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The Secret Of God

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing,
unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
(Amos 3:7)

This verse must be one of the most beautiful pictures to show the intimate relationship between the prophet and God.

The Hebrew word for secret is cowd (Strong OT:5475) which means a session, i.e. company of persons (in close deliberation); by implication, intimacy, consultation, a secret.

Its root word is yacad (Strong OT:3245) which means to set (literally or figuratively); intensively, to found; reflexively, to sit down together, i.e. settle, consult.

The English word 'secret' does not do much justice to the original meaning unless the whole picture is being painted. It portraits a close communion and discussion going about as the people are resting upon a 'cushion, couch or pillow', something upon which one 'reclines'.

The Old Testament prophets knew God very intimately:

  • Adam, Enoch and Noah walked with God (Genesis 3.8; 5.22,24; 6.9)
  • Abraham was a friend of God (Isaiah 41.8; James 2.23)
  • Moses knew God face to face (Numbers 12.6-8; Exodus 33.11).

God’s desire was that we might all be prophets (Numbers 11.17,29), and that we would become His friends of God, having a face to face encounter with Him, and sitting down together like as a circle of friends.

'Reclining' was the sitting position of John, whom Jesus loved, at the Last Supper (John 13.23). John was the one who gave us the prophetic book of Revelation.

Cowd is also used to describe:

  • friends conversing (Jeremiah 15.17)
  • judges, heavenly powers and prophets consulting with God (Jeremiah 23.18,22)
  • counsel and friendly conversation (Psalm 55.14)
  • secret knowledge (Psalm 25.14; Proverbs 25.9)

This idea of secrets is not so much that of the heavenly knowledge to which only the privileged few have access to. It is more with respect to the counsel and confidential plans of which God opens up to His friend, the prophet.

The best way to imagine this is that of the prophet and God sitting down together on adjacent cushions in a nomad's tent in the desert to discuss matters, in intimacy, not having the need to shout. Lying side-by-side, the still, quiet intimate voice of God can be heard, and not the loud voice of the earthquake, thunder or fire.

In the book of Job, probably the oldest Hebrew book of Scripture and dating back to about 2000 BC, Job used the word cowd which is especially instructive and illuminating. He was a contemporary with Abraham living in the times of nomadic tents and caravans.

In Job 15:8, Eliphaz asks if Job was a party to God's secret plans:

Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself? (KJV)

In Job 19:19, "All my close friends abhor me, and those whom I love have turned against me." The Hebrew word for "close friends" is again cowd.

Job 29 is a beautiful passage describing Job longing for the days of his youth when he had the respect of his elders and sat amongst them as their chief because of his wisdom and counsel (Job 29.7, 21-25).

In the various versions of Job 29:4, we learn that Job’s wisdom was derived from God's presence in his tent:

KJV: As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle...

NIV: Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God's intimate friendship blessed my house...

NKJ: Just as I was in the days of my prime, when the friendly counsel of God was over my tent..

TLB: Yes, in my early years, when the friendship of God was felt in my home...

ASV: As I was in the ripeness of my days, when the friendship of God was upon my tent...

This is a perfect example of the tent picture as mentioned above. Job describes God's presence with him as a lamp and a light, a place where oil and butter/cream flowed, but most specifically used the word to describe the intimate friendship of God visiting his tent.

This same cowd was used to describe God's visit to Abraham's tent in Genesis 18:17:

"And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing.."

God appeared with two others before Abraham who was then sitting in the door or flap of his tent. Although Abraham is described as standing before the Lord (Gen18:22), it was God Who had come down (v.21) to visit Abraham, His friend.

Furthermore, the significance of the Genesis passage is in its teaching that God does not hide His plans from His friends (v.17; cf. John 15.15), just as in Amos 3.7.

To have the type of bargaining power and discussion cowd over the lives of Sodom like Abraham with God, we have to be one of God's friends!