Our Rear Guard, Acaph
One of the great prophets of ancient Israel was the prophet Isaiah. His prophecies are preserved for us today in the Tanakh which is the Hebrew Scriptures that contain the law, the prophets, and the collected writings.
In Chapter 58, Isaiah laments the failure of the house of Jacob to obey their God. They had instead chosen to pursue their own desires. In verse 1 he writes:
Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
As Isaiah continues, he details a path of true repentance which, if followed, would result in a return to God’s favor. Isaiah declares that if the people would renew their walk with God, His blessing on the nation would also return.
In verse 8 Isaiah describes a portion of just what that blessing would be:
Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedy: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
We see that part of the blessing shown here is that the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. What does that mean?
The word rereward is the Hebrew word Acaph which is used throughout the scriptures meaning to gather or collect. In some occurrences, it also carries the idea of gathering by bringing up the rear. Some translators here use the phrase the rear guard instead of rereward.
What can the ancient Hebrew pictograms, which are word pictures full of meaning, tell us that would help us to better understand the word Acaph? How will this be a blessing to God’s people? Acaph is spelled Aleph Samech Pey.
Aleph is the picture of the ox and has the meaning of the strong leader or God the Father.
Samech is the picture of the prop and means to support, to twist slowly, or to turn.
Pey or Fey is the picture of the mouth and means to speak or a word.
These pictograms show us that the strong leader is speaking or declaring he will support someone. This reveals to us that the strong leader, God the Father, promises He will support in a special way those who turn to Him in true repentance. The Samech carries the idea of a twist or a turn in its support. The picture here is that the glory of the LORD will be gathered or twisted and turned around his people.
Do you understand the significance of this? We may be able to defend ourselves from those things that come at us from the front that we can see, but God promises to defend us from attacks from the rear where we cannot always see. His glory provides a hedge of protection that cannot be breached by anything.
There is another way Acaph is used that is also very revealing. Judges Chapter 18 verse 25 states the following:
And the children of Dan said unto him, Let not thy voice be heard among us lest angry fellows run upon thee, and thou lose thy life, with the lives of thy household.
In this passage of scripture, the children of Dan threaten to kill Micah and the inhabitants of Laish whom they have just robbed. The word lose is the word Acaph and in this context, means not only to gather, but to gather for destruction.
We just discovered that God the Father promises to support and be the rear guard to those that return to Him. Now we see that that glory can also gather to take away. It can mean destruction for those that come against God’s faithful people.
But there is more to this promise for those who choose to return to their God and turn from their disobedience. This can be found in the numbers that each of these letters represent. The meaning of each of these letters is given to us as we see how each of these numbers is used throughout the scriptures.
Aleph is the number 1 and refers to deity, unity, sufficiency, and God the Father.
Samech is the number 60 and stands for pride.
Pey or Fey is the number 80 and is 8 times 10 or a new beginning or a new birth ordained in heaven.
If we add the meaning of these numbers to the meaning already discovered in the pictograms, what more can we understand?
God the Father declares He will surround and support those who choose to follow Him faithfully. Not only will He surround and protect His people with His glory, but the enemy will be gathered and taken away for destruction.
And who is man’s enemy? His own pride. By His glory, God the Father will gather and destroy man’s pride and instead offer man a new beginning and a new birth.
The promised security revealed in the word Acaph will ultimately come at the hands of His Son. In the Gospel of John Chapter 17 verse 5 we find this spoken by Jesus Christ:
And now, O Father, glorify thy me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Not only is the glory of the Father found in His Son, but it resides in those who have chosen to trust in Him. Colossians Chapter 1 verse 27 reminds us:
To whom God would make known what the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.