An Optical Conviction

I’m no Greek scholar. Not even close. But I do know how to use a lexicon and look up a number associated with an English word which points to someone else’s expertise on how to understand it in the original language. And I think I know enough that when a Greek word is used but once in the New Testament, it’s probably a pretty special word. That of all the words that could have been used, the Spirit moves the author to choose one unlike any other. That though it may be translated into English the same way as other words, at its core it’s unique, having a particular quality, and thus carrying a particular weight.

Found one of those words this morning.

By faith [Moses] left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

(Hebrews 11:27 ESV)

Moses endured. That’s the word, endured.

Whether you understand this as Moses’ first departure from Egypt (based on the chronology of Hebrews 11), or his second (because the first time, it’s argued, he did leave in fear), what’s emphasized here is that Moses endured.

And the original word translated endure, kartereo, is only found here. A one of. Uniquely chosen. After leaving Egypt, Moses remained steadfast, in a particularly steadfast way. He stayed strong, in the strongest sense. He persevered with patience, with the most persevering of patience. Kept right on going (MSG, NLT), with a keeping that was uniquely compelling.

He ran the race. He fought the fight. Woke up every morning ready to give ‘er . . . regardless of yesterday’s reality or the coming day’s uncertainty. Though an easier way may have seemed to be beckoning, though an exit strategy may have started to form, Moses would keep on keepin’ on–and that, because of faith and what he was able to see with the eyes of faith.

. . . seeing Him who is invisible.

Moses saw God by faith. And it wasn’t some self-deceiving, cloudy figment of his imagination, but the God convincing, concrete foundation of divine revelation. Moses, by faith, saw Him who is invisible.

And isn’t that the nature of faith? Not some optical illusion, but an optical conviction.

We walk by something better than sight, we walk by faith (2Cor. 5:7). Setting our minds on things above (Col. 3:2), we the see things which are from above. Anticipating the glory to come, we behold the glory as though it were already here.

We look not to things that are seen, but to those things unseen, and that which is eternal comes into focus (2Cor. 4:18). Even though what we see now we “see in a mirror dimly” (1Cor. 13:12a), our anticipation of one day seeing face to face results in us beholding, even now, Him who is invisible.

Faith giving us an optical conviction. And what we see resulting in an almost unexplainable endurance–so much so that it needs it’s own unique word.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

Hellen H. Lemmel, 1922

By His grace. For His glory.

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