Subsequent to last Friday’s letter a few more thoughts came to me. You will probably remember the Isaiah 29 scripture that we looked at last week: “Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, not with intoxicating drink. For YHVH has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes… “ (v. 9). As I was pondering what it is that is putting people in this condition today, I realized that it is an over-dose of knowledge. Not that knowledge is bad in itself, but it is the usage or misusage of “knowledge” which may be deceiving people. While thinking that being well-informed is keeping them alert and in the “know”, the very opposite may be the case.
Daniel’s prophecy, concerning the end of days, where it says that many will run to and fro and knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4) should make it clear to us that this increase of knowledge is not necessarily the knowledge of the Creator, Yeshua the Messiah, the Gospel of the kingdom, or the Word of YHVH. If it were, it would humble a person very quickly. But knowledge that stems from the Tree of Knowledge will, as Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, have a very negative effect: “Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies. And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:1-2). The ‘food’ or ‘fruit’ from this kind of knowledge can produce pride and self-righteousness, morphing into idols in our hearts (see Ezekiel 14 )
With the advent of the computer and cyber possibilities, we can now store knowledge and in an instant it can be at our finger tips. In some ways the enticement for this knowledge can mesmerize a person to the point of “drunkenness” and addiction, leading ultimately, as one community leader observed, to emptiness. What’s more, it can also turn into a source of entertainment. But enjoyable as it might be, it has no lasting benefit and causes one to seek/surf for more. None of the knowledge from the Tree of Knowledge edifies. On the contrary, it will do what it did in the Garden of Eden, “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6 emphases added), and ultimately fell victim to the inevitable separation from the Creator. Again Scripture warns about the idol of knowledge that can corrupt the mind: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Messiah” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
We have to acknowledge that our minds have been corrupted by this world’s knowledge, largely without us even knowing or being aware of it, and thus as YHVH’s people we have to be cautious and keep our minds in check. “If then you were raised with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of Elohim. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2). Notice it does not say “of the earth”, but “on the earth”, which Paul then elaborates on, in a following verse: “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). And there is more that can be added from Romans 1:29-31, and Galatians 5:19-21. Thus exhorting us to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of Elohim” (Romans 12:2).
Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, makes a strong indication of what the will of Elohim is for those who are in the Messiah and have His Spirit: “For this is the will of Elohim your sanctification that… each of you should know [have the knowledge and understanding] of how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor… For Elohim did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4a, 7). Therefore, in this way “our hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attain to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of Elohim, both of the Father and of Messiah, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3). Thus, it is in the fruit of Tree of Life i.e. the Word of YHVH (the Scriptures) that the nourishing knowledge of Elohim and Messiah Yeshua is to be found.
Last week we took note of the label that YHVH had given to Israel, calling them an “undesirable [or undesired] nation” (Hab. 2:1). Interestingly, the same word for “desired” (“nichsaf”) is used in the two main Hebrew translations of the New Covenant, in Luke 22:15, where during the seder meal, prior to His execution, Yeshua said to the disciples: “With desire I have desired [nichsof nichsafti] to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of Elohim." Notice the duplication of the verb for the purpose of accentuating the point. Isaiah 62 addresses Zion’s vindication and acceptance with glorious descriptions and adjectives. Among them is “heftzi-ba” – my desire is in her”. Although not identical with “nichsaf”, it conveys the same idea.
And so, what is to transpire on the road from being “an undesired nation” to becoming “my desire is in her”? One main station on our journey was when we partook of Yeshua at Passover, in accordance with His great desire to “eat with us”. But where to from there? As we saw above, knowledge and the incessant pursuit thereof may not only intoxicate us and set us off course, but it can also have the effect of puffing up, while the command “to be gathered” and “to gather” goes unheeded. (Zephaniah 2:1-3). As voiced by Zephaniah (again from last week), to be gathered together can only take place when the gathering, of the low-laying branches and twigs, occurs while in a stooped posture of lowliness, humbleness, and the knowledge of the Truth.