Over the past several months I’ve begun to study the Scriptures from an Ancient Near Eastern perspective. I’ve been floored at just how much I don’t know!!! That is a good thing, though. The moment you stop learning and are not able to be taught is the moment you need to step down from ministry and find a corner and be real still and quiet. I want to plug the free Wisdom in Torah Talmidim Teachers live google hangouts on Wednesday nights. If you’ve never watched any of the episodes, just do a search on YouTube for WIT-Talmidim Teachers, and you will find all the episodes there. Trust me; you will not be disappointed. I would like to pen this month a little bit about what I will be sharing in the fellowships in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. The theme is purpose and not going to the grave full of treasure! I’ve been thinking about this for some time and have been sharing this message since the Festival of Lights ‘14 (Hanukkah). Over the past few months this theme of purpose has been woven into all the pieces I’ve written in this newsletter. Recently while studying the Ancient Near East I began to see this theme of purpose in Genesis right in the creation account. Interestingly, you don’t have to read very far before the concept of purpose can be seen.
Genesis 1:2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of YHVH was moving over the face of the waters.
You may ask how in the world can I see purpose from this verse. First, I want to state my opinion of the creation account. I’m not totally convinced that Yahweh created something out of nothing. When we read Genesis 1:1, we are being told WHEN YHVH began to create and what took place. The reason why I make that statement is due to the word create. In Hebrew, bara carries the meanings of create, shape, form, and fashion. That still doesn’t supply us with something concrete about this word. A closer examination is needed to understand this word “create”. A more concrete meaning of the word bara is “to fatten or fill something up as a means of forming or fashioning something out of elements that already exist”. A sculptor gives us a great example of this word. The sculptor begins with an existing element, or mass, which is fashioned and formed into a sculpture.
This, in my opinion, is exactly what Yahweh did when he “created” the heavens and the earth. We can see further evidence in verse two of Genesis one. I’ve come to understand from studying the Ancient Near East that darkness and the sea are elements of non order and chaos. The word form in Hebrew is tohu which carries the meanings of confusion, barren, wasteland, and formless. The word void in Hebrew is bohu and carries the meaning of emptiness and chaos. These words are where purpose comes into play. Tohu is not necessarily referring to shape or form. While it can mean formless, it is in the sense of having no order, function, role, or purpose. In other words, another way to read Genesis 1:2 is the earth was without function and purpose because it hadn’t been yet been filled, shaped, or fashioned into what Yah designed it to be. Yah isn’t a God of chaos and disorder but of order, so we see Him in the beginning establishing order and function within His creation.
If Genesis 1 is an account that focuses on origins of order and function, I’m left pondering where you and I fit in. One of the most important roles that Yahweh gave to man is about purpose and function.
Genesis 1:28 Elohim blessed them, and Elohim said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it;
In other words, Yah was telling man to be productive not just in the sense of having children but in every aspect of life. Having a purpose and functioning in that purpose lead to productivity. Yahweh begins His creation by commandments, laws, and instructions. These commandments bring forth life and sustain that life. We see that after the man was created Yahweh proceeds to instruct him how to function and maintain the order that He had just finished establishing.
Now, how does this apply to us today? The same way it did for Adam in Genesis 1:28. What are we producing? That command still exists because there was never a command where Yah said after 2000+ years I want man to stop being productive. The market, or the world, needs our product, or fruit. The problem that we encounter today is so many believers have never found their product. How can we produce if we’ve no product to offer? Most believers settle for a career instead of finding their product and serving it to the rest of the world. Most believers settle for focusing on and critiquing the product of other believers instead of serving their own to the rest of the world. People don’t know what they possess (the product) nor understand how to serve that product to the rest of the world.
In other words, there is still disorder when Yahweh has already given us the instructions on how to maintain order. I believe we would have a tremendous decrease in problems if people spent more time finding their product and being productive serving that product to the rest of the world instead of causing disorder.
An apple tree can’t produce oranges. Why then are we so busy worried about how and what Tom, Joe, or Jackie are producing? In other words, each person’s gift and calling (the product) is unique and exclusive to them. Instead of trying to impose our fruit on someone else, why don’t we start being productive to the assignment that the Creator has given us? This is how we influence a generation, not so much by our perfect interpretation of Scripture but by serving our gift to mankind. I had a career as a history and science teacher at a private school in northeast Louisiana. I left that career because I found my gift in serving my product to others in a third world country called Costa Rica.
The funny thing is that I didn’t know who I was until I began to function in that role and purpose that was inside of me all along. When I found my gift, I could no longer be confined to a classroom. Yahweh’s instruction of being fruitful indicates what we already possess.
In other words, Yah doesn’t demand what He hasn’t already supplied. What Yah calls for He provides. I didn’t just wake up one day and say, “Hey, I’m a missionary in Costa Rica.” No, I discovered that was who I was created to be and the fruit that I was supposed to be producing. I found those seeds that produced the fruit of a missionary hidden inside of me, and I made a vow to Yahweh that I would serve my product (my gift) to the rest of the world in order to bring honor and glory to His name. I want to influence a generation by bringing order to the disorder. I want to influence a generation by bringing order to the chaos. I wasn’t born to run around correcting my brother or sister because of the way he or she does or interprets things. That is the job of the Ruach, and if we are caught up in correcting everyone, we are just adding to the chaos and disorder because we have stepped outside of our purpose and role and into another’s. Find your gift (the product) & start producing (serving) it to the world. What are you producing? Strife, disorder, and chaos or shalom, order, and functionality? Shalom.