Root: תָּם / תָּמִים
Sounds like: taw’meem / tawm.
For many people around the globe, this is Holy Week. For Jewish and Messianic Jewish communities, this is the middle of Passover, and for many Christians this is Easter, or Good Friday and He-Is-Risen Sunday. It is normally a time of great reflection and remembrance, followed by celebration, but the festivities are quite different this year… but different isn’t a bad thing.
For those celebrating Passover, this situation definitely adds an extra significance as a reminder of the time of the very first Passover, when families had to quarantine themselves in their homes and wait for the Angel of YHWH to Pass-Over their dwelling places.
Today, as the day we celebrate the Messiah’s resurrection and His ability to overcome death, it is a testimony that we can overcome anything with the help of God. Although we should live in respect of the situation the world is in, and we should absolutely follow the recommendations set out by our governments to keep us safe, we should not live in fear.
But there’s no arguing here… this is a very strange Holy Week and one we will never forget. As strange as it is, it’s also a reminder that we who worship are a Global Community of God and we are all part of His blameless family, no matter where we live on this planet.
What does it mean to be part of a blameless family? Well, the Hebrew word for blameless is tamin… but it is also often translated as sincere, perfect, blemish-free, and of integrity. But we humans are not perfect, and we’re not blameless, or blemish-free. And we aren’t always sincere and we don’t always live our lives with integrity. How can we be a blameless family?
In the beginning we were created to be Image-bearers of God (Genesis 1:26-31). That’s quite phenomenal, considering where humanity is today. It’s pretty obvious we’ve done a terrible job at fulfilling our first commission, but it’s not surprising.
We were to be YHWH’s reflection on the planet… We were to be blameless, just as YHWH was blameless, and we were to live in this very good world, reflecting the light and love of God. But as soon as Life (chava/Eve) and Humanity (adam/Adam) had the chance, they desired the one thing they could not have. By consuming the one thing that God asked them not to eat, they lost their innocence… they took what they wanted, bit into the fruit, and could no longer be called blameless.
Then YHWH God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever”— therefore YHWH God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every direction to guard the way to the tree of life.
Although they really banished themselves by the choices they made, it wasn’t what God wanted. YHWH wanted the humans He had made in His image to be pure reflections of Him, not tarnished images. And so He came up with a plan to redeem them.
But the plan wouldn’t be instantaneous… it was a long lesson and the Bible is the story of the epic history of humanity and their struggle to get back to the Garden. Within that story the word blameless [tamim] weaves in and out of the entire epic adventure like a ribbon. Glimmers of blameless humans carried the story forward. Noah, Job, and David were all identified as blameless:
Noah was a righteous man, blameless [tamim] in his time; Noah walked with God.
YHWH said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless [tam] and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.”
Psalm 78:70-72 (see also 1 Kings 9:3-5)
He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the
integrity blamelessness of his heart [k-tohm l’vavoh], and guided them with his skillful hands.
Noah, Job, and David were seen as blameless men, but this did not mean they never sinned. On the contrary, Noah got drunk and passed out naked, Job was filled with self-loathing regardless of being made in God’s image, and David made some epically bad moral decisions (lust, greed, murder). But yet these three men were recorded as blameless. In the instance of David, he was described as having a blameless heart. This was what YHWH was looking for in His children: a blameless and unblemished heart, filled with love and sincerity.
1 Chronicles 28:9b
For YHWH searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
Humans were called to purify their hearts and be blameless, without blemish, and that meant seeking God only, and rejecting everything that opposed God’s authority:
Deuteronomy 18:9, 13-14
“When you enter the land which YHWH your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations… You shall be blameless [tamim] before YHWH your God. For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, YHWH your God has not allowed you to do so.”
Being blameless was a choice, and Joshua, as the leader of the Hebrew people after Moses, called on his people to make the right choice:
“Now, therefore, fear YHWH and serve Him in
sincerity blamelessness [b-tamim] and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve YHWH. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve YHWH, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve YHWH.”
Be Blameless not Perverse, Light not Darkness
We are His work. We are His creation… and we were made for perfection. Therefore all who strive to be blameless are God’s children, and those who do not strive to be blameless are defective images, and not His children.
“The Rock! His work is
perfect blameless [tamim], for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He. They have acted corruptly toward Him, they are not His children, because of their defect; but are a perverse and crooked generation.”
Proverbs 11:5, 20
The righteousness of the blameless [tamim] will smooth his way, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness… The perverse in heart are an abomination to YHWH, but the blameless [t’mimeh] in their walk are His delight.
The children of God, all who have a relationship with Him, are a delight to Him, and as a result we are beacons of light to the world around us. But we have to be careful that we live up to the standards that are expected of us, as blameless children:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless [Greek: amemptoi] and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…
We are to be lights in a dark corner, living blamelessly amongst a perverse generation. Truly we were never meant to live in any way but blameless; it was our original state of being, as newly created humans, and it was meant to be our default setting.
Although we have done things for which we are guilty and should be blamed, by walking in the blameless path God would see our sincere hearts and He would deliver us from harm.
Walking in the Blameless Path
Although Abraham was never called blameless by God directly, he was called on, by God, to be blameless and walk in that path:
Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, YHWH appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless [tamim].”
The concept of a blameless path was quite popular in the writings of the Tanakh:
For YHWH God is a sun and shield; YHWH gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk
uprightly blamelessly [b-tamim]. O YHWH of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in You!
According to the Proverbs, the blameless would live in YHWH’s land and remain there:
So you will walk in the way of good men and keep to the paths of the righteous. For the upright will live in the land and the blameless [u-t’mimim] will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the land and the treacherous will be uprooted from it.
David, in his Psalm of Deliverance, really identified with the word tamim:
2 Samuel 22:21-33 (see also Psalm 18:20-32)
“YHWH has rewarded me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me. For I have kept the ways of YHWH, and have not acted wickedly against my God.
For all His ordinances were before me, and as for His statutes, I did not depart from them. I was also blameless [tamim] toward Him, and I kept myself from my iniquity.
Therefore YHWH has recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness before His eyes. With the kind You show Yourself kind, with the blameless You show Yourself blameless [tamim ti-tamam]; with the pure You show Yourself pure, and with the perverted You show Yourself astute. And You save an afflicted people; but Your eyes are on the haughty whom You abase.
For You are my lamp, O YHWH; and YHWH illumines my darkness. For by You I can run upon a troop; by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is blameless [tamim]; the word of YHWH is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.
For who is God, besides YHWH? And who is a rock, besides our God? God is my strong fortress; and He sets the blameless [tamim] in His way.”
David also understood that the blameless had a home connection to YHWH:
O YHWH, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill? He who walks with
integrity blamelessness [tamim], and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.
In another Psalm identified as David’s, we get a picture of God’s protection over those who are blameless, and the reward that they would receive:
Psalm 37:18-20, 37-40
YHWH knows the days of the blameless [t’mimim], and their inheritance will be forever. They will not be ashamed in the time of evil, and in the days of famine they will have abundance. But the wicked will perish; and the enemies of YHWH will be like the glory of the pastures, they vanish—like smoke they vanish away…
…Mark the blameless man [tam], and behold the upright; for the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; the posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from YHWH; He is their strength in time of trouble. YHWH helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him.
David also had this to say to God:
By this I know that You are pleased with me, because my enemy does not shout in triumph over me. As for me, You uphold me in my
integrity blamelessness [b-tumi], and You set me in Your presence forever. Blessed be YHWH, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. amen and Amen.
These were all lovely sentiments that David relayed here, but just how was David upheld by God? How was he placed in God’s presence for eternity? How would all the blameless have a forever-inheritance? How would YHWH deliver the blameless from the wicked? How would He save them?
The Blameless Passover Lamb
Humans who have loved YHWH throughout history have done their very best to be blameless… and they could be blameless, regardless of their sins, because of the system of sacrifice that was set up in the early days of Jewish history. During the Day of Atonement, in the fall, animals were sacrificed at the temple to be an atonement for the people. They were slaughtered as a substitution for humans, so that those who chose to could live blamelessly… until the following year when the Day of Atonement would come around again.
Once a year, in the Spring, there was also a special festival that commemorated the time Moses lead a rebellion to get the Hebrew people out of Egypt. A series of plagues, commissioned by God, helped free the people who had only ever known the bondage of slavery. The final plague was the loss of the first born.
To save the Hebrew people from that same fate as the Egyptians, God instructed them to take a lamb:
Exodus 12:5-8, 11b-13
YHWH: “Your lamb shall be
an unblemished a blameless [seh tamim] male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs…—it is YHWH’s Passover [pesakh hu YHWH]. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am YHWH. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you [w-raiti et ha-ddam u-pasakh’ti a’lekem], and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”
And so, in this way, God saved the Hebrew people. But how would this lead to a forever-inheritance for all humankind? And how would any human get to be in God’s presence?
In the Tanakh (Old Testament) facing God, meant certain death, so it didn’t seem possible that one could ever live within His presence. But ever since the day when Life (Eve) and Humanity (Adam) made the fateful choice of disobedience and banished themselves from the Garden, God put a plan in motion to save them.
Just like He provided a ram for sacrifice so that Abraham would not have to kill Isaac (Genesis 22), God would provide a lamb for sacrifice so that our soul would not perish. John the baptizer recognized this plan, perhaps before anyone else did:
The next day he [John] saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Yeshua, the Lamb of God, was the blameless sacrifice who died in Jerusalem at the very time the lambs were to be slaughtered in the Temple for the Passover Feast. He was part of the preparation for Passover:
John 19:6-7, 13b-16
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.”
…[Pilate] brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!”
So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified.
And so Yeshua was crucified on the day of preparation… His death was made in preparation for us.
Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken” [Psalm 34:20] And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced” [Zechariah 12:10].”
The Apostle Paul understood the connection between Yeshua and the Passing-Over of sins:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Messiah Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed.
The sacrificial system was no longer necessary after the blameless and blemish-free Yeshua took to the cross. There was only once sacrificed needed to take us from living death to truly living:
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish [Greek: amomon] to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Now we have an eternal, forever, inheritance that David announced was coming a thousand years earlier.
But we have been redeemed at a very terrible cost:
1 Peter 1:18-19
…you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished [amomou] and spotless, the blood of Messiah.
Yeshua was the blameless Lamb of God who died for the iniquity of us all… but He didn’t just die, He conquered death. He went to Sheol (the Grave) but it could not hold Him down. And because of that sacrifice, for all the blameless children of God, we won’t be held down either. We will not stay in the darkness of the grave; we will rise as Children of Light.
John 12:44-47, 50
And Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, does not believe in Me but in Him who sent Me. He who sees Me sees the One who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world… I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
Yeshua came to save the world, and He did just that! Now, when we breathe our last breath on earth, we can walk freely back into the Garden and meet with our Creator. Because we are, once again, perfect images of God, we can now meet Him face to face without consequence. It will be the most wonderful moment of our existence, and it’s all because Yeshua died, not to judge us, but to set us free. We are blameless because He died for us, conquered the grave, and returned to live within us. Don’t let His sacrifice mean nothing to you… take the gift, and live life knowing it doesn’t end when your body says, ‘enough’.
Next week: Rest