Verse of the Day 12-20-21

For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:14

The word in today’s passage that Habakkuk uses for “knowledge” is a form of the Hebrew verb yada’, which literally translates as “to know”. It is a verb that occurs in Ugaritic, Akkadian, Phoenician, Arabic, Biblical Aramaic, and in Hebrew in all periods. This verb occurs about 1,040 times (995 in Hebrew and 47 in Aramaic) in the Bible. Essentially yada’ means: (1) to know by observing and reflecting (thinking), and (2) to know by experiencing. The first sense appears in Genesis 8:11, where Noah “knew” the waters had abated as a result of seeing the freshly picked olive leaf in the dove’s mouth; he “knew” it after observing and thinking about what he had seen. He did not actually see or experience the abatement himself in contrast to this knowing through reflection is the knowing which comes through experience with the senses, by investigation and proving, by reflection and consideration (firsthand knowing). Consequently yada’ is used in synonymous parallelism with “hear” (Exodus 3:7), “see” (Genesis 18:21), and “perceive, see” (Job 28:7). Joseph told his brothers that were they to leave one of their number with him in Egypt then he would “know”, by experience, that they were honest men (Genesis 42:33). In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were forbidden to eat of the tree whose fruit if eaten would give them the experience of evil and, therefore, the knowledge of both good and evil. Somewhat characteristically the heart plays an important role in knowing. Because they experienced the sustaining presence of God during the wilderness wandering, the Israelites “knew” in their hearts that God was disciplining or caring for them as father cares for a son (Deuteronomy 8:5). Such knowing can be hindered by a wrongly disposed heart (Psalm 95:10).

Thirdly, this verb can represent that kind of knowing which one learns and can give back. So Cain said that he did not “know” he was Abel’s keeper (Genesis 4:9), and Abram told Sarai that he “knew” she was a beautiful woman (Genesis 12:11). One can also “know” by being told-in Leviticus 5:1 a witness either sees or otherwise “know” (by being told) pertinent information. In this sense “know” is paralleled by “acknowledge” (Deuteronomy 33:9) and “learn” (Deuteronomy 31:12-13). Thus, little children not yet able to speak do not “know” good and evil (Deuteronomy 1:39); they have not learned it so as tell another what it is. In other words, their knowledge is not such that they can distinguish between good and evil.

In addition to the essentially cognitive knowing already presented, this verb has a purely experiential side. The “knower” has actual involvement with or in the object of the knowing. So Potiphar was unconcerned about (literally, “did not know about”) what was in his house (Genesis 39:6)-he had no actual contact with it. In Genesis 4:1 Adam’s knowing Eve refers to direct contact with her-in a sexual relationship. In Genesis 18:19 God says he “knows” Abraham; he cared for him in the sense that he chose him from among other men and saw to it that certain things happened to him. The emphasis is on the fact that “knew him intimately and personally. In fact, it is parallel in concept to “sanctified”. A similar use of this word relates to God’s relationship to Israel as a chosen or elect nation (Amos 3:2).

Yada‘ in the intensive and causative stems is used to express a particular concept of revelation. God did not make Himself known by His name Jehovah to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He did reveal that name to them, that He was the God of the covenant. Nevertheless, the covenant was not fulfilled (they did not possess the Promised Land) until the time of Moses. The statement in Exod. 6:3 implies that now God was going to make Himself known “by His name”; He was going to lead them to possess the land. God makes Himself known through revelatory acts such as bringing judgment on the wicked (Ps. 9:16) and deliverance to His people (Isa. 66:14). He also reveals Himself through the spoken word—for example, by the commands given through Moses (Ezek. 20:11), by promises like those given to David (2 Sam. 7:21). Thus, God reveals Himself in law and promise.

“To know” God is to have an intimate experiential knowledge of Him. So Pharaoh denies that he knows Jehovah (Exod. 5:2) or that he recognizes His authority over him. Positively “to know” God is paralleled to fear Him (1 Kings 8:43), to serve (1 Chron. 28:9), and to trust (Isa. 43:10).

When Habakkuk writes “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” he is telling us that we will be filled with a deep and intimate understanding of God that comes not just from what we have heard about God, but more importantly what we have seen about God.

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