Monday, December 11, 2017

"Ishi"

Hosea 2:16-17 (18-19) CJB

“On that day,” says Adonai “you will call me Ishi [My Husband]; you will no longer call me Ba‘ali [My Master]. For I will remove the names of the ba‘alim from her mouth; they will never again be mentioned by name.”

My dad went through a phase when I was about seven or eight years old. He apparently wanted to teach my brother and me a little respect. We were to refer to him as “Sir.” If dad asked me a question, my answer from that time forward was to be “Yes sir” or “No sir.” I didn’t get it but I tried. When I forgot, dad reminded me. “Don’t say ‘daddy.’ I’m ‘Sir.’” “OK, Sir,” I said.

This phase didn’t last long. Somehow, even my father recognized the silliness. I now understand his reasoning. He was an officer, a military commander, a pilot trainer in the United States Air Force. He had to command respect. That was his job. He could not allow familiarity to breed contempt among his cadets. My father probably needed somebody to practice on so my brother and I were enlisted as little soldiers. Eventually, my mother’s wishes prevailed and it back to “dad.” We all liked it better that way.

The Complete Jewish Version of the Bible provides excellent plain English clarity for Hosea 2.16-17. Adonai (the Lord) offers us a term of endearment… Ishi (my husband). It’s a relational word inviting closeness and communion with someone you trust. Ishi is pure love and acceptance. It is the whisper of lovers and the proud announcement of a woman who knows deeply and believes fully in her man. Nothing’s held back. There are no secrets between Ishi and the object of his love. Above all else, Ishi means friendship. Pure, lasting, fully devoted, and mutual friendship.

Ba’ali, on the other hand, is a legal term meaning “my master.” It implies ownership and effectively reduces its subject to slavery. Besides being the name of the fertility god Baal, the word was used by ancient Hebrews to show respect for a husband. It would be like a princess calling her prince “My Lord,” or Beaver’s mom referring to her husband as “Mr. Cleaver,” or my wife and kids calling me “Sir” (perish the thought!).

Jesus is my Lord. Yes, it’s true. But He is far more than that to me. He is my friend. I love Him and He loves me. We are tight for this life, and forever after. He loves you, by the way, in exactly the same way.

“You are my friends if you do what I command.
I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves.
Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”
Jesus, John 15.14-15 NLT

I always respected my dad and I didn’t need to call him “sir” to prove it. I knew he would take a bullet for me. That was enough. “Sir” and “dad” eventually became united in my heart. The last time we spoke, Dad was suffering badly from cancer. I cuddled up beside him on his bed and read from the Bible. He acknowledged his friend and Savior Jesus. He told me how much he loved me and how very proud he was of me. We spoke about the times we would enjoy together someday in heaven. I said good-bye to my dad and friend a few days later.

Jesus is Ishi to me. So was my dad. So was my precious wife and best friend who died only two years and three months ago. Then there are my children and a few very dear people I am privileged to call friends. I can’t wait to see Ishi Jesus, my Ishi dad, Ishi Adonica again face to face. I love them all so much.
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The beautiful drawings on this post are entitled "Snuggling Infant," "Playful Boys," and "Laughing Baby" by artist and mother Jean Keaton whose children are pictured in these images with Christ. Jean's amazing and personal artwork is used here by her gracious permission and well communicates the message of "Ishi" from Hosea, chapter 2. You can view and purchase Jean's works of love and art at http://www.jeankeatonart.com/.

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