Hebrew Highlights 136 - Separate
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron coming to you from Jerusalem.
GEN 1:6, “Then God said, "Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."”
GEN 1:14-18, “Then God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth "; and it was so. And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. And God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.”
My theme for this lesson is the word separate. However, in a rather unorthodox way, I’ll begin my outline with a side note. One of the basic arguments of both scientists, and science fiction writers is this: “Is just couldn’t be fair that with all those planets, we would be the only one inhabited. How self-centered can we be?”
Those who think this way understand neither God, nor his love for us. They believe Christians are limited in their thinking. How could the entire universe have been created just to light up Planet Earth’s sky? Yet, this is clearly what the Bible says. Actually, it is the scientists who are grossly limited in their understanding. What they see as the entire Universe may just be a small temporal county in God’s vast Eternal Kingdom. For all we know, there may be thousands of other cosmos out there somewhere.
I’ll leave you with those thoughts and return to my original study. The word translated as “separate” in the first book of Genesis is “mavdil”, which can also mean to set apart, or to divide.
The idea of being set apart is seen in NUM 8:14, "Thus you shall separate the Levites from among the sons of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine.” When God chose the tribe of Levi to minister to Him as priests, they were categorized in a different way than the rest of the people. They were not to be busy with the cares of this world as concerns careers, soldering, and other matters. They were even subject to different laws when it came to taxes, tithing, and offerings.
The next passage in the Bible where “mavdil” shows up is in NUM 16:20-32, “Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly." But they fell on their faces, and said, "O God, Thou God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, wilt Thou be angry with the entire congregation?" Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the congregation, saying, 'Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.'"
Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him, and he spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, lest you be swept away in all their sin." So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones. And Moses said, "By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. "If these men die the death of all men, or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. "But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord." Then it came about as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah, with their possessions.”
In case you’ve forgotten the context of this story, Korah and his kinsmen were a group of rebels who challenged Moses’ leadership. They complained about everything, and believed they could do things better than God’s chosen administrator. They actually brought about their own deaths by challenging God and Moses to a sort of duel.
Moses in a sense drew a line in the sand of the wilderness, and the congregation chose sides. Fortunately, the vast majority of the people of Israel wisely decided that Moses had been doing a pretty good job, and stayed with him. Those who didn’t paid with their eternal lives. An interesting point here is it was actually the good guys who had to make a stand by physically stepping away from the tents of the rebels. The world will not separate from us. We have to move away from it.
The next verse where our root word show up is EZR 10:11 "Now, therefore, make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do His will; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land and from the foreign wives." Ezra the priest had returned with a number of people from years of exile in Babylon. Though the Jewish community in Babylon itself had stuck together, many of those left behind in the land of Israel had assimilated and basically lost their national identity. Ezra bade them to repent and return to the Lord’s standards.
The final Old Testament use of the word “mavdil” is found in ISA 56:3, “Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from His people." Here we find a word of encouragement to those of us who have been grafted in to God’s olive tree. By reading the surrounding context we find that God promises equal rights to those of us who have been saved from the world and crossed the line in the sand to become part of His Kingdom by choice. We should note however that this promise is dependent upon our following His commandments.
All of the principals of separation are neatly summed up for us in the New Testament, in 2COR 6:14-7:1, ‘Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. "Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you. "And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Once again we find that it is up to us to make that one small step away from the world. With the gravity of Earthly pleasures trying constantly to draw us down, we have to make that decision each day.
The Bible tells us that those who are chasing the stars will one day find their dreams will fade away. But those who cross the line into God’s kingdom will find that He Himself is their guiding light forever.
Shalom Shalom from Jerusalem