Then will I purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD
and serve him shoulder to shoulder. – Zephaniah 3:9 (NIV)

*   *   *

King James adds another dimension: “For then will I turn to the people a pure language,” all the more remarkable: pure lips speaking a pure language, which must somehow be beyond any human interpretation except that unity known in the heart.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the year, another helpful distinction comes in observing when the text uses LORD (all capital letters) in contrast to Lord (with the capital and lower-case letters). The former is used in place of the Tetragrammaton, the four letters that represent the name of God in the Hebrew Bible and which are sometimes translated as YHWH, Yahweh, JHWH, Jehovah, or even the Unnameable; in some Jewish tradition, this is read aloud with a word that means “the word of God” and which may, for Christian readers, link the Word of God as the gospel of John presents it with this strand running through the Hebrew Bible as epiphanies, or appearances of the divine (be aware, however, that suggesting such an interpretation is highly offensive to many Jews; nevertheless, this exercise does turn a revolutionary light upon these scenes). Much of our individual theology, or knowledge of the divine, alternates between our encounter with an abstract and ultimately unknowable deity and one that has made us in its own image.

How can any words encompass such wonder?

*   *   *

As there is a Coming to this Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus (which Law is inward, written in the Heart, and engraven on the inward Parts) there is a setting Free from the Law of Sin and Death: And so we come to know a Blotting out of the Law of Commandments contained in Ordinances, which was against us, and contrary to us, our Lord having taken them and nail’d them to his Cross. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

 

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