Life, alive, living: khayim (Strong’s 2416)
Root: חָי (chet, yod) [Pronounced khah’-ee]
Sounds like: kha’yeem
Forty-five years ago today I took my first breath on this planet. My mother’s womb was my first abode, the planet earth was my second… and so it is for every human. The Genesis account of human creation reads like this:
Then YHWH Elohim [God] formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [nish’mat khayim]; and man became a living being [l-nephesh khayah].
Here is what the Psalmist said about human gestation within the womb and God’s love of each individual that was created:
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your Book were all written he days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
Our days are ordained and our life is written in the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28, Psalm 56:8, Psalm 139:16, Malachi 3:16-17), but what are we to do with this life we are given? What is the point of you? Are we just here to exist and then die?
James, in his letter, writes: What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14b). We are born to this planet and are here for a very brief time. We assume that once we are born, we live, but existence is not the same as living.
YHWH told His people to choose life:
Deuteronomy 30:15-16a, 17-20
[YHWH:] “See, I have set before you today life and goodness [et ha-khayim w-et ha-tov], and death and evil; in that I command you today to love YHWH your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live [w-khayita] and become numerous… But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and take possession of it. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have placed before you life and death [ha-khayim w-ha-mawet], the blessing and the curse. So choose life [ba-khayim] in order that you may live [ti-kh’yeh], you and your descendants, by loving YHWH your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life [khayeka] and the length of your days…”
Biblically speaking, if you are not living in honour of God, seeking and listening and acting on His behalf, then you are not truly living.
Bless our God, O peoples and sound His praise abroad, He who keeps us in life [khayim] and does not allow our feet to slip. For You have tried us, O God. You have refined us as silver is refined. He who pursues righteousness and lovingkindness finds life [khayim], righteousness, and glory.
So once we choose life there are two components to truly living. We are to pursue righteousness and pursue lovingkindness.
In our word lesson on righteousness we found that the key component of righteousness was seeking God:
Psalm 27:1, 4, 7-10, 13-14
YHWH is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? YHWH is the defense of my life [khaiyay]; whom should I dread?…
…One thing I have asked from YHWH, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of YHWH all the days of my life [khaiyay], to behold the beauty of YHWH and to meditate in His temple…
…Hear, YHWH, when I cry with my voice, and be gracious to me and answer me. When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You, “Your face, YHWH, I shall seek.”
Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger; You have been my help; do not abandon me nor forsake me, God of my salvation! For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but YHWH will take me up…
…I certainly believed that I would see the goodness of YHWH in the land of the living [b-erets khayim]. Wait for YHWH; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for YHWH.
Seeking God out is the first step in truly living. By authentically seeking God out, with all our heart and soul, we will find Him. Once we are in a relationship with the Creator we will experience a fullness of joy and our path of life will be revealed to us. For the Psalmist said:
For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; You will not allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life [orakh khayim]; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.
The path that YHWH has for us leads to the second aspect of “truly living”…
In our word lesson on chesed (lovingkindness) we learned that it was best defined as divine love in action.
In other words living was not about us. Our life was meant to be for others. We were put on this planet, not to satisfy ourselves but, to enrich the lives of those around us. So when we flippantly say, “My life sucks!,” how would that helping anyone around us? Because, honestly, it’s not about us… regardless of what our “me-culture” says.
We have to be careful that we don’t turn into culture zombies, aimlessly trying to accumulate things, and experiences, and successes that match those around you. This isn’t living. We need to stop having unrealistic expectations of what life should do for us. We need to ask what can we do for life. For David, life was worth living so that he could bless and praise God:
[David:] God, You are my God; I shall be watching for You; my soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and exhausted land where there is no water. So have I seen You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life [meh-khayim], my lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live [b-khayai]; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with fat and fatness, and my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
Social media is particularly damaging. It has caused us to document our lives falsely. We are encouraged to highlight everything pretty and “perfect” in our lives, carefully posting things that make us look good or important or successful. At the same time, we carefully hide things that make us look vulnerable or needy or less than perfect. This is not an accurate reflection of our lives. We are creating a false identity. Culture now indicates that truly living means being successful, and if our lives aren’t as rosy, or as action packed, or as morally idealistic, or as accomplished, then we are failing in life.
Life, as we understand it, is not always beautiful, folks… that’s the grit of it! But we are so much more than our failures. We can choose to take our vulnerable, needy, less than perfect souls and use them to enrich the lives of others! We are here to live fully, as the Creator wanted us to and, evidently, that means serving, and living for, others.
He has told you, o mankind, what is good and what YHWH requires of you- to do justice and love lovingkindness, and humbly walk with your God.
The Creator requires this of His creation: be loving advocates for each other and have a relationship with your Maker.
RELATIONSHIP IS TRULY LIVING
Many people believe in God merely as insurance for their death. If you have faith in God simply to secure a spot in the afterlife, you are missing the point. Relationship is what we were created for- a relationship with God and with each other! The Tanakh (Old Testament) and the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) is not teaching us about how to prepare to die, it’s teaching us about how to truly live!!
The Bible, therefore, is a handbook on seeking God and being God’s love in action to everyone around us. Our life is to love and serve others. This is choosing life and living it to fullness.
YESHUA AS CHESED
How does Yeshua fit into all of this? Over and over He says that He is “the life”. If “life” is living God’s love in action then there is no better example of “life” than Yeshua HaMassiach (Jesus the Messiah).
Yeshua: As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love…I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Yeshua highlighted the ultimate goal in life… to love one another. With that, your life would be joy-filled. Yeshua was, and is, the greatest example of chesed (love in action).
Also, the quote, Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends, had a dual meaning. Yeshua was pure love because He literally died for humanity. But the quote also had meaning for us. We don’t necessarily have to die for our friends, but we are called to set our lives apart for others… laying down our life and putting others before us. This is what living is all about.
YESHUA AS “THE LIFE”
Consistently Yeshua said He was The Life. He said He was “the bread of life” (John 6:35), and He was “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and, perhaps His most well known quote, He is “the way, the truth, and the life”:
Yeshua: “You know the way to the place where I am going.”
“Lord,” said Thomas, “we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way?”
Yeshua answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life [Greek: zoe]. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would know My Father as well.”
Yeshua, and His infinite knowledge of Scripture, pulled this word picture of truth and life from the prophet Jeremiah:
YHWH is the God of truth, He is the God of life, and King everlasting.
[YHWH Elohim emet, hu Elohim khayim, umelek olam].
Yeshua was the life because He defeated death. Those who followed Him would go to the grave, but they wouldn’t stay there!
Even Paul was quick to point out that the concept of eternal life was written long before he graced the earth. In his greeting to Titus, Paul expressed that he lived… in the hope of eternal life [Greek: zoes aioniou], which God, who cannot lie, promised before time eternal [Greek: pro chronon aionion] (Titus 1:2).
The Tanakh (Old Testament) expressed the idea of a forever-life many times? David certainly held onto that hope:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Certainly goodness and faithfulness will follow me all the days of my life [khayai], and my dwelling will be in the house of YHWH forever.
David believed wholeheartedly that there would be a forever dwelling place, and it would be with YHWH!
[David, speaking about himself to YHWH]: YHWH, in Your strength the king will be glad, and in Your salvation how greatly he will rejoice! You have given him his heart’s desire, and You have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For You meet him with the blessings of good things; You set a crown of pure gold on his head. He asked for life [khayim] from You, You gave it to him, length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through Your salvation, splendour and majesty You place upon him. For You make him most blessed forever; You make him joyful with the joy of Your presence.
It was salvation that brought eternal life, forever and ever.
Humans started in the Garden of Eden with YHWH… a place of eternal living, but when we disobeyed and had to leave the garden, life came with hardship. Birth was painful, we had to work the ground for food… and death waited for us at the end of our days. But this was not what God wanted. He wanted to bring us back to the place of eternal living. He wouldn’t let us die to nothingness; He would redeem us!
Walking in the Light of Life… a Life Redeemed!
[David:] In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can mankind do to me?
Your vows are binding upon me, God; I will render thanksgiving offerings to You.
For You have saved my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living [b-owr ha-khayim].
People all through the Tanakh recognized that YHWH had redeemed them from death and allowed them to truly live.
Jonah when he was thrown overboard and sunk into the waters, said:
“I descended to the base of the mountains. the earth with its bars was around me forever, but You have brought up my life [khayay] from the pit, YHWH my God.”
The author of Lamentations was a victim of the Babylonian war against Jerusalem. But even in agony, the author recognized that they were already saved:
I called on Your name, YHWH, out of the lowest pit. You have heard my voice, “Do not cover Your ear from my plea for relief, from my cry for help.”
You came near on the day I called to You; You said, “Do not fear!”
Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause; You have redeemed my life [ga’al’ta khayay].
Job’s fourth friend, Elihu, showed Job that it was worth the pain of diving to the depths of despair if it caused that person to turn back to YHWH:
[When these terrible things happen…] “Then his soul comes near to the pit, and his life [w-khai’yatow] to those who bring death.
If there is an interceding angel for him, one out of a thousand, to remind a person of what is right for him, and he is gracious to him, and says, ‘Free him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom’; let his flesh become fresher than in youth, let him return to the days of his youthful vigour; then he will pray to God, and He will accept him, so that he may see His face with joy, nd He will restore His righteousness to that person.
He will sing to people and say, ‘I have sinned and perverted what is right, and it is not proper for me.’
He has redeemed his soul from going to the pit, and his life [w-khai’yatow] will see the light. Behold, God does all these things for a man two or three times, to bring back his soul from the pit, so that he may be enlightened with the light of life [ley-owr b-owr ha-khayim].”
Our struggles have a purpose… they bring us back to the light… they enlighten us. And even though it’s a painful procedure, we do benefit from our pain. That’s a hard pill to swallow, for many of us. But that is life on this earth.
But YHWH did not leave us to be swallowed up by death. He sent a Messiah (an anointed one) to pay the price to redeem us. Job foresaw YHWH’s plan:
“Yet as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives [khai], and at the last, He will take His stand on the earth.”
Yeshua the Messiah came to conquer death, but first He had to succumb to it. When He came back from death, on the third day, it no longer had power over us! Life, for those who followed Yeshua, would be good, abundant, and eternal:
John 10:10-11, 27-28
[Jesus:] The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came so that they would have life [zoen], and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life [Greek: psychen] for the sheep”…
…My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life [zoen aionion], and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.”
Life: it’s not about what you’ve accumulated, or where you’ve been, or what you’ve accomplished for yourself… it’s about having a relationship with your Creator, and showing love to all of God’s creation- the plants, the animals, and most of all your fellow human beings. It’s that simple.
It’s up to us to help make human struggles less painful for others, so that we can show them the way to life everlasting, where there will be no tears, no sickness, no pain, no death (Revelation 21:4)… and where we can walk again in the Presence of YHWH, our Saviour.
This little life of mine, on earth, began forty-five years ago much as it did for everyone else… with a deep breath. Help me, YHWH, to live and breathe for others and not for myself. For the path of my life was meant to follow this way, in truth, to the King everlasting.
Next week: Breath/Spirit