But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find Him if you look for Him with all your heart and with all your soul. Deuteronomy 4:29 (NIV)
Seek – Did you think that “seek” and “look for” are the same thing? Not in Hebrew. Yesterday we discovered that “look for” is a verb about careful attention and due diligence in order to gain knowledge. That word was darash. But today we come to the first verb of this verse, baqash. It means, “seek,” and it is a synonym of darash. But there is a difference that is important. That difference changes everything.
Moses delivers a warning. Don’t turn away from the Lord. There are two actions you must take in order to be faithful. The second is darash – due diligence for understanding. If you want to know God’s ways, you will have to study!
The first action sets the stage. Baqash is seeking something that exists or is believed to exist in order to obtain it. It is not about knowledge. It is about possession. In other words, make God your God! God exists. He is the Great I AM. But until I make Him my God, I am like Jacob in his staircase dream. God was still the God of my father and the grandfather. God does not become my God until I exercise baqash.
Does that mean I just say a sinner’s prayer and get my heavenly ticket punched? Absolutely not! Jesus understood precisely what baqash meant when He used the phrase “kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom is the rule and reign of the Lord in the hearts of men. It is not a place. It is a personal possession. God is not my God until He is the Ruler of my life. I seek God when I submit to His complete authority over me and obey His every commandment. Until God is my King, I have not been seeking for Him. Instead, I have been searching for a way to avoid Him.
Moses lays out two actions. First, submit. Seek to make God Ruler of your every thought, word and deed. Second, study. Spend whatever time it takes to know your King, His every thought, word and deed. If you want a relationship with God that matters to you and to Him, these two actions cannot be ignored. Jesus underlined the words of Moses with the statement, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” Baqash and darash. They go hand in glove. You can’t have one without the other.
If prayer in the Old Testament is motivated by darash, the desire to know God, then it is fulfilled by baqash, the willingness to submit. Prayer without these two is useless cacophony – or worse – blasphemy.