Friday, September 21, 2012

Word-Nerding - Zechariah 7

I'd define word-nerding as enjoying words - their sounds, definition and/or linking together.

I'm generally not an extroverted word-nerd.  I enjoy smart words and word play; and know a fair share of them but if it isn't the proper word for transmitting the point it may be coming from pride.  That's probably a separate thought for another day.

Instead of saying "good bye" I'd love to say "godspeed".  I love the meaning but it just sounds out of place, I don't say it.  One of the great aspects of "Cry the Beloved Country" is the language throughout the whole book, specifically they depart with a "go well" and the appropriate response "stay well".  So much richer than "good bye".

The other end of word-nerding is tying words together in a way to make the perfect point.

Generally word things (movies, shows, songs, stories, books) plod along from point to point and the words are just a sidewalk to be the path.  They journey to some view but need to be not broken and disjoined as to cause tripping.  Occasionally the sidewalk is crafted in a way that it deserves attention more than just what it leads to; the steps in the journey being just as beautiful as the final destination.

So I had some quiet time before church the other week and was digging back into the Biblical minor prophets and hit Zechariah 7.  Don't think I am as studious as a should be; this is more of a rare thing than a regular event.  I have a New King James and was powerfully struck by the passage.  It's a good passage give it a quick read, and it'll only take about 3 minutes.

The people are asking if they still need to keep the old feasts and fasts.  God responds with asking them if it was for Him or themselves that they did this.  If you want to serve Me seek justice and show mercy.

It also tied into something at Sunday School so I dug up the available NIV and shared it with the class.  It was still good but something was missing.

Here's the NIV (particularly verse 5):
5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?

The missing something?  Here's the NKJV:
“Say to all the people of the land, and to the priests: ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months during those seventy years, did you really fast for Me—for Me?

I don't think I'm nerding too much by saying that second for Me adds to the verse.  Still effective without it but how did it get there, or how get left out.  Asking very directly if it was for Me moves the conviction of it from being unsettling to causing weeping.

Young's Literal Translation:
5 `Speak unto all the people of the land, and unto the priests, saying:
 6 When ye fasted with mourning in the fifth and in the seventh [months] -- even these seventy years -- did ye keep the fast [to] Me -- Me?

I went to and checked many translations.  It was there in the original text and most easy to read translations drop the emphasis of it being asked a second time.  Not all, but most.

I won't say they are awful translations, it just seems for this passage in particular it is fuller with the more personal questioning of God to his people.  I think it also reveals something of God's character.  Pushing past the point of fasting/feasting as a "religious" practice and into loving God's people - love God as God.  Give him the personal love he is due.  It convicts me to be more than just thankful about the world and his people; but also to be thankful and lovingly obedient to Him.

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