About the Author

Rev Aaron Eime is the deacon of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem, the first Protestant Church in the Middle East. Aaron studied at the Hebrew University in the Masters Program with the focus towards Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Bible. Aaron also studied Psychology and Sociology at Queensland University in Australia in the Social Work Program. He is a dedicated Bible teacher exploring the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith. He has taught Internationally in many countries including Europe, North America, Hong Kong and China. Aaron is the Director of Research and Education at Christ Church. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 3 children.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

God's Bible College

The book of Numbers in Hebrew is called B’Midbar, which means ‘In the Desert’. It is given this name because the book opens by declaring that God spoke to Moses in the desert (Numbers 1vs1). Given the premise that nothing in the Bible is insignificant, it stands to reason therefore that the statement declaring God spoke to Moses in the desert becomes quite significant. A midrash from the Jewish sages states, the Torah was given through the context of three things: Fire, Rain and the Desert. God descended through a cloud of lightning, thunder and rain to Mount Sinai; when He spoke to Moses the Bible explains fire came out of His mouth (Deut 4vs33); and He delivered the Torah in the desert.

Genesis depicts the desert as a place of exile, with little human habitation, a place of wild animals, bandits and in subsequent Jewish thought, the abode of demons. The desert does not appear to be an area people would naturally flock to. There is no water or anything else of substance to offer humans. Yet it is to the desert that God sends His heroes. On one hand the desert represents a desolate, violent and lawless area. On the other hand, the desert context is spiritually positive with God delivering His Torah to the world. What’s the connection between God and the Desert?

The word ‘Midbar’ in Hebrew means ‘Desert’. The same consonants that form the word ‘Midbar’ מדבר also form the word ‘Medaber’ מדבר which is the Hebrew word for ‘Speak’. There are no vowels in Hebrew thus ‘Midbar’ and ‘Medaber’ appear the same in Hebrew. Further, the root of ‘Midbar’ מדבר is ‘Davar’ דבר which is the word for ‘Word’ and actually creates the verb ‘To Speak’. This completes the picture quite nicely. Where does God speak? He speaks in the Desert. 

The desert is a place free from distractions, a place free from the idolatry so often prominent in cities. In the quiet of the desert you can hear God’s voice. And so God sends all His heroes there. Moses goes to the desert, Elijah spends time in the desert, David escapes from Saul there, Israel wanders through the wilderness and even Jesus is driven by the Spirit into the desert. Jesus knows He is special at a young age, but He needs to learn to hear God’s voice, so the Spirit compels Him to go to the desert. The place where God speaks. 

A friend of mine (David Pileggi) often calls the Desert, Gods Seminary. And it’s truly an apt description. The desert is a place of preparation. Often the people God calls are not yet equipped and need a place of training. It’s interesting to see that the place where God speaks, where he trains His heroes for the tasks ahead, is also the place of the enemy. Jesus goes into the desert to hear the voice of the Lord and at the same time has to fight the Devil. Similarly, we also need to learn to hear the voice of the Lord. Often not from a place of rest but from a place of testing (not a literal desert). It is a comfort to know that there is someone in Heaven who had to struggle with that too.