Sounds like: (awn) kheh-ker
Last week we looked at two words meaning to search. There is another word often translated as “search”, but perhaps more accurately means “to examine”. Kheqer is to examine or look at something in detail… almost like a scientific evaluation:
1 Kings 7:47
Solomon left all the utensils unweighed, because they were too many; the weight of the bronze could not be ascertained [not be examined/evaluated: lo ne-kh’qar].
This idea of weighing and measuring helps identify the meaning of this word. It is examining and evaluating something.
Solomon was particularly interested in God’s words of truth. The book of Ecclesiastes was most likely penned by King Solomon. Ecclesiastes is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Qohelet, which is the Hebrew name of the book. The writing begins with these words, identifying the writer: The words of the Preacher [Qohelet], the son of David, king in Jerusalem (Ecclesiastes 1:1).
The Preacher [Qohelet] was how Solomon described himself, in third person narrative, and he clarified his role near the end of the final chapter:
In addition to being a wise man, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge; and he pondered, examined [w-khi’qer], and arranged many proverbs. The Preacher sought to find delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.
Solomon didn’t say that his role in life was to be king. He saw himself as a preacher and someone who examined and arranged proverbs, and shared their delightful words of truth. Solomon felt dedicated to ponder and share the words of YHWH. Examining the Scriptures, diving deep into the Word and trying to suss out its mysteries and meanings, was worthy of the king’s time and attention… it’s worth of our attention too!
The Curiosity of Humans
God has every right to conceal Himself, and hold back mysteries from humans, but that should not stop us from trying to learn all that we can. God yearns for us to know Him, and what He does not want us to know, we will not know. But we humans have been given a desire to understand things. We have an innate curiosity:
It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out [examine: kha’qor] a matter. As the heavens for height and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable [en kheqer].
We might not always be able to find the answers to all we search for… but that doesn’t stop us from trying. Just think of how technologically advanced we’ve become in just the past decade. We walk around with a single device that is a phone, a camera, a video player, a calculator, a calendar, an alarm clock, a dictionary, a medical alert aid, a map, a television, a star-finder, and an encyclopedia… and it all fits in the palm of your hand. Humans have pushed the limits to discover and create at an alarming rate. Yet, there are still many mysteries that we do not understand… and most of those have to do with the mysteries of life- what is here and what is beyond, and the mysteries of the Creator. Who is this God, named YHWH?
Examined by YHWH
We’ve barely covered the surface when it comes to understanding God, but God knows us inside out and backwards. He searches our heart us and knows every single thing about us. I find that both frightening and reassuring. There are things we would all like to remain hidden about ourselves, but it’s all an open book to YHWH.
YHWH: “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, YHWH, search [examine: kho’qer] the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”
The Creator has examined our desperately sick, but not incurable, hearts. That’s quite a thought. David expanded on this concept when he wrote Psalm 139:
Psalm 139:1-6, 23-24
O YHWH, You have searched me [examined me: khaqar’tani] and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O YHWH, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it…
…Search me [Examine me: khaq’erni], O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.
David called on YHWH to examine his heart, cure it, and lead it to the everlasting way– back to God’s presence.
The sons of Korah (authors of Psalm 44, among others) also called on YHWH. They asked Him not to hide His face from them. They asked Him to rise up and redeem them:
If we had forgotten the name of our God or extended our hands to a strange god, would not God find this out [ya-kha’qar]? For He knows the secrets of the heart.
But for Your sake we are killed all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. Arouse Yourself, why do You sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not reject us forever.
Why do You hide Your face and forget our affliction and our oppression? For our soul has sunk down into the dust; our body cleaves to the earth. Rise up, be our help, and redeem us for the sake of Your lovingkindness.
The sons of Korah recognized that God knew the secrets of their heart… but they sought to know Him, and to be able to see His face. They were seeking Him out, knowing that He had already examined them and He understood the status of their hearts. Now they asked for Him to take action. They wanted to be rescued and redeemed, and, ultimately, they wanted to see His face. A mere glimpse of God meant death, but redemption would cure that conundrum.
Job and the Unexplainable Mysteries of God
We know we are to seek God out, yet over and over we hear that the mysteries of God are en kheqer: unexaminable/unsearchable/unfathomable/unexplainable. YHWH’s actions cannot always be determined; they cannot always be quantified. Science can get very very close, but there will always be secrets that remain outside the realm of our understanding.
“But as for me, I would seek God, and I would place my cause before God; who does great and unsearchable [unexplainable: w-en kheqer] things, wonders without number.
He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields, so that He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”
Within the Bible, kheqer and en kheqer was used most consistently in the book of Job.
Job: “It is God who removes the mountains, they know not how, when He overturns them in His anger; who shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; who commands the sun not to shine, and sets a seal upon the stars; who alone stretches out the heavens and tramples down the waves of the sea; who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; who does great things, unfathomable [en kheqer], and wondrous works without number. Were He to pass by me, I would not see Him; were He to move past me, I would not perceive Him.”
Each character in the book of Job (apart from one) mentioned kheqer or en kheqer at least once.
Bildad the Shuite instructed Job:
“Though your beginning was insignificant, yet your end will increase greatly. Please inquire of past generations, and consider the things searched [examined: l-kheqer] out by their fathers.”
Zophar the Naamathite questioned Job:
“Can you discover
the depths of [the examination: ha-kheqer] God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty? They are high as the heavens, what can you do? Deeper than Sheol, what can you know?”
“Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; the number of His years is unsearchable [unmeasurable: w-lo kheqer]. For He draws up the drops of water, they distill rain from the mist, which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly.
Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds, the thundering of His pavilion? Behold, He spreads His lightning about Him, and He covers the depths of the sea. For by these He judges peoples; He gives food in abundance. He covers His hands with the lightning, and commands it to strike the mark. Its noise declares His presence…”
Finally, it was God’s turn to question Job:
“Have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked
in the recesses of the deep [in search of the depths: uv-kheqer t’howm]? Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness? Have you understood the expanse of the earth? Tell Me, if you know all this.”
Of course these were all rhetorical questions. Job had not traveled to these places (the depths, the gates of death, the gates of deep darkness), and he hadn’t grasped the expanse of the earth. But God had… and He was the only one who needed to.
Finding the Unfathomable God
Although many mysteries are hidden from us, nowhere did it say that God was unsearchable, or that we should not examine His role, His character, His plans as Creator and Redeemer. This was where last weeks words (darash & baqash) came into play. We are, in fact, required to seek Him:
1 Chronicles 16:10b-11, 15
Let the heart of those who seek [m-vaq’sheh] YHWH be glad. Seek [dir’shu] YHWH and His strength; seek [baq’shu] His face continually… Remember His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations.
We need to seek Him… and if we do, we will find Him:
“But from there you will seek [u-viqash’tem] YHWH your God, and you will find Him if you search for [investigate: tid’rash’enu] Him with all your heart and all your soul.”
According to the Psalms, God is not unsearchable, but it’s His greatness that we cannot comprehend:
I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is YHWH, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable [en kheqer]. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts. On the glorious splendour of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
When Yeshua (Jesus) entered the scene He unraveled some of the mysteries. His life and death and resurrection fulfilled so many of the prophecies outlined in the Tanakh (Old Testament). When Yeshua conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well, she was certain that the coming Messiah would explain the mysteries of God:
The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare [explain] all things to us.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
Yeshua’s ministry was a full-on explanation of everything we need to know, to worship YHWH in spirit and in truth. We don’t need to know everything, but Yeshua gave us everything we need to know to be solid worshipers and live as followers of YHWH- reflections of God on this planet.
Reflecting the Unexplainable God
We know that YHWH has examined us, and humanity has tried to examine YHWH, which is the very nature of Theology… but the book of Lamentations tell us that first we need to examine ourselves.
Let us search out [nakh’p’sah] and examine [w-nakh’qorah] our ways, and turn back to YHWH.
We know our short-comings, we know our failures, we know our weaknesses… and we know our strength. By being honest with ourselves, and recognizing that God is our strength, we can, and should, turn back to Him.
It’s one thing to understand ourselves, but how can we understand God? …a kind of being who is unable to become weary or tired, who is far beyond what it means to be human? But He understands us… and He will make us like Him, if we wait on Him.
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, YHWH, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable [en kheqer].
He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for YHWH will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.
We can’t understand it all. But we do know that God becomes the strength we need. He gives us part of His attributes to become stronger, faithful, fresh humans. Those who wait on YHWH, begin to reflect His character. We become the image of YHWH on this planet… as we were designed to be, way back at the beginning (Genesis 1:26).
We can’t explain God. We can’t evaluate Him scientifically. We can’t fathom the fulness of His existence. We can’t measure or mark His presence. But we can seek Him, and we can find Him. Although en kheqer is usually translated as unsearchable, I’m not completely convinced that that is the best English word equivalent. We can search for Him, but we can’t completely explain Him. God is unexplainable; He is not available for examination. But we can, and should, search His heart and seek His presence.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the LORD, or who became His counsellor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
We don’t know everything about God, but that doesn’t matter. Take what you do know, seek Him out, follow His way, and become the image of God you were made to be.
Next week: Joy