangement of concepts. Therefore, in the English language, explanations are expected to begin at the cause and lead to effect. Contrast this with the Hebrew language where the rules are different. Let us take for example Micah 6:8 to explain this. It reads,

"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"

This is the verse par excellence for biblical ethics and describes the true Christian lifestyle. In order to better understand what God is saying through Micah, we need to become acquainted with one crucial feature of biblical Hebrew thinking. When biblical authors want to explain a sequence of different actions, they describe them usually from the effect to the cause. This principle works from the visible to the invisible, from the superficial to the real, from the outside to the inside. We think and speak differently today; we explain things from cause to effect.

This means that to understand what Micah is really saying, to catch his message, we need to reverse his sequence of thoughts. We need to begin to study this verse, starting from the end. Therefore, the proper sequence for us today is:

First, "Walk humbly with the Lord!" This is the cause of all other actions described.

Second, "Love mercy!" This is the first result.

Finally, "Act justly!" This is the additional consequence.

Thus, walking humbly with the Lord leads to loving mercy, and acting justly— feats the carnal man is incapable of doing on his own. He will either love mercy or act justly, but not both. In turn, those who humbly walk before the Lord will both do justly and love mercy. There is no need to find a balance: for God's mercy is just, and His justice is merciful. If you only have one of these traits you are not walking humbly before the Lord. Ellen White says,

The laws of the nations bear marks of the infirmities and passions of the unrenewed heart; but God's laws bear the stamp of the divine, and if they are obeyed, they will lead to a tender regard for the rights and privileges of others. . . . His watchful care is over all the interests of His children, and He declares He will undertake the cause of the afflicted and the oppressed. If they cry unto Him, He says, "I will hear; for I am gracious."

A man of means, if he possesses strict integrity, and loves and fears God, may be a benefactor to the poor. He can help them, and take no more interest [on the money he lends] than can be mercifully exacted. He thus meets with no loss himself, and his unfortunate neighbor is greatly benefited, for he is saved from the hands of the dishonest schemer. The principles of the golden rule are not to be lost sight of for a moment in any business transaction. . . . God never designed that one person should prey upon another. He jealously guards the rights of His children, and in the books of Heaven great loss is set down on the side of the unjust dealer. {BLJ 170.3}

And, let us not forget that "…Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me" (Matthew 25:40).

~ Raul Diaz