We have just celebrated the Feasts of Passover, First Fruits and Unleavened bread. It has been a delightful time, a time of celebration with dear friends and family. We commemorated both our physical redemption from Egypt as well as our spiritual redemption from our spiritual Egypt, which is our sinful state. Y’shua our Messiah took our punishment on Himself and redeemed us. We are free in Him.
YHVH took His people out of slavery in Egypt and took them to mount Sinai. They did not know how to live as free people; they were in slavery for 430 years. There He taught them how they should live; He gave them instructions, also known as His Torah or His law.
Our spiritual redemption can be paralleled with the physical redemption of Israel. When we come out of slavery to sin, we don’t know how to live as His free people. However, His instructions are the same because YHVH is the same, He still wants us to live according to His ways. Those very same instructions YHVH gave Israel on that day are applicable to us.
Y’shua taught the same when He was here on earth. Read Matthew 5:17-21 again. Y’shua kept the Torah perfectly; He is our example. We, as His disciples, should do as He did. One such instruction is to count the Omer. We are commanded to count the Omer to our next feast, the feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot. It is a time to consider our lives as we count the days. We are to prepare ourselves spiritually for this next feast.
You may wonder what a pure heart has to do with this. Before we go into our study of what it means to have a pure heart, let us get some background on the feast of Shavuot.
The feast of Shavuot is traditionally considered to be the day on which the Torah was given to Israel at mount Sinai. It was also the day on which YHVH gave His Ruach ( His spirit.) The word “Shavuot’” means “weeks” or “sevens” or “oaths.” On this day, we are to make a proclamation. We understand it to mean that we are to re-dedicate ourselves to YHVH. We have written about the meaning of this day before. Please go and read the article All that YHVH has spoken we will do – a message for Shavuot and the associated articles. What are you proclaiming on Shavuot? ; How to count the Omer and celebrate Shavuot .
There are also two articles that recount how we made our proclamation in 2012 and 2013. In 2012 almost every continent was represented. It was awesome! Here is the link: Trip Report – Shavuot – Our proclamation .
Then in 2013, we made another proclamation that we will be obedient to YHVH’s Word. Here is the link to that Shavuot in Jerusalem 2013 – I will be your Elohim and you shall be My people.
Speaking of proclamations, we recently did a study about the Essenes Who were the Essenes?
It was quite fascinating to learn that they did a covenant renewal ceremony every year at Shavuot. They repented of their sins and the sins of their fathers; the priest pronounced the blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. The whole ceremony was made personal as each individual is personally responsible for himself. You can read all the detail in the article.
So, Shavuot also became for us a day of renewing our commitment to YHVH. This can only be done if we have truly considered our lives and have repented of our sin. We can only come into YHVH’s presence if we have clean hands and a pure heart as stated in Psalm 24.
3 Who may ascend into the hill of YHVH? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.
Clean hands and a pure heart
David’s answer is “he who has clean hands and a pure heart.” What does it mean to have clean hands and a pure heart? To me, clean hands refers to what we do and a pure heart refers to the intensions of our hearts, our inner person. So, to have clean hands and a pure heart means to live according to YHVH’s instructions both externally and internally.
In Psalm 73, Asaph also wrote about pureness of heart. Psalm 73 truly is a beautiful psalm.
1 Surely Elohim is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart!
Let us look at the meaning of the word “pure” to see what we can learn about this.
The Hebrew word “bar” is translated as pure in Psalm 24 and 73.
1. LN 88.24–88.35 pure, i.e., pertaining to a moral condition (Job 11:4; Ps 24:4; 73:1+);
2. LN 32.1–32.10 radiant, i.e., giving light as a figurative extension of giving understanding (Ps 19:9[EB 8]+);
3. LN 59.35–59.43 empty, i.e., a clean manger with nothing in it (Pr 14:4+), for another interp, see 1339;
4. LN 30.86–30.107 favorite, i.e., one chosen as special in relationship (SS 6:9+);
5. LN 14.36–14.52 bright, i.e., pertaining to a reflective moonlight very bright light(SS 6:10+)
1339 III. בַּר (bǎr): n.masc.; ≡ Str 1250; TWOT 288b—LN 3.33–3.46 grain, i.e., the fruit part of cereal plants (Ge 41:35, 49; 42:3, 25; 45:23; Ps 65:14[EB 13]; 72:16; Pr 11:26; Jer 23:28; Joel 2:24; Am 5:11; 8:5, 6+), note: though some identify as specifically wheat seed, other nutritious grains may also be the meaning, note: Pr 14:4, for another interp, see 13382
Such a rich meaning of the word! The context points to number one, a moral condition. However, when we look at the other meanings, we can also learn a lot. Think about radiant or bright in the context of reflecting YHVH’s light.
16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Good works refer to the commandments of YHVH. Read the verses that follow this one for confirmation of this.
“Bar” also refers to grain, the fruit part of cereal plants. That makes me think of the fruit of the Spirit which comes forth from the heart.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
We also find some more verses referring to pureness of heart.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see YHVH.
11 He who loves purity of heart And whose speech is gracious, the king is his friend.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
David uses the word “tahor” to describe the state of the heart. As in Proverbs 22.
1. LN 53.28–53.32 clean, pure, i.e., pertaining to being ceremonially or ritually clean (Lev 11:36; 1Sa 20:26);
2. LN 79.97–79.99 pure, i.e., pertaining to the feature of an object virtually not having foreign particles or impurities (Ex 25:11), note: it is not clear if this metal is alloyed or not, though it clearly is free from all impurities;
3. LN 88.36–88.38 flawless, perfect, i.e., without defect of any kind and so free from moral impurity (Ps 12:7[EB 6]; Hab 1:13);
4. LN 79.48–79.56 clean, i.e., pertaining to not having dirt on an object (Zec 3:5) טָהֹר (ṭā·hōr): see 3196 טהר (ṭhr): see 3197
3197 טָהֵר (ṭā·hēr): v.; ≡ Str 2891; TWOT 792— 1. LN 53.28–53.32
(qal) be clean, i.e., be ritually purified (Lev 11:32);
(piel) cleanse, purify, i.e., cause ritual purity, often with an official pronouncement of the new state (Lev 13:6);
(pual) (1Sa 20:26 cj+); (hitp) cleanse oneself, purify oneself (Lev 14:4), note: niv in Eze 22:24 amends text to 4763;2
We have learned before that sin causes spiritual uncleanness or impurity. Here is a link to an article explaining this: Spiritual uncleanness and shadows
So, this confirms our interpretation. Let me explain. Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4) and sin causes spiritual uncleanness or an impure heart. This means that when we really live according to YHVH’s commandments, from the heart, not in a hypocritical way, we will have a pure heart.
So, the question we must ask ourselves in the coming days as we count the Omer is, do I have clean hands and a pure heart? Do I live my life in such a way that YHVH is glorified through it? As we consider this, we are to make sure that our obedience is from our heart and not only an external “going through the motions” to impress others. That is the reason why Y’shua was always criticizing the Pharisees. They were so correct in everything they did, but their hearts were not pure. They were hypocrites. So, we are to think about this and make sure we have clean hands and a pure heart before we come into YHVH’s presence at His next appointed time. I know I have to…
I always find Psalm 51 very appropriate – especially these verses.
7 Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Another beautiful passage comes to mind…
18 “Come now, and let us reason together” Says YHVH, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. 19 “If you consent and obey, You will eat the best of the land; 20 “But if you refuse and rebel, You will be devoured by the sword.” Truly, the mouth of YHVH has spoken.
And some wise words from Hosea:
9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of YHVH are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.