“Fear not for you will not be put to shame; neither feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; but you will forget the shame of your youth, . .” Isaiah 54:4 NASB
Not be disgraced – Let’s consider the Hebrew word haper. The letters are Chet-Pey-Resh. The word picture is Fence-Word-Person. Perhaps we can capture the sense of this term by viewing it as a verbal fence surrounding a person. In other words, it is the judgment that excommunicates. To be disgraced is to be cut off from the community, to be excluded, pushed outside.
Perhaps the most common form of excommunication today is divorce. Divorce not only separates partners, it usually separates communities. Friends take sides. Soon what used to be a group of friends is now two groups of disconnected supporters. A large number of people know only too well the Hebrew sense of haper.
Of course, at the social level, we experience haper when a congregation splits. The animosity is no less severe than in the personal experience of divorce. Perhaps it is far worse since the history of religion shows us that schisms become the basis of torture and murder. Apparently love is a bond stronger than death but religion is a bond that exceeds even the grasp of Sheol.
Once again we see that the Hebraic view is focused on community perception and community action. Excommunication is not a matter of my feelings. The Eagles weren’t entirely correct when they sang, “I’m already gone.” In the Hebrew world, actions are the evidence of a state of mind. Only God can correctly enforce the tenth commandment. All the rest of us have to wait until the flower blossoms.
Of course, this Hebraic expression doesn’t mean God doesn’t care about how you feel. He certainly does! After all, He equipped you with emotions in order that you might ride the rails of feelings into the heart of the Father. Emotions were designed to become powerful allies in the domestication of the yetzer ha’ra. But just like our ability to choose one path or the other, our emotions can become the highway to hell instead of the path to Paradise.
God speaks through Isaiah. He promises to overcome the excommunication we experience in life. He heals more than our physical bodies. God speaks a word that tears down the fence separating His children. Yeshua confirmed God’s word to Isaiah when He drew the circle around the sick, the lepers, the ostracized and the sinners. The curtain is torn. Let us celebrate!
Topical Index: haper, disgrace, divorce, excommunication, Isaiah 54:4