God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.
“And the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved upon the tablets.” (Ex. 32:16)
The Torah uses the Hebrew word “CHARuT” in this passage for the word “engraved”. What you may not know is that this word has two meanings in the original Hebrew, which is significant. Unlike English, when a word has multiple meanings in Hebrew, you take into account all the meanings to get a more perfect understanding of what is meant. On the contrary, in English you would look at the context of a word and discount the meaning that doesn’t make sense.
So back to “CHARuT”, the first meaning is “engraved,” as if marked in stone. When you engrave something in stone, it is indelible—no eraser can remove it. When you engrave something, it cannot be changed without creating a deeper and/or wider cut.
The second meaning of CHARuT is “freedom”, which seems to be exactly the opposite of engraved!
As mentioned before, in Hebrew, these double meanings create an intersection.
We know that God ordained the Ten Commandments as being representative of the Israelite identity. (Dt. 4:6)
These Commandments made them unique. Furthermore, these commandments did not strip freedom from them but instead created freedom for the Israelites.
When I read about the Israelites, I’m always dismayed by their selfishness, short-sightedness, and ungratefulness. It’s like they never understood what God was teaching them through Moses.
But, we have to remember that just a short time before the Ten Commandments and Mt. Sinai, they were slaves. They had NO choices of their own. They were told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. Then God brought them into the wilderness to serve Him through His power. He sets them free to serve Him and gives them the Ten Commandments as a pathway to freedom. These Commandments became the building block of their community. And, I believe that the intersection of ChaRuT is actually a message to us today regarding freedom.
There are a lot of people talking about freedom today in homeschool circles. I think this is because, when viewed wrong, homeschooling has the potential to be an overwhelming burden. What I mean is that families bind themselves to too many things! Some of these things are idols and others are simply frivolous.
These things don’t just occupy us and bind us, they imprison us. Characteristically, they take from us. They suck our time, our attention, our hopes, our resources, and our energy, and they don’t give back.
God by His nature is a Giver. He gives freedom. Matter of fact, He is Freedom. Why is this? It’s because the joy, peace, achievement, and blessing we desire is only to be found in Him.
There is no freedom apart from Him.
So, allow me a moment to relate this specifically to homeschoolers and what God was communicating through CHARuT…
Part of the meaning of CHARuT relates to routine and structure. To be the most productive, you need structure. But structure does not have to be militaristic. You’ll actually thrive when structure directs your energy toward the vision and goals you have for each day and year.
It’s like the vine of John 15 that is tended carefully by the gardener. The gardener is careful to clip off the weak and dead branches. Then the gardener picks up the vine off the ground and binds it to the trellis so that it will bear even more fruit. Did you know that fruit plants that are vines will not bear much fruit if they are full of leaves? They must be thinned out and pruned. Also, the vines and branches will also not bear fruit if they on the ground. They need to be directed up and grow off the ground. The wilder they look; the less fruit they produce.
Being wild and out of control does not lead to productivity or fruit-bearing. In other words, the plant does not do what the plant was meant to do.
I have a theory regarding freedom and joy. You don’t sense any level of freedom or joy when you don’t do what you’re meant to do. And, in this sense, a vine must be bound to a trellis in order to do what it is meant to do. Like the vine, your energy and tendencies need direction and channeling to lead to freedom. That’s what God is communicating in Exodus 32. He’s telling Moses that these Commandments are to be an indelible channel that directs the energy of His people to do what they where always meant to do.
The Law to the Israelites was the trellis to the vine that leads to an exponential harvest.
Which brings up a choice that we all have. We can bind ourselves to things that lead to diminishing returns or to things that lead to multiplication and freedom.
Bind yourself to only things that give and multiply you and shed the takers that subtract from you. That is the true meaning of CHARuT.