WORD STUDY – PATH FINDER – מצא תעה
Genesis 37:15: “And a certain man found him, and, behold, [he was] wandering in the field: and the man asked him, saying, What seekest thou?”
Hebrews 13:2: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
I am going to do something one should never do when translating the Word of God and that is use personal experience to aid in the translation. So feel free to reject my conclusion. However, I personally believe my conclusion holds water because I know this from personal experience and the experience of others.
I firmly and have believed for many years that God’s calling on my life has not been that of a teacher, pastor, author or blogger. These are only vocations that help me follow my calling. I believe my calling in life is that of a Matsa’ Ta’ah or a Path Finder. I suspect many of you reading this may also conclude after reading my study that you too have been called to the ministry of a Matsa’ Ta’ah Path Finder but you just don’t know it.
In Genesis 37:15 we have a strange account. Joseph is searching for his brothers and seems to have lost his way. Suddenly a lone stranger appears out of nowhere, a man wandering in the field and asks Joseph what or who he is seeking? When Joseph mentions his brothers the man steers him in the right direction. Has this man not been there at that moment in time and gave just that little nudge in the right direction, Joseph may not have been sold into slavery, put in an Egyptian prison and made Viceroy over all Egypt so he could save his family. Just one man, one ish in the Hebrew, supernatural or natural gave that little nudge in the right direction. I believe he was a human being what I call a Matsa’ Ta’ah, a Path Finder. Not a Matsa’ Derek which is probably the more correct term for a Path Finder but his is a Path Finder for the lost and one that needs direction, a nudge.
There are some unusual things about this account. First what was a man doing wandering in the desert alone. The word wander is ta’ah which means to be intoxicated or to stagger. In its Semitic root is means to wander aimlessly or to be lost. But it was Joseph who was lost. No one wanders the desert without purpose, especially alone, yet the word ta’ah suggest that this man had no purpose or at least no personal purpose. We know nothing more of this mysterious man. He is called an ish which could be a supernatural being or a natural man. The Talmud teaches that he was the angel Gabriel. Perhaps. But if he were an angel why did not the Bible call him that. The Hebrew word for angel is malak which is simply a messenger. It could be a supernatural messenger or a natural messenger. It is used for both. In the New Testament we are told that we may entertain angels unaware. The Greek word used for angel is angelous which also means simply messenger and could refer to both a human or a supernatural being. John the Baptist was called an angelous and he was just another human being.
Ok I am playing with the syntax here and I could very well stand to be corrected and will not be offended if I am, but until someone shows me I am grammatically and syntaxly wrong, I am rendering this passage as: “A certain man, finder of those wandering, found Joseph in the field.” Or even to paraphrase more: “A Path Finder found Joseph in the field.
I believe in Hebrews 31:2 Paul is not just referring to entertaining supernatural messengers unaware but natural human messengers as well. Human messengers who love God and whom God just put in there at the right time and place. Many Christians sit and fret that they have no ministry, they have no talents. If you stop fretting and just put yourself out there and be sensitive to God’s leading, He may just send you on an assignment as a Path Finder.
Let me tell you an unusual story I heard just today on my disability bus. A woman was telling me that her sister had kidney failure and without a transplant she would die. Dialysis would not save her. A short time later her fiancée collapsed. It turned out that he had a massive brain tumor and had only a few weeks to live. This woman went to the chapel in her church and poured her heart out to God. She told God she would accept the passing of her fiancée if that was His will. She knew he was a believer and where he would be and she would see him again. But her sister was not and needed more time. She plead with God, wept before God that a suitable donor would be found in time, although little hope was given. As she wept and prayed alone in that chapel a man she had never seen before in her life or since walked into the chapel, smiled at her and sat at the organ (yes, they still have organs in some churches) and played: Great is Thy Faithfulness. He played a couple more familiar hymns and then as he walked out he placed his hand on this woman’s shoulder and said; “She will be ok.” This stranger had no idea what she was praying for or knew anything about her situation. Yet, later that day her fiancée passed into God’s presence. His doctor told her that his last request was that, if it were possible, they would give his kidney to her sister. The kidney was a perfect match. Was this man playing the organ a supernatural angel or just a normal average Joe who happened to be in the right place at the right time and was obedient to the leading of God?
A few years ago, I felt God leading me to take a strange job. I would work 8 hours a week in the mail room of a local newspaper. The manager of the mail room was a young single mother of three children who was just recently divorced and going through a difficult time. I had no idea why I was there except I knew God called me, this guy with three academic degrees and an ordained minister, to work 8 hours a week at a minimum wage job. Many times this manager and I worked alone together and we talked only about Jesus and His love and plan for our lives. After three months a conflict arose in my schedule and I knew it was time to leave the job. I had no idea why I was there until a couple years ago at my nephew’s wedding I sat at the reception table with my cousin and his wife. She asked me if I knew this woman that she met recently. I did not recognize the name but when she mentioned the newspaper office, I instantly knew who she was. My cousin’s wife said that when this woman heard her last name she asked if she was related to someone with my name. She said. “Yes, that is my husband’s cousin.” This woman looked shocked and said: “You mean he is real? I thought he was an angel that God sent to me when I was going through a real difficult time in my life. What he told me about God helped me through that difficult time. I can’t believe he is a real person.”
I was totally unaware of how God used me, I was just being obedient to Him. I live my life going on missions for God. Always sensitive to the opportunities to be a possible messenger, a Path Finder, a Matsa’ Ta’ah. Think about it, do you ever feel a compelling to go somewhere or be some place where you meet someone you may never see again? Do you just share Jesus with that person, give them a little nudge in the right direction? Then you are a Path Finder, a Matsa’ Ta’ah, someone who may change the course of someone’s elses life with just a couple words. Maybe even change the course of that entire family. You will not know until you get to heaven. For right now, just be quiet before God and make yourself available for the next assignment, for you miss it God will just give that assignment to another Matsa’ Ta’ah.