LIFT/CARRY/BEAR: nasa (verb). (Strong’s 5375).
Sounds like: naw-saw.
This week’s Hebrew word is near the top of my list of favourites, because it is central to the entire Biblical story. In an attempt to save time here’s the Bible in a nutshell: In the beginning humans made a terrible choice and in doing so they bound themselves to the sins of this world. They decided to define good and evil on their own terms and walk away from their Creator. But God did not give up on them. Even though they chose poorly He made a plan to forgive and redeem them. He would anoint a Servant to be lifted up, and to carry the burden of sin for humanity. The Hebrew word for anointed is mashiach or, in English, messiah. YHWH chose to save humanity through the actions of a servant Messiah.
He will be raised and lifted up [w’nisa] and highly exalted.
The Hebrew word nasa carries a lot of weight (pun intended). It means to lift up, but not just that… it is also to carry, or to bear the weight of something. In the Torah YHWH carried the people out of Egypt and towards the promised land:
So I said to you: “Do not be terrified or afraid of them! YHWH your God, who goes before you, will fight for you, just as you saw Him do for you in Egypt and in the wilderness, where YHWH your God carried you [n’sa’aka], as a man carries his son, all the way by which you traveled until you reached this place.”
This is one of the jobs of a father… to lift his child up and, if need be, carry them to where they need go in life.
And this is exactly what YHWH does for his own Son, Yeshua. He lifted him up onto the cross to bear the weight of the sins of the people. This is where he needed to go in life. This was his life’s purpose.
YHWH will lift Himself up
Of course by lifting up the Messiah, YHWH is also lifting Himself up:
“Now I will arise,” says YHWH.”Now I will be exalted. Now I will lift Myself up [e’nase]”
What does it mean for the Creator lift Himself up?
The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and YHWH alone will be exalted in that day. For YHWH of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty, against all that is lifted up [nissa]—and it shall be brought low.
This is the set-up for what many theologians call the “upside down kingdom”. The humble would be lifted up and the prideful would be brought down low. In this particular day that YHWH had set aside, a part of God’s own self, in His most humble form, would be exalted.
Isaiah, more than any prophet, spoke of the day when the Branch of YHWH, the humble Messiah, would carry our pain and take our sins upon himself in the most humiliating way:
Carrying/Bearing the iniquity
Isaiah chapter 53
Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of YHWH been revealed?
For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground. He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore [nasa], and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but YHWH has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living? For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due?
His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth. But YHWH was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, and the good pleasure of YHWH will prosper in His hand.
As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, as He will bear their iniquities.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore [nasa] the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
By being lifted onto the cross Yeshua lifted the burden of sin from us and carried the sin himself. Really, it is the ultimate form of forgiveness.
Forgiveness as Carrying
Nasa is often translated as to forgive, which puts a different spin on how we tend to define the word. What is forgiveness? In the sense of nasa it is lifting the guilt off of someone. It is saying to the person: “I forgive you. Let go of the burden of guilt. I will lift it off your shoulders and carry it for you. Even though it was you that hurt me, I will carry the pain and you will let it go.”
Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not hide my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to YHWH,”
and You forgave (lifted]) [nasa-ta] the guilt of my sin.
You showed favour to Your land, O YHWH; You restored Jacob from captivity.
You forgave (carried) [nasa-ta] the iniquity of Your people; You covered all their sin.
Nasa is the only way we could be fully forgiven and redeemed. There is no salvation without lifting the sins of the world and we certainly couldn’t do it on our own. God made a covenant promise to David and the Hebrew people, to bring an eternal Kingdom in His Name, through His Son:
2 Samuel 7:12-14a
YHWH to David: And when your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he will be My Son.
In the same way, after supper he [Jesus] took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you.”
Jesus is Lifted Up
Yeshua knew his purpose from the beginning. He first spoke of it to Nicodemus the Pharisee:
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”
Throughout his ministry Jesus continued to speak about being lifted up (in Greek: hupsoó):
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” He [Jesus] said this to indicate the kind of death He was going to die. The crowd replied, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever. So how can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?”
But Jesus had already answered this question earlier:
So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I Am He, and that I do nothing on My own, but speak exactly what the Father has taught Me.”
It was God’s plan from the beginning. Lifting Himself onto the cross was the only way to bring the people back to Him. It was the only way to bring peace.
Behold, My Servant will prosper; He will be raised and lifted up [w’nisa] and highly exalted.
When we first read the passage in Isaiah about the Servant Messiah being exalted we may have pictured him sitting on a throne surrounded by glory and splendour. But now we can see that his true exaltation was the moment he was crowned with thorns and lifted up onto the agonizing cross to take the full weight of our transgressions onto himself. By carrying our sins on his own back Yeshua set us free. We are truly forgiven. There’s no way to repay Yeshua’s sacrifice, we can only show love to all and lift our hearts and hands to YHWH in humble thankfulness:
Let us examine and test our ways, and turn back to YHWH. Let us lift [nissa] our hearts and hands to God in heaven.
Next week: Sorrow