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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Beginnings: Part 3


Here is the final part of our look at Genesis 1 from a more Hebrew perspective than is normal for Gentiles. Having realised that any passage will probably need more than one post (or a post that few would read to the end!), I have decided to take a default position of limiting myself to one passage per month. Keep a look-out for the next one - in July (DV).

If you haven't read the previous two parts, I would recommend doing so before reading this one!

Sadly, due to a crafty serpent’s trickery, Eve sinned and Adam sinned soon after her; humankind went from grace to disgrace in a single day! Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent, and men and women have been pointing the finger at others ever since. There, in the Garden, for the first time in human history, we see the emergence of shame.  With shame came forth a fear of God’s wrath.  In his utter humiliation, Adam hid among the trees, having become aware that he was naked. He attempted to cover his disobedience (of which his awareness of his nakedness was a result. The human body, per se, had already been declared "good" by YHWH!), by his own efforts, but "... without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." (Heb 9:22), and so an animal had to die in order that YHWH could provide adequate covering for the sin of those first humans. How many, even today, are deeply conscious of their own shortcomings (sin!), but try to cover their sin by their own efforts and good works! But that never can be effective. Listen to Paul, again: “... by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God – not because of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9; emphasis added). So, from their utopian, sheltered, and innocent existence in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were thrust into a cruel and unforgiving world of hardship and pain.

The good news, however, is that none of this came as a surprise to God.  Even before the foundations of the earth were laid, God had a plan for redemption.  God sent His one and only Son, Yeshua (Jesus), to pay the penalty for all of our sins. The Gospel (Good News) according to John echoes the Creation story.  The very first word of this book is the very same first word found in the Torah: 

In the beginning [Bereisheet] was the Word (HaDavar), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”  (John 1:1–3, 14)

Yeshua was there at the beginning, and John describes Him as the agent of creative power, the power that made everything through the spoken word (davar). It is also through Yeshua, who is called HaDavar (the Word), that we enter into a relationship with God and our true conversation with Him begins.

When we submit to Yeshua, HaDavar has a home in our hearts.  This means we are born again and given a new beginning as a child of the Heavenly Father, the God of the Universe. Hallelujah!

Have you yet submitted your life to Him - Who willingly gave His life for you? 


Sunday, 17 June 2018

Beginnings: Part 2


Continuing this look at Genesis 1, from a Hebrew perspective, we may note that the Word of God, spoken in faith, is powerful and effective to create light in the darkness and order out of confusion and emptiness. In the beginning, everything in God’s creation worked perfectly and everything made perfect sense.  He had spoken all into existence in faith, hope, and love.

After six days of actively creating, God instituted the Sabbath  a time to cease from labour, and to simply rest and be refreshed.

By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”  (Genesis 2:2–3).

This holy day of rest is so important that God included it in the Aseret HaDevarim (Ten Words, or Ten Commandments), chiselling these words onto the stone tablets:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of YHWH your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days YHWH made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore YHWH blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”  (Exodus 20:8–11).

Father God also dealt with the problem of loneliness.

And YHWH Elohim said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet (suitable) for him.’”  (Genesis 2:18).

When Adonai placed man in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden), He declared that it is not good for a man to be alone. He saw man’s need for a helper, counterpart, and companion and, therefore, put Adam into a deep sleep, and took from him a rib to create a suitable partner for him.

And YHWH Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the place with flesh instead thereof.  And the rib, which YHWH Elohim had taken from the man, He made into a woman, and brought her unto the man.”  (Genesis 2:21–22).

In Hebrew, a man is called ish and a woman, isha, the feminine form of ish.  God uses this term when He woos Israel and promises a time when Israel will regard Him with fond affection, rather than stand at arm's length from Him, viewing Him as a stern authority figure.

‘It will come about in that day,’ declares YHWH, ‘That you will call Me Ishi (my Man) and will no longer call Me Ba'ali (my Master).’”  (Hosea 2:16).

God wants Israel to serve Him out of love  love like that of a woman for her husband.  Likewise, His love for Israel is that of a devoted, tender husband. I wonder if Paul was thinking of these words when he was writing to the Ephesian believers:

Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Saviour. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the church to Himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” (5:21-28). 

God is deeply concerned with our intimate relationships – with Him and with one another.  He wants our relationships to be borne of love and devotion, not ruled through domination, control, manipulation, and coercion. 

Once again, the Hebrew eye sees more than the Gentile one! Although the word describing Eve has often been translated as ‘helper’ or ‘helpmate’ the word used for the role of a wife in Genesis 2:18 is ezer kenegdo, which literally means a helper against him.

One medieval Torah commentator, Rashi, comments on this text, saying: "If he [Adam] is worthy, [she will be] a help [ezer].  If he is not worthy [she will be] against him [kenegdo] for strife."

The word ezer means a protector, a guard, an aid, and a help.  So we can understand from this text that helping a husband doesn't means always agreeing.  Woman was not created to be a 'yes person'.  There are times when she must stand in opposition to her husband if he is planning something that is ungodly or unwise. We can look at the non-Jewish example of Haman’s wife in the book of Esther. She tried to warn her husband that his attempts to destroy Mordechai would never succeed because he (Mordechai) was of Jewish origin. The anti-Semite Haman did not listen to his ezer kenegdo - and, eventually, must have regretted his decision!

As well, being a wife does not mean that the woman is less important or inferior to her husband. After all, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is also called The Helper.  And while being the helper in Scripture connotes superiority, the addition of kenegdo to the word ezer reveals that the position of wife is a position of equality. My wife and I are equal in importance. It is function and responsibility that we are different!

Friday, 15 June 2018

Beginnings!

After the brief series on "From Hebraic roots to Greek philosophy!", this is the first of an occasional series in which I hope, D.V., to look at some passages from the Tanakh (the Old Testament) from the Hebrew perspective from which they should be viewed  and also to see how their teaching may be relevant to the teaching of the Brit Chadashah (the New Covenant/Testament).

As this is the first in the series, where better to start than at the beginning, with the book of Genesis. The English language name comes from the Greek word γενεσις (genesisorigin, source, beginning). However, in Hebrew, the book is named by its opening word  Bereisheet (“In the beginning”).

In the beginning [Bereisheet] God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)In as few as 31 verses and 469 words Moses, the inspired human author of Genesis, describes how God takes confusion and emptiness (tohu v’vohu) and creates a perfect, delicate balance of order and beauty.

The earth was unformed and void [tohu v’vohu], darkness was on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the water.” (Genesis 1:2).

The Ruach Elohim (the Spirit of God) hovers over the waters [mayim] as God separates the light from the darkness and land from the water.  He creates vegetation and creatures  fish of the sea and birds of the air, as well as land animals. YHWH Elohim (the LORD God) looks at everything He has made and declares it good. However, He is not quite finished.

On the sixth and final day of creation, God brings forth the first human  Adam  out of the dust of the earth (adamah). “Then YHWH Elohim formed man [Adam] of the dust of the ground [adamah], and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”  (Genesis 2:7).

Notice that it takes the breath of God to transform Adam into a “living soul”  a being of flesh and blood with personality, emotions, and desires. Notice, too, that contained within the name of the first “man” on earth is the Hebrew root word dam (blood).  This is not a coincidence, since God tells us that life is in the blood (Genesis 9:4; Deuteronomy 12:23; Leviticus 17:11).

Notice as well that humankind  both male and female  are created in the very image and likeness of God. Hebrew uses the word b’tzelmo (in His image).  The Hebrew root word tzelem (image) is used in modern Hebrew to mean taking a photograph, or making a photocopy, and there is a very definite family resemblance between us and our Heavenly Abba (Daddy).

And God created man [Adam] in His own image [b'tzelmo], in the image of God [b'tzelem Elohim] created He him; male [zachar] and female [nikeivah] He created them.” (Genesis 1:27).

While we don’t necessarily resemble God in our temporary vessels made out of dust, we do resemble Him in our souls and spirit. One of the ways we resemble God is our capacity for creativity. Just as God delighted in the creative process of earth and life, so is there an innate quality within each human being to also be creative, which can express itself not only as art, writing, or music but also strategic thinking, engineering, programming, etc.

But how did God create the universe?  The Bible says He spoke it into existence using words.  For that reason, each act of creation begins with the phrase “And God said ....”

And God said: ‘Let there be light.’  And there was light.”  (Genesis 1:3).

Although you and I are not gods, as some in the New Age movement claim, we have been given creative power in our words.  Even the power of life and death is in the tongue!  (see, e.g., Proverbs 18:21)We see this principle at work when God tells the Children of Israel that He would give them that which they had declared with their own words.  They fostered unbelief and disobedience and spoke death over themselves.  The result of their faithless words was that the entire generation perished in the wilderness. “‘As I live,’ says YHWH, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; your corpses will fall in this wilderness.’”  (Numbers 14:28–29).

Keeping this in mind, let us carefully guard our mouths and watch our words  for they have the power to create good things in our lives, and in the lives of others; or to cause destruction.  (see Prov. 15:4; James 3:5-10; I Pet.3:10).

[I hadn't realised how much I had written for this post until I started on the "labels"! This is now only the first part of three on "Beginnings"! The others will follow quickly!]


Saturday, 9 June 2018

Truth vs Propoganda!

One of the major difficulties with regard to the current situation in the nation state of Israel, is the sheer lack of honest reporting by the MSM! 

The IDF (Israel Defence Force) has responded to Hamas claims that a female Gaza medic killed during border riots on Friday, June 1st, during the now regular "demonstrations" organised by the terrorist group, was merely an innocent health worker.

Razan Najjar was killed last Friday evening as thousands of Gaza rioters converged on the border. Gaza health officials subsequently claimed that Najjar and other medics wearing white medical coats had approached the fence with their arms raised to evacuate injured rioters when she was shot. However, on Tuesday, the IDF said that initial investigations of the incident found that Najjar had not deliberately been targeted by Israeli soldiers.

The 21-year-old was killed, as evening fell, and while thousands of Arabs converged in five places along the border. In addition to throwing rocks and burning tires, rioters launched incendiary kites over the fence, burning hundreds of acres of fields in southern Israel. Rioters also fired on an Israeli military vehicle and planted explosives along the fence meant to detonate on Israeli soldiers.

“During an initial examination regarding the incident that took place on June 1st, 2018, in which a 22-year-old Palestinian woman was killed, it was found that a small number of bullets were fired during the incident, and that no shots were deliberately or directly aimed towards her,” the IDF said. This morning, Thursday, Arabic IDF Spokesperson Avichay Adraee tweeted a video which indicated that Najjar had actually played an active role in the riots.

Commenting on the video, in which Najjar is seen being interviewed and throwing a grenade, Adraee wrote in Arabic, “Razan Najjar is not the queen of mercy, as Hamas is trying to present her. She admitted that she served as a human shield for rioters, and this proves how Hamas exploits all members of Gaza society for its goals and those of Iran.”  “Do other paramedics around the world throw grenades and participate in riots, and call themselves human shields?” he asked.

Sadly, too many people merely assume that what Hamas claims is true. It is long past time for the real truth to be made known!  One retired journalist, now in his nineties (so from a generation that published the truth!) has commented: " I think the significance of this lies in the following: (a) The incident was widely publicised; (b) It was universally highlighted as an example of Israeli callousness and worse; (c) there was no deviation in the accounts nor any interviewing of any Israeli official spokesperson; and (d) although the truth has now emerged, there has been no retraction, no correction, no remorse, in any of the print or broadcast media I have encountered, to set matters straight and reprieve Israel from the universal guilty verdict.  
The unjust stain will thus remain.  And nobody cares, least of all my fellow-journalists in our hasty, prejudiced, unrepentant media."

Monday, 4 June 2018

On swans and ships!


Although my wife and I are currently in Scotland, and although we are greatly enjoying our time with both family and friends, I don't have much opportunity to prepare posts for the blog! However, we were walking around Strathclyde Loch when the sight before me prompted me to think of a little verse:

Four swans,
gliding silently over the surface of the loch,
line astern
like ships of Nelson’s fleet.

Then, as happened before, I then came up with a Haiku. You may recall, from a previous post, (if you didn't already know!) that a Haiku is composed of just seventeen syllables, in three groups - five, seven, and five.  In the English language the groups are usually presented as three lines. 

So, here is my Haiku version of the above!

Swans glide silently
on the surface of the loch;
line astern, like ships.

That's all for now, folks! :-)