Genesis 1 – 12: Introduction
Ps 19:7 (8 Heb) The law of YHVH is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of YHVH is sure, making wise the simple.
Why study Genesis 1 – 12? The whole of the Bible is under attack from those who never believed it for what it is, and from those who have fallen from the truth they once held. This attack has become the very fabric of the educational and intellectual spheres of influence, and has infiltrated down to the general public. We want to be equipped to be faithful witnesses and stewards of the mysteries of God.
The Book of Genesis is part of the Torah, the five books of Moses. Genesis means origin, creation, birth, firstly. In Hebrew, the word is Beresheet, meaning ‘in the beginning’. It is the beginning of the Word of YHVH, God’s revelation to man. All Scripture is God-breathed and good for our learning; what was written to Israel is for our instruction and admonition. These 12 chapters cover about 2000 years of history; the rest of the Bible covers about 5000 years, till the end of the Millennial Kingdom. If we do not believe what God says in the beginning of His Book, we will probably not believe what He says in the end; and we become like others who do not have a Bible to read.
The Bible is written with a beginning and an end in a manner called inclusio: Gen 1-2 and Rev 21-22: the beginning begins with the Creation, the garden of YHVH in Eden, a marriage between the man and the woman; the ending closes with a new Creation, the City of God, and the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride. In Gen 1 – 12, God the Father is introducing Himself, and His Son – YHVH, the Creator of the Universe, and King, Judge, and Savior – to His intended Bride.
Truth (God’s Word), righteousness, love: these are all known from the Bible, and known in the soul personally through faith and obedience. What God tells us in this first book of the Bible is fundamental to knowing Him, where we come from, why we are here, what to look forward to. God is sovereign; He wants us to let Him govern our lives; He is worthy of our love, and of our worship. YHVH is a personal God, who knows us, cares for us as a Father and a mother, who has given us dignity by being created in His image and likeness, and tells us of His thoughts and plans, so that we can command our children in His Way.
In these early chapters of Genesis, we learn about the Creation and nature (which every person is fascinated by!), the uniqueness of the God who is one in a plural unity, the uniqueness of human beings, marriage between one man and one woman, the devil, sin and its consequences, grace, God’s judgment against sin and sinners in the Flood and at the Tower of Babel, God’s salvation of the righteous, the reason for the many languages, Melchizedek, God’s covenants and promises, God’s chosen people and family.
Moses wrote Genesis; Ch 2 not a different account, but an account from another perspective, focusing on man and the Garden of Eden, and not the general order of things, as in Gen 1. Deuteronomy is also thought of as a ‘second Torah’, repeating some things, and also bringing in new details. (Mal 4:4; Jn 5:46)
The Book of Genesis is the seed bed for the rest of Bible; Yeshua is the Sower of the seed; Genesis is the seed and root of the whole counsel of God; Revelation produces the holy fruit. God has given us a solid foundation upon which He has built and grown the rest of history, and of the righteousness of His judgments and redemption. The Scriptures give comfort, patience, hope, and wisdom unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (Rom 15:4; 2Tim 3:15)
God is looking to those who humble themselves and who tremble at His word, and He strongly declares that He has created the Heavens and the Earth. (Is 66:1-2)
After Joshua, Israelis forgot the great works of YHVH, and followed other gods like the pagans did. (Jg 2:7-10) This generation today, the third after the Holocaust, do not remember it and its great impact on the Western world and civilization.
God wants us to praise Him and His wonderful works to the next generation (Ps 145:4), but if we have forgotten them, then we may pass them on as ‘facts’ – or theories or opinions — but without much emotion or conviction. Our faith not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God, in whom is wisdom (Pr 8; 1Cor 2:4-6)
Doctrinally, many Christians say that they believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and in the second coming of the Lord; but their hearts are not stirred.
We who know that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah/Christ, or that YHVH is the name of the triune God, may not discern the danger of His name not being mentioned, but only referred to as Christ/Messiah, or as LORD. In earlier English translations of the Bible, the translators removed the name of YHVH and wrote LORD in all capitals. Some more recent translations do not even capitalize it and only write it as Lord, not distinguishing anymore that it is referring to a personal name, which they are not making known. How will those who have not heard know His name?
We do not want to be afraid or ashamed to speak about controversial issues that pertain to the teaching of Scripture, for it is a matter of importance to our being chosen as witnesses of YHVH, and of Yeshua/Jesus (who is YHVH), and of His word – what He has said. Has God really said? Do not speak in that Name anymore!
Whether or not the explanations of facts discovered by science are true or not; or whether the explanations of facts by scientists who believe what God says about the beginning are always accurate is not the main issue: but whether what God says is truth. The virgin birth, and the bodily resurrection from death and the grave of Jesus (or of anyone else, for that matter) are not something that the natural mind can prove or accept. Yet Paul writes that if someone who is called a believer does not believe that that really happened, then he becomes a false witness of God, and his faith is vain, and he is not saved. When we believe what God says, the Holy Spirit gives us many proofs that it is true. But if we doubt or seek ‘rational’ answers only, then we listen to what others say that might make human sense, but may contradict what God says. And once we do actually believe that what the Lord says is true – because His is GOD! — then we also realize how what we had thought was reasonable is actually not.
If it becomes accepted that there is intelligent design in the universe, the question remains: Who is the Designer? If those who believe and know that it is YHVH (even Yeshua/Jesus), but do not mention His name because that is “religion”, then we teach our children and others only about an “Unknown God”, whom Paul wanted to make known so that some might be saved and come into a personal relationship with the Father and the Son, the holy and righteous God, Creator and Maker of Heaven and Earth and the seas, and all that is in them, which He created and made in six days. The Lord says that His people have forgotten His name because of the false prophets, and they do not permit us to teach or mention the name of The Name! (Jer 23:25-27)
There were (and are) myths and fables in all cultures about Creation, Paradise (the Garden of Eden), the Flood, the Tower of Babel; then God gave Israel to know the truth about these things, and to make it known to others. On the matter of origins and the beginning, it is as God rebuked Job (in love): where were you when I did all these things that I am telling you about!? (Job 38 – 42:4)
If we reject Gen 1 – 12 as historical truth, are we worshipping the Father in spirit and truth; or are we worshipping Him on a high place of the mind, of our intellect, along with believers in other gods? (Acts 17:22-31; 1Kg 11:7-11; 2Kg 17:9-12)
YHVH God is eternal: He Is. We will never know how that is possible. But at least He has told us that this is the truth. Evolution teaches that we all have a common ancestor, but can not tell us who or what. By faith, we can say that this is also true: YHVH God created all things! But each thing according to its kind, and in God’s order, which is not the same order either that evolution teaches. Evolution is not only about the past, but is already planning its future: man is “creating” machines in its own image (AI), seeking to be God instead of, and against YHVH, just as Satan enticed Eve to believe while still in the Garden of Eden. The foolish irony is, though, that what God does is authentic and real; what man is doing is artificial, not the real thing. This is the power of the lie and of deception. Satan is the god of this world and age, and he is exploiting the children of disobedience for his own evil intentions. (2Cor 4:1-6; Eph 2:1-3; 5:1-16)
I say all this as we begin to look at Genesis 1 as the true and enduring Word of YHVH God. Our children are growing up in a generation that has forgotten God and His mighty works, whether we are Jews, Christians, or people in general. Believing parents have the primary responsibility as stewards of their children whom God has given us to pass on to them the praise of the one true living God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – and of His wonderful works. The Creation is a message from God to all humanity throughout all generations, even if they have never heard the gospel or know any Jewish people or Christians. (Ps 19; Rom 1) Paul writes that the created order, what we call nature – whether on the Earth or in the skies – is a testimony of the truth of a Creator God who is wise and powerful, and that all persons are called to account as to whether they worship the Creator, or whether they worship any created thing. This subject affects everyone in the world, believer or not. I remember a long time ago, before I was a believer, I came to the conclusion that if the Bible is true, then evolution is not. Once I was born-again from Above, I knew that this is true.
God is always right, and there is wisdom in His being right. It is for us to humble ourselves and receive from Him, the source of living waters, who has the words of eternal life. If we do not believe that Jesus knew the truth when He said that from the beginning of the creation, God created Adam and Eve as the first human beings, then our children might not believe Him either when He says that no one comes to the Father but through Him. There is no salvation in any other name but in the name of Jesus/Yeshua (the name of YHVH under Heaven). Is that reasonable? Yes!, if you know in your heart that Jesus is really Immanuel — God With Us — and believe what He says, and realize the reason why that is the truth, and not just a statement of doctrine. It is not true because it is a doctrine; it is doctrine because it is truth.
For many centuries, Christians taught that God has finished with the Jewish people and with Israel as a nation. Now, in the last days – and especially with the reestablishment of the homeland of the Jewish people here in Israel — much has been written to show from the Bible that that is not so, even though many of those Christians were using the Bible to ‘prove’ their error and lie. So, too, with evolution. For many centuries Christians had doctrines and dogmas about nature without scientifically supporting it, but simply because the Scriptures say so. But now, in the last days, there are many scientists who believe in a ‘young Earth’ and have researched and written that it is true, even scientifically. We have a choice to make about whom we will believe: those who seek to uphold and support the Word of God as written, or those who say it is not so.
This is what we learned about heresies – that there is a choice involved as to what we teach, and what we choose to learn and believe. As we saw in 2Pt, he wrote that in the last days will be scoffers/mockers willingly forgetting that God judged the world by the flood in Noah’s day, and that flood explains much of the natural world and proofs that uphold the Word of God about age and length of time. Peter also wrote that the world was created by the Word of God. (2Pt 3:5; Heb 11:3; Gen 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26,29) Let us fear and tremble at His word, even as we sit in wonder at His feet. We look for New Heavens and a New Earth. (2Pt 3:10-13; Rev 21:1-5) Can God create these in a moment, or will the saints be waiting while He takes millions or billions of years to do it after the destruction of the current Heavens and Earth?!
YHVH is holy; there is no other true God, for He is the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and all that is in them; and He is the Redeemer and the Savior of all who believe and of His creation which He created and made/did. He deserves our worship and praise for all the He is, and for all that He has created and made and does.
Those who would make the creation account a myth open the door for those who say that it is only a myth that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people. There was no Passover and no exodus from Egypt. They would say that there is no center, and there is not “specialness” of anything, not even human beings, whom God uniquely created in His image and in His likeness. But YHVH has chosen this ‘planet’ as His focal point in the universe which He created. How can we know? Because it was here that the Son of God came to shed His blood on the cross as a sacrifice for sin, and to cleanse all things on Earth and in the heavenlies. (Heb 9:23-28) He has chosen a particular man, Abraham, through whom He promised a chosen people and an inheritance, and to be a blessing to all the families of the Earth; He has chosen a particular land for that inheritance; He has chosen a particular city within this chosen land as His City; He has chosen a particular tribe of this chosen people through whom the King whom He has chosen will establish His kingdom from that city in this land; He has provided one mediator between Himself and humanity, and one way of salvation by the forgiveness of sins in order to be justified for inheriting eternal life together with Him.
Our God is holy, and He is Sovereign. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but His word will never pass away!
Messiah/Christ is made unto us wisdom. Let us be fools to the world, and wise unto God, as we study the beginning of The Way on the narrow road that leads to everlasting life.
1Cor 1:26-31 For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glories, let him glory in YHVH.
This is also written, as is YHVH’s testimony of Creation: that he who glories, let him glory in Yehovah – in the Father, in the Lord Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. We are in a spiritual war in these last days in which “the world, the devil, and the flesh” are all marshalling their forces against the true God and all that represents Him: light, love, good, right, Israel, believers in His Son. There is order in God; those who reject Him and His order will find themselves increasingly in darkness and chaos – just as the universe was at the beginning of the Creation, before God put in order all that He created and did – all according exactly to His will. (Rev 4:8-11)
Let us believe in our God, and believe Him when He speaks. He will bless us for our love for Him and for our faith in His Word; and we will be filled with His joy. This is a promise from Him.
This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, March 10, 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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Skateboarding taught me how to be an artist
Back in the 1980s, a guy named Craig Stecyk became the art director at Powell Peralta skateboards. He had one rule: print ads for Powell Peralta will not feature any skateboarding. This was unheard of. How can you advertise a skate company without showing its team riders skateboarding? Craig’s decision had a far-reaching impact on skate culture, and on many aspects of Western culture today (including many of today’s big brands). What can Craig’s decision teach us about making art? And how can we, as artists (that means you, buddy) create a place for others to get lost in?
This episode talks about:
- The need to restrict yourself in order to be able to make art consistently.
- How doing the minimum can still establish you as an artist – as long as it’s consistent.
- How the biblical concept of vineyards applies to us today.
- What we can learn from the movie “Inception” as artists.
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Sabbath: Making the invisible visible
I have been blessed over the years to be invited to speak in churches of many varieties all over the country. When I am given the opportunity to, one of my favorite things to do is to simply open the floor to questions, and one of the most asked questions is “What about Sabbath?”. This question is asked many times, and the reason it is asked is varied. Some just want to know, “Do Messianic Jews still keep the weekly Sabbath? Others want to know “Didn’t Yeshua (Jesus) do away with the Sabbath?” Others ask the question as a challenge “Isn’t keeping the Sabbath just another form of legalism?” and Others ask “Isn’t the Sabbath just for the Jews?” or “Isn’t Sabbath Sunday now?”.
My favorite question is “Why do you still keep the Sabbath?”, and it is the answer to this question that I want to focus on in this blog. Over the years I have answered this question many different ways. I used to answer by providing a long list of Scripture references showing that Shabbat was commanded to be remembered and kept for all time. Other times I would point out that the Sabbath was the fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments showing just how important it was to keep the Sabbath. Sometimes I would read Luke 4 where is says attending Sabbath was Yeshua’s custom, or I would read Acts 15 which says Gentiles will hear that Moses taught on the Sabbath.
But I no longer use any of those answers to the “Why do I keep the Sabbath?” question. Instead, I focus my explanation in a completely different direction. I share that I keep the Sabbath because it is a visible way that I can share my faith in the invisible. Let me explain further. The Scripture says in Mark 2:27:
“Shabbat was made for man, and not man for Shabbat.
G-D didn’t need the Sabbath any more than He needed the Tabernacle or the Temple. Think about this for a moment. The Tabernacle at its best was a very nice ornate tent. In comparison to Heaven, the Tabernacle is a less pup tent standing next to the Ritz. The Tabernacle was not made for G-D it was made for man. We needed a visible location to help us to focus our thoughts and prayers. But more than that when The Children of Israel went to the Tabernacle or Temple those around them could see them. They watched how they walked up to the Tabernacle, how they entered, how they brought their offerings, how the priest accepted the offering, slew the animal and made the sacrifice. All those watching could see every step taken and saw how carefully the commandments were kept by both those bringing the offerings and those watching. This obedience in observing the commandments of G-D was a visible expression of their faith. People watching them obey the commandments could see their faith in their actions. It is in this context that we read in Jacob (James) 2:17-18:
17 So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself. 18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works.
In other words, G-D didn’t set up the entire sacrificial system and all the explicit commandments to put a burden on the Children of Israel or to make things difficult. He established the Tabernacle and Temple service so that people watching Israel would see their love for the invisible G-D in their visible actions. Their commitment to do all that He asked of them allowed people to see the invisible in their visible.
I keep the weekly Shabbat because by doing so it lets people see that I believe that G-D created the world in 6 days (Exodus 20:11) and to that people will see that I believe G-D redeemed Israel from Egypt’s Bondage (Deuteronomy 5:15). It is my hope that by seeing my visible actions demonstrating my faith in the invisible G-D, that they will also see that he can still create today,
2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
And that He can still redeem from bondage
Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood—the removal of trespasses—in keeping with the richness of His grace
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, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".
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Laughter in the sky
‘He who sitteth in the heavens shall laugh’, says the Bible. And He who sits in the heavens passed that laughter down to mankind at Mt. Sinai, along with the plates of the Covenant- via the Jews, who would become the stewards of both. The Sense of Humor was as seeds planted between the holy lines, and would sprout sometime later among the escaping slaves chased from one idolatrous nation to another. It would prove to be one of their most potent of secret weapons. After their escape from slavery in Egypt their home was in the unwelcoming desert, and any house would be only a temporary one, and a fiddler was always on the roof playing his wayfarer’s tragi-comic song. This desert escape would prove to be a preparation for many later escapes worldwide throughout their long and painful history. Any home would be only for a time, and the Jew came to know that he was but a comet, brightening the sky for a spell, but only passing through. The suffering servant of God was far too bright for his enemies, but also far too small to defeat his far outnumbering oppressors, so he invariably outlived them with a smile, defeating them with wit, the gift from God. The Jew would say after each survival, ‘They tried to destroy us, they failed, let’s eat.’
Abraham, the father of all Israel, was given a miracle child in his and his wife Sarah’s very old age, and was told that the child’s name was to be Yitzhok (Isaac), which means, He will laugh. God made that promise.
The Fiddler on the Roof idea later became a movie in which Tuvya, speaking to the sky, says as they are about to suffer another pogram in Russia, ‘I know you have chosen us, but maybe you could choose someone else for a while?’ Tuvya made the world smile.
And the very King of the suffering servants smiled while saying to the Jewish fishermen who had professionally dragged their net through the Kinneret waters all night long and caught nothing, ‘Do not fear or be dismayed, but cast thy net on theright side of the boat’. This angling advice was followed and the saintly fishers hauled up a hundred fifty-three big ones at one fell swoop. Later, after the crucifixion, that same King approached two fellow Jewish travelers in Jerusalem and asked, ‘So what’s going on?’ To such a question they replied, ‘Are you the only guy in town who doesn’t know?’ ‘Tell me’, said the King, and played them all along the way to Emmaus. This quintessential, archetypal ironic Jewish standup humor that had fallen from the sky and been carried down the slope of Sinai would later be carried further forth by such notable chosen Jews as Groucho with his cigar, and George Burns with his. Of course there were Al Jolson, George Jessel, Jerry Lewis, Don Rickles, Milton Berle, Bert Lahr, Danny Kaye, Red Buttons, Buddy Hackett, Carl Reiner, Phil Silvers, Mel Brooks, Jackie Mason, Gene Wilder, Sid Caesar, Jack Benny, Peter Sellers, Woody Allen, and Seinfeld too. These among others who made the world laugh.
The laughing gas of Humor has kept the balloon of the Jewish People aloft above the tragic fray of anti-Semitism and a world devouring itself, and them, for ages. It has been no less than a weapon of survival. That Suffering Servant who beat death on a Roman cross also said, ‘The first shall be last, and the last shall be first’. Perhaps that may be interpreted as the old adage, ‘He who laughs last, laughs best’. Perhaps the Jew will get the last laugh.
Elhanan ben-Avraham, born in 1945, is a professional artist, poet, writer and father of two, grandfather of four, living in Israel since 1979. He has served in the IDF, taught the Bible internationally, published two illustrated books of poetry, and painted two large Biblical murals in public buildings in Jerusalem, among many other works. He and his wife live in a quiet village in the Mountains of Judah.
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PARASHAT PEKUDEI (COMMANDMENTS OR CHARGES OF)
SHEMOT (EXODUS) 38:21–40:38
This week’s parasha (Scripture portion) brings us to the end of Exodus (Shemot), in which God’s truly awesome glory is revealed to and dwells among the children of Israel. I’ve previously written on this parasha, and I’d like to share some thoughts similar to what I wrote last year.
Exodus (Shemot) ends with a very dramatic moment in the lives of the people of Israel, as they complete building the Tent of Meeting that God has commanded them to build:
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle (mishkan). And Moses could not come to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
Can you imagine what an incredible moment this was for Israel? I don’t think we can truly fathom how awesome it was to experience God’s presence actually come down to fill the tabernacle. While the hands of men prepared the mishkan, it was the Almighty Himself who had the final act of wonder over it. In Hebrew, it says that the “kavod of the Lord (YHVH)” filled the place of dwelling. This word is so full of meaning, that translating it as “glory” really doesn’t do it justice. In fact, it is better translated as “respect, honor, esteem or dignity.” In fact, the root of the word is “kaved”, which means heaviness or to weigh heavily upon.
God’s presence is heavy! It is not to be taken lightly. Sadly, I believe our modern attitude is too casual toward the Almighty. Often we followers of Messiah forget that the God that we believe in and worship is the same God that Moses served! I find it interesting that even Moses, who was very beloved by God, could not enter the tent due to the presence of God that dwelled in that place. Do we even understand what we mean when we say, “The presence of the Lord was in that place”? I’m not sure we do.
My dear brothers and sisters, my goal is not to criticize, but to exhort us all to be careful to not be casual when we come before the Lord. Although God calls us His friends, He is also our Father and so worthy of all honor, respect, glory, and praise. Let’s return to a place where we give God the utmost “kavod” that He deserves. And let’s not take Him lightly.
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.
Moran is the Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Israel, which is a service and resource-providing ministry that aims to bring the hope of the Messiah back to Israel. It is also a resource center for current and timely news updates concerning Israel that provides daily prayer alerts, Bible teachings, and weekly blogs in order to help believers across the world understand what God is doing in the Land, how to pray for Israel and filter everything through the Word of God.