Word for the Day: Amen

2 Corinthians1--20

From time to time, my blog entry will focus on a phrase or a specific “Word for the Day” rather than the usual Verse of the Day. Such is the case for the post for today, August 5, 2016. Actually yesterday’s post on the Verse of the Day from Jeremiah 33:2-3 ended with a word that is frequently used in the Bible and throughout the world: “Amen”.

Derived from the Hebrew word aman, “Amen” has been translated “it is so!” “so be it” or “thus shall it most surely be.” When repeated, the word is translated “verily, verily,” or “truly, truly” or simply “Amen” and “Amen.” Not only do Christians commonly respond to proclamations from the Bible with the widely used word, but Jews and Muslims likewise use this expression in a variety of languages across the world. According to Klyne Snodgrass, “Amen” is one of the most widely known words in all the world.”

In commenting on the Verse of the Day from Jeremiah 33:3, I thought of the expression “Call and response” where ““Amen”” is often heard.  In music, particularly in jazz which incorporates improvisation, we find this technique whereby a musician issues a phrase or line, and another player answers with a phrase or comment in response. The same technique is also seen other areas of African American culture involving speakers, such as preachers or ministers of the gospel or worship leaders who issue a series of calls and the audience, the congregation, or group being addressed answers with  responses.

In the Bible, “Amen” is spoken as a response to what has been declared before. This is especially noted throughout the Old Testament. In response to a litany of curses leveled against those who choose to disobey the pronouncements of the Lord God in Deuteronomy 27: 15-26, the Children of Israel respond by saying “Amen” twelve times.

Elsewhere the phrase follows the declaring of blessings, as in

1 Chronicles 16:36 (AMP):

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, Forever and ever. And all the people said, ““Amen”,” and praised the Lord.

Ezra offers a similar blessing to which the people respond, as they affirm the words spoken by the prophet:

Nehemiah 8:6 (AMP):

Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, ““Amen”, “Amen”!” while lifting up their hands; and they knelt down and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground.

Throughout the Psalms confirmation of blessings is sealed with the repeated phrase found in Psalm 41:13 and elsewhere:

Psalm 41:13

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting [from this age to the next, and forever]. “Amen” and “Amen” (so be it).

Jeremiah speaks of the covenant that Jehovah made with Israel when He brought them out of the bondage of Egypt and seals his words with this response:

Jeremiah 11:4b-5 (AMP):

So you shall be My people, and I will be your God,’ that I may complete the oath which I swore to your fathers, to give them a land [of plenty] flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day.”’” Then I answered, ““Amen” (so be it), O Lord.”

In the New Testament the expression follows the words of the Lord’s Prayer

Matthew 6:13 (AMP):

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. “Amen”.]

The powerful apostolic prayer of Ephesians 3 ends with this bold declaration:

20 Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. “Amen”.

Jesus Christ is the means whereby the Father affirms and confirms every promise that He has made to His people. The Savior is the resounding “yes” when a question arises as to whether God will fulfill his promises. Paul makes known this profound truth in 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (New Living Translation):

19 For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between “Yes” and “No.” He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.

20 For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.

In other places in the New Testament, the expression is used in doxologies declaring the glory of God, in benedictions, and in the giving of thanks as well as statements of praise.

One of the celestial scenes from the Book of Revelation speaks of a multitude of people beyond number who offer up praise to “Him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb,” as “Amen” opens and closes their magnificent exultation:

Revelation 7:12:

Saying, Amen! Blessing and glory and majesty and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen.

Most amazingly, ““Amen”” is the last word in the Bible. When all is said and done, God has the last say so, and the last word means “It is so!” The Scriptures unfold in their entirety and crescendo with a grace note:

Revelation 22:21:

The grace of the Lord Jesus (the Christ, the Messiah) be with all [the saints—all believers, those set apart for God]. “Amen”.

The perfect song to close our Word for the Day is by Matt Redman: “Yes and Amen”

 

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