The Meaning of SegullahSeptember 25, 2016
As followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus), we have a glorious calling. By putting our faith in Him, we become part of His Body, the Assembly of believers. The Bible casts a noble vision for this corporate entity, and one of the terms that encapsulates that beautifully is the Hebrew word segullah.
Segullah in Scripture
When Israel stood at the base of Mount Sinai, God gave her this outstanding proposal:
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Exodus 19:4–6 ESV)
The Hebrew word translated as “treasured possession” in this passage is סְגֻלָּה (segullah, pronounced “seh-goo-LAH”). This word is found only eight times in the Hebrew Bible. It is used to refer to a royal treasure of gold and silver,Eccl 2:8; 1 Chr 29:3. but most of the time it is used in reference to God’s people.Ex 19:5; Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Mal 3:17; Psa 135:4. It is used similarly to the terms chelek and nachalah (portion/inheritance/possession) to ...continue As an example,
“For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession (segullah).” (Psalms 135:4 ESV)
Israel is God’s special treasure, his precious possession. She is marked with God’s stamp of ownership, which sets her apart from all the other nations of the world.
The word segullah is also applied to the believing remnant in Messiah. We see the apostles using the equivalent Greek terms to describe followers of Yeshua, both Jew and Gentile. Paul writes:
“[Yeshua] gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14 ESV)
And Peter, writing in language that clearly invokes Exodus 19, says:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9 ESV)Titus 2:14 uses the Greek word περιποίησιν (peripoiesin), while 1Peter 2:9 uses περιούσιον (periousion). Both terms are used ...continue
In other words, segullah is not limited to the ethnic people of Israel, but applies to all who attach themselves to the God of Israel and His Son, Yeshua. Through faith in Messiah, Gentiles are able to share in this identity and become part of God’s people alongside Jews. As Paul explains, Gentiles are grafted in and become partakers of the covenants through Messiah.Romans 11:17-24; Ephesians 2:11-22. In Him, Jew and Gentile form one Body, and this comprises God’s treasured possession.
What this Means for Us
“Segullah” represents what we, as a people, are supposed to be. We are supposed to be God’s treasured possession. We are supposed to be a pure and spotless Bride for Messiah. Paul describes this in his letters:
“…Messiah loved the Assembly and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present her to Himself a glorious Assembly, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25–27)
He uses the same imagery in describing his zeal for the believers in Corinth:
“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Messiah.” (2 Corinthians 11:2)
As a people in Messiah we are called to be mature, blameless, holy, and above reproach.Cf. Romans 12:1; Ephesians 1:4; 4:13; Philippians 1:10; 2:15; Colossians 1:22, 28; Jude 1:24. God’s design for us is to be healthy, vibrant, and equipped to serve our Master in love and unity.
But it is hard not to look at our current situation amongst Yeshua-followers and feel that we as a Body fall so far short of that calling. Instead of being that glorious Bride without spot and wrinkle, we are often fractured and sickly. And while this certainly has application to the broader Body of Messiah, my particular burden is for the Messianic Torah movement. We as a movement have so much room to mature and grow. The disparity between where we are now as a Body and where we should be is something that ought to grieve us deeply, and drive us to action.
And that is what Segullah is all about. We need to have a yearning to be that glorious assembly that we are called to be. We need to exert our effort to build up the Body, and see it mature and develop in a healthy way. We need to spend ourselves on behalf of His people. We need to catch a glimpse of this inspiring vision and run with it.
The part that really gets me is that, as imperfect as we are, God still loves us. He even delights in us! Even in the midst of our imperfection, our spots and wrinkles, Messiah still sees us as His glorious Bride, and He was so taken by us that He was willing to die to make us His own. Why God chose to love us so much is a mystery we will never grasp. He promises to sanctify us and enable us live up to that glorious calling.
If this is something on God’s heart, it should be on our heart. Our hope is to cast a vision for a healthy movement of vibrant, functional communities, families, and individuals. We are chosen to be His segullah, His treasured possession.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Eccl 2:8; 1 Chr 29:3.|
|2.||↑||Ex 19:5; Deut 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Mal 3:17; Psa 135:4. It is used similarly to the terms chelek and nachalah (portion/inheritance/possession) to describe Israel as God’s possession.|
|3.||↑||Titus 2:14 uses the Greek word περιποίησιν (peripoiesin), while 1Peter 2:9 uses περιούσιον (periousion). Both terms are used in the LXX to translate סְגֻלָּה (segullah).|
|4.||↑||Romans 11:17-24; Ephesians 2:11-22.|
|5.||↑||Cf. Romans 12:1; Ephesians 1:4; 4:13; Philippians 1:10; 2:15; Colossians 1:22, 28; Jude 1:24.|