Ish Chamudot

What’s love got to do with it?

Clifford Goldstein
Ish Chamudot

Coming from a distant part of the cosmos—farther perhaps than Hubble’s most squinting eyes can reach—heavenly messengers referred to the prophet Daniel as chamudot, “beloved, desirable, precious.” And they did so three times. In Daniel 9:23, Gabriel says ki chamudot attah, “for you are greatly beloved.”  In Daniel 10:11, a heavenly being (perhaps Gabriel again) calls him ish chamudot, “a man greatly beloved,” a phrase repeated to Daniel later (v.19).

An intelligence from another part of the creation not only comes to this one man but refers to him as chamudot.  What a radically different picture of reality from what modern cosmology depicts.

First, cosmology teaches a chance creation, a universe that happened to pop into existence (perhaps one of many?) with no direction, purpose, or intentions.  As atheist physicist Steven Weinberg infamously wrote, “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.” (To which Harvard astronomer Martha Geller responded, “Why should it have a point? What point? It’s just a physical system, what point is there?”)  An angelic being, sent from the Creator of the universe to a single human on earth, reveals a “physical system” more multi-faceted than the one currently espoused.

Second, Special Relativity teaches that information cannot exceed the speed of light, about 186,000 miles per second. Nothing in space moves faster. However, the angel Gabriel had come in response to Daniel’s prayer. “At the beginning of your supplications,” he said, “the command went out, and I have come to tell you” (Daniel 9:23). In a universe billions of light years across (and, we’re told, expanding), had the angel been limited to subluminal speeds, depending upon where he started from, Gabriel might still be on his way, even today, to Daniel.  The prophet, meanwhile, would have died long before his prayer, again at subluminal speeds, had reached heaven.

Yes, quantum entanglement—in which subatomic communication occurs at speeds so fast that time and space appear non-existent—appears to show that information can move faster than light, which Einstein, the founder of  Special Relativity, called “spooky action at a distance.” Might this “spooky action” help explain how prayer, and answers to prayer, can exist in a universe where light limps along too slowly to accommodate them?  Who knows?  If nothing else, quantum entanglement reveals, as Gabriel’s interaction with Daniel already had, that 186,000 miles per second isn’t the speed limit for the transfer of information across the cosmos.  (Maybe that’s why Daniel said that Gabriel had been “caused to fly swiftly” [Daniel 9:21], so swiftly that he left light in the dust?)

Finally, what’s most astonishing is that in our supposedly cold, hostile and uncaring universe, a heavenly intelligence refers to Daniel, an evanescent blob of carbon and water on a tiny planet orbiting a yellow dwarf, as ish chamudot.  

Greatly beloved?  By whom? By God? By the angels in heaven? Talk about a link, an intimate link, between heaven and earth, between God and humanity. Those simple interactions in Danielreveal that the universe is suffused with a moral element, God’s love, as pervasive as gravity around a Black Hole. And this love is manifested in so many ways that, with our open hearts —which alone can free our minds from blocking out the obvious reality of God’s love—we can experience for ourselves what was expressed so personally to Daniel. 

Every piece of fruit, every vegetable, every grain, every herb, every flower, every nut, every legume, every tree—if not irrefutable proof of God’s existence and love—so powerfully testify to His existence and love that only minds wanting not to see it can ignore it.  Even after 6,000 grubby years of sin, suffering, and death, the beauty and functionality of the created world—from the dance of the crane to human sexuality (as abused and perverted as it has unfortunately become)—unabashedly boast of God’s love.  Love is shouted from the hills, the valleys, the sky, the woods, the plains, the fields, the meadows, the rivers, the lakes and the seas.  

Sure, a banana (protected in skin, stuffed with tasty and nutritious food, sprinkled with seeds for infinitely more bananas, and growing on trees) doesn’t prove the Gospel. But it undoubtedly points to a Creator whose love, already expressed in the creation, would be fully manifested at the cross.  There, in an act of supreme self-denial, the One who Created the cosmos died as a sacrifice for us, mere specks against the cosmic landscape.  With Jesus on the cross, we can see what God’s love (implied in the banana) led Him to do for us.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Peter 2:4). 

And because I believe in the cross, I believe that God could, instantaneously, reach across billions of light-years and let Daniel know, if he already didn’t, that he was ish chamudot.  If open, each of us, ish or ishah (woman), can experience, as did Daniel, just how chamudot we are to God as well.

Clifford Goldstein

Clifford Goldstein is the editor of the Adult Bible Study Guides at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and a longtime columnist for Adventist Review.