Jesus, Messiah, a Worm?
What does it mean when people say that the Bible is inspired? Does it mean that one day some old guy woke up, ate a good breakfast, laid their eyes on a particularly gorgeous sunrise and felt the urge to write something that reflected that God-given day? Or is there something more? Something that cannot be ignored? Is it really God’s Word, and what does that mean, exactly?
Well, what if we told you that we could convince many people that God’s Word was actually written by God Himself by using a single word pulled from the Bible text? Would that get your attention? If so, keep reading, because that’s what we're saying. And keep in mind, that out of 780,000+ words in the King James Version of the Bible, this example is using just ONE of those words. Enjoy the ride…
What's this About? (Add History)
About 1,000 years before Jesus was crucified, the words that He would cry out in agony while bleeding out on the cross were written in what became the Book of Psalms, chapter 22. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This section of Psalms was written by King David of the Jews, slayer of giants, ancestor to Jesus. The words of the chapter miraculously foretell and echo the words that came from the witnesses of Christ’s crucifixion a millennium later. But, how did David know of what was to come?
Psalms 22 goes on to describe details of the crucifixion that was to come and quotes a conversation of God the Father and His Son who would come in the form of a man, called Jesus. Whether you believe the text as God’s Word or not, this is the context of the chapter. The experiences that are written did not happen to David himself, but fit perfectly with the events of Christ. David knew that he was putting down the words of his God and that even he wouldn’t fully understand its meaning. Now, the question remains, can we prove that his words came from God? Let’s see what happens when we look at just a single, solitary word…
In verse 15, the Son, Jesus, is quoted as saying, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Wait, what?! The Messiah just referred to Himself as a worm?! Yes, He did. However, what He’s saying is that He was being viewed by most of the world as having absolutely no value. Worthless. Or, at best, something to be used and disposed of. It reminds me of the kids’ song, “No body likes me, everybody hates me, guess I’ll go eat worms”. Except, worse. “No body likes me, everybody hates me, guess I am a worm”.
We're guessing you may have already learned something. Jesus, Lord and Savior of the world, once felt enough pity upon Himself to compare Himself to a worm. See? It happens to the best of us. So, cheer up! But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here to see whether or not the scripture has validity as being something ordained and designed by God Himself. This requires knowledge that goes beyond what a human being from ancient times could write. So, let’s look at this word, worm.
What's in a Word? (Add Culture)
Oftentimes, English translations do not do justice to God’s Word. We, in Western cultures, read the word "worm" within the context of Psalms 22, and we get the picture of Jesus pleading with the Father about what He knows has to be done. And that’s it. Except… that’s not it. Not even close. See, usually, in Hebrew, the word for worm or maggot is “rimmah”, and it is used a half dozen times in scripture. In fact, it’s used in one of our favorite chapters as the worms that appeared the next day in the manna that had not been eaten the day before as God commanded. I'll say it for you, "Ewww… gross!". Using rimmah here would make perfect sense, but that’s not what David wrote. The word he used was “tola’ath” which translates to a scarlet or crimson, female worm which was used in Roman times as an expensive dye that resembled the color of blood. If you’ve seen a Roman soldier with a red cape, then you know what we're talking about.
Here’s where things get interesting. David wrote a chapter describing crucifixion, but neither the method of Roman crucifixions or even Rome itself had been thought of yet! What’s more is that he went on to describe a detailed account about one crucifixion in particular to occur 1,000+ years later. What’s more is that from the very cross of that future crucifixion, David’s written words were quoted! And, we have yet to describe the plethora of comparisons that come from our current knowledge about the feminine form of a single word that he wrote…
What's with this Worm? (Add Science)
Kermes ilicis is a species of scale insect that was thought by modern scholars to actually be a plant until the 1700s AD. Guess they weren’t reading their Bibles! It lives in the Middle Eastern areas around the Mediterranean Sea and is the oldest known natural dye for the color red. Due to the color being closer to a brownish, dried-blood color, it has long since been replaced by other dyes, now synthetic ones, with purer red hues.
David specifically used the feminine form of the word for crimson worm. So, we’ll be looking specifically at the lives of the females. Like a few other animals we know about, these worms live solely to reproduce. When the females go to lay their eggs, they attach themselves to a tree (usually the holm oak or Kermes oak). They suck the sap of the tree to create a hard protective shell that cannot be removed without killing the mother. During this process her body swells up and turns to a reddish-brown color. The attachment is permanent and after birth, the young feed upon the living body of mother. As she dies, the red dye that built up inside her body oozes out and permanently stains both the young and the branch to which she was attached. She literally dies so that they may have life. When ready, the young escape through a narrow opening at the base of mother’s body, and after about 3 days, the waxy coat, white as snow, flakes off, leaving only the stain on the tree.
“Take, eat: this is my body which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”
Jesus died on the cross. His body was broken to pay for the sins that we have all committed. And if we take part, it is His blood that will mark us as His children that will provide us with eternal life. The gift is free and permanent, but it is not without cost. While we are here on this earth, we will share in His fate. We too will be as worms to this world. They too will hate us. But our suffering and deaths can also mean something. See, in most cases, the body of the mother worm is scraped off the tree along with the stained young. The goal is to obtain as much of the red dye as possible. The easiest way to do this is to take the bodies of the young as well. In doing so, more dye is collected. The world dries up their bodies in the sun, then grinds them into a powder. This powder is then used to dye wool and create scarlet coverings for all to see and to remember. It may be a harsh reality, but it is the narrow gate that leads to eternal life.
King David was inspired to write down what He believed were the future or out-of-time words of God’s Son. He most likely knew of the scarlet worm that was used in dyes. He was, after all, a king of great wealth. But could he have known the intricate details about the science behind the process of that dye being created? Could he have known that the science behind it would be so similar to the words that he wrote as well as the events that would happen 1,000+ years later? Is it remotely possible that he could have guessed that a single word, even though he wrote it, would have such significance throughout time, through today, 3,000+ years later?
Or was it God? Or is it God? The Living Word of God.
If just one word has that much detail and meaning, then just how much detail is located within all 780,000+ words?
Share this with your friends and see if they can worm their way out of this one.
Search the scriptures daily and let us know what you find!