Many are familiar with the phrase “yada, yada, yada,” made popular by the long-time sitcom, Seinfeld. In the context of the show, the catchy phrase is used to imply, “O.K., enough already, get on with it, get to the point,” and is usually accompanied with one’s head tilted back and eyes rolling up for dramatic effect. It refers to people being redundant, monotonous, or verbose. It is also used as a fill in the blank phrase for details that are either unimportant or obvious to everyone. That is how most of us have come to know the term “yada.”
The term “yada” is found throughout the Bible, although it has a much different meaning than depicted on Seinfeld. In Genesis 4:1, we are told that, “Adam yada’d Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. Some Bibles translate this word, yada, as “Adam knew Eve…,” while others translate it as, “Adam lay with Eve…”
Both translations are correct, but there is more to this word, yada, than even these two translations depict. Yada is a Hebrew word found in the Old Testament that means to “know” in five distinct dimensions. Importantly, all five aspects, or dimensions, are essential in comprehending the full meaning of yada. The Greek word, ginosko, in the New Testament has a very similar interpretive connotation to yada, and is used in place of yada in the Old Testament Greek Septuagint version.
The first dimension of yada is to know something or someone in complete detail. It means to study, analyze, or investigate something until you know something or someone completely. It is to know something like a detective would seek to know the details of a mystery.
How much more of God is there to know? How many of us have a complete revelation of His nature, personality, attributes, and ways? How many of us have read the same scriptures over and over for years, and then have a truth jump out at us that we had never seen there before?
I call these “Waldo encounters.” When my son was growing up, the Where is Waldo books were very popular. Of course, the object of the book was to find Waldo hidden in the pages of crowds of people. Invariably, my son would bring his new book to me, asking me to find Waldo. After my unsuccessful search, my son would point and excitedly exclaim, “There’s Waldo.” Immediately, Waldo became 4 feet by 4 feet on the page to me. I had received a revelation! From that time forth, every time I would turn to the page where I had discovered Waldo, I could immediately point him out as though I had known where he was my whole life.
In Ephesians 1:17, the apostle Paul prays that the Ephesian believers would have a “spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better”. In other words, they needed more detail in order to yada/ginosko God better. Furthermore, even though they already knew God, there was still more to know. Therefore, they needed a spirit of wisdom and revelation. They needed repeated Waldo encounters. Yada, yada, yada
The second dimension of yada is to know something technically. It is to know how
something works technically. It is part of the wisdom that Paul was praying for in Ephesian 1:17. It is not just knowing that something does work, but also how it works. Wisdom is knowing how something works in all of its aspects.
During my first ministry staff position in 1982, we were given a car. About a month later, the engine blew up. The rest of the car was in pretty good shape, and we did not have the finances available for a new car, so I decided to save some money and fix the engine myself. I figured that since I had a college degree, although it was in biblical studies, I should be able to follow the manual step by step with no problems even though I had no previous experience working on cars.
In all of my wisdom, I decided to take off each part of the engine and place the parts in chronological order on the single shelf that I had tacked up around my one car garage. I figured that I would just put all of the parts back from the opposite side of the garage — how hard could it be. Well, after almost blowing my head off, singing my eyebrow hair and top of my head, from pulling off the air-conditioner hose full of compressed anti-freeze, the unthinkable happened. Just as I had most of the engine parts on the shelving, the weight sent all of the parts in a heap on the garage floor.
By the time I got the engine back in, I had brackets, bolts, and parts that I could not recognize and/or manage to replace, so I just left them out or bent them to fit. Of course, when I went to start the newly rebuilt and installed engine, it would not start. Over and over I tried to no avail. Finally, I had to call a mechanic friend to come over and help. After five minutes, he just shook his head and said, “Kevin, you have completely destroyed this engine. I’ll have to take it out and redo the work, and replace it.” By the time he finished rebuilding and replacing the engine, it cost twice as much as if I had have just taken the car to a certified mechanic in the first place!
A lot of people know about God, but how many actually know God so well that they know the intricacies of how He operates, the keys that unlock His presence in our lives? Yada is not just knowing the details about God, but also knowing His ways, as Moses prayed in Ex. 33:13, “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you (yada) and continue to find favor with you.” Yada is being able to understand God’s ways, so that we can take out of Him what we need, as well as putting back into Him the things He desires from us to further our releationship. Yada, yada, yada.
The third dimension of yada is to know God by personal experience. A lot of people know about God, but God wants us to know Him through encounters in which we personally experience His presence.
If I offered to take you to Hawaii on an all expense-paid vacation, would you get a little excited as you thought about the white, sandy beaches, the coconut aroma on the tropic breezes, and the mesmerizing waves lapping towards your lounge chair as the rest of the world is washed away? Well, what if I told you that I was going to be flying the plane, and that I had never actually flown a plane, but I had read the manual and know everything there is to know about flying. Would you still be excited about going to Hawaii with me?
If you answered “yes” to that question, then you are crazy! You should never fly with someone who has never actually flown a plane! Yet, how many suffice to just read the manual (the Bible), thinking that doing that alone will enable them to have a personal relationship with God. And then we think that the world is going to want to fly with us to the Kingdom of God, when we have no personal experience.
God wants us to have an encounter, so that we become an encounter, so that others can have an encounter. Yada is experiencing a personal encounter with God, so we become a habitation of His presence, and then “leaking” His presence to others around us through signs and wonders, miracles, healings, and prophetic insights from His heart, so that they have a personal encounter with His presence.
In the first two chapters of the book of Habakkuk, Habakkuk is asking God for the solution to the world’s problems. His complaint was basically that it seemed like the enemy was winning. God’s answer is found in chapter two, verse 14: “The knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the seas.”
For years, I quoted this verse as “The glory of the Lord…,” leaving out “The knowledge” (yada). There is a huge difference between the glory of the Lord covering the earth, and our experiencing the glory that is covering the earth. God wants us to personally experience His glory in our lives. He wants us to have a personal Waldo encounter.
In John 8:32, Jesus said, “You will know (yada/ginosko) the truth, and the truth will set you free. It is only as we have personal encounters with God (the truth) that we will be set free to set others free and see the glory of the Lord cover the earth as the waters cover the seas. Yada, yada, yada.
The fourth dimension of yada is to have a face-to-face encounter. It is one thing to encounter God’s goodness expressed in physical healing, forgiveness, intervention, provision, or blessing, but God desires an up-close and personal face-to-face encounter. Our heavenly Father does not desire an absenttee relationship with His children in which He just sends the things we need and desire from afar. No, His desire is to reveal himself to His children every day.
When my children were growing up, we would often play “hide and seek.” There was an excitement in my children’s voice every time they would plead with me to hide just one more time! There was an excitement in the anticipation of finding me hidden out of sight in the closet or behind a door. Of course, if I hid myself so well that they could never find me, they would eventually give up and not want to play anymore, but because I wanted to be found, I would hide in such a way that they could find me as they searched. Our heavenly Father wants to be found. In Isaiah 55:6, we are encouraged to “Seek the Lord while he may be found.” In James 4:8, we are reminded that if we come near to Him, He will come near to us. Yada is drawing near to God for a face-to-face personal encounter.
A lot of people know about God — they know what He looks like; they can recognize His works demonstrated in miraculous interventionary acts, but do they actually know the person they can recognize? I think I could recognize George W. Bush anywhere, but I do not have a face-to-face relationship, primarily because he wouldn’t know me from Adam. I have no access to George W. Bush, and therefore, do not know (yada) him; we are not close.
Moses had a face-to-face relationship with God – he yada’d with God; he had a close, personal relationship. The people, on the other hand, chose to distance themselves in Exodus 20:21. So, the people got the law instead of relationship. Religious performance is always the substitute of personal face-to-face encounters with God. Conversely, God’s heart is to deliver us from the law, offering personal relationship as He continually stands at the door of our heart knocking (Revelation 3:20). Yada, yada, yada.
The fifth, and final dimension of yada is sexual intimacy. Some may even say that this fifth dimension cannot be fully experienced until a person has comprehensively satisfied the first four dimensions. The aim of yada is intimacy. God’s desire is to have a comprehensive, personal, face-to-face, intimate encounter with each one of us. God wants to yada with us every day.
Certainly, the Song of Solomon is a depiction of God’s desire for intimacy with His people. In the New Testament, we are described as the “bride of Christ,” and in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul correlates the relationship of Christ and the Church to a husband and wife in marriage. In 1 Peter 1:23 and 1 John 3:9, we are reminded that God’s seed is in us. The Greek word for “seed” is sperma, from which we get the English word, sperm. In other words, God has deposited His Holy Spirit inside of us as an ongoing commitment to intimacy with us.
Furthermore, just as Adam knew (yada) Eve and she became fruitful, bearing a son, so too, God desires us to be fruitful in bearing spiritual children. Fruitfulness, however, is born out of intimacy. That intimacy is born out of knowing God in detail and technical wisdom, leading to a personal face-to-face encounter.
God wants to use us to change the world. We are the answer, the solution for the world— “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Before God’s glory can flow through us, we must experience His glory, His presence in us. The supernatural lifestyle flows out of a yada relationship with God. In John 15:5, Jesus said, “If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
I want to be like the Apostle Paul, who in Philippians 3:10, exclaimed, “I want to know (yada/ginosko) Christ and the power of His resurrection…” in that order. The signs and wonders are needed to convince the world, but the object is a growing, personal, intimate face-to-face encounter, not only for us, but for all of those who so desperately need a yada encounter with God.
So, I want to encourage you: YADA, YADA, YADA