Basar: Proclaimers of GOOD NEWS!

Bearing GOOD NEWS/TIDINGS: basar/vasar. Verb. (Strong’s 1319).

Root: בָּשַׂר

Sounds like: bahsar

Isaiah 40:8-9

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.

Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news [m-vassehret], lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news [m-vassehret]; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!

The Hebrew word basar/vasar was used to denote Good News or, what some translations call tidings… Generally it was a fortunate announcement. However, good news to one person is not always good news to another, making this a fairly complicated word to study.

Good News: BIRTH

We often think of birth as good and wonderful news, but Jeremiah did not feel this way about his own birth:

Jeremiah 20:14-18

Cursed be the day when I was born; let the day not be blessed when my mother bore me! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father [bissar et avi], saying, “A baby boy has been born to you!” and made him very happy.

But let that man be like the cities which YHWH overthrew without relenting, and let him hear an outcry in the morning and a shout of alarm at noon; because he did not kill me before birth, so that my mother would have been my grave, and her womb ever pregnant.

Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow, so that my days have been spent in shame?

Jeremiah’s father received the good news of his birth, but to Jeremiah it was not good news at all. With all this suffering in the world, he questioned his very existence. What’s the point of living when we’re only born to die? For Jeremiah he wondered how his birth could be good news when all his life was suffering.

Although we were all born with death at the end of our road, those who have put their faith in YHWH believe that God’s Anointed One, the Messiah, would be born bearing the Good News of God’s Kingdom. His birth would free us from death. 

Yeshua’s (Jesus’) birth was announced with great wonder and joy… a fitting tribute to the long awaited Messiah:

Luke 2:8-14

In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news [Gr: evangelizomai] of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour, who is Messiah the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

God’s glory shone like a bright light in the dark night. The Shepherds were treated to a spectacle beyond imagination! The announcement of this little newborn was a bright and shining proclamation. Yeshua was the Light of the world (John 8:12) and the Angels declared it!

Yet, I wonder if Yeshua might have had moments like Jeremiah… knowing that His life would end painfully, and seeing all the corruption in the world around him. Would He have also thought: Why did I ever come forth from the womb to look on trouble and sorrow?

But Yeshua knew His purpose. He knew why He was there. He was the Light to the nations and the key to Salvation… and He would suffer for it.

Seven hundred years earlier, the prophet Isaiah foretold of God’s glory shining upon the people:

Isaiah 60:1-6

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of YHWH has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; but YHWH will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you.

Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about and see; they all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, and your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.

A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news [y-vassehru] of the praises of YHWH.”

This brings to mind the magi of the nations who sought out the foretold Messiah Child whom king Herod feared so much. The magi came bearing gifts worthy of a King and they left with joy and Good News to share:

Matthew 2:10-11

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Gold was a fitting gift to give to royalty, but frankincense & myrrh were both perfumes made from tree resin. Myrrh, in particular, was used in embalming the dead, making it a rather strange gift to give a child. But Yeshua knew that this gift was exactly what he needed and it was part of His Good News story:

Matthew 26:6-13

Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel [evangelion] is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.”

This woman’s story was part of Yeshua’s story… and he recognized her importance in His own narrative. She was prepared for His death long before anyone else was, and her memory would not be forgotten because of it.

The Greek equivalent word here is evangelion, translated either as Gospel or Good News. Yeshua’s birth was Good News, but it feels strange to say that Yeshua’s death was also Good News.

Good News: DEATH

In the Tanakh (Old Testament) we read many stories of war, and death, and destruction. The world was sorting out its borders and land claims came at a great cost to human life. When King Saul and three of his sons were killed in battle, the Philistines sent this “good news” to their people, but to the Hebrew people this was news of the worst kind.

1 Samuel 31:8-13

It came about on the next day when the Philistines came to strip the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. They cut off his head and stripped off his weapons, and sent them throughout the land of the Philistines, to carry the good news [l’vassehr] to the house of their idols and to the people. They put his weapons in the temple of Ashtaroth, and they fastened his body to the wall of Beth-shan. 

Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all the valiant men rose and walked all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan, and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. They took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

Death and “good news” were often connected in the Tanakh. It’s an, admittedly, odd pairing. The Hebrew word basar (בָּשַׂר) actually shares the Hebrew root letters with the Hebrew word for flesh (בָּשָׂר), which tends to indicate some sort of connection between the two. 

When your enemy dies, is it good news? Some believed that David wanted Saul and his descendants killed, but this was not good news to David. It was not what he wanted. 

After Saul’s death, his son Ish-bosheth became the natural successor to be king of Israel, but the House of Judah seceded and chose David as their king. A war ensued but Ish-bosheth was attacked and killed in his own home by two brothers, Rechab and Baanah:

2 Samuel 4:7-12

They [Rechab and Baanah] had entered the house while Ish-bosheth was lying on his bed, and having stabbed and killed him, they beheaded him, took his head, and traveled all night by way of the Arabah. They brought the head of Ish-bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, “Here is the head of Ish-bosheth son of Saul, your enemy who sought your life. Today YHWH has granted vengeance to my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.”

David answered Rechab and Baanah his brother, sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, and said to them, “As YHWH lives, who has redeemed my life from all distress, when one told me, saying, ‘Behold, Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing good news [kim-vassehr], I seized him and killed him in Ziklag, which was the reward I gave him for his news [b’sohrah]. How much more, when wicked men have killed a righteous man in his own house on his bed, shall I not now require his blood from your hand and destroy you from the earth?” Then David commanded the young men, and they killed them and cut off their hands and feet and hung them up beside the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-bosheth and buried it in the grave of Abner in Hebron.

Rechab and Baanah brought good news that David’s enemy was dead, but for the killing of Ish-bosheth, a righteous man, David required their blood. He would not tolerate a stealth killing outside the field of battle. He cut of their hands and feet and hung them up by the pool in Hebron, and then Ish-bosheth’s head was given a proper burial. In “an eye for an eye” culture, David’s disapproval of killing did not stop him from using death as a punishment.

Regardless, death was not good news to David. He recognized the evil behind it. The Adversary (ha-Satan) loved destruction and death and would, at every chance, encourage humans to join in the chaos. But David recognized that YHWH was the Advocate of life and order, not death and chaos. YHWH was the Creator of the Garden of Eden, which was the ultimate destination, filled with abundant life and glorious order. Although David himself was not innocent in regards to killing enemies, he knew that destruction masked as “good news” wasn’t holy, and it wasn’t from God. 

David, with maturity and wisdom, did not rejoice in killing his enemies. When his own son, Absolom, became an enemy, it crushed David. He asked his army to “deal gently” with Absolom, but Joab, the commander of David’s army saw him as an ultimate threat and killed him. 

2 Samuel 18:9-10

Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going. When a certain man saw it, he told Joab and said, “Behold, I saw Absalom hanging in an oak.” 

Joab questioned the servant as to why he did not kill Absalom, but the servant knew it was not the wish of King David and so he wisely stepped away, but Joab saw things differently:

2 Samuel 18:14-15

…Then Joab said, “I will not waste time here with you.” So he took three spears in his hand and thrust them through the heart of Absalom while he was yet alive in the midst of the oak. And ten young men who carried Joab’s armour gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.

After Absalom’s death, and the rest of David’s enemies were defeated, Ahimaaz wanted to be the first to tell David of the “good news”, but Joab knew that this announcement (especially the death of David’s son) would not be “good” to David.  Instead he sent a Cushite to deliver the news. Ahimaaz begged to run after the Cushite and Joab allowed him to do so. It’s a heartbreaking story to read. David saw the two runners in the distance and had great hope that he would receive good news… but what he received was much different:

2 Samuel 18:24-33

Now David was sitting between the two gates; and the watchman went up to the roof of the gate by the wall, and raised his eyes and looked, and behold, a man running by himself. The watchman called and told the king. And the king said, “If he is by himself there is good news [b’sorah] in his mouth.” And he came nearer and nearer. 

Then the watchman saw another man running; and the watchman called to the gatekeeper and said, “Behold, another man running by himself.” And the king said, “This one also is bringing good news [m-vasehr].” The watchman said, “I think the running of the first one is like the running of Ahimaaz the son of Zadok.” And the king said, “This is a good man and comes with good news [b’sorah tovah].

Ahimaaz called and said to the king, “All is well.” And he prostrated himself before the king with his face to the ground. And he said, “Blessed is YHWH your God, who has delivered up the men who lifted their hands against my lord the king.” The king said, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And Ahimaaz answered, “When Joab sent the king’s servant, and your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I did not know what it was.” Then the king said, “Turn aside and stand here.” So he turned aside and stood still.

Behold, the Cushite arrived, and the Cushite said, “Let my lord the king receive good news [yit-basehr], for YHWH has freed you this day from the hand of all those who rose up against you.” Then the king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “Let the enemies of my lord the king, and all who rise up against you for evil, be as that young man!” 

The king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And thus he said as he walked, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!

What kind of news was this? Was it good? Was it bad? And who should deliver this news to King David? And when?

Surely it was good that David’s enemies had been vanquished, but it was not so good that David’s own son died, hanging from a tree. There was a bittersweetness to this death, but to David it weighed heavily on the bitter side.

Yeshua’s own death, hanging from a tree, was also bittersweet. The story of humanity, represented fully in the Bible, does play out primarily as a tragedy. It comes to a happy ending only because of the beautiful twist where God forgave and redeemed His Images on earth. But that redemption came at a great tragic cost. The price of our iniquity was paid by someone else… and not just any sacrificial lamb, but God’s most beloved Son died to give us LIFE and set us free. 

Good News: SALVATION

Over and over we hear the refrain that salvation is for all the nations. All the earth shall praise His name:

1 Chronicles 16:23-25a (see also Psalm 96:1-5)

Sing to YHWH, all the earth; proclaim good tidings [bass’ru] of His salvation [yeshua’toh] from day to day. Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. For great is YHWH, and greatly to be praised…

This was Good News… that YHWH came to save everyone, not just His chosen people, but all the people on the planet. All those who bore the Image of God, made of flesh and bone could be saved! 

In Hebrew, the name Yeshua (Jesus) meant Salvation. Can anyone live up to their name more that Yeshua did? He came to live on this planet so that He could die on it and save us.

Good News: KINGDOM

But was that the Good News? Was His death the good news we were waiting for? Mark saw it differently:

Mark 1:1, 14-15

The beginning of the gospel [evangeliou] of Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“Behold, I send My messenger ahead of You, Who will prepare Your way; The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of YHWH, make His paths straight.’”… 

…Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel [evangelion] of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news [evangelio].”

The Good News, according to Yeshua, was that the Kingdom of God was at hand. Yeshua brought Kingdom Living to the earth. His life was a reflection of what living in the Kingdom of God was meant to be. 

Yeshua knew His mission. it was foretold by the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 61:1-3

The Spirit of the Lord YHWH is upon me, because YHWH has anointed me to bring good news [l’vassehr] to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favourable year of YHWH and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of YHWH, that He may be glorified.

This portion from the Book of Isaiah was the very passage that Yeshua read in his hometown synagogue near the beginning of His ministry:

Luke 4:16-21

And He [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

“The Spirit of the Lord YHWH is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel [evangelistastai] to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed,  to proclaim the favourable year of YHWH.”

And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Yeshua lived out the Good News… He was ushering in the Kingdom of God, showing what true living was all about. We were to be advocates for the poor, the infirm, the oppressed, the incarcerated… both physically and spiritually. Yeshua’s death and resurrection was necessary to save us… but the Good News was what came after we were saved: living and serving God in the Kingdom!

But humanity did not want to hear about Kingdom Living… they could not accept Yeshua and His teachings. He taught of a Kingdom that they were not ready to be part of, and so they demanded His death. Rather than embracing Him, they mocked Him. He was the King of the Jews, without a Kingdom on earth:

John 19:1-7

Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.

jclk8888_pixabay
Photo by jclk8888 (Pixabay.com)

And so Yeshua was crucified, but His story does not end there. On the third day Yeshua conquered the grave and returned to life. The connection between the Hebrew words for “good news” and “flesh” played out perfectly here: the Good News was that His flesh did not decay in the grave… it lived, so that we could enter the Kingdom of YHWH and face our Creator.

Psalm 16:8-11

I have set YHWH continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh [b’sari] also will dwell securely.

For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay. You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.

The disciple Peter, tied in the concept of suffering in flesh and the Good News of Kingdom Living. With God’s Spirit within us, we could live like we were in the Kingdom now! Everyone deserved to hear the Good News: the spiritually dead, could rise above their desires of the flesh, and be resurrected, living in the Spirit. That was the gospel worth celebrating!

1 Peter 4:1-6

Therefore, since Messiah has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. For the time already past is sufficient for you to have carried out the desire of the Gentiles, having pursued a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties and abominable idolatries. In all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same excesses of dissipation, and they malign you; but they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For the gospel [evangelisthe] has for this purpose been preached even to those who are dead, that though they are judged in the flesh as men, they may live in the Spirit according to the will of God.

Instead of following our own desires, we can now follow the will of God, with purpose! Because of the sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah, we are free to become chain breakers and Kingdom champions! Yeshua fulfilled His mission. Now we would have to fulfill ours.

Proclaimers of Good News

We need to be the proclaimers of Good News… the news that even though we chose to walk away from God in the garden, He refused to walk away from us. He sent His beloved Son to buy us back from our sin and shame. Yeshua’s death redeemed us and set us free so we could enter the Kingdom freely and without fault. 

Isaiah 52:7 (See also Nahum 1:12b-15)

How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news  [m-vassehr], who announces peace [mash’mia shalom] and brings good news  [m-vassehr] of happiness, who announces Salvation [mash’mia YESHUA], and says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Next week: Prevail

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