Part 4 in my series on Religion Vs. Relationship.
God wants from you a love that lasts, not more religion. He wants you to get to know Him in a deep and intimate way, not just go to more prayer meetings.
— A personal paraphrase of Hosea 6:6 based on The Message Bible.
(Caution: I’m giving this post a PG Rating for a mild sexual element.)
Intellectual knowledge of God;
Intimate knowledge of God
Come. Delve deeply into the original languages of the Bible with me and discover a surprising and obscure but utterly amazing truth about the relationship God wants to have with each of us. In the original languages of the Bible, there are 2 common connotations for our single English word “know”:
- Know intellectually, as in a fact, or piece of data.
- Know intimately, as in a connection between the know-er and the object that is known.
This second connotation transcends mere intellectual activity. It is a knowing so deep that it has become a part of you. It is a union. A union literally as strong as the emotional and physical union between a husband and wife.
It actually is, in fact, the very word used in the original languages of the Bible for the act of sexual union. For example, in Genesis 4:1, The King James Version (among others) retains the word in its literal form when it says that Adam “knew” Eve and she became pregnant and bore a son. Other, more modern versions are a little more flexible, choosing to translate it “slept with“, “made love to“, or even “had sexual relations with” to communicate the message in the context more clearly.
The New Testament has a similar occurrence in Matthew 1:25. Joseph took Mary, the miraculously pregnant virgin, as his wife, but “knew her not” until she had given birth to Jesus. Some versions are even more flexible than they were with the Old Testament example to help us better understand the intended meaning by translating it as “kept her a virgin” or “did not consummate the marriage”. “Did not have sexual relations with” still makes an appearance in the lineup of unambiguous translations as well.
The point is, in the original languages, the word usually translated “know” was used as an idiomatic euphemism for the most intimate and overarching knowledge possible between two people, spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
This, metaphorically, is the depth of intimacy each of us can have with God.
In Matthew 6:6, we see another example of this level of intimacy with God:
“But when you (anyone and everyone) pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father…”
The word here for “private room” carries connotations of a bedchamber, or bedroom. In other words, the place where a husband and wife have their most intimate of relations. Thus, by extension, the place where God wants to have the most intimate of relations with each of us.
But we’re not done yet! There is much more we could examine about every individual having such an intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe, but we’ll only look at one more.
Multiple truths can be extracted from a single Bible passage – in hermeneutics this is called “The Law of Double Reference” — and when juxtaposed alongside verses calling God our husband, the Song of Solomon becomes an excellent example of this principle of Biblical interpretation. Not only is the Song of Solomon the most romantic book in the Bible, portraying in fine detail and emotion the relationship between a man and his bride using surprisingly graphic erotica, in so doing it takes to the deepest level humanly possible this metaphor for the intimacy possible between God and His “bride” – the individual seeking to “know” Him.
Knowledge of all kinds, both intellectual and relational, follows the same pattern of moving from the first connotation into the second. Starting with mere intellectual awareness, it moves through a process of development, ultimately consummating in an absolute bond. It’s like a relationship that starts with an introduction, grows into a friendship, and then culminates in a marriage (or the like).
It takes time, effort, patience, and forgiveness.
But it’s worth it.
In fact, this deepest level of intimacy in a relationship is so important to God that He is constantly calling out to us, knocking at the door of our hearts, asking us to move beyond the mere head-knowledge of religious ritual and study, and into an intimate relationship with Him.
Do you have this level of intimacy with God?
Go into your place of prayer now. Bare your soul to Him. Get so close to Him as to become a part of Him and He a part of you. Show Him your love. And let Him show you His.
He’s waiting for you.
In the Chamber,
written by David Ingles,
performed by Paul Parnell
Notes and References:
* Vines Greek New Testament Dictionary
* Strong’s Concordance with Hebrew and Greek Lexicons
* Hebrew word for know in Genesis 4:1 — “yada”.
* Greek word for know in Matthew 1:25 — “ginosko”.
* “Developing the Divine Romance“, by Rick Renner.
* Door knockers image is from Wikimedia Commons.
* If you’re wondering what fawns or a woman with a pendant necklace have to do with anything, ask me in the comments and I’ll fill you in. It’s actually pretty cool! (Hint: It’s wisdom from a HOT Song!)