WORD STUDY – JOY IN UNITY OF FELLOWSHIP – גיל
Habakkuk 3:17-18 “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither [shall] fruit [be] in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and [there shall be] no herd in the stalls: (18) Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”
The prophet is speaking of the worst calamity that could occur in that day. That would be your crop failing and your cattle dying out. In other words it would be a famine. In our modern culture we just cannot wrap our brains around the fact that some disaster may come where we could not obtain any food. We sit back and make our five year and ten year plans never giving one thought to the fact that maybe in those years there might be a season of starvation. In ancient times you lived year by year. You never knew if from one year to the next if you would have food. You were very aware of the fact that natural disasters or raiders or disease could decimate you crops and cattle and leave you with no food. You lived from year to year never really sure if you would survive to your next birthday. Thus in Habakkuk 3:18 the prophet is saying that even if your worst fears are realized and your crop fails and cattle die off, you will still rejoice in the lord and joy in the God of your salvation. Here the word salvation does not refer to accepting Jesus as your Savior, it is a salvation from dying of hunger. Your faith would be so strong that even when there appears no source of food, God will still provide even if He has to send manna from heaven. Embedded in the Hebrew word for joy is the secret as to how you will be able to rejoice in the face of disaster. Let me explain.
It may sound redundant to say we will rejoice and joy as we see that as the same thing. Yet the Hebrew uses two very different words for rejoice and joy. The word rejoice is alaz which means to be so full of joy that your are expressing it physically in a smile, a dance, a leap or a shout. Now that is really joy. In the midst of poverty and desolation there will be such joy that you will be dancing, laughing and enjoying life. Ultimately that is what we want isn’t it, just to be happy? That is what we want for the ones we love, just that they are happy?
I remember as a child my parents would always have their friends over for dinner or we would go to their friends for dinner. As an Aspie I hated these gatherings as I was socially dysfunctional and felt very uncomfortable, yet I just loved to sit in that circle of friends and watch because everyone was talking, laughing and just enjoying life. I loved to see people come together and be happy. Even though I was socially unable to participate, I just enjoyed being around the happiness.
Rockefeller was one of the richest men in his day. A reporter once asked him just how much more money did he need to earn until he was satisfied. He replied: “Just a little more.” He was never satisfied, the wealth did not bring him the joy he craved. Not until he started to use his wealth to help others and build a circle of trusted friends did he begin to find joy.
But say we still have two different words here. There is ‘alaz which is to be so full of joy you are just dancing and shouting. But we will also have joy in our coming deliverance. Here joy is the word gayal which means a circle or to spin around in a circle. About five or six times a year our town host a carnival which brings in amusement rides. Practically every ride is some variation of spinning you around in a circle. People seem to never tire of it. Everytime the carnival comes to town the crowds pack it out and line up in long lines to be spun around in a circle. There is something joyful and satisfying to just doing a simply thing like spin around in a circle. Whether we are rich or poor, powerful or powerless, we all get a feeling of joy in just a simple thing like gayal, spinning around in a circle. God created us that way. ח
The circle plays a very significant role in our world. The Earth revolves in a circle around the sun, the moon in a circle around the earth. It is said that the circle is our connection to the supernatural world. You might remember the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. The idea of a circular table was to create a sense of equality and unity, a oneness. With a rectangular table there was the head of the table and the closer you sat to the head of the table, the more important you were. But with a round circle gayal table there would be no head. The circle gayal represents a joy in unity and a oneness. I recall in those gathering of friends as a child everyone almost naturally sat around in a circle as they just shared their joy with each other. There were no little groups off to the side. Maybe at the start there would be but once the fellowship got going, they all gravitated to a circle where all could join in and be one in unity. As the circle grew I sense a power, a strength and a joy. Many times these little circles would be filled with stories and funny events, but soon things grew serious and people began to share their experience with God. Often these circles ended up in prayer and singing songs of praise. The only one not in the circle was the one playing the piano and even as a small child I felt a sense of pity for that piano player because he or she was not a part of the joy of the gayal circle.
I was attending a worship service one time and I sat up in the balcony. I looked down at all the people who were singing, rejoicing dancing around like leaping up and down ‘alaz. However, I did not see gayal until two children, little girls who had to be no more than three or four years of age, ran out into the aisle and began to spin around in a circle. No one told them to do this, they did not plan on it, it was just a spontaneous gesture to express their joy. After doing this study I wonder why we do not have churches in the round? Practically all our churches are rectangular or semi circle, but I have never seen a full circle where there is no leader and people just jumped out into the middle of the circle to express their joy.
So what is it of gayal that means we will rejoice in our deliverance? I believe when the saints all gather together in the midst of tragedy, form a circle with Jesus in the middle we will experience the power of unity, oneness and strength of a body which just increases our faith and as our faith increases so does our gayal joy.