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Part 3

 by Charles H. Welch

"Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth" (I Cor. ii. 13).

In our last paper upon this important theme we submitted to the reader the Scriptural meaning and usage of two Hebrew words, viz., abad and
shamad, and found that in the first case the word "perish " was an unequivocal and true rendering, and that in the second instance the meaning was "to destroy," or "to be destroyed."

There is another word which is translated " to destroy," and that is the Hebrew word tsamath. The following is a list of the renderings in the A.V., with the number of occurrences: " cut off," 8 times; " consume," once; "destroy," 5 times; "vanish," once; "for ever," twice.

In Psa. ci. 8 we read, "Morning by morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land" (R.V. marg.) The Psa]m has for its theme, "The coming King and His rule." In that day sin will be summarily dealt with, even as we have a foreshadowing of the kingdom in the judgment which fell upon Ananias and Sapphira, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. The Scriptures enlarge upon this meaning in no uncertain way in 2 Sam. xxii. 41, 43:D

"Thou hast also given me the necks of mine enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me .... then did I beat them as small as the
dust of the earth, I did stamp them as the mire of the street, and did spread them abroad."

Making all due allowance for the figurative language of the passage, the meaning is evident to all. There is an interesting illustration of its use in Lev. xxv. 23, 30, the word translated "for ever" being the feminine form of tsamath. "The land shall not be sold for ever (A.V. margin 'To be quite cut off') for the land is Mine." The land belonged to the Lord, and all transactions relative to its sale were limited by the number of years to the Jubilee, when the possession reverted to the original owner. The case of a "dwelling house in a walled city," however, was different, that was man's erection:D

"If a man sell a dwelling house in a walled city, then he may redeem it within a whole year after it is sold .... and if it be not redeemed within the space of a full year, then the house that is within a walled city shall be established forever to him that bought it throughout his geuerations, it shall not go out in the Jubile " (Lev. xxv. 29, 30).

The use of this word translated "for ever" is striking; when once the house passes beyond redemption it is absolutely beyond recovery. So far as the original ownership is concerned it is "cut off," it has passed away.

Let us think of this when we read Psa. xciv. 23, "He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness, yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off ." Beyond redemption! Cut off!! What a word is this! Jeremiah when cast into the dungeon said, "They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me " (Lam. iii. 53). Jeremiah realized that unless the Lord came to his help, he was shut up in that which would prove to be his tomb. Praise be to God, we are taught not to fear those that, after having killed the body, have no more that they can do, but rather to fear Him that is able to destroy both body and soul in Gehenna. Job vi. supplies us with one more illustration. Verses 14D21 of this
chapter deal with Job's estimate of his friends:

"My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away .... what time they wax warm they vanish; when it
is hot they are consumed out of their place. The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish."

Job uses a powerful illustration here. The transitory character of the mountain stream, which lasts only until it waxes warm, and thenvanishes into the atmosphere. This word "vanish" is the word tsamath, and once again we are not left in doubt as to its meaning. Reviewing, we find that this word means, "to be cut off," "to be deprived" either of being, existence, identity, or relationship. This is one of the words used to describe the sinner's end. He is to be cut off (tsamath) from the living God, he will be destroyed (shamad), and he will consequently perish (abad). 

We will now turn our attention to another Hebrew word, namely, karath. In its various forms it is translated in the A.V. " cut off," 88 times, " be cut off," 59 times " cut down," 19 times, and " cut," "destroy," "hewn down," "perish." It is further rendered " covenant," twice, and "make a covenant," 84 times. Its primary meaning is " to cut off" as a branch (Num. xiii. 23), "to cut down " as a tree (Isa. xxxvii. 24).  The word kerithuth -- a feminine noun from karath -- is translated " divorce " and " divorcement " in Deut. xxiv. 1, 3; Isa. 1. 1; Jer. iii. 8.

Karath is used continually with reference to the cutting up of the bodies of the animals slain for sacrificial purposes (Jer. xxxiv. 18).  Psalm 1.5 literally rendered is, "those who have cut in pieces My victim in sacrifice." Gen. xv. 9D17 is an illustration of the practice of cutting or dividing the bodies of the victims, but in this passage another word is used instead of karath. This word karath is used in that solemn prophecy of Dan. ix. 26, "Messiah shall be cut off and shall have nothing." This cutting off was the death on the Cross. " He was cut off (gazer) out of the land of the living."

The repeated threat found in the law against offenders is, " that soul shall be cut off from among his people " (Ex. xii. 15; Lev. xix. 8; Num. xv. 30, &c.). The words of Jer. xlviii. 2, " Come, let us cut it off from being a nation," give us some idea of the force of the word, but when we read it in Gen. ix. 11 in reference to the Flood, we realize how tremendous this cutting off really is. There in Gen. ix. the words " cut off " correspond to the words " destroy " and " die " of vi. 17 and ix. 11, and " curse " and " smite " of Gen. viii. 21. Turning from these historical references we find that this severe
judgment is held over the head of impenitent sinners:

"Evil doers shall be cut off" (Psa. xxxvii. 9).

"The end of the wicked shall be cut off" (Psa. xxxvii. 38).

We have already said that the primary meaning of the word karath had reference to the cutting down of a tree. This is clearly substantiated by reading the closing verses of Psa. xxxvii. The words " cut off" occur five times in this Psalm (verses 9, 22, 28, 34, 38). If in verse 9 we read that the evildoers shall be cut off, we read in verse 10, " For but a little while, and the wicked shall not be," and lest the reader should object to this strong term indicative of extinction, the Scripture continues, " Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be."

Verse 28 says, " The seed of the wicked shall be cut off "; the antithesis is given in the sentence before concerning the saints, " They are preserved for ever." Verse 34 says, " When the wicked are cut  off, thou shalt see it." We are not left to our own speculation as to what the saints shall see, for verses 35, 36 continue and give us the figure of the wicked " like a green bay tree D yet he passed away, and, lo, he was not, yea, I sought him, but he could not be found." The "end" of the righteous is "peace," "but the transgressors shall be destroyed together and the end of the wicked shall be cut off."

Again, by referring to verses 9, 22, 28 and 34 we shall see that the wicked shall be " cut off " from the inheritance:

"For evildoers shall be cut off, but those that wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth."

"For such a be blessed of Him shall inherit the earth."

"And they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off" (cf. Matt xxv. 34D36).

"The seed of the wicked shall be cut off."

"The righteous shall inherit the land."

"He shall exalt thee to inherit the land."

"When the wicked shall be cut off, thou shalt see it."

This judgment, then, deprives those upon whom it falls not only of any share in the kingdom of the heavens and the peace of God (verses 11 and
37), but blots them out, or cuts them down as a tree, so effectually that twice in this Psalm the words indicative of extinction are used (verses 10 and 36). The reference to a tree is also found in the next occurrence (Prov. ii. 22). "The wicked shall be cut off from the earth and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it." The one passage in the A.V. wherein the word karath is rendered "perish" has reference to the vegetation of the country perishing by reason of famine, viz., Gen. xli. 36, " that the land perish not through famine."

Again we pause to consider the testimony of this word to the doctrine before us. What are the wages of sin? Abad, to perish; shamad, to be destroyed; tsamath, to be cut off. Every figure used concerning the last two words considered in this present article enforce the meaning. The divorcemcnt of man and wife; the complete loss of the unredeemed dwelling house; the vanishing of the stream; the extinction of the tree whose very place could not be found, all alike testify to the truth of the Scriptures, that the wages of sin is death, and give the lie to the vain deceitful philosophy which says, "There is no death, what seems so is transition," which tells us that death is but life in another place. Oh to believe God! let men call us what they will. It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

We have now considered four of the most important Hebrew words used by God in connection with the wages of sin, viz., abad, shamad, tsamath
and karath. One or two more words of less frequent usage will complete our studies in this section, and then we must turn to the Greek words
used in the N.T.

Kalah.D This word is translated by a great many different English words. We give a few of the most important: " to consume, be consumed,
consume away," 60 times. Other renderings include, " be accomplished "; " be finished," "cease"; " destroy utterly "; " utter end."

Let us look at the way the word is used, apart from the question of future punishment. "On the seventh day God ended His work which He had
made" (Gen. ii. 2). Comment is unnecessary here. Totality and completion are clearly expressed by the context in every passage. " And He left off talking with him, and God went up from Abraham" (Gen. xvii. 22). " The famine shall consume the land " (Gen. xli. 30). "The water was spent in the bottle" (Gen. xxi. 15). "My soul fainteth for Thy salvation .. .mine eyes fail for Thy Word" (Psa. cxix. 81, 82). " I will not make a full end with you " (Jer. v. 18; xxx. 11). "The consumption decreed shall overflow in righteousness" (Isa. x. 22), "Until the day and night come to an end " (Job xxvi. 10).

The underlying idea of the word kalah may be seen in the fact that kol is the Hebrew word for " all " and " every." It signifies, as we have observed, totality and the utter end. It is the word used by the Lord when He said to Moses, " Let Me alone,that I may consume them" (Exod. xxxii. 10), or as in Num. xvi. 21, 41, " That I may consume them in a moment." The Psalmist uses this word when speaking of the ungodly. " Consume them in wrath, consume them that they may not be " (Psa. lix. 13). The added words, " that they may not be" amplify the inherent meaning of the word " consume." Again, in Psa. xxxvii. we read, " But the wicked shall perish (abad) and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs; they shall consume (kalah), into smoke shall they consume away " (kalah). Here we have not only the figure of the utter consumption of fat by fire, but also the parallel word " perish," which we have considered together in the first paper of this series. 

Perhaps the passage in the A.V. which gives a complete idea of the nature of the word is Zeph. i. 18, " Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lord's wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured (akal) by the fire of His jealousy: for He shall make a speedy riddance of all that dwell in the land."

Evil is not to be forever; God's universe is to be cleansed; He shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend; He will make a speedy
riddance of evil. Again we pause to consider yet another word used by the Lord in relation to the wages of sin, and again the unfailing testimony is borne by the Scriptures to the fact, that to perish, to destroy, and to consume, in their primary meanings are everywhere the words used by God to describe the penalty of sin.

Nathats.  This word is translated, " beat down," 3 times; " break down," 22 times; and once or twice " cast down "; " pull down"; " throw down "; &c., and " destroy," 5 times. The primary meaning is, " to break down," " to demolish." It is applied to altars (Exod. xxxiv. 13; Deut. xii. 3). To houses, towns, cities, walls (Lev. xiv. 45; Judges viii. 9; ix. 45; 2 Kings x. 27, &c.). In Psa. lii. 5 we find the word translated "destroy." The words of the context are suggestive, "destroy .... take away .... root out .... pluck out." The Psalm, originally written with reference to Doeg the Edomite, has prophetic reference to the Antichrist, "the man who made not the Lord his strength" (verse 7). It is interesting to note that the Gematria (the numerical value) of this sentence is 2,197, or 13 X 13 X 13, the number of Satan and rebellion. When dealing with the doom of Antichrist we shall have to remember this passage and the primary meaning of the word.

Muth.D Let us now examine the word which is translated " death." Scripture declares in both Testaments that the wages of sin is death.  Much has been written to show that death means everything else except death. The current conception seems to be that death, as a punishment for sin, is endless life in misery. Presumably if tradition had its way it would alter the Scriptures, and would declare that " he that believeth hath everlasting life in happiness, and the wages of sin is everlasting life in misery." The Bible, however, knows no suchdoctrine.

We have already examined several words and find that the wages of sin is destruction, perishing, a full end, consumption, riddance, death.  The oft quoted John iii. 16 declares unmistakably that the alternative to everlasting life is perishing. However, our present studies are devoted to the consideration of the Hebrew words themselves. How is the Hebrew word muth rendered in the A.V.? It is translated " to die,"420 times; " be dead," 60 times; " be put to death," 57 times; " put to death," 19 times; " death," 62 times; " kill," 32 times; " slay," 81 times; and " dead body," " worthy of death," " destroy," " destroyed," " death." We have enough in such a number of occurrences to provide to a demonstration the meaning and usage of the word muth. Let us examine a few passages. 

" And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years, and he died " (Gen. v. 5). The word is used throughout Genesis to
record the deaths of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, &c. It is used of the death of animals (Exod. vii. 18; viii. 13; Lev. xi. 39, &c.). It is this self-same word that is used in Ezek. xviii. 4, " The soul that sinneth, it shall die." Moses used this word in Deut. iv. 22, " I must die in this land." The word muth is used to describe a corpse. "Abraham stood up from before his dead " (Gen. xxiii. 3). " Bury therefore thy dead " (Gen. xxiii. 15). It is precisely the same word "death " in Gen. xxi. 16 as in Ezek. xviii. 32.

Death, physical and inflicted death, was continually presented to the mind of the Jew under the law. " He that smiteth a man ... shall be ... put to death" (Exod. xxi. 12), so he that smiteth his father, stealeth, or curseth (Exod. xxi. 15, 16, 17). Murder, adultery, witchcraft (Num. xxxv. 16; Lev. xx. 10 and xx. 17) were similarly punished. Nowhere, throughout the whole range of inspiration, is man ever told to torture, torment, or in any way foreshadow the horrors of the traditional penalty of sin; the extreme penalty is always death. Thus was it so in the beginning. In Gen. ii. 17 the penalty for disobedience was, " in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." We are fully aware that this passage has been made to mean death, spiritual and eternal, which in orthodox teaching comes to mean life in conscious torment.

What was the penalty threatened in Gen. ii. 17? " Dying thou shalt die." This is the same idiomatic construction as is translated "freely eat," viz., "eating thou mayest eat" (Gen. ii. 16). It is of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament (cf. Gen. xxvi. 28; xxvii. 30; xliii. 3, 7, 20), and it is false to seek to make the Hebrew idiom (Gen. ii. 17) speak of a process of " dying"! Adam, who was of the earth, earthy, who was not a spiritual being as is so often taught (cf. I Cor. xv. 45 47), was treated by God upon a plane suitable to his nature. His obedience would have meant a continuance in the state of innocence and the temporal blessings of Eden, while his disobedience involved himself and his descendants in the forfeiture of these blessings. What is true concerning the first death is true of the second death also. If the second death means eternal conscious agony, it cannot be justly named the second death, for it differs in its every character. Into the second death God will cast Hades (i.e. gravedom), and death, the last enemy to be destroyed.

The lake of fire is God's great destructor. All things that offend are gathered out of God's kingdom, not to be perpetuated by constant miracle, but to be destroyed, root and branch. We hope to prove this definitely when we have considered the N.T. words. Space will not allow us to go further in this issue. Muth, death, is the expression of abad, perish, shamad, destroy, tsamath, cut off, karath, cut off, and kalah, to make an utter end.

In our next paper we shall have to refer to muth again, as we shall therein consider the word " hell " in the O.T. Meanwhile, let us notrest in the words of man, but let us see to it that our faith rests in the "words which the Holy Ghost teacheth."
           [THE WAGES OF SIN - PART 4]