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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!