LOOK, SEE, PERCEIVE: chazzah. Verb. (Strong’s 2372).
Sounds like: khazzah!
I live along the beautiful South Shore of Prince Edward Island, on the edge of the Northumberland Strait. It takes me about 30 minutes to drive to work which is in PEI’s capital city of Charlottetown. And even after almost five years of driving the same route I occasionally see something permanent that I’ve never noticed before, like a house or some sort of natural feature in the landscape. They’ve been in my line of sight, day in and day out, for years… How did I not see these things before?
The truth is there’s a difference between looking, and really seeing. In Hebrew there are two very separate words to differentiate between casually viewing something and really perceiving what you are looking at:
- Ra’ah (רָאָה) is to generically see.
- Chazzah (חָזָה) is to perceptively see.
The Psalms specifically attributed to David play with these two words a lot:
Psalm 63:1-4 (Psalm of David)
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah:
O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You [chazzi’tika] in the sanctuary, to see [li’rowt] Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.
David sought out God in the Sanctuary. And he went there to try and get a glimpse [li’rowt] of YHWH’s power and glory. The result, according to David, was that he truly saw God there!
YHWH makes this point continually: we are to seek His face… not just for a passing glimpse, but to truly SEE Him… to experience Him and perceive His intentions.
In the Torah, Balaam, a non-Israelite who was, essentially, coerced into being a prophet, looked and really saw YHWH:
When Balaam saw that it pleased YHWH to bless Israel, he did not go as at other times to seek omens but he set his face toward the wilderness. And Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel camping tribe by tribe; and the Spirit of God came upon him.
He took up his discourse and said,
“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor,
And the oracle of the man whose eye is opened;
The oracle of him who hears the words of God,
Who sees [ye’chezzeh] the vision [ma-chazzeh] of the Almighty,
Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered.
He repeated this same prophetic poem further on in the chapter (verses 15-16), just after he told the Moabite king, Balak, that he had no choice but to speak the words of YHWH:
He took up his discourse and said,
“The oracle of Balaam the son of Beor, and the oracle of the man whose eye is opened,
The oracle of him who hears the words of God, and knows the knowledge of the Most High,
Who sees [ye’chezzeh] the vision [ma-chazzeh] of the Almighty,
Falling down, yet having his eyes uncovered.
I see him [erenu], but not now; I behold him [ashu’renu], but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel,
And he shall crush through the forehead of Moab, and tear down all the sons of Sheth.
This vision is known as the Messianic Star Prophecy and it proclaims that a star from the line of Jacob would rise, as a king, out of Israel. In John’s Revelation (22:16) Jesus announced Himself as the bright Morning Star. What is interesting is that Balaam really saw the vision that YHWH had in store; his eyes were wide open; he couldn’t not see the vision if he tried. But when it came to the Star of Jacob prophecy he only caught a glimpse [erenu] of it… it wasn’t fully revealed to him. The vision rang true but it wasn’t near, it was far off in distance and in time.
The word for vision, chizzah’yone (Strong’s 2384) comes from the same root word chazzah. Visions from YHWH were really seeing and really perceiving God’s plan. It was the big “A-ha” moment, the “Ohhhh, now I get it!” response.
Chazzah as Vision
At least three of the prophetic books start off with an announcement about a vision or divine seeing:
The vision [chazzone] of Isaiah the son of Amoz concerning Judah and Jerusalem, which he saw [chazzah] during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.
The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw [chazzah] concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
The word of YHWH which came to Micah of Moresheth in the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw [chazzah] concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.
In Isaiah chapter 30 we read that the people asked for more pleasant (yet false) visions, rather than the damning visions they were presented. Many translations have muddled up the words seeing and vision and prophecy:
For this is a rebellious people, false sons, sons who refuse to listen to the instruction of YHWH; who say to the seers [la-ro’im], “You must not see visions [lo tiru]”;
And to the prophets [w’la-chozzim], “You must not prophesy [lo teh-chezzu] to us what is right; Speak to us pleasant words, prophesy [chazzu] illusions. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel.”
These people wanted to see what was not there. They didn’t want to hear the truth. They preferred to be presented with false illusions so they could live happily in ignorance. They wanted to hear nothing about YHWH, because that meant they would have to live Godly lives, rather than live like gods, themselves.
But that was not YHWH’s plan for humanity. We weren’t meant to be gods, but we were meant to be divine image bearers, reflections of God on earth.
That was a lot to live up to and when the early Israelites failed, God sent prophets to help them really see who they were meant to be. It was not an easy picture presented to them. The visions of the prophets were rarely pleasant to view or contemplate.
What made it even a harder pill to swallow was that these visions and prophecies were no longer distant possibilities, they were warnings of what was to immediately follow:
But tell them, “The days draw near as well as the fulfillment of every vision [chazzone]. For there will no longer be any false vision [chazzone shaw] or flattering divination within the house of Israel. For I YHWH will speak, and whatever word I speak will be performed. It will no longer be delayed, for in your days, O rebellious house, I will speak the word and perform it,” declares the Lord YHWH.
Furthermore, the word of YHWH came to me, saying, “Son of man, behold, the house of Israel is saying, ‘The vision [he-chazzone] that he sees is for many years from now, and he prophesies of times far off.’ Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord YHWH, None of My words will be delayed any longer. Whatever word I speak will be performed,’” declares the Lord YHWH.
The prophetic visions came true and the fall of Israel to the Babylonians was a shattering blow. But the warnings of disobedience were centuries in the making and God had been watching.
YHWH is watching!
YHWH is in His holy temple; YHWH’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold [yeh-chezzu], His eyelids test the sons of men.
YHWH tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
Upon the wicked He will rain snares; Fire and brimstone and burning wind will be the portion of their cup.
For YHWH is righteous, He loves righteousness; the upright will behold [yeh-chezzu] His face.
This relationship-based God wanted to interact with us. He wanted to instruct us as a Great Teacher; He wanted to guide us a a Great Father; and He wanted us to seek His face.
SEEing God. Beholding His face.
Psalm 17:1-2, 7-8, 14-15 (A Prayer of David)
Hear a just cause, O YHWH, give heed to my cry; Give ear to my prayer, which is not from deceitful lips. Let my judgment come forth from Your presence; Let Your eyes look [teh-chezzeh’nah] with equity…
…Wondrously show Your lovingkindness, O Saviour, of those who take refuge at Your right hand, from those who rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings…
…From men with Your hand, O YHWH, from men of the world, whose portion is in this life, and whose belly You fill with Your treasure; They are satisfied with children, and leave their abundance to their babes.
As for me, I shall behold [eh-chezzeh] Your face in righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your likeness when I awake.
This hope of really seeing YHWH was important to David. It was the one thing he really wanted:
Psalm 27:4 (Psalm of David)
One thing I have asked from YHWH, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of YHWH all the days of my life,
To behold [la-chazzot] the beauty of YHWH
And to meditate in His temple.
Isaiah poetically connected YHWH to Jerusalem to a Messiah that would save the people.
Isaiah 33:17, 20-22
Your eyes will see [teh-chezz’nah] the King in His beauty; They will behold [tir’ena] a far-distant land…
…Look [chazzeh] upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts; Your eyes will see [tir’ena] Jerusalem, an undisturbed habitation, a tent which will not be folded; Its stakes will never be pulled up, nor any of its cords be torn apart.
But the majestic One, YHWH, will be for us a place of rivers and wide canals on which no boat with oars will go, and on which no mighty ship will pass—
For YHWH is our judge, YHWH is our lawgiver, YHWH is our king; He will save us!
Isaiah said to look upon Zion. He said the eyes would casually see land-locked Jerusalem, solidly holding its ground. BUT, if one would really look they would also see the majestic One, YHWH, like a grand, life-giving source of water, and He would save us!
The Biblical covenants highlighted YHWH’s plan to provide a Messianic Saviour. This anointed Saviour would bring redemption to the people. Yeshua (Jesus), as that Saviour, repeatedly taught the need to truly SEE and understand:
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah [6:9-10] is being fulfilled, which says,
‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull. With their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.’
“But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
The Old Testament (Tanakh) is full of people who would have done anything to have seen the promised Messiah. These contemporary followers of Yeshua (Jesus) were given the special gift of living their lives alongside the Messiah. Certainly they were blessed! But just think of how many people walked in the same vicinity as Yeshua but never really saw him.
But since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains
There was a story of a blind man, in Jerusalem, whom Yeshua healed with some spit and mud. He applied the mud to the man’s eyes and told him to wash his eyes off at the Pool of Siloam. The blind man did this and immediately he could see. This miracles shocked the people in the the community, and they tracked down the newly sighted man to ask him questions:
So they were saying to him, “How then were your eyes opened?” He answered, “The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.” They said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I do not know.”
They brought to the Pharisees the man who was formerly blind. Now it was a Sabbath on the day when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. Then the Pharisees also were asking him again how he received his sight. And he said to them, “He applied clay to my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man [Jesus] is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And there was a division among them. So they said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him, since He opened your eyes?” And he said, “He is a prophet.”
The newly sighted man connected the word to see, to being prophetic. The man who gifted him with perfect sight must be a “seer”. This prophet opened up the eyes of the physically blind AND the spiritually blind, so that people could truly see and perceive. This answer did not satisfy the Pharisees. After questioning the seeing man’s parents, they returned to the man and questioned him again:
So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.”
The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So they put him out.
To this healed man it was amazing that the Pharisees couldn’t see that this Yeshua was from God. What kind of human can make a blind man see? Only One from God!
Jesus, hearing that the man he healed had been turned away from the synagogue for standing up to the Pharisees, sought him out:
Jesus heard that they had put him out, and finding him, He said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” Those of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains”.
We can be fully sighted and yet completely blind all at the same time. Do not shut your eyes and ears to YHWH. Do not put your blinders on in order to live by law alone like the religious Pharisees did. Seek, see and perceive, for at the end of our days we shall look upon YHWH with the knowledge that He’s been watching us all along.
“Oh that my words were written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron stylus and lead they were engraved in the rock forever! As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.
Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see [eh-chezzeh] God; Whom I myself shall behold [eh-chezzeh], and whom my eyes will see [rah’u] and not another. My heart faints within me!”
Seek YHWH! But don’t just try to grab a quick glimpse when it’s convenient. Continually seek Him out so you can truly see, perceive and understand. God deserves our wholehearted attention! If you really look you will see wonders!
Next week: Image