Without Form

"Conception" copyright Victor Bregeda. All rights reserved.

Last time, I introduced Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. Did you go out and buy your copy? If so, pick it up with me and find “formless” with me. If not, no need to fret. You can jump over to Strong’s website and find it.

In the NASB, the translators chose the words “formless” and “void” to describe the state of earth at the beginning; whereas, the KJV rendering uses the words “without form” and “void.” Since I have Strong’s based on KJV, I look up the word “form” and find the number 8414.

Now that we have the number, we can look it up in the Hebrew dictionary. Again, if you don’t have a hard copy, Strong’s website offers an abbreviated list of definitions.

When I look up the number, I find the Hebrew primitive root word tohuw, (pronounced to’-hoo). Root words are the trunk from which word families grow. With this word, we cut right to the source.

At this point, it’s important to look at the definitions and translatable synonyms within the context of the passage we’re interrogating. One way to do this is to read the passage several times before looking up the words. Another way is to use your imagination to place yourself in the scene.

In this case, imagine again the Spirit of God hovering over the earth in its preformed state. Remember as you read the following list, we’re on a quest to find the richest words, the sounds, the feel of the moment:

To lie waste; a desolation (of surface); i.e. a desert; figuratively a worthless thing.

Immediately a picture forms. This is an abandoned place. This is the outback…a place where no one goes unless they’ve been called to go there. Very few people will notice anything of value here. I can hear the developers now:

“Can’t build here. Nothing will grow. No one will buy.”

Juxtaposed to this scene, we have God who sees something entirely different. Rather than abandoning it, He chooses to hover over like a mother hen watches over her nest of eggs. What does He see that the others cannot see?

That alone is sufficient cause to worship. Let’s see what else we can discover by digging deeper into the word. Here is a list of translatable synonyms:

confusion, empty place, without form, nothing, (thing of) nought, vain, vanity, waste, wilderness

This list reminds me of my own thoughts today. Confusion feels bad to me. I like to know exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. I don’t like aimless wondering and wandering, yet many of my days feel exactly like the nothingness described in this list.

What a relief it is to know that when God encounters wilderness, He hovers there and dreams (Isaiah 35). He hovers over the vast wasteland of my purpose, my destiny, my mundane moments. And my mind returns once again to center: To the sounds of children happily playing in the other room, to the birdsong floating in through the open window, to the steady clacking of keys spelling out words.

And with this image firmly rooted in my mind, I breathe in peace.

Will you take a minute to let me know which word in this list allows you to breathe in peace today?

In Peace & Joy,

Angela

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Strong’s Concordance

"Press Papier" Copyright Vladimir Kush. All Rights Reserved.

Let’s talk about words for a few minutes, since that is what it is all about anyway! The original text of Genesis springs forth from the rich language of the Hebrew people. Hebrew is a beautiful and fascinating language. Though I would never profess to be a Hebrew scholar on any level, I do frequently use Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible*, one of my all-time favorite study tools, to look deep into the ancient language to find greater depth and understanding of the words in the Bible.

I have what I believe is the original version (or near to it), which is navy blue and includes the Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek Dictionaries. I found this at a yard sale for $5 several years ago, and it has become one of my greatest treasures. However, if you are new to studying the Bible in the ways I will be teaching, I recommend purchasing one of the newer versions, as my version has a few formatting issues and cuts off the numbers sometimes.

In addition, the older version is heavy and cumbersome, and it is keyed to the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible, which is not ideal for in-depth study. The King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is primarily a poetic rendering (version) of the text, and most of the Bible scholars I’ve met or read, including Kay Arthur, recommend using the New American Standard Bible (NASB) for study, as it is a more literal word-for-word translation.

Strong’s has a website, which does include the numbers for every word in the Old and New Testaments, as well as abbreviated Hebrew and Greek dictionaries. However, having been spoiled by my full dictionaries, I’m rarely satisfied with the definitions they offer on their site. The only time I refer to them is when the numbers aren’t printed in my hardcover version. Once I get the number, I return to my hardcover Strong’s Dictionary to look it up. However, just like Blue Letter Bible, Strong’s does offer a search function which allows you to search for words in the Biblical texts across many different translations, and I do often use it for word studies.

In coming posts, I will demonstrate how to use Strong’s Concordance to mine the depths of the Hebrew words in Genesis 1.

Until then, I leave you with these words to ponder:

Formless and Void

I’d love to hear what images these words evoke for you. Leave me a comment with your thoughts.

In Peace & Joy,

Angela

*I have an associative account with Amazon, so if you would like to purchase one of the books I recommend, I would very much appreciate if you would consider doing so through the links I provide on my post. Amazon will share a little of their profits with me, and I will be able to put food on the table with my passion for writing.

The One Thing

"City By the Sea" Copyright Vladimir Kush. All Rights Reserved.
Photo Source: Picasa

The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. ~Genesis 1:2

Last time, I made mention of The One Thing which has set me free to creatively explore God’s Word with freedom from guilt or fear. That one thing is LOVE.

Just as the earth laid formless and void in the darkness, I also laid dark and formless over these past couple of years. Some of you have read about my journey out of chronic pain and fibromyalgia, others of you have walked with me through this journey, and still others of you are walking through your own dark days.

I assure you, just as Light poured forth into the darkness of those first days, so the Light of Love will pour into your dark crevices. As we unlock this verse to find the way that Love formed the earth, I pray His Spirit will awaken your spirit to the foundations His Love has laid in your heart, as well.

For now, I encourage you to go back to the verse and allow yourself to imagine what the darkness of the deep looked like to the God of Love as He hovered over it all.

When you picture God’s Spirit moving over the waters, what do you see?

I see a Peace; an overwhelmingly gentle Presence thinking deep and glorious thoughts about what would soon come forth. I feel the electric expectancy within His heart as He planned just how those waters would merge together to bring forth life on the earth.

I close my eyes and realize that today I’m not so afraid of the formless voids that remain in my heart, for I know that His Spirit must be hovering over them with the same peace and gentleness. I am assured that beauty will soon emerge where there are now pain and ashes.

If you have a minute, I would love to hear what you picture when you meditate on this verse. Leave me a comment, will you?

In Peace & Joy,

Angela

Work As Worship

"While Master Still Asleep" Copyright Victor Bregeda. All Rights Reserved.

Creative Bible study is a struggle for the administrative part of my mind. I realized today that I completely skipped Genesis 1:2. My roving creative side celebrates this great victory, a sneak attack on the tyranny of chronology. Meanwhile, my internal administrator cries out at the injustice:

“ACK! We published out of order.”

On a whole, I celebrate the opportunity to be human in front of you, especially as it allows me to bring in another topic dear to my heart: The real-life obstacles and struggles inherent with studying the Bible.

Although I have developed a tremendous amount of discipline in the area of Bible study, I assure you that it never ceases to amaze me how easy it is to go days at a time without opening this most precious of books.

True confession: In the three days it took me to create this new home for Brightness of Your Dawn, I did not spend one single minute actually talking with the One who inspires me to read.

So consumed was I in the creative process, I neglected making a heart connection with the Creator of my soul. Not so long ago, this realization would have me wracked with guilt. That voice of condemnation would have shouted, “Here you are enjoying the fruit of His inspiration in your life, yet you have completely neglected Him in the whole process!”

I would fallen for the lie that I am a complete wretch. However, I am a new creation. I no longer give weight to those condemning voices. In fact, I know now that they represent my number one enemy to the creative process.

Now, I recognize my need for connection after a few days and do something about it. I stop what I’m doing and sit with Him, talk with Him, share my sorrows and my joys with Him, and listen to His heart for me. Today, He tells me that He is pleased with my work and that He receives it as an offering of praise and glory to His mighty hand in my life.

It is my hope that The One Thing that set me free to creatively explore God’s Word with freedom will set you free from this guilt, as well.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment. Tell me, what is your biggest obstacle to Bible study?

In Peace & Joy,

Angela