Root: bara (ברא), yatsar (יצר), asah (עשה)
Sounds like: bah’rah, yat’zar, ah’sah
There are a few Hebrew words that describe YHWH as the Great orchestrator of the universe. They can be generally broken down into three categories: the Creator, the Former, and the Maker. However, translators don’t always assign the same English word to the same Hebrew word. For the sake of clarity, in this posting we will translate bara into Creator, yatsar into Former/Fashioner, and asah into Maker.
Created (bara) is actually the second word found in the Hebrew Bible (even though it shows up as the fifth word in the English language):
In the beginning God created [bara] the heavens and the earth. (B’reshit bara Elohim et ha-shamayim w-et ha-eretz).
When God was speaking to His heavenly council, He announced His plans to make humans as reflections of God’s good character:
Then God said, “Let Us make [na-a’seh] mankind in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the livestock and over all the earth, and over every crawling thing that crawls on the earth.”
So God created [wai-v’ra] man in His own image, in the image of God He created [bara] him; male and female He created [bara] them.
In Genesis 2 we are given a more clinical account of the formation of humans:
Then YHWH God formed [wai-yitser] the man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living person. YHWH planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed [yatsar].
So within the creation account all three words… creation, formation, and making… were used to give a full portrait of YHWH’s inventive power.
Throughout the Hebrew scriptures these three words (Creator, Maker, Former) were used interchangeably to describe YHWH. In Isaiah’s scroll YHWH announced Himself using all three of these descriptive words:
Isaiah 45:6b-13, 18
I am YHWH, and there is no one else, the One forming [yotser] light and creating [u-vorey] darkness, making [oseh] peace and creating [u-vorey] disaster; I am YHWH who does all these things.
Drip down, heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down righteousness; let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, and righteousness sprout with it. I, YHWH, have created [b’ratiw] it.
Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker [Yotz’row]— a piece of pottery among the other earthenware pottery pieces! Will the clay say to the potter [to the fashioner: l-yots’row], ‘What are you making [ta-aseh]?’ Or shall your handiwork say, ‘He has no hands’? Woe to him who says to a father, ‘What are you fathering?’ or to a woman, ‘To what are you giving birth?’”
This is what YHWH says, the Holy One of Israel and his Former [w-Yotz’row]:
“Ask Me about the things to come concerning My sons, and you shall commit to Me the work of My hands. It is I who made [asiti] the earth, and I created [varati] mankind upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, and I ordained all their lights. I have stirred him in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways.
He will build My city and let My exiles go free, without any payment or reward,” says YHWH of armies…
…For this is what YHWH says, He who created [bohrey] the heavens (He is the God who formed [yotser] the earth and made [w-osah] it, He established it and did not create [b’ra’ah] it as a waste place, but formed [y’tsarah] it to be inhabited): “I am YHWH, and there is no one else.”
This section started with “I am YHWH, and there is no one else” and ended with “I am YHWH, and there is no one else”. He stated clearly that He was the lone Creator who made and formed the humans, the earth, and everything in it. And He created it all to be used. It was not to be a waste space, but rather a maker space. Humans were to reflect the image of YHWH by building and making and forming good things to encourage growth and support for this beautiful world.
YHWH created the humans to be His reflection AND be His beloved people. He would love them and they would love and praise Him in return:
Isaiah 43:1, 6b-7, 14-15, 21
But now, this is what YHWH says, He who is your Creator [Bora’ka], Jacob, and He who formed you [w-Yotzer’ka], Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!”
…Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth, everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created [b’ratiw] for My glory, hom I have formed [y’tsar’tiw], even whom I have made [a’sitiw].”
…This is what YHWH your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel says:
“For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and will bring them all down as fugitives, even the Chaldeans, into the ships over which they rejoice. I am YHWH, your Holy One, the Creator [Bowrey] of Israel, your King…
…The people whom I formed [yatsar’ti] for Myself will declare My praise.”
Taunting the Maker
God had expectations for His people. He expected them to always show lovingkindness and to support those in need. Those who did not behave like the reflections of God they were meant to be were essentially mocking their Creator:
One who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker [Oseyhu], but one who is gracious to the needy honours Him.
One who mocks the poor taunts his Maker [Oseyhu]; one who rejoices at disaster will not go unpunished.
Living your life with a constant reminder of who created you and for what purpose, is a good way to live responsibly. The writer of the scroll of Ecclesiastes spoke from the wisdom of many years and called on people to remember their Creator:
Ecclesiastes 12:1, 6-7
Remember also your Creator [Bohr’eka] in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years approach when you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”…
…[Remember your Creator] before the silver cord is broken and the golden bowl is crushed, the pitcher by the spring is shattered and the wheel at the cistern is crushed; then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
In other words, we ought to remember who created us, and for what purpose, before it’s too late. If we live our lives mocking our Maker by our actions and choices, or flat-out rejecting the God who created us, we will have missed our calling and our bodies will return to the earth and our lives will be forfeit.
Forgetting their Maker
The prophet Isaiah highlighted that one day YHWH’s people would recognize Him as the Great Creator/Maker/Fashioner, but the road to that revelation would be arduous. For many years the people had forgotten their Maker:
For the fortified city is isolated, a homestead deserted and abandoned like the desert; there the calf will graze, and there it will lie down and feed on its branches. When its limbs are dry, they are broken off; women come and make a fire with them, for they are not a people of discernment.
Therefore their Maker [Oseyhu] will not have compassion on them, and their Fashioner [w-Yotz’row] will not be gracious to them.
Israel forgot their Maker and tried to become makers of their own doing, by building palaces and strongholds:
For Israel has forgotten his Maker [Oseyhu] and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities, but I will send a fire on its cities, and it will consume its palatial buildings.
When it was too late, and destruction was upon them, YHWH’s people (in a last ditch effort) looked to their Maker for help:
Isaiah 17:7-8, 10
On that day man will look to his Maker [Oseyhu] and his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel. And he will not look to the altars, the work [ma-a’seh] of his hands, nor will he look to that which his fingers have made [asu], even the Asherim and incense altars…
…For you have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the rock of your refuge. Therefore you plant delightful plants and set them with vine shoots of a strange god.
The Forgiving and Unweary Creator
Although they deserved to be forgotten, just as they had forgotten their Creator, YHWH was unlike them. He remembered them, despite their disregard for Him:
[YHWH:] “Remember these things, Jacob, and Israel, for you are My servant; I have formed you [y’tsar’tika], you are My servant, Israel, you will not be forgotten by Me.
I have wiped out your wrongdoings like a thick cloud and your sins like a heavy mist. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
Shout for joy, you heavens, for YHWH has done it! Shout joyfully, you lower parts of the earth; break into a shout of jubilation, you mountains, forest, and every tree in it; for YHWH has redeemed Jacob, and in Israel He shows His glory.
This is what YHWH says, He who is your Redeemer, and the one who formed [w-yotser’ka] you from the womb:
“I am YHWH, Maker [Oseh] of all things, stretching out the heavens by Myself and spreading out the earth alone.”
YHWH said, “you will not be forgotten by Me”. He was the lone Creator who never forgot His children. He forgave them and redeemed them from their one way ticket to the grave. He saved them from their own destruction and death. All He asked was that they return to Him and their life would be fully sustainable once again:
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, YHWH, the Creator [Bowrey] of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is unsearchable.
He gives strength to the weary, and to the one 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.
Creation was made to be sustainable. YHWH created His people to be sustained; to carry on; toendure and live in eternity. But the creation process wasn’t finished yet. There would be a formation of renewal… a new heaven and a new earth where we, as YHWH’s children, would thrive:
“For just as the new heavens and the new earth, which I make [ani oseh], will endure before Me,” declares YHWH, “So will your descendants and your name endure. And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says YHWH.
The new heaven and the new earth would be an enduring world with unwearied, well-sustained, people who wholeheartedly loved their Creator.
Yeshua, Creator, Maker, Fashioner
In order to reach the new heaven and the new earth humanity had to be redeemed, and so YHWH provided a plan to save His people. He would send a Messiah (an anointed one) to pay the price for readmission into YHWH’s garden Kingdom.
YHWH would send His unique Son into the world to dwell among us, but this unique Son had existed long before His tenancy in the region of Galilee. John introduced us to the notion that Yeshua (Jesus) was there with YHWH at the beginning of creation:
John 1:1-5, 14-17
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it…
…And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and called out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who is coming after me has proved to be my superior, because He existed before me.’”
For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus the Messiah.
This concept of pre-existence was also highlighted in the writing of Proverbs. Wisdom was identified as existing at the time of creation:
Proverbs 8:22-31, 34-36
“YHWH possessed me [wisdom] at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From eternity I was established, from the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth.
When there were no ocean depths, I was born, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, I was born; while He had not yet made [lo asah] the earth and the fields, nor the first dust of the world.
When He established the heavens, I was there; when He inscribed a circle on the face of the deep, when He made firm the skies above, when the springs of the deep became fixed, when He set a boundary for the sea so that the water would not violate His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth; then I was beside Him, as a master workman; and I was His delight daily, rejoicing always before Him [literally ‘to His Face’], rejoicing in the world, His earth, and having my delight in the sons of mankind…
…Blessed is the person who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorposts. For one who finds me finds life, and obtains favour from YHWH. But one who sins against me injures himself; all those who hate me love death.”
At the beginning of this we read that “YHWH possessed me”. Many translations read “YHWH created me”, but the Hebrew word for create (bara) was not used here. The Hebrew word was qanani, from the root qanan (Strong’s 7069) meaning to possess, acquire, buy. It indicated that this personified “wisdom” wasn’t created at the formation of the earth, but was already there with God and acquired by God. Wisdom was there at the beginning of creation and walked alongside YHWH in the process. Seeking wisdom was, of course, was an integral part of following YHWH. As the Psalmist said, “The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; and with all your possessions, acquire understanding” (Psalm 4:7).
This personification of wisdom could represents either YHWH’s unique Son or YHWH’s unique Holy Spirit. Either way, it was a being that had no creation point, but walked in tandem with YHWH.
For Paul, Yeshua was the first born of all creation and the pure image bearer of YHWH, the Great Creator:
For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: or by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also the head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
The cross sealed it. This Creator God made His people, and regardless of their attitude towards Him, He would save them. He would send His unique Son to be the firstborn of all creation and firstborn from the dead. This God would sacrifice a part of Himself in order to save His beloved Creation.
One Creator, God of All
For the early Messianic followers of Yeshua, they lived a faithful life out loud in a community that was hostile to their presence. They were surrounded by Greek and Roman culture and religion who believed in a pantheon of gods and not a single, lone, Creator/Maker/Former. Because of this, when Yeshua’s followers performed miracles in public, they were misidentified as Greek gods:
In Lystra a man was sitting whose feet were incapacitated. He had been disabled from his mother’s womb, and had never walked. This man was listening to Paul as he spoke. Paul looked at him intently and saw that he had faith to be made well, and he said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet!” And the man leaped up and began to walk.
When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have become like men and have come down to us!”, and they began calling Barnabas, Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, since he was the chief speaker. Moreover, the priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, and wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.
But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their robes and rushed out into the crowd, crying out and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men, of the same nature as you, preaching the gospel to you, to turn from these useless things to a living God, who made [Greek: epoiesen] the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them.”
The Creator YHWH was a living, moving, God. The Greek and Roman pantheon were worthless gods made of wood and stone… and wood and stone were made by YHWH.
In the days of the prophet Jeremiah, the surrounding pagan cultures created idols made of wood and stone. They did not recognize or contemplate the fact that something had created the stone and wood that they used to shape their god-like beings. Jeremiah highlighted the ridiculousness of it all:
There is none like You, YHWH; You are great, and Your name is great in might.
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations? For it is Your due! For among all the wise men of the nations and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.
But they are altogether stupid and foolish; the instruction from idols is nothing but wood! Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz, the work [ma-a’seh] of a craftsman and of the hands of a goldsmith; their clothing is of violet and purple; they are all the work [ma-a’seh] of skilled people.
But YHWH is the true God; He is the living God and the everlasting King. The earth quakes at His wrath, and the nations cannot endure His indignation.
This is what you shall say to them: “The gods that did not make the heavens and the earth will perish from the earth and from under these heavens.”
It is He who made [oseh] the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.
When He utters His voice, there is a roar of waters in the heavens, and He causes the clouds to ascend from the end of the earth; He makes [asah] lightning for the rain, and brings out the wind from His storehouses.
Every person is stupid, devoid of knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his cast metal images are deceitful, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery; at the time of their punishment they will perish.
The Portion of Jacob is not like these; for He is the Former [Yotser] of everything, and Israel is the tribe of His inheritance; YHWH of armies is His name.
Idols and pagan gods had no power outside of the power that humans had given them. But YHWH was the powerful, forward-moving force that made, and formed, and created everything. And when humans turned their backs on their Creator, He did not give up on them, but He put a plan into place to save them.
Peter understood the great sacrifice YHWH had made, in order to save His creation. Peter also knew that we were created to be Image Bearers of God. For this reason, he equated human suffering with the Messiah’s suffering and he urged people to remain strong in their pain and to put their faith in the Maker who wanted to give them everything. Those who were persecuted, Peter encouraged them to “entrust their souls to a faithful Creator [Ktiste] in doing what is right.” (1 Peter 4:19).
Bearing the Creator’s Image
YHWH clearly stated that He created humans to bear His image (Genesis 1:26-27) and Paul made sure that the people of Colossians knew what that meant:
Do not lie to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices, and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator [Greek: ktisantos]. Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, or free, but Messiah is all and is in all.
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with one another and forgive any complaint you may have against someone else. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity. Let the peace of the Messiah rule in your hearts, for to this you were called as members of one body. And be thankful.
Creation is precious, but our world is suffering. The planet aches and groans under the pressure that we’ve placed on it. Humans are suffering under the weight of mental and physical illness, human trafficking and abuse. Communities are torn asunder by conflict and war. It begs the question: are we worth saving?
The One who created us thinks so, and since we bear His image, we ought to do our part to save the planet and everything in it. It is all precious to the One who made it… every heartbeat on the planet is a treasure to the One who fashioned it, and that includes YOU.
So hold your head up high, share God’s love to everyone around you, and rejoice in the fact that you, just as you are, are a perfectly-made masterpiece! Shalom!
Next week: HATE