Hello and welcome-or welcome back-to Renaissance Woman!
This week I continue looking at the Hebrew word bara and, as I have conducted this study on Isaiah 45:7, I found I haven’t been able to look at bara without also looking at bereshiyt. I’ve felt I could spend the rest of my life just looking at Bereshiyt bara, the first two words of the book of Genesis or the Torah. The deeper I look the more I find I am in fathomless depths. There is so much more to be seen and learned and I may never find a bottom.
Which is fine by me. Being taught of the Holy Spirit is a never ending adventure of discovery. As my God is infinite and I am finite, I can delight in knowing there will always be something new to discover about Him. I will grow into Him, come to know Him more and more, and our relationship will continue to grow and evolve. I find it interesting that the English word “create”, which is almost always used to translate bara in scripture, comes from the base kre which means “to grow”. We Believers speak of “growing in the Lord” but I don’t think I’ve ever thought of that in terms of create/creating. This is a truth I do not hear spoken of in Christian circles near enough: “But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you”. That’s Romans 8:11 and I do think it’s worth some time to ponder that: the same Spirit who raised Christ from the dead lives IN us. The Spirit we see hovering over the face of the waters in Genesis 1:1, the Spirit who is sent forth creating (Psalm 104:30) dwells inside of us.
It doesn’t seem possible, does it? It seems too good to be true and yet this is what scripture tells me is true so all I can do is ask that same Spirit to open my eyes to see it, believe it, and then strengthen me to live it. The same Word who brought all things into being lives in me-and each one of you-through His Spirit. How can we help but grow!
I do have to admit I always believed that, while there couldn’t help but be growth as long as I lived here on earth in this body, one day I’d go to heaven and then I’d know everything. There’d be no more growth: just singing and dancing on golden streets in the presence of Jesus for all eternity. I used to sing those very words during worship services and yet there’s a passage in Isaiah that always use to frighten me because it seems to say something different. It’s found in Isaiah 9:7 and echoed in Luke 1:33: “Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice, from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
No end? The very idea used to terrify me. If there was no end to the increase of His government and peace, what about me? My early-church days had instilled in me the certainty that once I got to heaven that was it. I would have-both literally and metaphorically-arrived. This passage appeared to be telling me that wasn’t true. If there was really no end to His increase, that meant I had no idea what “going to heaven” meant nor what to expect when I got there. This passage deserves a dedicated study but, as I sought out a definition for bara, found there were some who thought it ought to be translated as “to fatten” or “to fill”, and then learned “create” contained the idea of growth, I couldn’t get this passage out of my mind. What correlation could there be between bara-as it is translated “create”-and never ending increase?
When it comes to the dictionary definition of “create”, at first glance there doesn’t seem to be any. The Webster’s dictionary goes on to define “create” as: “to cause to come into existence, bring into being, make, originate, to make or design (something requiring art, skill, invention, etc.), to bring about, give rise to.” However, there is a further definition of “create” in the Webster’s dictionary that caught my attention. It is, “to invest with a new rank, function, etc.” This fascinates me because the Hebrew word for “increase” in Isaiah 9:7 is marbiyth (H4768) and it means “multitude, offspring”.
I quoted Romans 8:11 before. It is crucial that each one of us know the Holy Spirit lives within us because it is the Holy Spirit Himself who bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:16). Because the Holy Spirit lives within us, we know we are born from above (or born again). John 3:3 says, “Jesus answered, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’”. What is the kingdom of God? It is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).
The Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come and He answered them: “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For, indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21). Some translations say “in your midst” but the Greek word used is entos (G1787) and it means “inside, within”.
If we don’t believe what these scriptures are saying is true, if-as some denominations say-the action of the Holy Spirit stopped with the death of the last apostle; what is a Christian life? Being a moral person? Adhering to a list of do’s and don’t’s? There certainly is no life. Without the Spirit of God within us, there is no heart of flesh given us in place of the heart of stone, His law is not written in our hearts, and there is no enablement to walk in His statutes and do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27). If the kingdom of God is not righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit and we do not know we have that kingdom inside of us now through the witness of the Spirit within us, if everything is indeed reserved until after we die and go to heaven; why do we pray the Lord’s Prayer? Why say “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth…” if we have zero expectation of His kingdom actually coming and His will actually being done on earth? I cannot believe when we pray that we pray for a future kingdom because the rest of the prayer is for now. We ask for our daily bread and we pray to forgive others as we too are forgiven. If that portion of the prayer is not reserved for some far off future, I cannot think praying for His kingdom to come and His will to be done would be.
While I do believe we have the kingdom within us, I also believe what the Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians: “In Him (Jesus Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory.” While I believe what the Bible says is true, that the kingdom of God IS righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, I also believe what we experience is merely a down payment on our inheritance, as this passage is rendered in the Common English Bible. There is coming a time of greater things, what this passage calls the redemption of the purchased possession. But, we do have the down payment and what a down payment it is!
Every time the Holy Spirit opens the eyes of someone’s heart to see who they are in Christ, who Christ is in them, and the peace of Christ rules in their hearts, they begin to see the kingdom. I also think it’s fascinating that the admonition is to “let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Colossians 3:15) because it is peace that is juxtaposed to evil in Isaiah 45:7: “I make peace and create calamity (or evil)”. His government and peace increases.
We are the dwelling place of God. His peace which is part of the fruit of His Spirit rules in our hearts even in the midst of calamitous or evil circumstances. Moment by moment, day by day, “from glory to glory”, His life is formed in us. His Spirit is sent forth and we are created. I am no longer frightened but rather I delight that “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end.”
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
Green, Jay P., The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew, Greek, English, Volume 4, Authors for Christ Inc., Lafayette, Indiana, 1976, 1984
Guralnik, David B., Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, Williams Collins + World Publishing Co., Inc., Cleveland • New York, 1970, 1976
Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990