FIND: Matsa. Verb. (Strong’s 4672).
Sounds like: mah-tsah
We started off the year 2020 with the Hebrew word for SEEK and so it seems fitting to end the year with FIND. We certainly found more than we bargained for in 2020. It has been a year of great challenge, globally. Every reader will have felt the impact of Covid-19 in some way in their lives. Some of us may feel closer to God than we’ve ever been, and some may feel farther away than ever before.
Not surprisingly “to find” is a verb that is all over the Bible… People lost things and found things (1 Samuel 9 & 10); people got lost and found their way (Song of Songs 3:1-4a); people found courage (2 Samuel 7:27-29); and arrows found enemies (1 Samuel 31:3-6, 8-10). But the greatest find of all, was seeking God and finding Him.
Seek God, Find God
Job walked in darkness, but in all his misery he did not stop searching for God:
Job 23:3, 8-10
“Oh that I knew where I might find Him [w-em’tsa’ehu], that I might come to His seat!…
…Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; He turns on the right, I cannot see Him. But He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”
Job understood that one day he would face YHWH, and YHWH would recognize his good character. Regardless of not feeling the presence of YHWH, Job continued to seek Him. Eventually YHWH let him find Him, and he was rewarded.
To seek God and find God is a commandment that repeats throughout the Bible:
2 Chronicles 15:1-4, 14-15
Now the Spirit of God came on Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa [king of Judah] and said to him, “Listen to me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: YHWH is with you when you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He will let you find Him [yi-mats’eh]; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you.”
For many days Israel was without the true God and without a teaching priest and without law. But in their distress they turned to YHWH God of Israel, and they sought Him, and He let them find Him [wai-mats’eh].
Asa, king of Judah, listened to Azariah and took down the idols of foreign worship; He reinstated the laws of YHWH and renewed their covenant with YHWH.
2 Chronicles 15:14-15
…Moreover, they made an oath to YHWH with a loud voice, with shouting, with trumpets and with horns. All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him [wai-mats’eh]. So YHWH gave them rest on every side.
They sought God out, He let them find Him, and He gave them rest.
Moses prophesied that the Hebrew people would have many ups and downs with God. They would turn from Him and turn back to Him… it was a pattern repeated over and over:
“YHWH will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where YHWH drives you. There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.
But from there you will seek YHWH your God, and you will find Him [u-matsata] if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to YHWH your God and listen to His voice. For YHWH your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.”
Centuries later the Hebrew people found themselves in bondage to their enemies the Babylonians. The prophet Jeremiah would announce the same thing:
“For thus says YHWH, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares YHWH, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find [u-m’tsatem] Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you [w-nim’tseh’ti],’ declares YHWH’”…
However, seeking God without sincerity would bring them nowhere nearer to YHWH. The prophet Hosea saw how corrupt the people had become. They were searching for a God they did not know, nor did they care to truly know Him:
Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, and they do not know YHWH. Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him, and Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also has stumbled with them.
They will go with their flocks and herds to seek YHWH, but they will not find [w-lo yim’tsa’u] Him; He has withdrawn from them. They have dealt treacherously against YHWH…
However, there were times when people did not seek YHWH, but He allowed Himself to be found:
“I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me; I permitted Myself to be found [nim’sta’eti] by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here am I, here am I,’ to a nation which did not call on My name.
I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks; who sit among graves and spend the night in secret places; who eat swine’s flesh, and the broth of unclean meat is in their pots. Who say, ‘Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am holier than you!’ These are smoke in My nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.
YHWH has woven Himself in and out of the human story throughout history, and the only guarantee was that if you earnestly sought Him, He would let you find Him. But, if you did not seek Him, you would be open up to being found by the very thing you did want to find. Evil seeks humanity, and finds it very easily.
Just before Moses was about to die, YHWH gave him some terrible news. The people would turn away from YHWH and run towards the worship of foreign gods:
YHWH said to Moses, “… [they] will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will
come upon find [u-m’tsa’uhu] them; so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon found [m’tsauni] us?’ But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.”
If you don’t seek God, then what are you seeking for? You may find what your looking for, but evil may very well find you… and it will do its best to destroy you. It’s a risky life if you don’t seek your Creator.
King Ahab was right up there with the most evil rulers of Israel. He had Naboth murdered in order to obtain his land. The prophet Elijah confronted him:
1 Kings 21:20 (see also Numbers 32:23)
Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me [ha-m’tsatani], O my enemy?”
And he answered, “I have found you [matsati], because you have sold yourself to do evil in the sight of YHWH.”
Evil is easily exposed, and very easy to find. And if you side with the wicked, your sin will find you out. It will expose you.
Finding One to Stand in the Gap
Of course the epic narrative of the Bible tells us that God would eventually defeat evil. He would, one day, remove the wicked and they would be unfindable:
Psalm 37:34-36 (see also Isaiah 41:10-14)
[David:] Wait for YHWH and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it. I have seen a wicked, violent man spreading himself like a luxuriant tree in its native soil. Then he passed away, and lo, he was no more; I sought for him, but he could not be found [nim’tsa].
Isaiah also spoke of a day when the adversaries of God and His followers would no longer exist. All the seeking in the world would not result in their finding:
“Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonoured; those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them [w-lo tim’tsa’em], those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent. For I am YHWH your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’”
YHWH gave this great promise of victory over enemies, regardless of the years and years of disappointment He found in humans. His own creation had turned away from Him and ignored all His commandments. If only there was just one human full of justice and truth:
“Roam to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and look now and take note. And seek in her open squares, if you can find a man [im tim’tsa’u ish], if there is one who does justice, who seeks truth, then I will pardon her [Jerusalem].”
But during the days preceding the Babylonian invasion, there was no one (despite a few rare prophets) who did justice, sought truth, or followed the commandments of God. In this time of great desolation and depravity, YHWH searched for just one human who would be an intermediary between Himself and His creation:
“The people of the land have practiced oppression and committed robbery, and they have wronged the poor and needy and have oppressed the sojourner without justice.
I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one [w-lo matsati]. Thus I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; their way I have brought upon their heads,” declares the Lord YHWH.
YHWH would not find a man worthy to be an intermediary, and the Hebrew people, once again, went into exile. But they did not stay as captives in Babylon. YHWH brought them back.
Although the return to Israel was wonderful, it did not address the greater exile. Humans had been exiled out of the Garden of Eden, they had been removed from the presence of their Creator. But we will not stay captives, YHWH has a plan to bring us back… and it involves a human to stand in the gap between us and God. He would send His Son so we could find the face of God again.
Perhaps the most common use of the Hebrew word matsa was the phrase “finding favour”.
Finding favour was akin to being cherished, and God often found favour in His people. The Bible specifically says that YHWH “found favour” in Noah (Genesis 6:8), Moses (Exodus 33:12-13), and David (Acts 7:45b-46).
In the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) YHWH found favour with Mary:
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.”
But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favour [Greek: heures gar charin] with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
And so Yeshua came as a wee infant to be the intermediary between humanity and God. Yeshua would stand in the gap and reconnect YHWH to His children. He would swallow up the sins of the world so we could, once again, walk side by side with YHWH in His Garden and see His face. Once Yeshua paid the price, we would be redeemed.
Finding no Sin
YHWH hinted at humanity’s redemption five-hundred years before Yeshua walked on the planet. There would be a day when the sins of the world would be wiped out and unfindable:
“‘In those days and at that time,” declares YHWH, “search will be made for the iniquity of Israel, but there will be none; and for the sins of Judah, but they will not be found [w-lo tim’matseh’nah]; for I will pardon those whom I leave as a remnant.”
A day when no sin can be found seems almost unfathomable, considering the state the world is in today. But this was a beautiful promise by God, yet to be fulfilled: sin would be wiped out. YHWH had a way. Yeshua (Jesus) would take the sins of the world upon His shoulders.
John the Baptizer said of Yeshua, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
And the disciple Peter wrote: “For Messiah also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:28).
With our sins wiped out, we could enter the Garden Kingdom once again… our exile would end.
Finding Water, Bread, Rest, and Life
But before that great day of redemption, there would be a lot of searching and finding going on. Many of the images Yeshua used in His ministry had “finding parallels” in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
There’s a story where Moses had recently guided the people out of Egypt and across the red sea. They ended up in the hot desert and the people were parched. They ached for a drink but they found no water [w-lo m’tsu mayim] (Exodus 15:22).
Moses prayed for guidance and YHWH instructed him to throw a specific tree into the water. Immediately the water was purified and they found relief.
YHWH would be the provider of the waters we seek… only He would be able to flush out the pollution and make things new again. Yeshua knew this story of Moses finding water in the desert: it was a life-saver, because water was essential to healthy living.
When the Samaritan woman came to find water at the well, Yeshua was there to greet her. He announced to her that He was the Living Water that we all needed to survive.
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
Just as the people in Moses’ day ached for water in the desert, they also yearned for food. YHWH sent manna to nourish the people as they wandered in the desert.
In another story, David also sought bread for his hungry soldiers. He went to Ahimelech the priest for sustenance.
1 Samuel 21:3
[David to Ahimelech:] “Now therefore, what do you have on hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever can be found [ha-nim’tsa].”
But the only bread available was the consecrated bread from the tabernacle.
1 Samuel 21:6
So the priest gave him consecrated bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence which was removed from before YHWH, in order to put hot bread in its place when it was taken away.
Yeshua referred to both Old Testament bread events. In Matthew 12:3-4, He spoke of David’s need to eat consecrated bread, and in the book of John he referred to the manna in the desert:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”
Yeshua also promised that He would give rest to His seeking people. They would find rest in Him:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
In the Tanakh, when Noah initially sent a dove out to seek land, the dove found [mats’ah] no resting place (Genesis 8:9). The second time the dove came back with an olive branch, and the third time the dove was sent out she never returned. She sought land and found land.
In an interesting New Testament parallel, when Yeshua (Jesus) was baptised a dove rested on Him:
Then John [the Baptizer] testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and resting on Him. I myself did not know Him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is He who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”
Noah’s dove sought a safe place to rest. Yeshua is our safe place to rest.
Yeshua often referred to Himself as, The Life. He said: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Finding life, therefore, was essential for good living. There is a difference between existing and truly finding life:
He who pursues righteousness and loyalty finds life [yimtsa khai’yim], righteousness and honour.
Finding wisdom was also closely connected to finding life. In Proverbs 8, Wisdom was personified and spoke to the reader:
[Wisdom:] “I love those who love me; and those who diligently seek me will find me [yim’tsa’un’ni]. Riches and honour are with me, enduring wealth and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, even pure gold, and my yield better than choicest silver. I walk in the way of righteousness, in the midst of the paths of justice, to endow those who love me with wealth, that I may fill their treasuries…
…Blessed is the man who listens to me [wisdom], watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For he who finds me finds life [Ki mots’i matsa khai’yim] and obtains favour from YHWH. But he who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death.”
Yeshua Himself warned that only a few would truly find life… most would take the easy route and find themselves on the road to destruction:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Yeshua was the ultimate find! He was the water for the thirsty, the bread for the hungry, the rest for the weary, and the life for the dying. He said:
“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
Yeshua would give abundant life by laying His own life down… so that all who sought God would find Him and be free to face Him when their day on earth was done.
There was nothing better to find than YHWH, in all His forms. In the earliest days of Yeshua’s life as a human, the Magi from the East sought a star and found a child. The little child was Yeshua Ha-Mashiach, Jesus the Messiah… and He very much wanted to be found.
Luke 11:9-10 (see also Mtt 7:7-8)
[Jesus:] “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”
But Yeshua’s message was not well received by everyone. He infuriated the Pharisees, annoyed the Sadducees, and He irritated the Scribes and the Lawyers. They wanted Him dead. Even the average person on the street recognized that the life of Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth was in jeopardy:
So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill?”
They did seek to kill Him… and they found Him. Yeshua was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, put on trial and killed, but not before He gave warning to His followers:
Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.”
Yeshua went to the grave, conquered death, and returned to His Father. But His followers could not follow Him this time. They had work to do on earth. Paul, who accepted Yeshua’s salvation after His death and resurrection, preached the importance of continually seeking God:
So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said,
“Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’
Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find [heuroien] Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’”
Your words were found [nim’tsa’u] and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O YHWH God of hosts.
This is the delight of my own heart… seeking and finding God through His words, which He has gifted to us in the Scriptures. Although 2020 has been a struggle for all of us, I have enjoyed diving into these Hebrew words with you. And I look forward to 2021 with a whole new batch of Hebrew words to explore!
I’ve always loved how Solomon concludes his writings in the book of Ecclesiastes:
The Preacher sought to find [lim’sto] delightful words and to write words of truth correctly.
I also desire to find YHWH’s delightful words and share them with you, my friends… YHWH is a treasure to be found. But you can’t find what you don’t seek. So I ask you to seek YHWH and find YHWH, as if your life depends on it… because it really does.
Next week: Ten (including the top Ten Hebrew words viewed in 2020)