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What is Truth Print E-mail
Written by Victoria Radin   

By Victoria Radin

Pontius Pilate asked this question of Jesus without really expecting an answer (John 18:38). He was, rather, addressing the fact that there were many and varied philosophies concerning the meaning of ‘truth’ just as there are today. However, Pilate’s question does have a definitive answer that should affect the way we live and think because Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘truth’ as “conformity to fact or reality”. I was intrigued recently when the pastor of my church introduced an obscure definition of truth as “fidelity” because fidelity means “exactness in reproduction”. This definition gives clarity to Jesus’ statement above noted wherein he identifies Himself as The Truth, i.e. the exact replica of the Father. Jesus also desired to reproduce Himself in us that He might live out His life in each person who believes.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWBOT) says that the word ‘truth’ (Heb. ‘emet’) carries an underlying sense of certainty and dependability, always relating to G-d directly or indirectly as a characteristic of His nature. Truth, it goes on to say, is the way through which G-d reveals Himself to mankind. Some important ways in which He has revealed Himself are through the Law given to Moses, through Jesus’ life and teachings (the Word), and through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it can be said that the Law, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are ‘truth’ since each represents a way that G-d has revealed Himself progressively to mankind.

Through the Law, G-d (motivated by love) revealed to the Israelites some basic insight into how to approach G-d and how to live with each other. The TWBOT says the following about the Law, which should apply to Christianity as well as to Judaism, and to our nation, as well, whose laws were modeled after the Commandments of G-d.

Through the law, G-d shows His interest in all aspects of man’s life, which is to be lived under His direction and care…Law is the revelation of G-d’s will. In this capacity, it becomes the nation’s wisdom and understanding so that others will marvel at the quality of Israel’s distinctive lifestyle… Deuteronomy interprets the external law in the light of its desired effect on man’s inner attitudes. (TWBOT, 910)

The Law does not imply that it is an agent of salvation. It only predisposes individuals (who adopt the inner attitudes to which the Law pointed) to a favorable position to be saved by the only method ever prescribed by G-d––sacrifice. The acceptance of His Son’s perfect sacrifice for their sins, the commission of which makes the sinner deserving of death according to G-d’s righteousness, is what saves the individual.

The revelation of G-d through the Law was only the first step in G-d’s plan to bring mankind back to Himself. It was clear that the prophets were looking for a future time when G-d would establish a new teaching, i.e. a new law, that would surpass the Mosaic Law –– not eliminate it–– a law that would build on G-d’s previous disclosure of His holiness, righteousness, justice, mercy, and lovingkindness. In G-d’s progressive revelation of Himself, therefore, He came in human form to ‘build on’ the written Law.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill [i.e. to crown or make complete]. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17, 18)

Through Jesus’ life and teachings, G-d brought correction to the leadership of the Israelites for the mishandling of His Law. He also led mankind into a yet deeper understanding of Himself. Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9b).

The Israelites were chosen by G-d to demonstrate His wrath upon sin and His blessing and honor that would be bestowed on those who would obey––all pointing to man’s future position in eternity–– eternal death or eternal life. The Old Covenant rules for stoning people for disobedience and rebellion, for instance, served as a vivid demonstration of this characteristic of G-d’s truth–– His righteousness and justice. For those who have “ears to hear and eyes to see”, the death meted out for the rebellious pointed to the fact that those individuals would go to eternal death. The crowning achievement of G-d in this phase of restoration was and is His sacrifice for the sins of mankind, so that those who would believe would not have to go to eternal death.

Finally, to further ‘connect’ with mankind, G-d sent His Holy Spirit to dwell inside those who choose to live according to the higher Law taught by Jesus as foretold by the Prophets (Jeremiah 31:33); G-d’s Law would be written on their hearts, instead of on tablets of stone––not a different Law, just a different way.

Each unfolding revelation added to the truth already given by G-d. Rather than supplanting the previous, each new revelation of G-d served to produce a deeper understanding of His nature, which in turn was meant to develop a closer, intimate relationship with Him. That is why the apostle Paul in Romans 11:17 is careful to note that Gentile believers are grafted in to the Cultivated Olive Tree (Israel) rather than replacing it with a Wild Olive Tree. The Olive Tree represents the religious privileges afforded to Israel by G-d. As such, non-Jews (grafted-in branches) should not hesitate to participate in the pleasure of celebrating the Feasts of the L-rd since they are part of the Law and must, therefore, serve to reveal something about G-d to all Spirit-filled participants.

The Hebrew word for truth, ‘emmet’, is said to be a joining of two words ‘em’ meaning mother, implying birth and ‘met’ meaning death. Emmet is spelled with three Hebrew letters: ‘aleph’––‘mem’–– ‘tav’. Aleph, representing the beginning of one’s life, is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and tav, representing the end of one’s life, is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Mem, which is the exact middle of the word, symbolizes water. Therefore, the word ‘truth’ teaches that it is through water that a person is born and it is through the ‘living waters’ of the Mikvah (Baptism) during one’s life that man finds his way back to G-d in death. The Greek translation of ‘aleph’ and ‘tav’ is ‘alpha’ and ‘omega’ (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet). Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega …the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 1:8a and 21:6). He is, indeed, EMMET––THE TRUTH.

Barukh HaShem (Blessed is the Name of the L-rd)

 
 
 
 
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