Hello! Welcome to the start of another week and another post on Renaissance Woman.
I am continuing my study of Isiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things.” I have quoted this passage out of the New King James but there are many translations that have the word “evil” in place of “calamity”. The Hebrew word in this passage is ra and, this week, am taking a second look both at ra (רע)-evil- and ra’ah (ראה)-to see.
Ra has an entire list of meanings in the Strong’s Concordance: bad, evil, adversity, affliction, calamity, displeasure, mischief, and the list goes on. Looking at the Hebrew letters which comprise the word ra, the meaning is revealed as “allowing the eyes to rule”. The letter Resh (ר) meaning both “head or principal” and “poverty” is shown bending to the letter Ayin (ע) which means “eye, face, look, appearance, sight”.
The Resh is a fascinating letter (but then all the Hebrew letters are!). According to Mr. Haralick’s book, Resh has the energy intelligence of The Cosmic Container. With this in mind, I look at the word ra and I see the Ayin as both ruling and filling the Resh. The Resh is the letter depicting the head bowed or a poor person bent under a heavy load. The Resh bows to, looks for relief to, and looks to be filled by the next letter in the word. In the word ra that letter is the Ayin. Thus, evil is allowing oneself be ruled by the sight of the eyes, to build an identity by what is seen, and to look to be filled by what can be experienced through the senses of the body.
“Evil” is a strong word. Perhaps you are like me and define “evil” as deeds like assaults and murders. When I look at ra as I see it defined, evil deeds aren’t necessarily those awful acts and atrocities one human being commits against another. Rather, evil deeds are anything done because it first looked good and then it was affirmed by the heart and mind. Evil deeds are those things done out of the flesh.
I do think it’s important to take a moment and acknowledge eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil didn’t result in human beings only being capable of evil. The word translated “good” is tobe (H2896) and not only means “good” but also “beautiful, bountiful, kindness, prosperity, wealth.” Just as we can look at the world around us and see evil, so also do we see good. Humanity is capable of both and there are so many who choose good. Again, this is so important to acknowledge. At the same time, it is important to acknowledge partaking of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil resulted in death. While humanity is capable of great good, I think it’s obvious that good-no matter how great-has no power to impart life. That same choice set before our Parents in the Garden of Eden is placed before us today and it isn’t to choosing between good and evil: it’s choosing between death and life.
I found this idea echoed in Andrew Murray’s Commentary on the Book of Hebrews. Commenting on Hebrews 11:24-26 he writes, “We all live by faith. What we love and live in, we believe in. He who trusts and yields himself to the visible and the temporal lives an earthly, fleshly, life. He who looks to the unseen and the eternal, and joins himself to it, lives a divine and heavenly life. Between these two, faith ever has to make its choice. The clearer and more deliberate and more conscious the decision is for the unseen, the more will faith in God be strengthened and rewarded. The great difficulty in making the right choice lies in the fact that, by the victory that earthly things gained over us in Paradise, our eyes have been blinded; and the things of time, even where we acknowledge them to be of less value, have acquired, in virtue of their continual presence and their pressing claims, superior power. The great work faith has to do, and the best school for its growth and strength, is the choice of the unseen.” (Pages 471-472)
Choosing the unseen, knowing what it holds for us and why we should choose it at all, is not possible without the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is lavishly poured out on us and He also takes up residence in us. He abides with us forever. He is the Spirit of truth who dwells with us and in us. He testifies of Jesus. He guides us into all truth. He glorifies Jesus, takes what is His, and declares it to us. He is the one who opens our eyes. (See John Chapters 13-17 and Ephesians 1). Because He lives in us, we are united to Jesus who declares “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Revelation 1:18).
Which brings me to my second word: ra’ah (H7200). This is the Hebrew word which means “to see” but it also means “advise, approve, behold, consider, discern, perceive, respect.” The word does mean “to see” and is used for the act of seeing out of one’s eyes but the word is spelled Resh Aleph Hey (ראה). In this word, the Resh is bent to the Aleph rather than the Ayin and it is the Aleph that both rules and fills the Resh. The Aleph is the letter that represents God and union with God. It is as we look to, allow ourselves to be ruled by, and are filled by God Himself-the God revealed in Jesus-that we are able to choose life.
Just as “evil” is a difficult word, so is “rule”. It is a word that contains within it the idea of dominion and oppression and there is, I think, a resistance to the idea of being ruled by anyone or anything, including God. There are those who would tell us we should surrender to Jesus because it is His right to rule not only as Creator but Redeemer. They are not wrong but I would call your attention to two passages. In the first and second chapters of Ezekiel, the Prophet describes the heavens being opened. He sees the likeness of a throne with the appearance of a man above it. When Ezekiel sees this and the likeness of the glory of the Lord, he falls on his face. He immediately hears the voice of One speaking and the first thing this One says is, “Son of man, stand on your feet, and I will speak to you.” Ezekiel then describes the Spirit entering him and standing him on his feet. The second passage I wish to call your attention to is found in the first Chapter of Revelation. John hears a voice and when he turns to see the Voice, he sees the glorified Jesus and falls at His feet as one dead. Jesus bends and places His right hand on him before speaking to him. If you picture it, you see God incarnate bringing Himself to John’s level so He can speak to him face to face.
Just as “we love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19) so do we bend to Him because He first bends to us. Romans 8: 8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I do not bend my head to the Lord Jesus Christ because I’m afraid He’ll grind me into the dirt if I don’t properly honor Him. I want to bend my head to Him because I know Him. I know He loves me and I know He is far more capable of bringing peace and joy to the circumstances in my life than I would be if I started doing what was right in my own eyes. I bend my head trusting and resting in Him because He is both my glory and the lifter of my head (Psalm 3:3).
Imagine yourself represented by the Resh. Where is your head at? Who or what are you allowing to rule over you? There is only One worth bending to and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. Go to Him, rest in Him. He takes our burdens and yokes us to Himself promising His yoke is easy and his burden light. Yoked to Him, we walk step by step with Him. We learn from Him and find He is not dominating or oppressive but meek and humble of heart (Matthew 11:28-30).
Our clocks and calendars are about to register the start of another year. During this time, let us resolve not to be like the citizens in the parable of Jesus who said, “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). Let us also resolve not to submit ourselves to someone else and their description of Jesus. Let us resolve to know Him for ourselves. Let us invite the Holy Spirit to complete His work in us and guide us into the Truth who is Jesus. Let us “come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ” (Ephesians 4:13-15).
Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982
Bentorah, Chaim, Hebrew Word Study: Beyond the Lexicon, Trafford Publishing, USA, 2014
Blech, Benjamin, The Secrets of Hebrew Words, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1991
Haralick, Robert M., The Inner Meaning of the Hebrew Letters, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1995
Murray, Andrew, Holiest of All: A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, Whitaker House, New Kensington, Pennsylvania, 1996,2004
Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990