Signs - The Aleph and Tav

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

I can still remember when I discovered that Santa Claus wasn't real. I was disheartened and disillusioned but worse, I was scared. I wondered what else wasn't real. What if the things that I had been told about Christ in Christmas weren't true either? Is it all a delusion, a myth, a fairy tale? Glory to the Newborn King, the Lord gave me a sign that calmed my fears.

As I grew up, doubt and skepticism would challenge every area of my life. Believing in something just because someone told me it was true was no longer a possibility for me. "Why?" and, "How do you know?" filled my vocabulary, causing me to question everything from baking cookies to understanding the Bible. If you know me personally, you're nodding your head and smiling as you read this. However, the stark reality is those questions that are such a part of who I am today arose because the darkness of distrust crept into my life.

This darkness would nearly suffocate me when I contemplated death and eternity. I tried to push it down and "just believe," but I didn't know how to make that happen. How could I ever be sure of what I hoped for and certain of what I do not see while living in my uncertainty? I longed to sleep in the heavenly peace that Jesus offered, yet as James points out, "he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind" (James 1:6b). Perhaps you can identify.

While it's true that there are many wonderful symbols that parallel St. Nicholas and Jesus Christ, I didn't need a symbol. I needed a sign of truth that would set me free to worship instead of worry when my fears arose. Fortunately, for seekers like me, the same God that loves us unconditionally (and that includes even in our skeptical state) is also a God of signs and wonders and His light still shines bright.

Among the stories of the advent of Christ, we read about a group of wise men. These men were considered wise because they were trained students of the stars, astrologers, men who "divided the heavens" to determine the future. These men came from the east because they saw a sign. That bright star was a sign and the very light that led them to the King of the Jews, Jesus Christ.

As an adult, Jesus spoke to the wise men of the Bible saying, "You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39).

These men were experts regarding the sacred Scriptures. They contemplated not only the obvious meaning of the texts, but dug in looking for hinted/hidden meanings, too. They didn't just search the written Words but also the individual letters that comprise them. They even pondered each stroke necessary to create the letters. They searched for wonders that would reveal more about God to them.

Jesus astounded all who heard Him at the age of twelve, and I don't think it was because of His reading skills or memorization of the Scriptures. Luke 2:47 tells us everyone was astounded at His insight and understanding of the Scriptures. Within the written Word there are treasures just waiting for us to discover which testify of Him. These signs are there to point and guide all who seek. These pearls will not vanish as the myth of Santa Claus did. The truth can set even the skeptical seeker (like me) free.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." Psalm 119:105

There are many lights that shine in every word. In Revelation 22:13, Jesus referred to Himself as the Alpha and Omega, which are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet. I believe that He is hinting that the alphabet will provide revelation about Him. Jesus is the Word (the Hebrew Alphabet) that was made flesh. The Aleph and the Tav are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Alphabet. The phrase "aleph and tav" is an expression meaning "the whole alphabet." These letters are eternal and with them God spoke and the heavens and earth were created.

Like other ancient writing systems, the Hebrew alphabet originally was written using pictograms. The pictograph for the aleph is an ox - a strong animal that is used for sacrifice. The pictograph for the tav is a cross - symbolizing ownership, covenant, sign, a mark, and to join two things together.

Looking at the meanings of just these two letters, we see something miraculous that was written long before Jesus came to earth. We see that "in the beginning" God created the strong leader that would be sacrificed on a cross, ultimately joining together God and man by making a new covenant and sealing it with His Blood, placing a mark of ownership on the people of faith so that the angel of death might pass over (Passover) them so they can enter into eternal life.

That is really cool this side of the Cross, but it's even cooler when you discover that God placed a sign in the sacred texts from the beginning. In fact, it is found in the very first line of the Hebrew Scriptures - Genesis 1:1. Translated it reads, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."

In order to see the sign, one must look into the Hebrew text.

This sign that God strategically placed in the very first line of the Hebrew Scriptures is the first time we see the Hebrew letters aleph and tav together.

This sign has given rise to perhaps more commentary than any other single verse. Put together, the aleph and tav create a word that has no translatable meaning...or does it?

This unique word isn't really a word; it is an object marker - a sign. In Hebrew, it appears between the words "God created" and "the heavens." Regarding this portion of Scripture, the Sages have said, "In the beginning God created the aleph and the tav before He created the heavens and the earth." That is staggering considering that Revelation 13:8 says that the Lamb was slain BEFORE the foundations of the world.

Could this sign, the aleph and the tav, found in the very first line of the Hebrew Scripture, be pointing to God's redemptive plan for mankind - Jesus, the Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the world? If that wasn't enough, there is yet another sign: "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, emphasis added).

Although a virgin getting pregnant is a pretty convincing sign, it's not the sign that I am talking about. The sign I am talking about is the actual word - i.e. sign - which is made up of our key Hebrew letters aleph and tav with one additional letter, the vav. The vav is a pictograph of a nail! The placement of this additional letter is astounding. The vav (nail) is found between the aleph (sacrifice) and the tav (cross). Do you see what I see? The nail (vav) is what joins the sacrifice (aleph) to the cross (tav).

This blows my skeptical mind! Furthermore, the Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the letters are so. The Hebrew Bible has not been changed. Beloved, this is not some diabolical myth or some conspiracy made up by the Church, it is the greatest story ever told. God gave Himself to us as a strong yet silent sacrifice that was nailed to the Cross. He is the sign and the sacrifice; He has done it all.

Lord, I Believe - Help My Unbelief!

My spirit soars with the truth that has been revealed...but there is still one more pearl to discover within these magnificent Hebrew letters aleph and tav. In John 14:6, Jesus identified Himself as three things: the way, the truth, and the life. In Hebrew the word truth is spelled aleph, mem, tav. As you recall, aleph and tav are the first and last letters of the Hebrew Alphabet and mem is the middle letter. This reveals that truth is all encompassing - the beginning, the ending and all that is in between.

It's no coincidence that the mem represents water and chaos. In the middle, in the chaotic moments of life, when it seems all hell is breaking loose and we feel like we are drowning, the aleph and the tav surround us. The Truth will set us free to worship instead of worry, to praise instead of panic.

I understand the darkness of doubt firsthand. Sometimes it's just easier to force yourself not to get your hopes up rather than take the chance and get them crushed once again. It takes faith to open the ultimate Christmas Gift, and that is why my life verse became Mark 9:24: "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!"

Truth comes from the word Amen, meaning to support, confirm, to be carried. It represents a foster-father, a foster-mother or nurse. Beloved, even in our moments of uncertainty when our faith has failed, the Lamb that was slain from the foundations of the earth is there to hold us, support us, and carry us through.

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (John 1:1-4).

Jesus, the aleph and the tav, the beginning, the end and all that is in between is the Light - is the sign that has been given to all mankind.

Though it may struggle to shine in the midst of doubt, it is still there. The darkness cannot overcome it. This Light will continue to shine, leading all who seek to find the truth. Whether you are a skeptical seeker like me, or one who has childlike faith, I pray that the sign shines bright, enabling you to worship the Child born in Bethlehem.

Tiffany Ann Lewis
Dancing with the Flame of the Lord Ministries