Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” – Genesis 17:17
Genesis 18:12 Sarah laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master – my husband – is also so old?”
Almost all words in the English language change meanings, or add some new shade of meaning, when they remain in use continually for a century or two. Sometimes this change is a stark one, other times the change is more subtle, as is the case with fascinate.
Fascinate comes from the Latin word fascinari to cast an “evil spell,” and originally meant “bewitched” or “spellbound” in the literal, more sinister sense. Over the past four centuries, fascinate has broadened its meaning, bit by bit, moving steadily away from “literally under a spell.” The word eventually took on the less evil, more metaphorical meanings “to command the attention of” or “to captivate.”
“Fascinating” became very prominent by its frequent usage by Mr. Spock of the first Star Trek series. In the original TV serious and follow-up movies, he used the term 49 times.
Mr. Spock is one of the most well-known TV characters of all time. Mr. Spock had intelligence and elegance. He was focused, logical, but was never cruel. He has become one of the world’s most beloved and most enduring sci-fi characters. A green-blooded, half-human half-Vulcan hybrid, a half-breed if you will. He was an outsider that never fully belonged in either world.
He was loyal and devoted to Captain Kirk. He often served as both his assistant and conscience. He was the science officer and second in command of the Star Ship Enterprise.
In one of the episodes, Spock explains his use of his favorite term fascinating: “I reserve the use of the term fascinating for the unexpected.”
Many fascinating, unexpected, and often almost imperceptible events, “coincidences,” or play on words occur in the Scriptures. We will review 3 of them.
The first regards the name Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah. When the Father visited Abraham and Sarah and told them that they were going to have a baby when he was 100 years old and she was 90 years old they both had the same instantaneous response, they laughed (Genesis 18:12).
Genesis 17:17 Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”
But the Father responded “Is anything too difficult for the LORD? (Genesis 18:14) You will name him Isaac (Genesis 17:19). In essence the Father said you think it’s so funny, you laugh. Therefore he will be known by the Hebrew name Itschaq – he laughs. Fascinating!
REFLECT & PRAY
The Scriptures are intended to be read and meditated upon. Often, they are provocative and create a bit of tension. They provide mysteries that are intentionally challenging. They elicit further study and thought. The King James version puts it like this, “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Jesus often spoke in parables. They created questions and often confusion. He would then share with His disciples the meaning and hidden treasures within.
Father thank You that Your word is awesome, filled with beauty, wisdom, humor and Truth. It challenges and enlightens the mind and feeds the spirit.
The second regards the name Beelzebul (Luke 11:15).
Baalzebub is a Canaanite deity worshipped at Ekron – (2 Kings 1:3). His name was derived from ba’al – lord, and zebul – prince. Thus his name meant Baal the prince.
In mockery, the Hebrews changed just one letter and called him Baalzabub. This name is a play on words and comes from ba’al – lord and zebub – flies. This denigrating witticism meant Lord of the Flies. But it gets better – what are flies attracted to? Garbage or dung piles. So what they were really saying was that Baalzabub was the Lord of the dung heap or garbage dump. You connect the dots. Fascinating!
The third fascinating and obscure play on words. It is found in book of Genesis. Because of the wickedness of mankind, the Father condemned almost all life on earth to death by a global flood (Genesis 6:17).
5 The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil.
6 So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.
A word about the Father feeling sorry, having His heart broken by the wickedness of mankind. How does the Father “feel?” As mere humans, do we have an adequate answer for such a question? All we can do is imagine how He “feels” based upon our own human emotions. Ascribing human emotions to the Father is called anthropopathism.
The Hebrew word translated sorry is nacham. It means to be sorry, have regrets, console oneself. Over the years the Hebrew word nacham has been translated: changed His mind, relented, decided not, repented and the like (look at different translations of Amos 7:3). Perhaps an alternative translation might be He reacted.
The origin of the root seems to reflect the idea of “breathing deeply,” hence the physical display of one’s feelings, usually sorrow, compassion, or comfort (TWOT).
The mere idea that the Father changes His mind should create a bit of tension if you know the Scriptures.
Numbers 23:19 God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?
1 Samuel 15:29 “Also the Glory of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.”
Yet clearly, the Scriptures also state that He does change His mind. Some of His children are left a bit bewildered. Perhaps this will help.
The Father is immutable. It is one of His attributes. What does that mean? The Father does not change in His being, perfections, purposes, or promises (Grudem). His attributes never change. In simple terms, He is consistent. Further, the Father is omniscient. He knows everything all the time. He knows what will happen before it occurs.
The Father is a person. As a person He “feels” joy and sadness. He “feels” satisfaction but also regret. Has chosen to enter into history and to connect with people. Stop to think about it the Father, the Lord God omnipotent, truly interacts with mere humans in the space-time continuum. He is watching and paying attention. He is sensitive and aware of the smallest details. He cares. He becomes personally involved. He cannot be manipulated or controlled. But the Father responds to us when we respond to Him. He chooses to be in a personal relationship with us. He reacts. He relents or changes His dealings with people according to His sovereign purposes. He can and does change in His actions and emotions when people give Him reason to do so.
Genesis 6:17 “I am about to cover the earth with a flood that will destroy every living thing that breathes. Everything on earth will die.”
This is where Methuselah comes in. His name means “his death shall bring” or “when he is dead, it (the Flood) will come.”
Once the Father made His decision, the outcome was certain. But He holds off immediate execution of the sentence. Because of His mercy, grace and patience, He strings it out as long as possible. How do we know this? Methuselah lived longer than anyone else in the history of the human race. Is it a coincidence that the Father waited until Methuselah died, for the rain to start Following? I think not, but it is fascinating.