The more I dig into the Hebrew AlefBet, the more amazed I am. This past week I was looking at the next to last letter, Shin (pronounced sheen). You can see what it looks like at the right.
Shin is the first letter in the word “Shalom,” which we explored in an earlier post. (Wow! was that 9 months ago??)
Shin is also the first letter in Shaddai, and is associated with El Shaddai, the name of God that means the All-Sufficient One.
Shin is also associated with the Presence of God and the Holy Spirit. And it is right in the middle of the Hebrew pronunciation of both Jerusalem and Jesus. Hmmm.
When I look at the letter, it reminds me of flames, and indeed, the word for fire is esh, the “strong devourer.” Hang onto that thought…
Do you remember this passage from Deuteronomy?
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love theLord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today
are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children.
Talk about them when you sit at home and when you
walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
This passage is called the Shema, which means “Hear!” And you guessed it – Shema begins with the letter shin…
But here’s where it gets more interesting. From Old Testament times up until the present day, observant Jews wear something called a “tefillin” – a small leather box bound on their head in literal obedience to the Scripture as they pray and wait for God’s Presence in their lives.
It contains 4 Scripture passages, and is embossed on both the right side and the left side with the letter shin.
The difference is, that on the left side, the shin has four vertical strokes instead of the normal three strokes. You can see what it looks like in this image. It’s as though the center stroke was divided or separated, isn’t it?
And remember how the Old Testament, and the requirements that God set forth consistently point to the greater fulfillment revealed in the New Testament? Consider this as you remember that shin is associated with the Presence of God as His Spirit and with the flames of fire.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven
and filled the whole house where they were sitting.
They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated
and came to rest on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
L. Grant Luton says this (In His Own Words):
Pentecost is a Jewish holy day which commemorates the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mt. Sinai. At that event God descended upon the mountain in flame, smoke, and thunder to meet with a man faithful to Him — Moses. 1500 years later to the day, the Holy Spirit descended upon faithful men and women with “tongues of fire”. At the first Pentecost, God wrote His Torah on stone tablets, but at the latter Pentecost He wrote His Torah on human hearts. The shin — the letter of flame — appears on the tefillin as a picture of God’s Spirit resting upon the head of every person who has looked for His appearing in their lives.
I am continually amazed at how the Scriptures are woven together with such intricate care to reveal more and more about our God.
What have you discovered about Him recently that has encouraged you? Won’t you share with us in the comments?