Vanity

What is vanity? Uselessness? Emptiness? It is different than emptiness of speech or false claims. King Solomon had much to say about it, but the English language doesn’t always convey what is being said in Hebrew. For example, in Ecclesiastes, vanity is the word chosen for Strong’s H1492, הבל, pronounced habel.

Ecclesiastes 1:9-11 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. There is no remembrance of former things, nor will there be any remembrance of later things yet to be among those who come after.

Ecc 1:1 The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.
Ecc 1:2 Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity.
Ecc 1:3 What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?
Ecc 1:4 A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.

H1892
הבל / הבל
hebel / hăbêl
BDB Definition:
1) vapour, breath
1a) breath, vapour
1b) vanity (figuratively)
2) vainly

We see this word means vapour or breath and James reiterates this concept of life being a vapour. If you take the time to look at the Greek word for mist or fog, it too means breath or vapour. Strong’s G822.

Jas 4:13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”—
Jas 4:14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.

The vanity we are going to focus on comes from a different root word. It is found in the third commandment, one that I believe is looked at in a very shallow manner.

Deu 5:11 “‘You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.

If your church still believes the Ten Commandments are relevant, this commandment is probably explained as using the name of God as a curse word. Since most people don’t know what the name of God is that this verse would be referencing when it was written, it would be hard to take it in vain, whatever that means. The word here for vain is Strong’s H7723. It is emptiness, falsehood, and worthlessness. It is translated as false, falsely, vain, vanity and lies through scripture.

H7723
שׁו / שׁוא
shâv’ / shav
BDB Definition:
1) emptiness, vanity, falsehood
1a) emptiness, nothingness, vanity
1b) emptiness of speech, lying
1c) worthlessness (of conduct)

The third commandment could be read as, “You shall not take the name of Yahweh, יהוה, your God, falsely.”, meaning you say you have entered a relationship, but it is actually a lie. You are saying you are in covenant with Yahweh, but your heart is far from Him. Looking at the ancient meaning of the word we see more.

I. Storm: A loud and destructive crashing of thunder and waves. II. Empty: In the sense of destroyed. Empty words or actions. [freq. 53] |kjv: desolate, vain, vanity, false, lying lies| {H7722, H7723}

Jesus gives the church of Laodacea a warning about poor commitment.

Rev 3:14 “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
Rev 3:15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
Rev 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Taking his name in vain; hopefully “in vain” is clearer now, but what does it mean to take his name? Scripture describes the relationship between Yahweh and Israel using marriage terminology, as well as Jesus being the groom and his church being the bride. Are there two brides, one for Yahweh the father and one for Jesus the son? Some theology systems don’t come out and say this, but if followed through to the end, it is the only conclusion they produce. Let’s look at Yahweh as the husband of Israel.

Jer 2:2 “Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem, Thus says the LORD, “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness, in a land not sown.

Jer 3:1 “If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the whore with many lovers; and would you return to me? declares the LORD.
Jer 3:2 Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile whoredom.
Jer 3:3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed.

Yahweh, through the prophet Jeremiah, is pointing to his instruction that once a husband divorces a woman, he cannot return to her. while at the same time pointing out that His people’s idolatry is similar to being a whore. Here is the reference in Deuteronomy.

Deu 24:1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, if then she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, and she departs out of his house,
Deu 24:2 and if she goes and becomes another man’s wife,
Deu 24:3 and the latter man hates her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter man dies, who took her to be his wife,
Deu 24:4 then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled, for that is an abomination before the LORD. And you shall not bring sin upon the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Two things are clear in scripture. Yahweh God‘s people forsook Him for another, many others, and God divorced Israel. For this reason, I can no longer have anything to do with the symbols or holy days of these foreign gods, because it is the same thing under disguise of something new.

Jer 3:6 The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore?
Jer 3:7 And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
Jer 3:8 She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore.
Jer 3:9 Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree.
Jer 3:10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.”

Yahweh God divorced Israel for being a whore with all the gods of the nations who sacrificed their children on high hills in groves of ever green trees, poles, obelisks and many of the symbols we still see today. However, He indicates that He will have mercy in the future and take her back.

Isa 62:1 For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be quiet, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch.
Isa 62:2 The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give.
Isa 62:3 You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
Isa 62:4 You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate, but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.
Isa 62:5 For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

The whole book of Hosea is also about this concept. The bride returning to Yahweh. How is this possible? God’s own law forbids a husband to return to a woman to whom he gave a certificate of divorce.

Hos 2:14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.
Hos 2:15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
Hos 2:16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’
Hos 2:17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.
Hos 2:18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.
Hos 2:19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.
Hos 2:20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

We have obviously not seen a time in history where these things have taken place. If we look to the future we see all the events that have to take place predicted in the New Testament. They are the same events. There are not two story lines, meaning there is only one bride and one bridegroom. Also, verse 2:16 says we will no longer call him my Baal. The word there is Strong’s H1180, which literally means my lord as the letter yode at the end of Baal is first person possessive.

H1180
בּעלי
ba‛ălı̂y
BDB Definition:
Baali = “my lord”
1) a deity in the northern kingdom, variation of the name ‘Baal’

There is a provision in the law for the woman to remarry that was given a certificate of divorce, as Paul discusses in his letter to the Roman’s.

Rom 7:1 Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the lawthat the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives?
Rom 7:2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage.
Rom 7:3 Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.
Rom 7:4 Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.

Paul has revealed the mystery of Christ here. Through His death we have been released from the divorce or “the law” which kept us apart from God. Where Israel was scattered throughout the entire world, the divorce was applied to the world and the solution, which is Christ, is applied also.

Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—
Rom 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

Col 2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face,
Col 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,
Col 2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Now that we have solved the mystery as to how Yahweh will remarry his people, we need to show there is only one bridegroom. This isn’t a trinity or oneness argument, because those terms make God two dimensional. Here is a verse in Isaiah that is familiar.

Isa 45:22 “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
Isa 45:23 By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’

Yet look at what Paul says speaking of Jesus:

Php 2:9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
Php 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Php 2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I have discussed this in previous blogs. With Hebrew, Greek and English, we can easily get lost. The easiest way to look at this is that in the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Hebrew scripture, they used the word Kurios , Strong’s G2962, to translate Yahweh or יהוה. This is the same Greek word Paul used that is translated to Lord in English in this passage in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Here is the Greek.

Php 2:11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι Κύριος ᾿Ιησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν Θεοῦ πατρός.

Kurios (supreme being, God), Iesous (Jesus, Yahshua, Joshua), Christos (Christ, Messiah)

John the Baptist uses the bridegroom terminology.

Joh 3:27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.
Joh 3:28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’
Joh 3:29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.
Joh 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”
Joh 3:31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.
Joh 3:32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony.
Joh 3:33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.
Joh 3:34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure.
Joh 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.
Joh 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Joh 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Joh 1:2 He was in the beginning with God.
Joh 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Joh 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Joh 1:15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)
Joh 1:16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
Joh 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Joh 1:18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

In Isaiah we see the spirits of Yahweh listed that will rest on the shoot from the stump of Jesse. This is a reference to the son of David, Jesus the Messiah in English, or Christos in Greek. This next passage is from the Lexham English Bible translation, which does not substitute the name of Yahweh.

Isa 11:1 And a shoot will come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from its roots will bear fruit.
Isa 11:2 And the spirit of Yahweh shall rest on him—a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and might, a spirit of knowledge and the fear of Yahweh.
Isa 11:3 And his breath is in the fear of Yahweh. And he shall judge not by his eyesight, and he shall rebuke not by what he hears with his ears.
Isa 11:4 But he shall judge the poor with righteousness, and he shall decide for the needy of the earth with rectitude. And he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and he shall kill the wicked person with the breath of his lips.
Isa 11:5 And righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.

We also see the seven spirits of God being attributed to Jesus in the book of Revelation.

Rev 3:1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

It looks like Jesus is given all power, and the spirits of Yahweh, the father, in the Gospel of John, where there is more on the subject. We see a helper and the spirit of truth. Yet, Jesus says He will come to us not leaving us as orphans.

Joh 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Joh 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,
Joh 14:17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.
You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.
Joh 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
Joh 14:19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.
Joh 14:20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Joh 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Also recorded by Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples He has been given all authority in heaven and Earth, and He is with them always. So often we try to view the Holy Spirit as something separate or distinct from Yahweh and Jesus.

Mat 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Mat 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

At the end of each letter written to the seven churches of Revelation there is a promise given to those who overcome.

Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.’

Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.’

Rev 2:26  The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
Rev 2:27  and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
Rev 2:28  And I will give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Rev 3:5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

Rev 3:12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.

Rev 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

These promises are given to everyone who conquers, as the English Standard Version translation says. The King James Version translation uses the word overcome. To overcome or conquer means a person was successful in not taking the name of Yahweh in vain. Not Luke warm, full of empty words and empty actions, falsely claiming to be His and doing things He hates.

1Jn 2:23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.
1Jn 2:24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
1Jn 2:25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.
1Jn 2:26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.
1Jn 2:27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

1Jn 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.
1Jn 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

Feature image taken by Emma Vail on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.

Previous Blogs:

Mixing Iron and Clay

The debate surrounding the sons of God named in Genesis chapter six and to whom they are referring to, really isn’t much of a debate anymore, because not many in mainstream Christianity talk about it, and it is often dismissed by the theory that the “sons of God” are just the sons of Seth, Adam’sContinue reading “Mixing Iron and Clay”

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