‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’ (NIV)
‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ (NKJV)
The bold words are translated differently, and no wonder. The original Hebrew word pictured above has quite a few meanings. “To harvest, to humble, to be thwarted, to be strengthened; fenced in, cut off, restrained; grape-gatherers.” It’s words like these which make me thankful I wasn’t in charge of translating God’s Word for all the English-speaking world.
I puzzled over this for a while and finally emailed my friend Andy Lee who elaborates on Greek and Hebrew words every week at her blog. She did some research and went down the path of strength:
My conclusion was that if you read the rest of the chapter, God speaks wonderful, strengthening, fortified promises to His people.
But the more I mull it over, the less I want to divide the meanings of this word (much the way Andy spoke of relishing the richness of the word peace). God’s Kingdom is so backwards. The Beatitudes make that abundantly clear. So much of the beauty of Christ is how spiritual paradoxes end up becoming real and true, despite their seeming lack of sense.
“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs 3:34
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
Any strength God has ever given me has been AFTER a time of thwarting. Every harvest has come after a time of humbling, every abundance after restraint. I think the NIV said it best when it chose “unsearchable” for this word, because it’s true.
Call to me and I will tell you fantastic things that make no sense! Stop trying to figure them out, because you can’t. You don’t know them; I do. I am the Lord and it’s my job to handle the details. Your job is trust.
The rest of the chapter goes on to detail the waste that Jerusalem is about to become…. AND the wonder that the LORD will recreate it as. In the spring of 2013, I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted to become. I knew where the Lord was taking me and I was so excited! By the end of that summer, I had lost it and entered a very long season of confusion and heartbreak, ending in something I don’t even know how to describe. I found myself asking, “How do I get back to where I was?”
That was the wrong question. The right question is:
“How do I move forward?”
The Israelites could never regain Solomon’s temple. They cold never regain all that they lost in the Babylonian siege. But they could start fresh with what God’s blessings now and move forward.
Have you lost something? Something tangible like your home, something personal like a family member, something private like your hope? You can’t go back. But you can go forward. Think on the word “hasar” today. Think of the things that have thwarted you, then think of the harvest God is preparing for you. Think of the situations which have humbled you, then think of the strength that He is offering you in the aftermath.
Think on the paradox, then rise up and praise the One who brings beauty from ashes, gives joy for mourning, and makes all things new, even when they don’t make sense.