Tikkun Olam is Hebrew for repairing the world.
It’s Holy Week, Holy Saturday in fact. Yesterday Jesus died at the cross of Calvary. Tomorrow he will ride and leave his tomb empty.
Tikkun Olam. This is all I can think of. Why is this lil old Christian girl citing Hebrew words?
Tikkun Olam began as a verb “to make straight” in the Hebrew scripture. Rabbis have used this phrase, this saying in their legal discussions in the Talmud.
I am currently moved and inspire to write about how Jesus came in to my life in order to Tikkun Olam me. He set me straight, he saved me, he repaired me when I was broken, weak and in need. Thank you ABBA Padre.
Kaballist followers referred to Tikkun Olam as a concept of cosmic repair in the Middle Ages.
Today, some use the term Tikkun Olam in reference to social activism – to heal the world.
The Hebrew verb TKN (Tikkun Olam) is only found four times in the Scripture. Which means to make straight, establish, arrange, or repair.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, we see the verb TKN mentioned 3 out of the four times mentioned in scripture.
Before we get into those scripture let’s speak about the book of Ecclesiastes.
Purpose and Teaching:
The author of Ecclesiastes puts his powers of wisdom to work to examine the human experience and assess the human situation. His perspective is limited to what happens “under the sun” (as is that of all the wisdom teachers). He considers life as he has experienced and observed it between the horizons of birth and death — life within the boundaries of this visible world. His wisdom cannot penetrate beyond that last horizon; he can only observe the phenomenon of death and perceive the limits it places on human beings. Within the limits of human experience and observation, he is concerned to spell out what is “good” for people to do. And he represents a devout wisdom. Life in the world is under God — for all its enigmas. Hence what begins with “Meaningless! Meaningless!” (1:2) ends with “Remember your Creator” (12:1) and “Fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13).
With a wisdom matured by many years, he takes the measure of human beings, examining their limits and their lot. He has attempted to see what human wisdom can do (1:13,16-18; 7:24; 8:16), and he has discovered that human wisdom, even when it has its beginning in “the fear of the Lord” (Pr 1:7), has limits to its powers when it attempts to go it alone — limits that circumscribe its perspectives and relativize its counsel. Most significantly, it cannot find out the larger purposes of God or the ultimate meaning of human existence. With respect to these it can only pose questions.
Nevertheless, he does take a hard look at the human enterprise — an enterprise in which he himself has fully participated. He sees a busy, busy human ant hill in mad pursuit of many things, trying now this, now that, laboring away as if by dint of effort humans could master the world, lay bare its deepest secrets, change its fundamental structures, somehow burst through the bounds of human limitations, build for themselves enduring monuments, control their destiny, achieve a state of secure and lasting happiness — people laboring at life with an overblown conception of human powers and consequently pursuing unrealistic hopes and aspirations.
He takes a hard look and concludes that human life in this mode is “meaningless,” its efforts all futile.
What, then, does wisdom teach him?
1. Humans cannot by all their striving achieve anything of ultimate or enduring significance. Nothing appears to be going anywhere (1:5-11), and people cannot by all their efforts break out of this caged treadmill (1:2-4;2:1-11); they cannot fundamentally change anything (1:12-15;6:10;7:13). Hence they often toil foolishly (4:4,7-8;5:10-17;6:7-9). All their striving “under the sun” (1:3) after unreal goals leads only to disillusionment.
2. Wisdom is better than folly (2:13-14; 7:1-6,11-12,19; 8:1,5; 9:17-18; 10:1-3,12-15; 12:11) — it is God’s gift to those who please him (2:26). But it is unwarranted to expect too much even from such wisdom — to expect that human wisdom is capable of solving all problems (1:16-18) or of securing for itself enduring rewards or advantages (2:12-17;4:13-16;9:13-16).
3. Experience confronts humans with many apparent disharmonies and anomalies that wisdom cannot unravel. Of these the greatest of all is this: Human life comes to the same end as that of the animals — death (2:15; 3:16-17; 7:15; 8:14; 9:1-3; 10:5-7).
4. Although God made humankind upright, people have gone in search of many “schemes” (for getting ahead by taking advantage of others; see 7:29; cf. Ps 10:2; 36:4; 140:2). So even humans are a disappointment (7:24-29).
5. People cannot know or control what will come after them, or even what lies in the more immediate future; therefore all their efforts remain balanced on the razor’s edge of uncertainty (2:18;6:12;7:14;9:2).
6. God keeps humans in their place (3:16-22).
7. God has ordered all things (3:1-15;5:19;6:1-6;9:1), and a human being cannot change God’s appointments or fully understand them or anticipate them (3:1;7;11:1-6). But the world is not fundamentally chaotic or irrational. It is ordered by God, and it is for humans to accept matters as they are by God’s appointments, including their own limitations. Everything has its “time” and is good in its time (ch. 3).
Therefore wisdom counsels:
1. Accept the human state as it is shaped by God’s appointments and enjoy the life you have been given as fully as you can.
2. Don’t trouble yourself with unrealistic goals — know the measure of human capabilities.
3. Be prudent in all your ways — follow wisdom’s leading.
4. “Fear God and keep his commandments” (12:13), beginning already in your youth before the fleeting days of life’s enjoyments are gone and “the days of trouble” (12:1) come when the infirmities of advanced age vex you and hinder you from tasting, seeing and feeling the good things of life.
To sum up, Ecclesiastes provides instruction on how to live meaningfully, purposefully and joyfully within the theocratic arrangement — primarily by placing God at the center of one’s life, work and activities, by contentedly accepting one’s divinely appointed lot in life, and by reverently trusting in and obeying the Creator-King. Note particularly 2:24-26; 3:11-14,22; 5:18-20; 8:15; 9:7-10; 11:7 — 12:1; 12:9-14 (see also any pertinent notes on these passagoes link can be found in footnotes)
Outline of Ecclesiastes:
• Author (1:1)
• Theme: The meaninglessness of human efforts on earth apart from God (1:2)
• Introduction: The profitlessness of human toil to accumulate things in order to achieve happiness (1:3-11)
• Discourse, Part 1: In spite of life’s apparent enigmas and meaninglessness, it is to be enjoyed as a gift from God (1:12;11:6)
• Since human wisdom and endeavors are meaningless, people should enjoy their life and work and its fruits as gifts from God (1:12;6:9)
1. Introduction (1:12-18)
1. Human endeavors are meaningless (1:12-15)
2. Pursuing human wisdom is meaningless (1:16-18)
2. Seeking pleasure is meaningless (2:1-11)
3. Human wisdom is meaningless (2:12-17)
4. Toiling to accumulate things is meaningless (2:18;6:9)
1. Because people must leave the fruits of their labor to others (2:18-26)
2. Because all human efforts remain under the government of God’s sovereign appointments, which people cannot fully know and which all their toil cannot change (3:1;4:3)
3. Because there are things better for people than the envy, greed and amibition that motivate such toil (4:4-16)
4. Because the fruits of human labor can be lost, resulting in frustration (5:1;6:9)
• Since people cannot fully know what is best to do or what the future holds for them, they should enjoy now the life and work God has given them (6:10;11:6)
1. Introduction: What is predetermined by God is inalterable, and people cannot fully know what is best or what the future holds (6:10-12)
2. People cannot fully know what is best to do (chs. 7–8)
3. People cannot fully know what the future holds (9:1;11:6)
• Discourse, Part 2: Since old age and death will soon come, people should enjoy life in their youth, remembering that God will judge (11:7;12:7)
• People should enjoy their life on earth because their future after death is mysterious, and in that sense is meaningless for their present life (11:7-8)
• People should enjoy the fleeting joys of youth, but remember that God will judge (11:9-10)
• People should remember their Creator (and his gifts) in their youth, before the deteriorations of old age and the dissolution of the body come (12:1-7)
• Theme Repeated (12:8)
• Conclusion: Reverently trust in and obey God (12:9-14)
Now that we have an overview on Ecclesiastes, back to references of TKN:
Human endeavors are meaningless:
“What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.”
Ecclesiastes 1:15 NLT
The author has described that we humans do not have authority to fully make things right, make things new, or repair. We are limited.
“Accept the way God does things, for who can straighten what he has made crooked?”
Ecclesiastes 7:13 NLT
Who are we? Can we really fix something that God has made, created? Allowed to happen? God has his reasons for why things go the way they do. We have to accept what we cannot change, we have to accept in our limited abilities and capabilities of the flesh. We do not have the power God has. We do not have God’s abilities.
“Keep this in mind: The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew. He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them.”
Ecclesiastes 12:9 NLT
We have to reverently trust and obey God.
““When my sanity returned to me, so did my honor and glory and kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored as head of my kingdom, with even greater honor than before.”
Daniel 4:36 NLT
In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar has a dream, Daniel interprets it and Nebuchadnezzar‘s dream came to pass., he then exalted and glorified the lords name. Nebuchadnezzar was restored, straightened and renewed. TKN.
Consider what God has done: Who can straighten [Takkan] what he has made crooked?”
In the book of Deuteronomy we see where the concept of Justice and moral duty to society originates:
“Let true justice prevail, so you may live and occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”
Deuteronomy 16:20 NLT
In the book of Amos we find a Hebrew prophet who condemned Israel’s disregard to Widows, orphans and foreigners in his time. Here he uses this reference towards doing what is rightness, to denounce Evelin, to love what is good, to turn towards justice for all the living.
“Do what is good and run from evil so that you may live! Then the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will be your helper, just as you have claimed. Hate evil and love what is good; turn your courts into true halls of justice. Perhaps even yet the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies will have mercy on the remnant of his people. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.”
Amos 5:14-15, 24 NLT
Now that we have see. Peace, and setting things right or repairing with the Hebrew word Tikkun Olam, then came the concept of repairing the world peace. The Zohar, a book of Jewish mysticism, first appeared in Spain in the late thirteenth century. The author used tikkun olam to describe the cosmic benefits of when a Jew performs mitzvot.
A mitzvot is a commandment, referring to precepts and commandments commanded by God. According to the Torah there are 613 commandments. In the Bible we have 10.
Now back to the book Zohar, out of this book and cosmic benefits of following the commandments a new philosphy of thought emerged called kabbalah.
This new philosophy is birthed in the concept of how through the fall of Adam, the universe was “ruptured” in both the physical and spiritual realms.When a Jew carries out the mitzvot cosmic repairs are made in the invisible spiritual world. The benefits then “flow down” into the physical world and slowly repair the damage done on earth by the sin of Adam.
We know that through the fall of man in genesis, sin was born. Satan became the prince of this world. Willing and able to deter, destroy, manipulate all of God’s creation.
Kabbalist state with their philosophy of cosmic destruction due to the fall of man that God’s presence was scattered in the same way a clay pot is shattered and the shards scattered. These pieces were called “divine sparks.” Famed Kabbalist Isaac Luria (1534-1572) explained that the Jews were dispersed throughout the world in order to “elevate” these sparks and restore the unity of God’s presence.
As Christians we know that yes the fall of Adam and Eve birthed sin, yet the death of Jesus restore us, heals us, Tikkun Olam: Repairing the World, not the physical world but spiritual world.
For centuries Jews waited the arrival of the messiah, so a new Jerusalem can be formed, Where their king can ride up and rule for all eternity. The prophecy has been mentioned throughout the scriptures of hour our savior would come, live, be mistreated, pay for our sins and ride back up. (Isaiah 53).
Jesus did just that. The spiritual world is saved. Jesus repairs our hearts. Jesus repairs our souls, Jesus repairs our mind, Jesus repairs where we will spend our eternity…. as long as we believe in him, follow him, trust in him.
“The fact is, it was our suffering he took on himself; he bore our pain. But we thought that God was punishing him, that God was beating him for something he did. But he was being punished for what we did. He was crushed because of our guilt. He took the punishment we deserved, and this brought us peace. We were healed because of his pain.”
Isaiah 53:4-5 ERV
The phrase “tikkun olam” remains connected with human responsibility for fixing what is wrong with the world. It’s a trait that comes from within. People whom are passionate about fixing this world are invested in grassroot initiatives, working for the people, to stand up against anyone whom do not do right by the people. These people do community activism, work in social justice, some go into politics, go into health care, the legal system and even ministry, so that in the areas they believe and are passionate about they too can do right for the people. The problems of this world can be jeweled and mended if we all take the appropriate steps towards salvation. To love each other wholly they say the Bible reaches us. To respect one another as the Bible reaches us.
Jesus came to this world mend our hearts, save this world, to repair this world from the sin caused by the down fall of mankind. Jesus came by dying in our place for our wrongdoing, thereby wiping our slate clean and giving us shalom (peace)with God. Jesus is our Tikkun Olam, but what he comes to repair, is not this physical world but the spiritual world. Our battle is a spiritual battle. Our journey here on earth determines our spiritual journey.
Yet here we are today, Holy Saturday, and you are probably wondering where I am going with all of this.
When Jesus died at Calvary, his followers, his disciples were mourning, they felt broken, they were in pain. Some were probably questioning was this really the son of God? Some were probably questioning will he return? Some were just in pain. Loosing a friend, especially at a young age is never easy. They had to silently wait for what was to come next, while they mourned.
Put yourself in the place of Jesus ‘ disciples.
‘I just lost my teacher. I just lost my mentor. I just lost my friend. I just lost my best friend. I just lost my brother. I just lost my son, he was only 33.’
Let those words sink in for just a few seconds.
Have you ever lost a teacher you highly regarded and respected? A mentor who guided you? A close friend? Your best friend? Your brother or sister? Your son?
His disciples were in pain. Yes they believed his teachings. Yes they lived, breathed, witness and spoke of the miracles of Jesus, yet here, in this world, in this flesh, they were still in pain.
When someone dies, no matter how they die, at first it’s hard to accept that they are no longer with us in the flesh.
Recently I lost a dear friend. It was a freak accident in my eyes. In the eyes of the Lord, it was time. I do not need to know the why, the reason, no matter how much I question what did happen, how come he died, I have to accept that God has his reason, and his reason is not mine to know. Yet this death, hurt me, shook me to the core. This death shattered my home to a million pieces. This death caused pain we didn’t know exist. We lost a friend, a brother, a best friend, a teacher.
The pain was raw.
The pain was real.
The emotions were indescribable.
We have all lost someone.
Take these feelings and apply them to the disciples.
I was broken with my losses.
They too were broken.
We also become broken when we sin.
The day after the crucifixtuon of Christ , they too mourned. Their pain, their feelings were raw. Their anguish was real. They were broken. Despite their faith, despite knowing that the prophesy needed to be fulfilled, they were broken and in real pain, the same pain you and I feel when we loose a loved one.
Today, I can think of Tikkun Olam, Jesus repairing the spiritual world. Today in mourning, broken, in pain over the loss of our savior, channeling the pain the disciples must have felt today, I find hope, comfort and peace knowing tomorrow he will rise. Tomorrow he fulfills the prophesy. That tomorrow he proves that he is the messiah, that my sins have been forgiven, that he paid my debts. That I shall praise and worship his name because he has allowed me to have an opportunity to enter the gates of heaven. I have found the Golden Ticket…. my ticket is Jesus. He has repaired my world, he has repaired my spiritual battles, he has healed everything that was broken in me.
Jesus repairs. Jesus heals. Jesus mends. Jesus is my Tikkun Olam: he has repaired, straightened and healed me.
Thank you Lord for sending your only son to be our sacrificial lamb. Thank you for having him take my sins upon the cross. Thank you for allowing me salvation through your son. Lord this act has allowed us salvation. Allowed us a bridge and relationship with you. To be able to feel your spirit. To be touched by the Holy Spirit. To be loved and inspired by the Holy Spirit. To grow with you in our spiritual journey so we can join you when our time comes. Lord I know things will happen, temptations and test will come, the enemy will try to break me, but you have already repaired me. Today over two thousand years ago, the disciples mourned the passing of Jesus, tomorrow we shall rejoice and celebrate that we worship the one true living God. Amen