Genesis 1:1-13 — Days 1-3 of Creation
Mk 10:5-6 And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
As we begin our study of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, I want to emphasize again: it is the Word of God; it is truth. Doubting what God says about the Creation will negatively affect us to doubt what He tells us about other matters throughout the Scriptures. It will weaken our faith in His Word, but it is His Word that He will not change, because He does not change. God’s Word judges us; we do not judge Him. (Heb 4:9-13) God Himself lives by His Word (which gives Him sovereign authority to do what man may not), and has magnified His Word above His Name. (Ps 138:2b) Yeshua is the Word of God, and He lived by it, and will continue to fulfill all that is written. As we trust God more to believe all that He says, our praise and worship will also enlarge.
It is not necessary to know Hebrew or Greek in order to know God and to be saved. But there are places where knowing them does help in understanding something better. As Yeshua said: “every jot and tittle will be fulfilled”; and those small things can at times make a big difference.
There is so much contained in these verses of Ch 1 in Genesis, and we will not be able to go over them all. But it is our aim to give enough to know the truth of what God says, and for each of us to be established in the truth, or at least to know that by faith we believe what the LORD says, like Abraham did when YHVH, as part of His covenant with him, promised what seemed an impossibility (and without evidence or proof, other than what YHVH said to him), and God accounted it to him as righteousness. (Gen 15:1-7; Heb 11:3 )
Gen 1:1-2 God is the Creator; He is not part of His creation, but He does enter into it by speaking, by the presence of the Holy Spirit in the world, and by appearing as an Angel numerous times before coming in flesh and blood by the incarnation of Yeshua. And He is coming again! In Ch 2 we learn that the name of the God who is the Creator is YHVH (Yehovah).
Notice here in this very first verse of the whole Bible what the Hebrew reveals: singular verb; plural noun. A plural God who is one. A clue from the very beginning of what we call the Trinity. Not ‘El’ (singular, generic term for God, or Mighty One), not ‘Elohaim’ (a form implying two, a pair), but ‘Elohim’ (a plural generic term implying three or more). The verb ‘bara’, meaning created, is always used for an act of God, never of other living beings.
In the original manuscripts, there were not chapters and verses. They were put there by scribes, and they help us today to read the text. Sometimes we may wonder why they decided to end a chapter or a verse where they do. So, as we look at verse 2, we see in the Hebrew that it begins with ‘ve’, and the same word “eretz” which ended verse 1. Therefore, it is continuing the thought with no gap. There are not millions and billions of years between verses 1 and two, but simply a statement of fact about the Earth. God created the heavens and the Earth in a state of darkness, without order. This is clear from the simple grammar, and normal writing or speech. And His Spirit was hovering over the waters. The Earth has a key place in God’s creation, and water does, too.
God is Light. Outside of God’s presence is darkness. Outside of His order is confusion. The Creator is not a God of confusion, but of peace. (1Cor 14:33) We are called to walk in His light, in His truth. (Jn 8:12;2Cor 4:6; Jn 1:1-5)
v 3–5 God spoke into the darkness (2Cor 4:6) and lack of order by saying, ‘“Let there be light”; and there was light.”’ Light reveals what is in the darkness. God reveals Himself, and knows all things. God is light; He did not have to create light. He did have to create darkness. (Is 45:7) Jesus said that He is the Light of the world. Even in Judaism this ‘Light’ is the Messiah. And in the New Jerusalem, there will be no night, nor need for the sun, for the Glory of God and the Lamb will be the light. (Rev 21:22 – 22:5)
God saw that the light was good. It was according to His will. He separated the light from the darkness. God is the Judge of morality – of what is good, and of what is not good, i.e., evil in His understanding and wisdom and purpose. He separated the light from the darkness. The Creator is not a God of mixture. He is Light, and in Him is no darkness at all. (1Jn 1:5-7) And He has brought us out of the kingdom of darkness and into His glorious light, and calls us to walk in His light.
God called the light day and the darkness night. And there was evening, and there was morning – One Day. What we call the first day, God called one day, the “one” of the week. He described the unity of one day being that there is evening and there is morning – and between these two times of some light and some darkness, there is night and day. He has defined the length of time in a day, and it is this time that He used throughout the six days of Creation that He reveals to us through what Moses wrote to Israel. This time period for a day marked by evening and morning is the same before the sun and after the sun. It is 24 hours in a day, not some indefinite period of time open to conjecture; which, in any case, the Bible never acknowledges. The Hebrew word ‘echad’ for one day speaks of unity in the day: it includes evening, night, morning, and day – together making for one full day.
v 6-8 There was still water everywhere, and God spoke that there should be a rakia in the midst of the waters, and to divide the waters from themselves: some above, some below the firmament. Above the firmament He called Heaven, or skies in our understanding. (The Apostle Paul spoke of the third Heavens: the first being our skies that we see during the day; space, that we see at night; and the Heavens where God’s Throne is. The first two heavens are created; where God dwells is not.) So the evening and the morning were a second day, the same timeframe as the one day of Day One, the first day (now that there is more than one). The second day was not called ‘good’.
v 9-13 God said, “Let all the waters be gathered into one place, and let dry land appear. And it was so.” The dry land God called ‘Land’; the gathered waters He called ‘Seas’. And God saw that it was good.” It was according as God spoke and wanted. This builds up our faith in His Word when He speaks to us, or as we read the Bible through which He speaks. It will be as He has spoken, and in perfect accord with His will.
There was already the ‘Earth’ as part of the beginning of the Creation. Now, here is the first mention of dry land, when the waters were all gathered together in one place. (2Pt 3:5-6) This tells us that in the beginning, the dry lands, or what we today call continents (same Hebrew word), were joined all together in one land mass. (In Gen 10:25, God informs us when He separated the lands, as we see them today.)
And God spoke again that the Land should sprout forth all kinds of vegetation, each with its own seed. And it was so. And God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were a third day. On the third day, God twice saw that it was good, just what He wanted.
This is also a proof against evolutionary science, which says that everything came forth from one thing over very long periods of time. But here God the Creator is telling us that He formed the Earth and the dry land, and made all kinds of vegetation, each with its own seed, and each therefore being able to propagate itself, after its own kind. Corn will not produce a carrot or a fig. A rose will not produce a myrtle. Man may intervene to make hybrids of some fruits and flowers, but this is an intervention into nature, not natural itself, and hybrids can not reproduce themselves! Within each kind, there can be variations, but, for example, a poodle and a German shepherd are both dogs. We can look at photos of our great-grandparents, and notice that they may look a bit ‘dated’; but, they, and we, are still human beings. Each seed according to its kind!
It is also of some interest that all plants must die before they can grow. This is a picture of resurrection. Paul wrote that the Messiah rose from the dead on the third day, according to the Scriptures. Yeshua is the Tzemach – the Branch/the Plant – of YHVH and of the House of David. God spoke to the land to sprout grass, plants, trees on the third day of His Creation plan of order.
God’s Word, and His will in the Creation helps us to learn to also make distinctions – between what is good and what is evil; between what God approves and what He disapproves; between what agrees with God’s sayings, and what opposes them; between what is holy and what is profane; between what is clean and what is defiled. We want to learn to make choices which bring glory and pleasure to our Father in Heaven and to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Creation and its development took six days. The finished work was after the sixth day. The first three days God created and then formed the Earth — He “laid the groundwork” – to be sustained and filled and inhabited to glorify His Name, and for a praise to Him by His saved people for His great power and wisdom. (Is 45:17-19) Is there anything that the LORD can not do!? Is a virgin birth too difficult for the Creator of the universe?! Is raising up the dead to life too difficult for the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and the seas, and all that is in them?! Is there anyone else, or any other god, worthy of fear (for YHVH forgives our sins!), and of praise and worship?! God’s plan of redemption is taking about 6000 years. The Sabbath for this creation will be fulfilled during the Millennial Kingdom to come, after the Lord Jesus Christ/haAdon Yeshua haMashiach returns.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, March 16, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.
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What about all those other religions?
Sometimes I think about the marvelous quality of our faith. The teachings are stupendous. In our faith, the universe is made by a personal and loving God who created us in His image, who gave us freedom, and who sought our rescue even when we used this freedom to choose the way of selfishness. He so loved us that he gave his only Son to die for us. (John 3:16) He loves Israel and all of the nations of the earth. However, He does have a moral standard by which He will judge the nations and individuals who do not repent for their sins and turn back to Him. Indeed, with regard to God’s whole plan, He has given us a trustworthy revelation in the Bible. The word love is more prominent in our faith than in any other. It is absent in Islam. We are to love God, our spouses, our brothers and sisters in the Messiah, our neighbors, and our enemies! Why would everyone not want to believe in the faith of the Bible? It would seem that pride and running form God’s standards are the major issue. We want to be boss of ourselves.
One day as I was reflecting on this I began to see that many flee the truth through false religion. There are one or perhaps two great lies at the heart of every false religion. Classic major religions did provide some stability in society, but these systems are not solid in core ways. I did significant undergraduate work and masters work in Philosophy of Religion. So here is my little summary of major religious systems in decreasing order of their erroneousness.
We begin with polytheism. The belief in many gods is the one great error of polytheism. These gods often are at odds with each other. One must placate these many gods. To be too favored by one would bring a person into trouble with another god. There are good gods and mean gods. In India there is Krishna and Kali. The Greek stoic philosophers saw the absurdity of this and opted for the view that polytheism was the superstition of the masses. They opted for a more intellectual type of pantheism. Augustine gave the greatest classic refutation of pagan polytheism in his The City of God in the fifth century. It is still worth reading. Polytheism is the general view of primitives and of popular Hindusim today. There was a belief in life after death, but the nature of this life was often vague as well.
Then there is the Hinduism of the educated classes of India. The lie of Hinduism in this form is found in the classic statement of the Hindu Scriptures (the Vedas): “That art thou.” This means that one’s higher self or real self is the same as the identity of God. What can be known of God is really quite vague. This is the view of Shirley McClaine and many Hollywood people. In western popular Hinduism, moral absolutes are missing. Classic Hindu society maintained absolutes, but nothing arises from the Pantheism of Hinduism to give moral absolutes. There were Hindus who began to think of God in more Theistic (Personal God) terms (some say Panentheism). Such Hindus even taught an eternal life for the individual soul. These were a minority. After the cycle of many reincarnations, the soul returns to the ocean of the One Self which it really is. This is another lie. The continued existence of the individual comes to an end. He is of no ultimate worth.
Buddhism presents a different challenge. The original Buddhists were considered atheists by some. They denied the existence of the soul and that anything could be really known about the ultimate nature or existence of God. This is the central lie of Buddhism. Nirvana was simply the state of living death where one could transcend all desire and even consciousness. This was the wrong answer for pain and suffering. Biblical faith teaches us to embrace redemptive suffering. Our quest is not to eliminate suffering in this life. We do seek to relieve and comfort sufferers, but we value life. Many Buddhists could not live in such a stark view and drifted back into more Hindu ideas which is the case of popular Buddhism today. Hinduism is better than Buddhism, and at least had some schools that tended to a personal god.
Confucianism presents us with a system of hierarchy and caste. This is rigidly held so that change, adoption and development are thwarted. The central error in Confucianism is ancestor worship which
maintains and is part of a rigid social system. Taoism is an offshoot with more pantheistic ideas, but in many ways still fits the overall pattern of Confucianism.
Islam is monotheistic. God is described as infinite and personal. However, the central lie of Islam is that Ishmael is the chosen son and not Isaac, that Ishmael was offered on the altar by Abraham. This is a whopper of a lie. The second great lie is that Mohammed is the greatest and last prophet. One does not find the love of God in the Koran. After reading this book I can assure you that many texts taken in context do give grounds for the violent jihad we see today. There are other “gentle” texts too, but there is so much error. Bible story after Bible story is twisted. It is amazing to behold. One can not really understand the Koran without the Bible, for the Koran constantly refers to Biblical stories. The big contradiction is found in the many passages that refer to Moses leading Israel out of Egypt and the prophets going to Israel but without success. There is no mention of God delivering the Arabs or sending prophets to the Arabs. How can this be if Ishmael was on the alter instead of Isaac and the Arabs were chosen and not Israel? Is Islam a religion built upon Arab anger and feelings of rejection that go back to Ishmael? In its violence and rejection of the true Biblical account we can understand the terrible battle we fight.
Rabbinic Judaism is closer to the truth than any religion that does not embrace Yeshua. Judaism also speaks of the love of God and love for one another. However, there are two central lies. One is that the oral law of the rabbis was given by Moses. This gives the classical rabbis absolute authority equal to the Bible. This lie leads to the other lie, that Yeshua is not Messiah and Lord. So much good is found in Rabbinic Judaism, for the influence of the Hebrew Bible is great and inspired much wisdom in the traditions of Rabbinic Judaism. Yet this lie has led to legalism and superstition. We do seek to embrace what is good and discard what is not good, in Rabbinic Judaism.
Replacement-Theology Christianity has so much truth. However, saying the Church has replaced Israel or the Jewish people, has caused much pain and distortion. Such a doctrine gave way to the very arrogance against which Paul wrote, in Romans 11. The lack of regard for the place of the Jews, I believe, was a factor in not only persecuting the Jews and anti-Semitism, but also in the arrogance of religious wars and persecution. The Bible is so very clear on both Israel’s preservation and restoration. It is an everlasting covenant. Replacement theology is an extraordinary blindness, for the call and covenant with Israel is as clear as any other major doctrine in the Bible.
Israel-Embracing Christianity and Messianic Judaism
Israel-Embracing Christianity and Messianic Judaism share the same basic theology. There is no basic error in the mainstream of this faith, though there are fringe groups that teach error due to wrong applications of Jewish roots and demeaning the value of the best traditions of the Church. In this faith we know the love of God but also God’s future hope for both Israel and the nations. Keeping in mind the central errors of these other religions will help you maintain clarity when you are witnessing to the many followers of such religions. They all have adherents in Western nations.
In our faith, we serve a Jewish Messiah who is also the Savior of the whole world. We are seeing more and more churches and denominations embracing this view. In this faith Jewish followers of the Messiah show the covenant with Israel by continuing to live and identify as Jews. As you can see by this summary, we are not relativists. We believe that God has revealed his truth. That truth is disclosed in the Bible and the history of Israel and is most profoundly made manifest in the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah. We are to go and make disciples of all nations, and to teach them to obey all that Yeshua commanded (Matthew 28). We are not to seek a relativistic type of dialogue with religions.
This article originally appeared on Tikkun International, March 17, 2019, and reposted with permission.
Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.
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Honouring non-Jews who treat Jews fairly
Susanna Kokkonen from Christian Friends of Yad Vashem
Susanna Kokkonen from Christian Friends of Yad Vashem talks to Paul Calvert about Holocaust education, and their project to honour non-Jews who risked their lives and careers to help Jews during the Holocaust.
Paul: What is Christian Friends of Yad Vashem?
Susanna: Yad Vashem was established in 1953.
In the 80’s and 90’s especially, there was an interest coming from the Christian world, where people who were coming to Israel as tourists would come to Yad Vashem. They didn’t just want to walk through the museum, not understanding so much about the context, but they wanted to be able to ask questions and have a time of reflection after their tour.
So in 2006 Yad Vashem established a department here called Christian Friends of Yad Vashem. The mission was to connect Christians with what Yad Vashem was doing, which of course is Holocaust education. We are teaching about the Holocaust, and also about the anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust.
We are also trying to connect Christians with the legacy of the righteous amongst the nations. We are also talking about people who, during the Holocaust, decided that they wanted to help someone.
Paul: Today we are talking about the Righteous Amongst The Nations, what is this project?
Susanna: The name Yad Vashem comes from Isaiah 56:5, “To them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name.” So the word name – shem is very important.
One of the main things that Yad Vashem has been doing over the years has been to collect the names of the people who perished. We have 4.6 million names that we have collected, but the other names that you can see here on campus are the names of non-Jews who tried to rescue someone at the time of the Holocaust.
You would see trees, a name and a country and you would understand that these people are very important. But you wouldn’t necessarily know that we call them the righteous amongst the nations.
We have the Avenue Of The Righteous, right by the museum and there we have all these trees. In the Talmud there is a concept about non-Jews who behaved fairly with Jews and that is the righteous amongst the nations, but the title righteous among the nations is only given to people who acted during the Holocaust.
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Pray for the children of Israel
Aaron's children with their friends
Purim is upon us and with it comes a lot of mixed emotions for me personally.
On the one hand, the holiday includes a customary reading of the Book of Esther and that opens many doors to have discussions with my Jewish friends and neighbours about all kinds of Biblical principles and a lot of good fruit always comes from these discussions. It’s also a very fun holiday for children and I enjoy buying cookies and candy for my boys and their little friends, getting costumes for them to wear, etc.
But Purim is also a time when Israeli young people who were, just a few years ago, getting dressed up as comic book action figures, Israeli police officers and Queen Esther instead dress up as demons, evil clowns and other creepy stuff and go to rave parties where they ‘celebrate” the Biblical feast of Purim by getting drunk and/or stoned. There is a Rabbinic commandment, surprisingly enough not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, which actually says that on Purim Jewish people are required to drink until they “can’t tell the difference” between the heroes and villains in the story of Esther. Purim is one of the few times even the most secular, non-observant Jewish Israelis will quote a Rabbinic commandment and follow it to the letter.
This puts a real exclamation point on a trend which can also be observed the rest of the year whereby sweet, innocent little Israeli children somewhere along the line turn into something else entirely. Every morning I walk my son to his school and along the way we pass kids going to the nearby middle school. These kids, who range in age from 11 to 14 and just a few years ago were attending the same school my son is currently attending, look like they’re in pretty bad shape. Many of them smoke cigarettes as they walk to school and as they pass I can often smell on their clothes that they’ve been smoking more than tobacco recently. They often have body piercings and even tattoos. As they walk along they listen to gangster rap on their phones and talk to each other about going to weekend parties in Tel Aviv or Eilat.
This anecdotal experience I have every morning raises deeply troubling questions such as, are their parents aware of any of this and if so do they care? Does anyone else care? What does this portend for the future of this country?
A glimpse into answers to that last question can be found by talking (as I recently did) to people who train some of the tens of thousands of 18 year old Israelis who get drafted into the IDF every year. The numbers they quoted to me of draftees who get rejected for military service because of mental, emotional, psychiatric and physical problems, often related to “lifestyle issues” like drug use and irresponsible sexual activity, are quite alarming. This has immediate implications for Israel’s security situation, but it has much more serious long-term implications for Israel’s overall health as a society.
There is a dark spiritual force behind this tragic situation, and I’m asking whoever might be reading this to do me a personal favour as the father of two Israeli children and start including prayers for Israel’s children and young people in your schedule.
Pray for parents to wake up and realize that their children need them to step up and provide some guidance and direction. I know many parents who aren’t happy with the things their children are doing but they don’t know what to do about it. Pray the Lord will give them some ideas and pray for them to realize that as parents they have TREMENDOUS influence over their children, even if it is often difficult to see that.
Pray for schools and the IDF, that these institutions which are so important to forming and shaping the next generation will somehow find ways to do their part.
Pray that the children themselves will get a clue and realize that the behaviours they’re engaging in are incredibly self-destructive.
Last but certainly not least, pray for the Body of Christ in this country to have the resources and discernment to rescue our own children and be a light to others.
Aaron is a member of Jerusalem Assembly, House of Redemption.
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Thoughts about the Tabernacle
Every year when I read through the book of Exodus and come to the series of chapters that deal with the Tabernacle I find something new that causes me to be amazed. Just think about this the entire creation of the world is covered in only 2 chapters. In Genesis 5 we read 32 verses which cover twelve generations spanning over a thousand years. The creation of the universe and the establishment of mankind would seem to be extremely important events, yet the are covered in only a few lines of text. Then we come to the book of Exodus and 15 entire chapters are written about the design and construction of the Tabernacle from Exodus 25 to Exodus 40.
This number of chapters and verses used to cover this one topic should make anyone reading the Scriptures wonder why so much was written about what is in truth a temporary structure. There has to be a reason why so much detail about who was involved, what they made and how they made it. Explicit details about the dimensions, weight, and materials used. To the casual observer, these details may be seen as overkill.
But when we look into the deeper into the design of the Tabernacle in these chapters, we find that these 15 chapters are some of the most prophetic in the Bible. Within these chapters, we find a way to come to faith. We find the plan of redemption. We find the Death, Burial and Resurrection. We find cleansing by immersion, We find repentance. These are only a few of the things foretold and prophesied through in the design and construction of the Tabernacle.
Every material used, every color used and every piece of furniture tells the story of the promised Messiah and redemption through Yeshua. There is a reason that the Tabernacle is called the Tabernacle of testimony in Exodus 38:21.
These are the accounts of the Tabernacle of the Testimony, as they were recorded according to the commandment of Moses, by the service of the Levites, under the hand of Ithamar son of Aaron the kohen.
It is important for those of us who read and study the Bible to remember that the most important thing about the Tabernacle was not the magnificence of the workmanship or the vestments of the priests, or even the artistry of the altar, laver, menorah, table of showbread or altar of incense. It isn’t even the beauty of the Ark of the Covenant. The most important thing about the Tabernacle is that it provides clear testimony to the promise of the Messiah. Once we realize the prophetic testimony of the Tabernacle, we can more fully understand the Song of Moses and what takes place after that song is sung in Revelation 15:3-5
3 And they are singing the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and wonderful are Your deeds, Adonai Elohei-Tzva’ot! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the nations! 4 Who shall not fear and glorify Your name, O Lord? For You alone are Holy. All the nations shall come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed!” 5 After these things I looked, and the Temple of the Tent of Witness in heaven was opened.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, God Has No Plan "B", and his most recent book Galatians in Context.