The God Who Bends

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It’s not an ox but it is certainly an impressive set of horns

Hello and welcome-or welcome back-to Renaissance Woman! 

This week I am back to my study of Isaiah 45:7: “I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things”.  Some translations have “evil” in place of the word “calamity” in this passage and the idea that the Lord creates evil is one difficult to swallow.  This week, I continue looking at the Hebrew word bara which is most often translated “create” to see just what it really means.

In an earlier post, I mentioned a video I watched where the teacher said bara means to fatten or to fill.  The teacher relates bara to the following words:

Beriy = fat

Barar = clean (the teacher points out soap comes from fat)

Barah = choice meat

Beriyt = covenant (the making of a covenant included the cutting or dividing of meat)

Biyr = fat place-bountiful

Biyrah = palace

He points out the fattening or filling that took place during the six days of creation: the first three days are days of separation but then days 4, 5, & 6 are the heavens, earth, and seas all being filled with plants and animals then the culmination of creation by God creating Mankind.  I found another video on bara where the two letter root bar meaning “son of” was related to bara and this picture of mankind filling the earth with offspring confirms the meaning “to fatten” or “to fill”. (Other sources tell me bar is the Aramaic for “some of” rather than the Hebrew, which is ben, and bar in the Hebrew has a host of other meanings. Just an aside…)

I’ve already mentioned how I took that meaning and plugged it in to the various scriptures where bara is used to see if it works.  It can, I suppose, so I do not entirely disagree but I do not find “to fatten” or “to fill” entirely satisfactory.  When I try it in my study passage, I find “I fatten evil” doesn’t make sense to me at all.  “I fill evil”…okay.  If the idea is God filling evil in order to destroy it, I could come around to that definition.  My reason for not wholeheartedly committing to these definitions is this: there are other Hebrew words used for fattened (or fatted in the King James English) and fill.  There is the Hebrew word mashman (H4824) which means fatness but in terms of a rich dish or fertile field or robust man.  There is also deshen (H1880) which means fatness or abundance and specifically the fatty ashes of sacrifice. These two words are not all: I count seven different entries in the Strong’s concordance when I look up fatness, fatted, fatter, and fattest.  Why use bara?  What is the difference in its intent that the Hebrew people would use it rather than one of these other words?

Then there’s male (H4390) which means “to fill or to be full of” and is used numerous times in the Old Testament.  Again, with a perfectly good word meaning “to fill” why use bara if “to fill” is the intended meaning? What is the difference and why do I keep harping on it?  Because, it is so important to understand what the writers of scripture intended to convey.  Do the English words chosen fit the intent?  How has our understanding of the definitions of these words changed over time?  For instance, if we all truly believe “create” means “to make something out of nothing” then I have a problem.  The idea that when God says “I create darkness” and “I create evil” in Isaiah 45:7 He means neither of those things existed until He brought them into being, I run into a contradiction.  Evil is not mentioned once in creation story in Genesis 1 where God looks at everything He made and saw it was very good and then rested.  Evil does show up in Genesis 2 after God plants the garden for the man He made and we see the tree of the knowledge of good and evil growing there but I plan to look more at that during my study of evil.  There is nothing here to back up evil existing because God created it and, since I don’t believe the Bible does contradict itself, I will continue to seek out what create means.  I will say it is crucial that none of us build our theology on one fragment of scripture but equally crucial is an understanding of what this word meant to the people who used it.

It’s important to remember the Hebrew language is pictorial.  Every word is comprised of letters which are words in their own right and every letter has its basis in a picture.  What is the picture that forms when we look at baraBara is spelled Bet (ב ) Resh (ר ) Aleph (א ).  The Bet is a picture of a tent and the word Bet means “house”.  I’ve already written about how we are ultimately the house of the Lord so won’t repeat what I’ve said here.  Resh means poverty or head/principal.  The letter is shaped like an upside down and backwards L and the picture behind it is either that of a poor person bent over from his burden or that of a bent head.  The bent head is a picture of humility and submission to one who is the head but it is also a bending of the intellect in order to be understood.  Think of how a teacher teaches a child.  The teacher knows far more than the child but no good teacher overwhelms a child by using terms that child cannot possibly understand.  No, a good teacher bends over his or her intellect and speaks to that child in a way that causes that child to learn and to grow.

How wonderful that we have a God who bends!  There are many instances of His bending towards people in the Old Testament but we see this ultimate bending in Jesus.  I cannot fathom what it meant for the Creator to empty Himself and become a member of His creation.  If that wasn’t enough, Jesus wasn’t born in a palace or to a rich family.  He wasn’t pampered from the moment of His birth and received no honors among men.  And still, knowing who and what He was, that all things were given into His hands, He bent further and washed the filth of the roads from the feet of His disciples.  This is our God.  He is nothing like anything that has been worshipped as a god at any point in history.  He is all powerful and the source of all things yet He is the God who bends. 

So we have “house” and we have “poverty and head or principal” which are two concepts that ought not harmonize with each other and yet, in the paradox of the character of God, they do.  Lastly, we have the Aleph.  It looks like a somewhat sideways squiggly X but, in the earliest script, the Aleph was an ox head with horns which symbolizes power and leadership.  So now we have house, poverty and head or principal, and power and leadership.  I can see where those who define bara as “to fill” are coming from because this is the picture I see forming:

We are God’s dwelling places so our circumstances are also His.  Thus, the circumstances of our lives will become the vehicle where He is seen and where we come to intimately know Him as He fills our lives with Himself.  Any power evil appears to possess shrivels up and blows away in the presence of our God.  Perhaps His being with us isn’t always easy to see but I am confident that, whatever evil besets us, we will be able to say like Joseph: “You meant it for evil but God meant it for good.”

I am still not satisfied with “to fill” as a definition for bara and so will be continuing to take a look at this word next week.  Until then, may the Holy Spirit open our eyes to see that no matter what evil might come against us, we will not fear: Our God is with us!  The Lord of hosts is with us!  The God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46)

Hallelujah!  Amen.

Note: Strong’s Concordance “Fatness, Fatted, etc.” entries in the Hebrew Dictionary:  4924, 1880, 2459, 8081, 75, 4770, 1277

References

Bara

Jeff A. Benner

Bet Yahudah

Bet

Shivimpanim

The Living Word

Resh

Shivinpanim

The Living Word

Aleph

Shivimpanim

The Living Word

Desideratum

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View From the Top of Knob Hill in Edwards, CO

This week’s post is a poem inspired by various musings. The study I’ve been conducting on Isaiah 45:7 has been foremorst in my mind and I was recently blessed with the opportunity to spend some time in nature. I had expected it would be a time to more deeply experience the Holy Spirit and, while it was, it didn’t happen the way I thought it would. I’ve been thinking on that experience as well and then remembered 1 Kings 19:11-13. The result of all of that is this poem.

Desideratum
I had a great gift given me
To seek a place I could be still
I had come to the trail's head
And I started up the hill
I felt myself battered & crushed
Convinced all Man touches he destroys
And I needed time to be away
Escape from all the noise.

I wanted time alone with You
Without my mind being swarmed
By all the screeching clamoring
I wished a deeper connection formed
With no more concrete underfoot
I was sure I'd hear the sound
Of Your voice-but though I listened close
I heard nothing from the ground.

A storm was brewing in the mountains
And though it wouldn't reach me for some time
A breeze arose which refreshed and cooled
Soothed me during my climb
I was sure as I ascended
And the air around me thinned
I'd hear You speaking loud and clear
But You were not in the wind.

At last I reached the hilltop
There was no one else around
I sat down to rest a bit
On a small bench I had found
I wondered if I'd hear You now
That I sat still on my own
But all I had was certainty
I was not sitting there alone.

Your Presence was there with me
And at once I began to sing
A song of Your lovingkindness
I felt my soul within take wing
Buoyed by no strength of mine
But a stirring deep inside
I heard You sing along with me
From that place where You abide.

Nature is all well and good
It is important to take rest
But I need not ever search for You
I remember how I'm blessed
In You I live and have my being
Your Spirit lives inside of me
And I do not need to look elsewhere
We exist in seamless unity.

I rise and begin my descent
In a very different mood
Than the one I had started in
I am healed and renewed
This truth I have I must declare
Perhaps I will write a poem
And tell all Your Love Purpose
Is to make each heart Your home.



His Attributes Are Clearly Seen

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Photo by Walter Strong

Hello and welcome to another post on Renaissance Woman where, this week, I continue to look at the Hebrew letters comprising the word bara which is most often translated “create” in the Old Testament.

I admit I didn’t get far in the study process.  As Aleph is the first Hebrew letter and Bet is the second, it was easier to turn the pages of Mr. Haralick’s back and look at Aleph then to flip through to Resh which is the twentieth letter.  Thus I am not looking at the letters of bara in the order in which they appear.  As I was reading through Mr. Haralick’s entry on Aleph, I was struck by something he said regarding Elohim, the first name of God revealed in scripture.  Elohim is spelled Aleph Lamed Hey Yod Mem אלהים and, looking at the letters in reverse order gives us another name of God Yah יה and the root word male מלא (pronounced mall-ay) which means “to fill” or “to be full.  Male also means multitude, fullness or filling matter so Elohim can be understood as that aspect of Yah, God, that fills matter. (Haralick, 23)

I have already shared how energy fascinates me and I follow the studies on energy being conducted in Physics and Quantum Physics.  Studies are showing that it is energy that was converted to the smallest particles which are the building blocks of atoms and thus of all that exists.  I found this quote in Mr. Haralick’s introduction: “…’In the beginning, God created heaven and earth,’ should be rendered; ‘When God began to create heaven and earth’.  For the world is continually being created-every day, every hour, even this very instant the world is being sustained by the same primordial creative force with which it came into existence, the force of berishit (בְּרֵאשִׁית), ‘In the beginning.’  If this creative force would depart for even a split second, the world would return to nothingness.” (Haralick, xiii)  This quote made me think of Hebrews 1:3 which states Jesus Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power”. 

During this study of bara, I have been meditating not only on the Word creating in Genesis 1 but how that Word was energized by the Holy Spirit to bring into being all that exists.  I was curious how energy was associated with the Holy Spirit in scripture and so looked it up in my Strong’s Concordance. I didn’t find it.  I was so flabbergasted I thought for a moment I’d forgotten how to spell energy and was looking in the wrong place.  I had not and was not and had to accept neither Greek nor Hebrew had been translated as “energy”.  This both did and did not make sense.  I’m sure that energy wasn’t a widely studied concept in 1611 (Publication of the King James Bible) and yet I am surprised more modern translations haven’t used the word energy as it’s there in the Greek.

The Greek word is energia (G1753) and means “energy”.  Consider Ephesians 1:19: “and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working (energia) of His mighty power” or Ephesians 3:7 “of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working (energia) of His power”.  Energia also appears in Ephesians 4:16, Philippians 3:21, Colossians 1:29, Colossians 2:12, 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 2 Thessalonians 2:11. 

Why not translate energia by the closest related English word, energy?  It might be because energy is a touchy subject among Christians.  I conducted an internet search and found articles addressing whether or not God is energy.  The consensus among the ones I looked at was a resounding “no!” and I wholeheartedly agree but that doesn’t mean we can’t understand something of how God works by exploring how scripture speaks of energy.  However, I see a de-personalization of God going on to the point where He is spoken of as a “presence” or “energy” or, the one that really makes me cringe: “the universe”.  I can see why the word “energy” would be avoided as this de-personalization becomes more widespread.  I picked up a book called Coffee Shop Conversations by Dale and Jonalyn Fincher and was astonished when Jonalyn shared she’d overhead another woman express her astonishment than anyone still believed in a personal God. It is a tragedy that God is rendered to a mere force or worse yet an aspect of His creation.

I find a similar tragedy in the consideration of creation.  I consider scriptures like Hebrews 1:19 and Colossians 1:17 and am not surprised that science is saying it is energy that is converted to matter.  It’s a strange thing:  I don’t disagree with anyone who says God called all that exists out of nothing because He is before all things.  Neither do I quibble with those who say God created all things out of Himself because of the manner in which I create.  When I write a poem I first have the thought to do so.  I decide on what form I want to use then choose rhyme and meter.  Then I sit down and write it and a new thing is brought into the world.  This analogy does break down of course because I create out of forms and words that already exist.  I am not the source of all poetry whereas God Himself is before all things and is the source of all things.  I create a poem because God Himself is a poet and I am made in His image.

I do quibble with those who say the creation is God.  He certainly thought it, called it into being, and upholds it by the dunamis of His word but He is no more His creation than I am a poem I write.  I am certainly connected to a poem I write and anyone who reads a poem can certainly learn something about me but reading one of my poems doesn’t mean the reader knows me.  It’s the same with God.  Romans 1:20 says it perfectly: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”  God is certainly connected to His creation because it’s His.  Creation can show us what He is like but we cannot know Him via creation.

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote something I think pertains to what I am attempting to say.  It comes from his story “The Adventure of the Naval Treaty” and is spoken by Sherlock Holmes: “There is nothing in which deduction is so necessary as in religion,” said he, leaning with his back against the shutters.  “It can be built up as an exact science by the reasoner.  Our highest assurance of the goodness of Providence seems to me to rest in the flowers.  All other things, our powers, our desires, our food, are really necessary for our existence in the first instance.  But this rose is an extra.  Its smell and its colour are an embellishment of life, not a condition of it.  It is only goodness which gives extras, and so I say again that we have much to hope from the flowers.” (Doyle, 300)

I agree with Sir Conan Doyle that the goodness of God can be seen in His creation.  However, as Andrew Murray says; “Nature speaks of God and His work; but of Himself, His heart, and His thoughts of love toward us as sinners, nature cannot tell.  In his deepest misery, man seeks for God-but how often, to all appearance, in vain.  But, God be praised, this seeking in vain is not for always.  The silence has been broken.  God calls man back to fellowship with Himself.  God has spoken!” (Murray, 42)

We are not left in ignorance as to how God has spoken.  He has spoken to us in His Son (Hebrews 1:1).  He has spoken to us in a person and, since seeing Jesus means we have seen the Father (John 14:9) we know that God is Person.  We can know Him.  We can fellowship with Him.  We can have relationship with Him.  We can look at what He has made and even attempt to understand how He has made it but all of this is useless unless we look beyond created things and energy and power to the One before it all.  That One is love.  He loves us so much He gave us this beautiful world to live in and take care of.  In the midst of our failure and darkness, He sent His son Jesus Christ to rescue and restore us.  Now, He freely pours His Spirit onto and in us so that we live in union with Him. 

The Holy Spirit is difficult to understand.  Whenever I see Him in scripture He is moving, hovering, vibrating, covering, energizing, and so many other action verbs.  He is difficult to describe without using words like “energy” or “power” and, as He is the reticent Person of the Godhead, it can be easy to think of Him in impersonal terms.  And yet, in John’s gospel, the Holy Spirit is described in the most personal of terms.  He is Helper, Comforter, Teacher, and Guide.  Only a Person can be these things. 

I believe in a Personal God.  I can call Him by name: Jesus.  I can know Him as my Father.  His Spirit living in me is my very best friend.  I live in Union, Fellowship, and Relationship with Him and this is only possible because He is Infinite Person.  What He is to me, He is to everyone else.  Do not allow this precious life that is yours in Christ Jesus be stolen from you by one who has not seen.  This life is the free gift of God.  It is difficult to believe that we don’t have to earn it or clean ourselves up first so we are acceptable.  The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to this truth, strengthens us, and energizes us so we can receive it. 

Who is like our God?  Who gives gifts like our God?  Our God is an awesome God!

Hallelujah!

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

References

Doyle, Arthur Conan, The Illustrated Sherlock Holmes Treasury, Crown Publishers Inc., 1976

Fincher, Dale & Jonalyn, Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2010

Haralick, Robert M., The Inner Meaning of 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

Walker, Allen G. The New Koine Greek Textbook, Volumes 1-4, 2014-2017

House of the Lord

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Enough with the Latin!

Hello and welcome-or welcome back-to Renaissance Woman where, this week, I continue my study of the Hebrew word bara which is most often translated “create” in the Old Testament.  The root bara is spelled Bet (ב) Resh (ר) Aleph (א).  I have briefly examined Resh earlier in my study of Isaiah 45:7 but did find it interesting that, according to Mr. Haralick’s book, Bet means “container”, Resh means “cosmic container”, and Aleph means “the pulsating unbridled force.”  Container and Cosmic Container seem a bit redundant and I was curious what I might learn as I studied each letter.  I began with Bet.

Bet is the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet and the word itself-spelled Bet Yod Tav (בית )-means “house, dwelling place, or home.”  In his entry for Bet, Mr. Haralick quotes Exodus 25:8: “And let them make a sanctuary that I may dwell within them.”  I looked up this verse in the New King James version and found the word used is among rather than within.  I checked the scripture in the Comparative Study Bible and each of the four translations contained therein also have the word among.  I looked up among in the Strong’s concordance and found referenced the root tavek (H8432) which means, “to sever, a bisection, in the center, among, between, in the middle, midst.”

I must take a moment and urge anyone who wishes to go deeper into Bible Study to get an Interlinear Bible.  The Strong’s is an invaluable reference but it doesn’t give prefixes or suffixes or, in some cases, tell you which word is used in the scripture.  Case in point: John 1:1 says “In the Beginning was the word…and the word was WITH God.”  If you were to look up “with” in the Strong’s you’d have to go to the Appendix where you will find listed all the words used so frequently they’d make the concordance very unwieldly if every occurrence was included: words like A, He, Her, They, and With.  The Appendix would tell you that “with” in the Greek is sun and there’s actually an interesting lesson to learn by considering the meaning of sun in the first verse of John’s gospel.  However, an Interlinear Bible would show you the word translated “with” in John 1:1 is not sun at all but pros.  There is a different mind picture painted when the meaning of pros is meditated on in the passage. 

It’s the same looking up the Hebrew letters.  When I look up “among”, the Strong’s gives me the root tavek spelled Tav Vav Caph but my Interlinear Bible shows me the root appears with Mem as a suffix and Bet as a prefix.  The addition of the prefix and suffix make the root third person masculine plural and it would be pronounced be-tow-kum.  The Bet as a prefix means ”in, at, by, among, with, by means of, through”.  Among is a perfectly fine translation but so is within or in or in the midst.  All of this is fascinating but the word Bet means house and I have the promises of Jeremiah 31:33 and Ezekiel 36:27 ringing in my ears and so I return to my study.

2 Corinthians 6:16 says, “What agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people’.”  The words the Apostle Paul quotes are found in Leviticus 26:12, Jeremiah 32:38, and Ezekiel 37:27.  First there was the Tabernacle and then the Temple which served as Houses of the Lord but there were also these promises from God that the day would come when there would be no external Tabernacle or Temple but God Himself would live within us. 

Then comes the Incarnation where “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14).  The Amplified uses the word “tabernacled” instead of dwelt which I like.  The Old Testament promises are beginning to be fulfilled but are not yet.  Jesus gives wonderful promises in the upper room of the One He would send: the Comforter, the Teacher, the Spirit of Truth who would guide us into all truth.  He would speak not on His own authority but will take everything that is of Jesus and declare it to us. (See John Chapters 13-17).  The same night He gives these promises, Jesus is arrested, tried, and crucified.  He dies but before dying declares “It is finished!”  What is finished?  There is far more to be said about what was happening on the Cross than I have room for here.  I think the Book of Hebrews has the best explanation for what is referred to as the “finished work of the cross”: 

Hebrews 7:26-27: “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is Holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for all the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.” 

Hebrews 9: 24-27: “For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another-He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”

Hebrews 10:12: “But this man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.”

I used the term “the finished word of the cross” because I’ve heard it said so often but if we stop there, there are still some of God’s promises not yet fulfilled. The Old Testament promises of God putting His Spirit within us, giving us new hearts, writing His law on those hearts, and enabling us to walk in His statutes are not fulfilled in the death of Jesus.  As the Apostle Paul writes, “If Christ is not risen, then your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” (1 Corinthians 15:17) Our faith is NOT futile and we are NOT still in our sins because Jesus is risen from the dead!  He is not only risen but ascended to the right hand of the Father.  After His ascension came Pentecost where the Holy Spirit rushed upon those gathered together.  At last, with the lavish shedding abroad of the Spirit, the promises of God were fulfilled.

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Amen, to the glory of God through us” (1 Corinthians 1:20).  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation…” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of every promise of God which means that now, today, His Spirit is within me.  He has given me a new heart, He has written His law on it, and He is causing me to walk in His statutes.  I am in Him and thus am a new creation.  How is this possible?  Because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, ascended to the right hand of the Father, and poured His Spirit into me.  The same Spirit that is there in Genesis 1:1 is within me.  He sends forth His Spirit and I am not only created but re-created and renewed (See Psalm 104:30). 

After his experience with the Centurion Cornelius, Peter says, “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34).  What is true for me is true for every other believer.  The Spirit of the Living God lives within each and every one of us.  Without Him, the Christian life is impossible.  There is no ability to love anyone, especially our enemies.  There are no streams of living water flowing out of us and into the world around us.  Without Him we do not know we are in Christ and Christ is in us and thus we have no hope of glory.  We can look at scripture and do our best to keep the rules so hopefully we get to go to heaven when we die but there is no LIFE.  We can read and memorize and know about Jesus, we can even try our hardest to be like Him but, without the Spirit of truth and wisdom and revelation; we won’t ever intimately KNOW HIM because the things of God are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14).

“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”  That is 1 Corinthians 3:16 and the question is asked again later on in Paul’s letter: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).  If the books written by Christian authors I’ve recently read are any indication, believers do not know the Holy Spirit lives within them.  May He open all of our eyes to see what is the hope of our calling.    

Bereshit bara Elohim…In the beginning, created God the heavens and the earth.  But these were not His house. “This saith the Lord, ‘The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.  Where is the house that ye build unto Me?  And where is the place of My rest?’” (Isaiah 66:1).  “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited…” (Isaiah 45:18). “Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made Him” (Isaiah 43:7).

Do you declare Jesus is Lord?  Do you know God is your Father and you are His child?  Do you know He has adopted you and is placing you as a Son?  Yes?  Then know the Spirit of the Lord lives within you.  You are the house of the Lord, a living stone in His temple, a member of that great city described in Revelation whose maker and builder is God!

 Hallelujah!  God has done this! Let the House of the Lord sing praise!

Amen.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

References

Exodus 25:8 Interlinear: ‘And they have made for Me a sanctuary, and I have tabernacled in their midst; (biblehub.com)

The Comparative Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984

Green, Jay P. Sr., The Interlinear Bible: Hebrew, Greek, English, Volumes 1-3, Authors For Christ Inc., Lafayette, IN, 1985

Haralick, Robert M., The Inner Meaning of Hebrew Letters, Jason Aronson Inc., Northvale, New Jersey, 1995

Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990

De Novo

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I am fascinated by energy.  The studies on energy being conducted within the science discipline of Physics, and especially Quantum Physics, are riveting.  I read different articles and, as I’ve come expect in the science world, for every postulation there is an equal and opposite refutation.  I don’t mind as I find there’s something to learn from both sides of the argument.  I take what I read and go to the scriptures, wondering what they might say on the subject.

As I said last week, I do not completely agree with the belief that all things that exist were created out of nothing.  I don’t completely disagree either: I do believe that there was a time when nothing we know existed and there was only God.  Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”  I think this passage clearly states God did not create from matter already existing but the idea that he created from nothing is not an accurate portrayal of His creating.  In the beginning, there was the Intention of the Father, described in Ephesians 1 and also peppered and salted throughout both the Old and New Testaments.  This Intention was expressed by The Word and everything spoken by The Word was energized by the Spirit thus forming the heavens and the earth and then filling them both. There is a beautiful passage in Proverbs: “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth; By understanding He established the heavens; By His knowledge the depths were broken up, And clouds drop down the dew” (Verses 19-20). 

Isaiah 11:2 gives this description of the Holy Spirit: “…the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”  This description of the Spirit paralleled as it is in the verses of Proverbs is so very exciting.  Psalm 104:3, in speaking of the things God has made says; “You send forth Your Spirit and they are created; and You renew the face of the earth.”  The Holy Spirit is an integral part of creation and I haven’t heard many teachings on this subject.  It’s something I want to spend more time on but, for now, I want to keep my focus on the meaning of the word “create”.  Whatever its intended meaning in Genesis 1:1, the word is used again in Genesis 1:27 and 5:2 where the scriptures speak of God creating man.  It is clear man was formed from the dust of the ground so man did not come from nothing. 

And so, this week, I continue my search for a satisfactory definition for create.  “Create” is bara in the Hebrew and I shared the confusing entry from Strong’s concordance in last week’s post.  Many other scholars have said-and I agree-that the meaning of a word does not drastically change no matter its context.  I don’t see why bara should be any different: there ought to be a consistent meaning that fits with every instance of its usage.  One Hebrew teacher I listen to likes the “make fat” or “fattening” meaning found in the 1 Samuel 2:29 passage.  He plugs that meaning into Genesis 1 and says that the creation story doesn’t suggest at all that God created from nothing but rather he “fattened” or filled the heavens and the earth.  I can see his point but there are many passages where that meaning doesn’t exactly fit.  Case in point is Joshua 17: 15 & 18 where my NKJV translates bara as “clear a place” in verse 15 and “cut it down” in verse 18.  I have to stretch the idea of “make fat” almost to the breaking point while trying to make it make sense here.  Clearing a place or cutting down doesn’t work in other scriptures: I don’t think anyone would accept God cutting down the heavens and the earth as an appropriate translation of Genesis 1.

I did amuse myself by plugging the different definitions found in the Strong’s into different scriptures.  I liked the idea of God “dispatching” the heavens and the earth as that gave me the strong sense of creation having a purpose. I was reminded of Isaiah 45:18: “For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord and there is no other.”  The forest Joshua commanded be “cut down” in the afore mentioned passages could also have been dispatched but, ultimately, I didn’t find this definition to be satisfactory so kept looking.

The Davis Dictionary of the Bible defines creation as, “The act or operation of God whereby he calls into existence what did not before exist.  The verb always has God for its subject and the result is an entirely new thing.” I found a similar idea in the New World Dictionary where “create” is defined as: “to grow, to cause to come into existence, bring into being; make; originate…to bring about, give rise…”  The definition “to bring about a new thing” isn’t expressly used but I do think it can be applied.  Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies gave me the most thorough definition of create: “to bring into being; to produce, put in form, or renew; to put in a new or happier condition.  It is a word having a special reference to God and his operations by an infinite power.  The leading import of bara is two-fold: (1) The production or effectuation of something new, rare, and wonderful; the bringing something to pass in a striking and marvelous manner. (2) The act of renovating, remodeling, or reconstituting, something already in existence.”

As I look at this definition, I do see Isaiah 45:7 could be translated “I create evil/calamity” and it could mean God brings evil into being.  I think a careful read of the first few chapters of Genesis shows this isn’t true: evil is not a part of the creation God calls “good”.  However, He did cause every tree to grow in the garden and, in the midst of the garden were both the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  All fairness to our God, He did warn our ancestors not to eat of that tree.  I do think there’s enough to consider Isaiah 45:7 is not saying God brought evil into existence but rather He will reconstitute evil and calamity: He will put in a new and happier condition.  He sends His spirit forth and renews the face of the earth.

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptures are quoted from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

De Novo = From the beginning, anew

 Some Interesting Reading:

 Collapse: Has quantum theory’s greatest mystery been solved? | New Scientist

Fragments of Energy – Not Waves or Particles – May Be the Fundamental Building Blocks of the Universe (scitechdaily.com)

References

Davis, John D., Illustrated Davis Dictionary of the Bible, Revised Edition, Royal Publishers, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1973, Page 157

Strong, James, LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990

Wilson, William, Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts, Page 101