Sunday, December 7, 2008

Blessed In The Branch

“And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: ‘He will be called a Nazarene.’” (Matthew 2:23)

Every Saturday morning, we gather at our Brighton location for a Russian Messianic Center meeting with several immigrants who are eager to search the Scriptures and deepen their relationship with Jesus – Yeshua in Hebrew. We are not bound legalistically to a particular day, but understand Saturday’s value for Russian Jews and people drawn to the Jewish roots of our Christian faith. At these Shabbat services, we sing and pray in Hebrew and Russian (and sometimes English), we explore Hebraic insights, we consider life-changing passages, we open doctrinal and prophetic truths as we study complete books of the Bible, we celebrate Biblical and traditional holy days and the Lord’s Supper, we baptize new believers, we share testimonies, we pray for one another and we break bread together.

One verse in passing caught my attention yesterday, and I felt compelled to explore it later in more detail. Usually when this happens, I realize that God wants to illuminate something and to lead me in a particular way. So I pray and consider and search, and trust Him to show me His purpose and next steps. And, sooner or later, He makes things clear!

Knowing a tiny little bit of Hebrew, armed with concordances and dictionaries, I found a wonderful thing. The name Nazareth in Hebrew looks like this נצרת and its vital root is netzer נצר meaning branch or shoot. The exact Hebrew word נצר is used a few times in the Old Testament, most notably here in Isaiah 11:1:

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch נצר will bear fruit.”

There are other Hebrew words for branch or shoot, including the word used in the beginning of this passage. The Holy Spirit inspired each word for His purposes, which He teaches as He chooses. Here in this marvelous description of the coming Messiah, a key element is that He would be a Branch נצר bearing fruit. Somehow this One from David’s father Jesse of Bethlehem would be a Netzer, just a suffix away from a Nazarene.

Both of my modern Hebrew dictionaries, which include definitions for today’s use of the language, define everything related to Jesus, Christ, Christians, Christianity and Christianization with the Netzer נצר root. It might seem like a small thing to be a Netzer נצר (especially One from lowly Nazareth נצרת), but it is rather like a grand prophetic DNA linkage that descends by faith even to us!

“The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord – and He will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what He sees with His eyes, or decide by what He hears with His ears; but with righteousness He will judge the needy, with justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth; with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be His belt and faithfulness the sash around His waist.” (Isaiah 11:2-5)

1 comment:

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