God

The True Purpose of Creation

April 7, 2024

Fear not, as I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the East, and from the West I will gather you. I will say to the North: “Give,” and to the South: “Do not withhold; bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth.” Everything that is called by My name, and for My honor I created it, I fashioned it, truly, I made it. (Isaiah 43:4-7)

These verses are happening now

I am writing these words from my home in Bet Shemesh, about a thirty-minute drive from Jerusalem. My apartment block includes Jewish families who came to Israel from the United States, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Russia. One of my neighbors across the street is from India. My daughter is married to a wonderful young man whose family is from Yemen. This is Israel at the time of the ingathering of the exiles. 

Think about that. These verses in Isaiah 43 are the day-to-day reality of life in Israel. Plain and simple. No commentary necessary. In these verses, Isaiah describes my neighborhood and family. He speaks of the nation of Israel returning to our land from the East (my Indian neighbor), the West (my family and our other neighbors of American origin), the North (Russia), and the South (Yemen). And I am not unique. Not at all. My experience is the experience of all who call Israel their home. We live in Biblical times.

A non-sequitur?

But what about the third verse in this sequence?

What is the connection between this verse and the verses that precede it? For greater context, I’ll point out that chapter 43 is entirely about the ingathering of the exiles of Israel. This verse, a general statement about God’s creation of all things, seems out of place. 

To answer this question, let’s first understand what exactly the verse is telling us on its own. 

“Name” and “Honor”

God is saying that everything He created, fashioned, and made was made for the purpose of His “glory” or “honor.” He refers to “all who are linked to My name.” God’s “name” – shem, in Hebrew, and “honor” – kavod – are often paired in the Bible. (see Malachi 2:2, Psalm 29:2, Psalm 66:2, Psalm 72:19, Psalm 79;9, Psalm 96:8, Psalm 115:1, Nehemiah 9:5,1 Chronicles 16:9)

The connection between these two words makes sense. “Name” refers to the fact that people know who God is. If someone is unknown, they don’t functionally have a name. Their name is never used. “Honor,” of course, is the product of awareness of some great deed or trait. The very definition of honor is the honor given by others who are aware. If nobody knows what you did, there is no honor.

To sum this up: a name means that others know who you are. Honor means that others know what you accomplished. Both words imply knowledge by others.

What God is saying in our verse is that everything in creation was created to serve only one purpose, to give honor and glory to God; to make people aware of His greatness. The Jewish sages, 2000 years ago, interpreted this verse just this way.

Whatever the Holy Blessed One created in His world, he created only for His honor, as it is said: “All who are linked to My name, whom I have created, formed and made for My honor” (Isaiah 43:7) – Mishna Avot 6:11

So why is this verse here?

The three verbs, “created,” “formed,” and “made,” each refer to a different stage of creation. “Created” refers to the initial creation of matter, the emergence of physical reality into existence. In fact, it’s this Hebrew word that is used in the first verse in the Bible, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” (Gen. 1:1). “Formed” refers to the formation of all the different details of creation, minerals, plants, animals, etc. “Made” refers to the completed creation. It is this verb that is used in the final verse of the creation story, the last verse of Genesis 1. “And God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

So, what is the meaning of this verse in context, here in Isaiah 43? 

As stated above, the subject of this entire chapter is the redemption and ingathering of the Jewish people from their dispersion across the globe. After the opening verses describe this ingathering, the chapter then declares that all who witness this great ingathering will recognize God and know that He is the only God. 

The nation of Israel suffered greatly in exile. We may wonder, why did God do this? Why scatter us to the four corners of the earth, allow us to be persecuted for centuries, only to then redeem us and bring us back to our homeland? Why not simply leave us where we began? What is the point of this long story of exile and redemption?

The point of this verse is to remind us that there is one purpose for everything that happens on Earth. The full arc of history, from beginning to end, is meant for one purpose alone; to make God’s name known throughout the world and to bring honor to Him. In fact, this is the reason the world, and everything in it, was created, formed, and made. 

The Jewish people were chosen to serve as the vehicle for God’s honor in the world. God uses the story of the exile and ultimate redemption of Israel as a tool to show His greatness to all. And this is the purpose of creation.

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Rabbi Pesach Wolicki

Rabbi Pesach Wolicki is the Executive Director of Israel365 Action and the author of Verses for Zion and Cup of Salvation: A Powerful Journey Through King David's Psalms of Praise. He is a frequent guest on Erick Stakelbeck's The Watchman and a regular contributor to Israel365news.com and The Jerusalem Post.

Rabbi Pesach Wolicki

Rabbi Pesach Wolicki is the Executive Director of Israel365 Action and the author of Verses for Zion and Cup of Salvation: A Powerful Journey Through King David's Psalms of Praise. He is a frequent guest on Erick Stakelbeck's The Watchman and a regular contributor to Israel365news.com and The Jerusalem Post.

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