sermon: The W's and H's of Meditation (Part One)
David F. Maas
Given 08-Jul-17; Sermon #1387B; 31 minutes
We become what we think about all day long, and ruminating on carnal thoughts brings death. Meditation is a powerful antidote in combating negative thinking, a behavior which we are all prone to. When we look at the Hebrew etymology of the Hebrew word, Hagah (which means to moan, growl, utter, or speak softly), one outstanding mnemonic comes into play, namely the letter Gimel, signifying a camel. Famously, camels are ruminants, which means they "chew the cud," an action which resembles pondering over a deep thought. God defines those ruminants which chew their cud and have split hoofs as "clean." Their four-compartment stomachs enable them to purge out all the impurities from their food. Their ruminating action provides a powerful analogy for meditating or digesting thoughts. The word ruminate suggests a metaphor illustrating how one can thoroughly purify the thoughts in our nervous system, enabling us to ingest, assimilate and digest the bread of life, and the manna from heaven, namely the word of God, which His called-out ones have been given a lifetime to digest.
Let us begin in Proverbs 23. We will turn to several related scriptures upon which I intend to weave a theme. All scriptures will be taken from the Lockman Foundation’s Amplified Bible.
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart so is he.
It is the first part of this verse that is germane to my message today. The context suggests that a Godless person or a godly person consists of the sum of his continual thoughts. We have always known that we are what we eat. As food nourishes the physical body, our thoughts nourish our character and our emerging spiritual bodies. Essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson has offered an insightful corollary to this verse. He writes, “You become what you think about all day long.” The late Robert Harold Schuller, TV evangelist from Garden Grove, California, asserts more emphatically, “You are what you think about all day long.”
Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.
Romans 8:6 Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever].
Psalm 77:11-12 I will [solemnly] remember the deeds of the LORD; yes I will [wholeheartedly] remember Your wonders of old. I will meditate on all your works and thoughtfully consider all your great and wondrous deeds.
Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall read and meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything in accordance with all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will be successful.
The impetus for this message was built on Bill Onisick’s recent sermonette titled “Fire-Igniter or Fire Extinguisher,” in which he warned us that failing to meditate, incorporating God-mindfulness, has been a major contributory factor in the charred relationships and ultimate break apart of the greater church of God. He reminded me that I had given a Feast message that linked failure to meditate to loss of spiritual identity. When I reread the transcript, it was clear that it had just barely scratched the surface about meditation.
To remedy this defect, I plan to launch my second series triggered by a previous Feast message. The purpose of this series is to provide comprehensive understanding into questions as to why we must meditate, what we should meditate upon, what we should not meditate upon, what meditation is not, what constitutes false and harmful meditation, when to meditate, how to meditate, how often to meditate, where to meditate, what methods of meditation are most productive, and why meditation is beneficial and supportive of spiritual health.
Returning to the major premise that you are what you think about all day long, and to be carnally minded is death, we may find the following statistic profoundly disturbing.
Michael Deutsch, in his February 2008 article, “Meditation 101,” reported that researchers have determined that we produce up to 50.000 thoughts a day, and 70% to 80% of those are negative. This translates into 40,000 negative thoughts a day that need managing and filtering. Even if we factor in the saints sighing and crying about all the detestable and abominable things that are described in Ezekiel 9:4, most of our waking hours apparently are saturated in negative thinking in which we are literally piling and poisoning our nervous system, making ourselves physically, mentally, and especially, spiritually sick.
Let us look at Mark 7.
Mark 7:21-22 For from within [that is], out of the heart of men [the recesses of our minds], come base and malevolent thoughts, acts of sexual immorality, thefts, murders, adulteries, acts of greed, and covetousness wickedness, deceit, unrestrained conduct, envy and jealousy, slander and profanity, arrogance and self-righteousness, foolishness and poor judgment.
I am not so sure anymore that our biggest problem is failure to meditate, but instead it is the propensity to meditate continually and incessantly on noxious and poisonous things. That is why the Scriptures instruct us to guard our hearts with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Whatever we mull over in our minds, good or bad, eventually comes to fruition. The thought is indeed the parent of behavior.
Can you recall the morose disposition of King Ahab in I Kings 21:4, when he solidly meditated, stewing in resentment over Nabal’s refusal to sell him his vineyard? Refusing to eat until he got what he wanted; that is, Nabal’s vineyard at the expense of violating the sixth and ninth commandments.
Do you remember the incident in II Samuel 13 when Amnon’s inordinate lust for his sister [Tamar] made him sick and depressed as he wrongfully meditated his way to fornication, followed by intense hatred of the person he thought he had loved? If you tuned in on the Bible study on Amos [on the CGG website homepage] last night or this morning, you heard about Moab’s propensity for sustained meditative anger exemplified by burning the bones of [the king of] Edom to lime, the same kind of slow simmering Middle Eastern meditative anger displayed by the Palestinians and the Islam fascists today.
What about a more recent example of negative meditation? Last month, James Thomas Hodgkinson, a deranged psychopath, with an assault weapon critically wounded Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana in a thwarted attempt to murder as many Republican Congressmen and Senators as he could. His Facebook entries revealed that he was a devoted viewer of MSNBC and CNN, meditating on every venomous word of Rachel Maddow, Wolf Blitzer, and Anderson Cooper—all hard haters of President Donald Trump.
Eleven days ago James O'Keefe, from Project Veritas, exposed the odious agenda of confirmed Trump hater Jeff Zucker who is the current CEO of CNN that is the network founded by Hanoi Jane’s former husband [Ted Turner]. Jeff Zucker earlier this year, mandated a fake prevaricated Russian collusion story be covered by CNN 98% of the time since President Trump was inaugurated. One radio commentator speculated that his Rabbi evidently forgot to teach him the ninth commandment in preparation for his bar mitzvah.
Hodgkinson was just one of the many brainwashed would-be murderers and rioters inspired by the unrelenting and prevaricating pundits of the news media, who have created and fanned the flame of the very hurtful narrative that President Trump is mentally unstable.
Satan has certainly done a marvelous job of assembling the entire population of America and the other Israelitish nations into what David Bower described in an AP Article as media ghettoes, situated on the far right, as well as on the left, and on the far, far left of the political spectrum. This includes the entire mainstream news network newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post, all pretending to be unbiased, but are hellbent on cranking out fake and libelous stories. This also includes the BBC across the pond, which shares the same toxic narrative, destroying the fragile virtue of our Israelite culture.
What about us? Are we trapped in our own media ghettos? Are we careful upon what we allow our minds to ponder, mull over, and consider?
Proverbs 17:22 A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it and indulge it will eat its fruit and bear the consequences of their words.
Our thoughts, what we mull over and contemplate all day long, are potentially as lethal as the words and the deeds which are given birth by a collective recursive thought. Thoughts and words can maim and kill just as surely as knives and bullets. Thoughts can poison us and make us mournfully sick and possibly put our salvation in jeopardy, but wholesome and pure thoughts can heal us and sustain our spirit.
Meditation, when properly focused, can cleanse and heal our diseased thoughts, displacing the constant negative self-track and the dispiriting lies in contaminated garbage in the mainstream media, which has been systematically draining our hope and vitality. Meditation can revitalize our cast-down spirits and point them back to our refreshing journey towards the Kingdom of God and our emerging rule as members of God’s Family.
We will now look at definitions, etymologies, and metaphors, fleshing out the concept of meditation. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has provided the following meanings for meditate: “To engage in contemplation or reflection,” that is, ‘He meditated long and hard before announcing his decision’; “to engage in mental exercise,” such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra with the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness; “to focus one's thoughts on,” “reflect on,” or “ponder over,” such as, ‘He was meditating his past achievements,’ or “to plan or project in the mind,” “intend purpose,” ‘He was meditating revenge.’
Consequently, English idioms for “meditate” include contemplate, reflect, focus in thoughts, ponder, intend, or purpose. But as William Ackehurst has pointed out in his article titled, “The Joshua One E-Principle,” the Hebrew root is far more descriptive dispelling the notion of any passive thinking. The Hebrew word transliterated ha?ga?h [haw-gaw] is derived from the Hebrew “He,” “Gimel,” and “He.” “Hagah” can be rendered: to murmur; to moan; to utter; to muse; to mutter; to growl; carrying the connotation of thought vocalizing or moving the vocal bands silently almost like a whisper. Other synonyms include to speak softly, to study, to talk, to utter. as well as to chew on.
Breaking the word down into its constituent syllables, we discover the letter “He” to signify: to behold, as in the Hebrew word “hinneh” meaning “behold.” The “Gimel” in Hebrew is symbolic of the camel, the sheep of the desert. Akehurst provides a graphic description as to how the camel has unique ability to travel long distances without water or food. First it eats and drinks in as much as can hold, filling the hump to capacity. Secondly, on the trip, it regurgitates its food, chewing on it, pulling out the nourishment it needs for the journey.
Consequently, to meditate, using the association of the “bree” Hebrew consonant creating the word “hagah” means to mutter, utter, speak softly, or chew on God’s Word.
One of the most colorful metaphorical synonyms of meditate is “to ruminate,” that is to imitate the practice of a ruminant; to figuratively chew on our thoughts like a cow would chew her cud.
According to an article, posted by the British Columbia Cattlemen’s Association, ruminants include cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, deer, elk, giraffes, and several others. These animals all have a digestive system that is uniquely different from our own; instead of one compartment of the stomach they have four. Of the four compartments the rumen is the largest section and the main digestive center. The rumen is filled with billions of tiny microorganisms that are able to break down grass and other coarse vegetation that those animals with one stomach, including humans, chickens, and pigs cannot digest.
Ruminant animals do not completely chew the grass or vegetation they eat; the partially chewed grass goes into the large rumen where it is stored and then broken down into cud. When the animal has eaten its fill, it will rest and chew its cud; the cud is then swallowed once again where it will pass into the next three compartments.
Leviticus 11:3-4 You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof [that is, a hoof split into two parts especially at its distal extremity] and chews the cud. Nevertheless, you are not to eat these, among those which chew the cud or divide the hoof: the camel, . . .
Sidebar here: a camel is a pseudo-ruminant because it has only three compartments in its stomach, not the principle room, but
Leviticus 11:4-7 . . . because it chews the cud but does not divide the hoof; it is unclean to you. And the shaphan, because it chews the cud but does not divide the hoof; it is unclean to you. And the hare, because it chews the cud but does not divide the hoof, it is unclean to you. And the swine, because it divides the hoof and makes a split hoof, but does not chew the cud, it is unclean to you.
Now, notice God always supplies at least two witnesses, like fins and scales, split hoofs and chews the cud. The clean-unclean dichotomy is not an arbitrary list. The clean and unclean laws tell that every ruminant except for the specific example mentioned are clean. The reason the meat is clean is that the food has been digested multiple times, cleansing out the impurity, providing yet another comparison for the meditation process.
Digestion, assimilation, and ingestion are metaphors, which we have previously applied to meditation. Meditation relates to the Word of God as digestion relates to food. Unless we digest it well, food is of little or no use.
Matthew 4 records the episode in which Satan tempted Jesus to turn the stones into bread:
Matthew 4:4 But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God.’”
This teaching is, of course, repeated in Luke 4. But now let us go to John 6.
John 6:35 Jesus replied to them, “I am the Bread of Life. The one who comes to Me will never be hungry, and the one who believes in Me [as Savior] will never be thirsty [for that one will be sustained spiritually].
John 6:56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood [believes in Me, accepts Me as Savior] remains in Me, and I [in the same way remain] in him.
And then down to verse 63, one that we read quite a few times
John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh conveys no benefit [it is of no account]. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life [providing eternal life].
The physical food, which we ingest, benefits us only temporarily; but the words of God, the bread of life, the spiritual manna on which we meditate nourishes our emergent spiritual body so that we can confidently say, with the apostle Paul, “Therefore we do not become discouraged, spiritless, disappointed, or afraid, though our outer self is progressively wasting away. Yet our inner self is being progressively renewed day by day.” That is II Corinthians 4:16.
Through systematic daily meditation, we ingest, assimilate, and digest the precious Word of God symbolized by the unleavened bread representing sincerity and truth, which we eat every day during the Feast of Unleavened Bread every spring. Meditation is not something we do in haste, but slowly and incrementally over a lifetime. The more faithful we are at this task, the more of God’s mind we will assimilate mirroring the character of Jesus Christ.
On YouTube is a strange testimonial from a man who had eaten a Volkswagen over a period of five years; from June 1990 to June 1995, after he had carefully cleaned the parts from oil, gasoline, actually he discarded the battery as well, but everything else he machined down to bite-sized pieces mixing it with food to make it palatable—that is including metal, plastic, rubber, and glass.
It would seem, brothers and sisters, that inseminating the entire Word of God over a lifetime would be far easier than consuming a car, or perhaps a live screen TV, as other record seekers have succeeded in doing.
I wish to share with you another fascinating metaphor for meditation, comparing meditating to steeping a teabag in a cup of boiling water. Donald S. Whitney in his book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life provides the following analogy:
Our mind is a cup of hot water and the tea bag represents our intake of scriptures. Hearing God’s word is like one dip of a tea bag into the cup; some of the tea’s flavor is absorbed by the water, but not as much as would reoccur with a more full soaking of the bag. Reading, studying, and memorizing are like additional plunges of the tea bag into the cup. The more frequently the tea enters the water the more permeating its effect. Meditation is like immersing the bag completely and letting it steep until all the rich tea flavor has been extracted and the hot water is thoroughly transferred to tea.
Meditation on scripture is letting the Bible brew in the brain. Thus we may say that as the tea colors the water, meditation likewise colors our thinking about God, about God’s ways and His creation, and about ourselves.
In the next installment, we will examine the multiple spiritual, physical, and psychological benefits of meditation, including stimulating and improving memory; something that many senior citizens could profit from, as well as techniques to make our nervous systems more tranquil amidst the current upheaval and destruction of our decaying culture.