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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!]


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