Parashat Beresheet: In the Beginning
In synagogues throughout the world, the annual cycle of Torah readings begins and ends on the 8th day right after the Sukkot holiday. This day is called Shminei Atzeret (literally, the eighth day of the assembly) or more traditionally, Simchat Torah.
We just celebrated this wonderful holiday in our congregation in Jerusalem, and I was touched by the depth of joy and meaning that we can find in the Torah. The literal meaning of Torah is “teaching, instruction”, not “law” as is written in most English bibles. In essence, the Torah is God’s word, and God’s word in the flesh is Yeshua (John 1:1-4)! It is not a heavy law that puts us under a yoke of bondage, but instead a pathway to peace in God’s kingdom. As the Lord spoke to the children of Israel before Moses died, and they were standing before the Promised Land:
“19I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days…”
Deuteronomy 30:19-20a (emphasis mine)
His word is the light to our path (Psalm 119:105) and our key to blessing, not only for us as individuals, but also for our families. And so it is in this spirit that I will begin focusing my blog entries on the weekly Torah portions, also called the parasha. I am really excited about what the Lord is going to do as we study the foundations of His word in this way!
The first parasha contains a very familiar, yet extremely important text for setting the foundation of our faith, which is found in the first few words of the Bible:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
FACT: God (Elohim) is the Creator of the world. He created with His word (Yeshua), and His Spirit. Without Elohim, the world would not exist; because He is the Creator, the world belongs to Him, and He can do with it as He desires! His law reigns supreme. This is a basic, foundational fact that one must understand (and agree with) in order to live an abundant life in the Lord.
The second point I want to bring from this week’s portion relates to the condition of our world today. Genesis 1:2 gives a very interesting picture about the condition of the world in its beginning:
“And the earth was formless and void (chaos and darkness or unformed and void), and darkness was over the surface of the deep;” Genesis 1:2
The rest of chapter 1 describes God’s amazing creation of the world and all of the amazing things within it, concluding with the incredible words, “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31
Everything within God’s creation was good and perfect, which indicates that God’s way is perfect and good!
So why don’t we see that perfection and goodness prevail in our world today? It is so disheartening to see all that is wrong in our world today: the upcoming elections in the USA; the horrifying war in Syria; the fact that we see the big powers of this world in conflict over and over again; the latest steps of UNESCO to completely divorce Jerusalem from the Jewish people, etc. I can’t stop but thinking of the same words used in Genesis, which are “chaos and void.” The plain fact is that man’s ways are the opposite of God’s ways, which has brought much suffering.
We see this clearly in Genesis chapter 3, when one of the most tragic events in history happened – the fall of man. When Adam and Eve chose to disobey God, and eat from the forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil, sin and death entered the world. Humankind was separated from God and from that point on, until today, we see the result of that tragedy.
My third and final point is found in Genesis 3:21 where we receive a prophetic revelation of God’s plan for bringing back man to Himself:
“And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21
Here God provides the first sacrifice as atonement for sin, which indicates that He would require the shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sin in the future. (Leviticus 17:11)
The first step in returning to God is accepting the atonement that He provided through Messiah Yeshua; the second step is to start walking in His ways in obedience that comes from our love for Him. (John 14:15)
God is calling us to return to Him; the only way we can fight the growing amount of evil permeating the world is to return to Him and conform to His ways. His way is the path of peace for us all!
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