Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Ultimate Antecedent

“Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.” (Deut. 4:3)

Pronouns like he, she, they, it, etc., are of precious little value, if you don’t know to whom or what they are referring. For instance, if you wander into a conversation in progress, and the first thing you hear is, “I was so sorry to hear he died,” your first response is, “Who died?” And it’s not going to do you much good if someone calls out to you as you’re going out the door, “It’s closed,” if you don’t know if their talking about a road, a store, or something else. What you need to know is who or what is being referred to by the pronouns, “he” and “it.”  And that person or thing for which the pronoun stands is called the antecedent.

But I know of at least one example when a pronoun doesn’t require an antecedent. Although a Christian may use the word “he” many times in a day referring to someone of the male gender, when the same person says “He,” referring to Jesus Christ, it will nearly always be obvious to another believer who he or she is talking about. In fact, I will go so far as to say that Jesus Christ is the ultimate Antecedent for the pronoun, “He.”

I once asked a Mexican pastor about this very thing. I noticed that in speaking (or in prayer) God was referred to as “Señor,” the same word used for Sir or Mister. “How does someone know when you’re referring to God and not just a man,” I wanted to know. He smiled broadly and assured me, “Oh, we always know the difference!”

I have an old biography of the beloved Irish Christian, Ann Preston, who was respectfully known as “Holy Ann.” It was written by someone who knew her for many years, and it’s filled with wonderful stories of this colorful old saint. She never learned to read, though she could read her Bible, “if not fluently, at least freely,” the writer said. Hoping to help her read other things, he gave her a newspaper article once, instructing her to scan it to see if she knew any of the words. He writes, “Finally, she put her finger on one word and said, ‘That seems to be ‘lord,’ but I don’t think it is my Lord, as my heart doesn’t burn while I see it.’” And, indeed, it turned out the article was about someone named Lord Roberts. There were many lords, but only one Lord as far as she was concerned; and she knew the difference.

The verse in Deuteronomy says, “…the LORD he is God in the heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.” There is nowhere you can go in heaven or earth where “He” does not refer to Him, the Lord.  For me, too, there is only one Sovereign, eternal He. It’s my favorite pronoun, and my next favorite is the wonderful possessive pronoun....mine!

He is mine, He is mine;
I am blessed beyond all measure,
He is mine.
I have pardon full and free,
Through the Blood He shed for me;
Safe forever I shall be;
He is mine.

                                  -Diane Wilkinson

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