Summary: A good word study not only increases your knowledge of God’s word, it opens your mind of faith to see the true (spiritual) light of God’s word, not the limited shadows that are left to the flesh.
Crossing Over to Zion (1)
Theme: Christians living the true life of a Hebrew
A. Word studies for studying the Bible are great for several reasons:
1. They serve to help a person to better understanding the true meaning of a word.
2. A true understanding of the word usually gives a better and clearer insight within the context of a
3. Contextual understanding of many Old Testament words typically uncovers shadows of New
B. Such is the case for another two words we’ll be looking at today (this morning and evening’s lessons):
1. Hebrew: arguably derived from a literal rendering of “crossing over.”
2. Zion: also arguably derived from the word “fortress.”
C. Word studies can only take us so far in our relationship with God:
1. The words we study should inspire our faith in God and His holy word.
2. This inspiration should motivate us to live the “true” (antitypical) life that God reveals for His
children today. (NOTE: Old Testament is the New Testament concealed: New Testament is the
Old Testament revealed)
D. In the following two lessons we shall see:
1. How the word Hebrew translates into our New Testament understanding and living.
2. How the word Zion translates into our New Testament understanding of hope in the security of
God and our future permanent home.
I. THE OLD TESTAMENT HEBREW
A. Possible root meanings of the word (For definition of Hebrew: Easton’s Bible Dictionary; ISBE; New Strong’s Guide to Bible Words; Enhanced Strong’s
Lexicon; Smith’s Bible Dictionary)
1. Possibly derived from (H)Eber, the ancestor of Abraham (descendent of Shem). Gen. 10:21, 24
2. Possibly from the root br which means to “cross over” (or “pass over”) with reference to the Great
River (Euphrates) or the “the region” or “country beyond.”
3. Another possibility is one derived from abhar “to pass over” with reference to a “sojourner” in
contrast to one who has “settled” in the land.
4. NOTE: Look at how the word Hebrew is used contextually throughout the Old and New
B. History of the word.
1. We see the importance of this word in light of God’s calling and Promise to Abraham.
a. God charged Abraham to go from his country to another He would show Him and bless him
and his descendents. Gen. 12:1-3
b. True to the word, Abraham “passed through” (abar) to the land of the Canaanite. Gen. 12:6
c. While Lot “moved his tents and settled in (the city of) Sodom (Gen. 13:10-12; Gen. 19:1ff)
Abraham “moved his tent” to the “oaks of Mamre” are located. Gen. 13:18
2. Thus, the first time the word Hebrew is used in the Bible is in Genesis 14:13. cp. Gen. 13:18
a. Abraham here is a sojourner.
b. The idea of being a sojourner or foreigner continues to identify the Israelites by themselves
and the natives. Gen. 39:14; 40:15; 43:32
c. The word itself evolved into multiple usages: with reference to the people as a whole and their
3. Continuing through the History of the Hebrew people:
a. We see the descendents living as sojourners in Egypt. Cp. Acts 7:6-7
b. We also see (as in the case of Abraham) the Hebrews “crossing over” (abar) from the
wilderness into the Promised Land. Josh. 1:2
II. THE NEW TESTAMENT HEBREW
A. Spiritual context of the word.
1. The concept of “crossing over” or being a Hebrew for Christians is clearly provided in the N.T. cp.
Col. 1:13; Eph. 2:12, 19
2. We must cross from this wilderness (world) of sin to receive the promise of spiritual Canaan. Gal.
3:27-29 (cp. 1 Cor. 10:1-2)
3. In this sense Christians are true Hebrews. Cp. Rom. 2:28-29
B. New Testament application in light of the word. 1 Pet. 2:11
1. Remember the O.T. promise God gave Abraham? While he lived with the promise he sojourned –
by faith – in Canaan awaiting the heavenly country. Heb. 11:8-10
2. Finally, note the transition from living for the physical promise to a spiritual promise. Heb. 11:13-
a. Abraham sojourned no longer for the physical land, but the spiritual land. Gen. 15:12-15
b. Likewise the Jews did the same once having entered Canaan. Josh. 22:4
c. The same can be said for Christians who “reside as aliens” in this world, looking for the same
heavenly country. 1 Pet. 1:1
A. Regardless of not knowing the exact origin of the word Hebrew there is no mistake in seeing the
shadowy use of the word in the O.T. and seeing the true spiritual use in the N.T.
B. It is the application of this word that must provoke Christians to live as sojourners who strive to look
forward to the true Promise Land : the spiritual city of Zion.