(Note: the full length feature film, “God’s Outlaw,” follows at the end of this post.)
An overcomer, a tireless worker for the Lord God from England, is driven from his island by the forces of hell to the mainland of Europe. There, in seclusion and on the run, he continues on with his clandestine task, eventually called “God’s Outlaw.”
Soon, he is betrayed into the hands of religious authorities in Antwerp, Belgium by a “friend” known as Henry Phillips. Phillips was on the payroll of none other than the supreme religious leaders from the mother country, England.
In the dead of winter, in the year of 1535, this man of God is incarcerated alone in a cold, stark, rat infested cell. There he labors away, shivering and rubbing his hands together to try and keep a bit of warmth in his decaying body. He has a severe sinus infection and his nose runs continuously, but the joy of the Lord flows from his heart as he knows by the Holy Spirit he’ll see His Lord Jesus Christ very soon.
The time now is October 1536. The place of his imprisonment is still Vilvorde, an ominous fortified castle just outside Brussels, Belgium. He has suffered in this hell hole long enough. But he has continued to translate portions of the Old Testament even while charged with the heresy of English translation!
The man is William Tyndale, our dear brother in Christ.
His crime is translating the Latin Bible into common English for the “plowboy,” the common man he so loved. In so doing, the commoner would then discover the truth that salvation is by grace through faith, and not by a man’s works as the Roman Catholic Church proclaimed.
His mortal enemies are the same as those of Jesus Christ in His day, the falsely religious institutional “church” leaders. His main evil, demonic pursuer is King Henry VIII of England, his cohorts, and consorts.
His real “crime” was exposing in writing King Henry’s planned divorce from Catherine of Aragon, in favor of Anne Boleyn, as unscriptural and sin in front of a holy God and the watching world. Eventually, the King broke with Rome and the Pope to annull his own marriage when Catherine “failed” to produce a son, and married Anne the same year. He then beheaded Anne three years later when she also “failed” to produce a son, only 5 months before Tyndale’s execution in October.
Now it’s early morning. William, frail from 18 months in solitary confinement and maggot infested food, stumbles toward his site of execution.
Our brother is tied to the stake. The noose is placed around his neck. The firewood is already piled up high around him. The crowd of professionals, common folk, and religious officials, is silent. He is only 46 years old, never having been married to concentrate on his great task.
Years earlier, he boldly vows openly with great courage to the shallow pawns of the Papacy, “If God spare my life, ere many years, I will cause a boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than the Pope!” The Roman Church was then making a career out of killing anyone who dared put God’s word in the hands of the common people.
William cries out one last sentence at the stake, “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes!” Immediately, the executioner snaps the noose around his neck, and our brother falls limp from strangulation.
The fire is lit.
The putrid smell of burning flesh fills the air, people covering their noses as they begin to trail away. Someone memorizes William Tyndale’s simple prayer and it’s then repeated in every underground meeting of believers across England and the continent of Europe.
Now the year is 1989. Another believer, just two years old in the Lord, is led by the same Holy Spirit to a Christian History magazine about the life of this man, William Tyndale. He reads in fascination about the courage, sacrifice, suffering, perseverance and singular dedication of this man of God living 450 years earlier.
The young believer then begins weeping as he learns this martyr and Bible translator is the same one who first penned the word “lovingkindness.” He’s overwhelmed with the Lord’s goodness to him and other “wretches” through this vivid description. Saved from all his sin, including alcohol, moral debauchery, deceit, lying…to name but a few. The list goes on and on. He is overwhelmed. He reads the word again and again.
Loving. Kindness. Loving. Kindness. How can it be, he wonders.
That younger believer was me, the author here, just a few short years ago.
Tyndale gave us 80% or so of our current English Bible. His story is riveting. But, more importantly, his heart and linguistic skills led by the Spirit gave us classic words and phrases like “author and finisher of our faith” as well as “lovingkindness.” I’m coming to realize as the years roll quickly by just how deeply indebted we are to his work and other translators like him.
“Lovingkindness” as a word is rendered 175 times in the Old Testament alone. Tyndale used this original compound word to describe the Hebrew word chesed. The King James translates chesed primary as “mercy.” Although chesed is used to describe other words, the primary use is “lovingkindness.” Let’s look at the uses and their frequency:
deeds of devotion(2), devotion (1), devout(1), faithfulness(1), favor(2), good(1), kindly(m)(7), kindness(32), kindnesses(1), loveliness(1), lovingkindness(176), lovingkindnesses (7), loyal deeds(1), loyalty(6), mercies(1), merciful(2), mercy(1), righteousness (1), unchanging love (2).
This wonder-full word is shown in the following passages:
Moses and the sons of Israel singing to the Lord – Exodus 15:13
“In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; in Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.
Moses getting the 10 Commandments – Exodus 34:6-7
Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”
Just a sample in the Psalms, used dozens of times:
Psalm 6:4 Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; save me because of Your lovingkindness.
Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 31:7 I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul,
Psalm 33:5 He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the lovingkindness of the Lord.
Psalm 36:5 Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Psalm 51:1 For the choir director. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.
Psalm 63:3 Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You.
Psalm 85:10 Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Psalm 100:5 For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 103:4 Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Psalm 103:11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
Psalm 143:8 Let me hear Your lovingkindness in the morning; for I trust in You; teach me the way in which I should walk; for to You I lift up my soul.
Psalm 147:11 The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness.
Can you think of some of the times in your life that the lovingkindness of the Father through Jesus and His Spirit has startled you, and even overwhelmed you?
So, then, what exactly does lovingkindness mean as we meditate on these holy Scriptures?
To be “loving” has many facets in the eyes of the beholder. But let’s ask ourselves what kindness means, or doesn’t mean:
Being “kind” means to honor, value, respect and show worth to someone or something vs. devaluing, disrespecting, putting down and making fun, being mean, or even acting downright evil.
In other words: are the people we meet being treated as precious, and given the whole counsel of the kingdom gospel?
Being “kind” also means acting faith-full (full of faith), steady, loyal, consistent vs. acting rash, harshly unpredictable, impulsive, and even selfish. Are we being ‘biblically’ patient as Jesus Christ shows us vs. impatient. How about acting truthfully in all things vs. being full of deceit, lying, or half truths?
We might say there are four main categories of the word usage, then, for “lovingkindness:”
1. describing God Himself, which is the most important usage; this being a part of His essence, His ‘nature’ and how He acts with people, Israel, and His body of believers now called the Israel of God;
2. describing the behavior of people and Israel to God;
3. describing a continuing behavior pattern between two people; and
4. a specific act that one person performs for another.
Let’s see if we can keep in mind these categories as we continue searching His word.
Beginning in Genesis 19 and ending around Psalm 50, we see profound uses and effects of this attribute of our great Eternal Provider on His world and His creatures. When you see the word “it” below, that refers back to “lovingkindness:”
- God shows and grants it to 1000’s and His anointed (i.e. David), who love Him and keep His commandments (i.e. at least some of it is very conditional)
- God is abounding and abundant in it
- It’s greatness allows compassion
- It’s shown to each other (like Jonathan and David)
- It can be removed (like Saul)
- It’s everlasting
- It’s upon Israel forever
- God preserves and keeps both His covenant and it to those who obey
- God saves people by it
- People can trust in it
- Kings are not shaken because of it
- It follows you all the days of your life
- People are remembered by God according to it
- All paths of the Lord are it
- It’s before our eyes
- People can rejoice and be glad in it
- It’s made marvelous to us
- Surrounded by it if trusting the Lord
- Earth is full of it
- Eyes of the Lord are upon us who hope in it
- It extends to the heavens
- It’s precious
- It’s continuous for those who know God
- Believers don’t conceal it from their congregation
- It continually preserves us
I’m not sure about you, but this list sort of takes my breath away. Isn’t God good to us?
Of course He is. Just another reason to love and obey Him by His grace. It brings Him pleasure! He’s the Mighty One.
His “lovingkindness,” the steadfast love, endures forever. We must do our part, beloved, in obeying Him to fully receive this most precious blessing.
And we thank the Almighty for giving us the gift of brother William Tyndale’s life who gave us such phrases and words as this:
Let there be light; Am I my brother’s keeper?; Ask and it shall be given, seek and ye shall find; With God all things are possible; Be not weary in well doing; Fight the good fight; Behold, I stand at the door and knock; Salt of the earth; Pearls before swine; The signs of the times; Where two or three are gathered together; The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak; eat, drink, and be merry; a law unto themselves; powers that be; the patience of Job; Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil; Judge not that you not be judged; the Author and Finisher of our faith…
…allegorical, anathema, anunciate, antiquate, appropriate, augmenting, behold, birthright, blazing, bo-peep, broken-hearted, brotherly, brotherliness, busybody, castaway, chasten, childishness, churlishness, circumcised, clear-eyed, complainer, converter, Corinthian, creating, declarative, deaconess, dedicating, devilishly, dimensioned, divider, dunce, evangelical, excommunicate, fisherman, German, godless, godliness, grossly, holy place, house-top, impure, incarnate, inexcusable, infatuate, intend, iterate, Jehovah, jot, jesting, justifier, knavery, landlady, live, log, longed, long-suffering, lost, metaphysic, Moses, network, oiled, open-door, ourselves, passover, peace offering, persecute, poetess, pose, refused, respondent, rose-colored, sanctifying, scapegoat, sea-shore, satisfactory, servant, silver plate, slaughter, slime-pit, sniveled, snork, sorcerer, splaying, spoiler, stiff-necked, studied, suspension, stumbling-block, surmising, taskmaster, thanksgiving, toy, transubstantiate, trope, two-edged, unbeliever, uncondemned, undergird, ungodly, ungodliness, unleavened, untoward, uproar, viper, wave, weakling, whoremonger, wine-press, wine-vat, wreathed, writing-table, zealous…
As his main biographer David Daniell proclaims: no Tyndale, no Shakespeare. Brother William’s contributions are that vast and deep to the development of the entire English language. As David Teems writes in another excellent biography, Tyndale was the man who gave God an English voice!
Will you join me in beginning to muse and profusely thank Him more often for His most blessed “lovingkindness?”
Here’s the full length feature film that courteously describes the life and death our our dear brother, William Tyndale, the Holy Spirit inspired “author” of the word “lovingkindness.” I’ve watched this movie at least four times and every session the Spirit brings new light and thankfulness to God for His work and saints:
Buy the DVD here.
Please comment on this post right below. Feel free to write and proclaim your leadings in the Spirit in an honorable fashion.
Your friend and brother in fighting the good fight,
Saints, we’re one day closer to Home, and Him! Love Him wholeheartedly!
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Marc White, Director, Walk Worthy Ministries, www.WalkWorthy.org