Parashah B’resheet 2018 (In the beginning) Genesis 1:1 – 6:8

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In the beginning, there was nothing anywhere except for God, who (of course) has no beginning.

We are told about how God made the earth and everything in it, finishing with man and woman. The serpent fools the woman into eating the apple, she fools the man and they are all punished. The man and the woman have children, and the brothers are at odds with each other, ending up with the first murder. Sadly, this killing of one human by another is just the beginning.

The earth becomes populated and the evil of mankind is of such a terrible stench that it rises up to the heavens and God, seeing only one righteous man in all the world, Noah. This parashah ends with God informing Noah of his plan to destroy mankind and start over.

So much to talk about and so little time to do it.  As I was reading through this, something caught my attention that I didn’t really think about before. It is right at the beginning, Genesis 1:14-20:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.  God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars.  God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.

I would like to sidestep for a second to add an interesting note: before the sun, moon, and stars were created to give light to the earth, the plants were created. Scientists will tell you that this couldn’t be possible since plants need sunlight to perform the photosynthesis which feeds them. But there is a greater and more powerful, nourishing light that existed before the sun- and that takes us to today’s message.

As I read this verse in Genesis, it reminded me of a verse at the far end of the Bible, in Revelation. You may know what I am thinking about…Revelation 22:5 where we are told:

There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. 

I think we can all agree that the term “light” is used in different ways, identifying something that can be either a physical thing or used figuratively. It can be illumination, something that removes darkness and allows us to see with our eyes. It can also be something that we see with our minds, as “seeing the light”, like the picture of a light bulb flashing on over someone’s head.

We also know that sunlight has life-giving substances within it, as well as deathly rays that can burn us. And isn’t God sort of like that, as well? He can give us nourishment from heaven, life from death and warmth to fend off the deathly cold. At the same time, he can burn us with the light of his truth.

God was the light that provided the nourishment for the plants he created before he ever made the sun, and when all things are done and God’s plan of salvation is complete he will, again, be the only light that will be needed.

The Bible identifies a definite beginning for Mankind, but there is no end. The world and pretty much everything God created will come to an end, but Mankind (those who remain faithful to God and Messiah) will have no end. And just as life was first created with only the light from God, his Shekinah glory, so we will again bask and be nourished by the Shekinah glory of God throughout all eternity.

Here at the beginning we already know what to expect at the end- living for all eternity nourished and illuminated by the light of God. No more sun, no more moon, no more stars to guide us because we won’t need them. We will never again be in darkness, physically or spiritually.

What a great thing to look forward to!

Parashah Bereshith (In the Beginning)

This Shabbat we joyfully open our Torah, and just like in this parashah , we begin at the beginning.

This first of the cycle of parashot is a little long, going all the way to Chapter 6, verse 8. It covers the beginning of everything, takes us through creation of man, Cain and Abel, and ends with God’s reluctantly regretting His creation and deciding He needs to start over. The whole Earth is full of sin and wickedness, all except Noah.

What I see in this is the entire plan of God’s salvation. I see creation, the world forming, people coming to know each other and God, then rejecting His rules and killing each other, lusting after their own desires. I see God patiently waiting for people to come back to their senses, which will eventually lead them back to God. But it doesn’t happen. Noah is the only righteous one in the world, and through him there will be a new life, a new beginning, and his descendants will live in a new Earth that will be formed from the remains of the previous one.

It’s not a perfect picture of the Messiah and the Tribulations, true, but I see the same elements in this parashah as we will see when all things come to pass. We have mankind (Adam and Eve) in union with God, but then they break their union by sinning. They are mercifully allowed to live, but no longer in perfect communion as they are ejected from God’s presence. They are fruitful and multiply (one of the more enjoyable commandments to fulfill) but sin is still here, in a cursed world, and although there are some who will form a union with God (Abel), there are those who will not (Cain). And we see that evil will hate and attack righteousness, out of jealousy and frustration. These emotions are the children of the mother of all sin, Pridefulness. Cain’s pride was hurt when God accepted Abel’s sacrifice but rejected his. The Soncino version of the Chumash explains that Abel gave the best he had and his heart was right, but Cain’s heart was not right and his sacrifice was, therefore, unacceptable. Cain’s pridefulness resulted in jealousy, which led to the inevitable result: murder.

Here’s my take on the way things played out, and (if I may say so) I think it is a good template for most every sin:

1.Cain’s pride prevented him from humbling himself;

2. Unhumbled, his frustration grew each time his sacrifice, still unacceptable, was rejected;

3. His frustration grew into anger as he continually saw Abel accepted while he was continually rejected;

4. His anger grows, and without humbling himself he couldn’t direct it at the source (himself) so he projected it against God and Abel;

5. Cain couldn’t do anything against God but he could take out his anger on Abel;

6. Result: the first murder.

Maybe the ultimate sinful expression of our own situation won’t be murder (God forbid!) but it could show itself as gossip, maybe hating in our heart (which Yeshua said is murder, anyway), maybe violence, verbal abuse, adultery, who knows? I believe that pridefulness is the foundation stone upon which almost every sin rests. It is a vicious cycle.

Now the world’s population grows and sin grows with it. There is righteousness, which we see coming through Seth’s bloodlines, but (just like today) the sin is greater than the righteousness. Even in the beginning, those who are God fearing are but a remnant, and it has remained that way even until today. Ultimately, judgement comes with only one chance of survival, and that is through only one man, Noah.

I am not saying that Noah is the Messiah, or ever was supposed to be. What I am saying is just that I see the plan of salvation being shown to us, in a way, in this parashah. It is a “teaser”, like the TV commercial about a new movie shows you pretty much what the story is about, without giving away the details. Creation, sin, loss of perfect communion with God, sin vs. right throughout the world, one righteous man chosen to begin a new relationship with God, judgement and destruction, renewal and a new beginning on a new Earth.

Of course, with Noah things started going downhill almost right away. We can be thankful that with Yeshua, and the “real” final judgement, those  of us who are of the remnant (the Believers who follow God’s laws and commandments as He gave them, not as religion tells us)  will have eternal communion with God, basking in His presence. We will see the new Heavens and the new Earth, and we will return to the way it was in the beginning, before sin entered the picture.

Every Simchat Torah we can look forward to what the Torah, and particularly this parashah, is showing us- that we will return to Gat Eden, we will once again be in the physical presence of the Lord God (Adonai Elohim), and we will be eternally joyful and serene.

I love each time I start reading God’s Word all over again.