SoulBreaths

The Copyright Permissions: Bible Translations

By SoulBreaths Author [ 2 months ago ]

 

The permissions below are for certain scriptures used in a blog post—noted by their Bible translation acronym. This list is a work in progress.

 
CJB
Taken from the Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright © 1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD 21029. www.messianicjewish.net
 
ESV
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.esv.org
 
NASB
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org
 
 
Credits: Stacked Bibles photo by Tim Wildsmith on Unsplash.com

Betrayal Within: Moldy Soul

By SoulBreaths Author [ 6 months ago ]

 

Betrayal. It’s not just what’s done to us. It’s what we do on cloaked and not-so-cloaked levels to others. To ourselves. To God. The betrayal swimming within and without—whenever an action, word, or soul-thought crushes trust and taints spiritual and moral standards.

 
 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 
 

Betrayal starts small and then grows invasively. In the heart. In the thoughts and intents of our mind. In the soul. Our moldy soul.

 

The Betrayal Within series starts by mirroring my earlier Moldy Soul posts (published 2009, later expanded)—exploring the makings of a moldy soul with some rabbinic thought woven in and searching how that rose to the surface and dismantled certain biblical relationships. Needless to say, huge ramifications followed.

 

This revised series turns up the volume a bit on the moldy-soul narrative and digs its roots into full-on betrayal. Its seeds. Its growth. Its cunning. Its nemesis.

 

The endgame is still the same: learn from the Word, seek God more, let Him change you within, and walk better with our LORD and others.

 

COMING SOON!

 
 
 
Photo Credit: Mirrored girl photo by Bekah-Russom (bekah-russom-Y8QTiWuzYSs) on Unsplash.com

God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 1]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 7 months ago ]

 

What happens when two trees, humanity, and a serpent meet up in God’s Garden of Desire (a.k.a. Garden of Eden)? Relationships explode.

 

[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

PRIOR THREE-PART SEGMENT ON GENESIS 1:1—GOD’S STORY LENS SERIES: BEGINNINGS WITHIN BEGINNINGS

 

READING TIME: 3 MINUTES.

 
 

THE STORY ELEMENTS

 

Some say there’s only one reliable way to find out about any relationship: test it to destruction.

There just might be a bit of that in play with this next segment from God’s epic true story (the Bible)—so much so that it seeps down to many levels. Even to you and me today.

 

Join me on an excavation of sorts, where I’ll use my story editor’s lens to examine a few gnawing questions and various layers of Genesis 2 and 3.

 

EXCAVATION GAME PLAN:

Part 1. introduce five story elements before we tour the setting—Gan Eden, Garden of Eden

Part 2. venture onward to Eden’s two highly analyzed trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

Part 3. survey key characters

Part 4. sieve through the storyline and conflict as well as any symbolism and unfolding impact—prophetic and otherwise

 

THE BASICS: FIVE STORY ELEMENTS

 

SETTING: Garden of Eden. In the exposition (introduction) of any story and also in its critical scenes, the setting often reflects a character’s condition or the polar opposite to underscore the struggle: emotional, spiritual, psychological, physical, circumstantial.

 

That’s true in God’s narrative where the setting mirrors the co-protagonists’ spiritual predicament. God created humanity for His glory, in His image, to worship Him, honor Him, and enjoy relationship with Him. [Isaiah 43:7 (ESV), Isaiah 43:21 (ESV), Psalm 29:2 (ESV), Revelation 5:13 (ESV), among many, many others.]

 

Here’s the however part: Adam and Eve are surrounded by a gift—the sensory delights of the Garden of Eden—but are about to confront three elements in that garden: the Tree of Life, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and a serpent. All will expose a whole other level of sensory delight hidden within their souls.

 

CO-PROTAGONISTS: Adam and Eve. Not the heroes we’d expect. They fail and set off a tidal wave of repercussions. But then, not all protagonists win, succeed, overcome.

 

A well-told story is built on unmet desire and what a protagonist goes through to attain it (or not). Every choice moves the story in one direction or another. This story is propelled by Adam/Eve satisfying the self-desire within.

 

SUPPORTING CAST: God, as deuteragonist—the second most important character in this story segment—and the antagonist (serpent/satan).

 

A story’s cast of characters and their individual story threads can add depth when revealing the good, the bad, the indifferent, along with quirks, strengths, weaknesses, etc. A straightforward telling, warts and all.

 

These real-life beings—deuteragonist and antagonist—couldn’t be more diametrically opposed: our holy, righteous, omnipotent, majestic-in-splendor God and a beguiling, perhaps enticing-to-the eyes serpent whose body is host for the real antagonist, satan, the insidious enemy of God who aids and abets the co-protagonists into committing a significant crime of willful rebellion and disobedience.

 

TENSION: The co-protagonists’ self-desire had been there, perhaps stirring quietly, subtly, in their souls, undetected, unacknowledged. But now it’s on the rise.

 

And it’s fueled by the conflict-agitator serpent/satan who is well acquainted with revolt against the Most High God. The physical and sensual delights of the Garden of Desire and the inner me-focus converge.

 

Adam and Eve reach a free-will choice: Surrender to it or their Creator. Eat or not eat the forbidden fruit. Choose which desire, which voice, they’ll listen to . . . their own, the serpent’s, or God’s.

 

That underlying dynamic slithers into the crevices of Adam’s and Eve’s souls, pushing the story forward. And in this case, the narrative goes far beyond a chapter in Genesis. Its elements are witnessed throughout the Torah (first five biblical books) and the complete Bible—and will be repeated until the final hour of this age.

 

CLIMATIC SHIFT: That first bite of a forbidden fruit. It changes everything and everyone going forward.

 

Things go south fast . . . but there’s an interesting character decision (God’s) that lays the prophetic groundwork for yet another plot twist—one that (surprisingly?) lands us on the others side of His bridge into New Testament territory.

 
 

 
 

TOUR THE SETTING NEXT: God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpents, Lies [Part 1b]

 
 

RESOURCES

https://www.hebrewversity.com/deeper-hebrew-meaning-garden-eden/

 

PHOTO CREDITS

PHOTO CREDIT: Tree by water by Nitish Kadam on Unsplash.com

God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpents, Lies [Part 1b]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 7 months ago ]

 

God sets the stage . . . a Garden of Desire. That’s before two trees, humanity, and a serpent meet up.

 

[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

SUGGEST READING FIRST: GOD’S STORY LENS SERIES: TREES, SERPENTS, LIES [PART 1]

 

READING TIME: 3 MINUTES.

 

THE SETTING

 

The beguiling action begins somewhere in the garden, located within Eden—whose name is associated with the Hebrew root for delight, pleasure (עדנה), per Hebrew University.

 

The root is found in Psalm 36:8 “rivers of delight” and also in Genesis 18:12 when Sarah laughed about the notion she’d become pregnant in her old age, “Am I to have pleasure?”).

 

Living up to its name, the entire garden is a place brimming with desire, God’s good kind, appeasing the senses: sight, taste, smell, hearing, feeling. The delight is a relationship with God. The pleasure is all that He lovingly created for humanity’s enjoyment. The good desire is following His will, surrendering to His majestic kingship.

 

But God honors work and initially gives Adam the job of tending the garden creation. Not by the sweat of his brow. Not battling pest infestation or finagling with irrigation equipment. There’s no Dust Bowl potential or tornadoes to outrun.

 

Instead, the mist rising from the earth waters the entire surface as four rivers (Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, Euphrates) sprawl and converge, submerge and appear elsewhere . . . where the land glistens with gems (gold, crystal, and onyx).

 

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east,
and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree
that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.
The tree of life was in the midst of the garden,
and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2:8-10

 
 

 
 

TIME OF DAY

 

We presume from the story’s opening that it’s still daytime. But the time right after Adam’s disobedience is said to be nearing the tenth hour. That’s when they heard the sound (קוֹל, qol) of God walking in the garden to the wind of the day (לְר֣וּחַ הַיּ֑וֹם,l’ruach hay yom)—the literal Hebrew phrase that some scholars tie to a particular time of day.

 

Among them is Rashi, an esteemed 11th century French rabbi and Talmudic commentator who suggests it means “toward the way, the direction of the sun.” As in “later in the day as the sun sets.” Hence, the tenth hour.

 

[Side note: Others link the Hebrew to God’s stormy presence, but we’ll address that in Part 3’s story section.]

 

The tenth hour is intriguing from a setting/character perspective—and a soul perspective. The timing is within the last two hours before sunset. Let’s dig a bit . . .
 

First consider that the Hebrew word for morning—boker—has this Hebraic shoresh (root meaning): order, able to be discerned.
 

Now factor in the Hebrew word for evening—erev—whose root meaning is chaos, disorder, when things aren’t so clear, not so discernible.

 

How does that play into the setting-story line?

 

Our co-protagonists’ souls are about to transition from one state to the other, from daylight to evening. From a place of order and harmony to a state of disruption, confusion, disorder.

 

They’re edging away from a level of knowing and walking in good desire for a place of self-desire and naked truth . . . a truth that is anything but completely naked, clear, or discernible.

 

UM, WHERE’S ADAM?

 

As the curtain rises on Genesis 3‘s setting, Adam isn’t there—at least, not right off. (Keep in mind that in God’s storytelling, a lot can happen—not overtly revealed—between paragraphs, sentences, words.) It can appear purposeful on many counts as we’ll see.

 

Later, when Adam is mentioned, the Hebrew indicates (per rabbinic thought) that time has passed between his wife’s encounter with the serpent and her handing him the fruit (hence it’s then noted that he’s “with her”).

 

Seems to me, if he’d been there from the beginning of the whole serpent/Eve chitchat, he’d have added his two cents or stepped in one way or another. And that would mean he too had been beguiled by the serpent.

 

But that doesn’t necessarily fit the narrative.

 

Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

 

Adam obeyed his wife’s lead (handing him the fruit to eat as well) vs the Lord’s.

 

So it’s plausible—and seemingly fits the narrative—that Adam is nearby, tending his work while his helpmate, Eve, is elsewhere.

 

And it’s that elsewhere garden location that stirs the pot in this setting. She’s presumably alone, possibly in the midst of the garden, hanging out near the forbidden tree, primed for seduction as the story begins.

 

SO WHAT’S WITH THOSE TWO TREES?

READ THIS NEXT: God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2]

 
 

RESOURCES
https://www.hebrewversity.com/deeper-hebrew-meaning-garden-eden/
 
 
CREDIT: Garden tree photo by nitish-kadam on Unsplash.com
 

God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 7 months ago ]

 

It’s go-time. God’s creation is in testing mode. But how do two trees impact the human soul’s condition?

 

[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

HIGHLY SUGGEST READING FIRST: God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 1]

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 
 

THE TWO TREES

 

Two trees in the midst of the garden. Meticulously placed‚ set apart from the others, yet growing among them. Resounding in their stillness, their purpose, both trees are about to take centerstage in humanity’s impending soul battle.

 
 

That’s the soul battle of our earthly story back at the beginning with co-protagonists Adam and Eve . . . and the one going on right now. In you. In me. Around us. The connection is undeniable. It’s embedded in the fiber of every decision, every word, every action we make.

 

It’s either self-desire or God-driven desire. Surrendering at His altar or bowing to the altar of self.

 

You can feel it, right? The convergence of the two within and around you? The struggle of choice between the holy (God’s thoughts, ways, commands) and the profane/mundane, the world’s mindset.

 

There are reasons why these two garden trees demand our attention. First, trees apparently mean something to God. He poetically carries the tree-image throughout His storytelling. He uses it in the Garden of Eden (spiritual global impact) but later likens people (Deuteronomy 20:19), Israel, and our soul condition to trees—good and not so good.

 

QUICK EXAMPLES . . .

 

1. fig tree, referring to Israel’s spiritual condition (Hosea 9:10 ESV)

2. green olive tree or well-planted tree that bears fruit/never withers, regarding a wise/righteous person who trusts in the Lord (Psalm 52:8 and Psalm 1:1-3 and Jeremiah 17:7-8, all ESV).

3. oak tree of righteousness, strong, enduring, withstanding life’s struggles, and a planting of the Lord for His glory. (Isaiah 61:3 ESV).

4. towering tree, warning Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in a dream about a massive tree (world ruler) who would be cut down, leaves stripped, fruit scattered. Sadly, it was Nebby himself. (Daniel 4 ESV)).

 

An orthodox Judaic teaching puts it something like this: we’re like trees, rooted in our past/our ancestral history, canopied (like foliage) by our life choices/life story, bearing fruit (children, good works to help others, community) with more seeds going forth to bear new trees.
 

Nicely put. But there’s another application. Another tree God used. Arguably, the most significant tree . . . one directly linked to God’s two Garden of Eden trees and one that will bring us once again to the garden with the Lord’s promised Millennial Kingdom.

 

We’ll get to that eternity-shifting tree and how it fits into this Genesis 3 story in the last post of this Trees, Serpent, Lies series.

 

For now . . .

 
 

 
 

GARDEN TREES: THE BIGGER PICTURE

 

Both trees “control the state of the world,” according to Gershom Scholem, who is often regarded as the “most important Jewish historian of the 20th century.” He was a Zionist, a preeminent scholar of Jewish mysticism (i.e., Kabbalism), and a prolific author on Judaic/Israeli political, social, and cultural issues.

 

Although I’m not a Kabbalist, I have a particular interest in parts of Scholem’s commentary (as noted below with my bold typeface inserted for emphasis)—because they tangentially strike at the core and intent of this post . . . regarding what lies beneath and within the two-trees story and beneath and within our souls.

 

Scholem made these four observations:
 

(1) “Standing in the center of Paradise and representing higher order of things, the trees control a great deal more than just existence in the Garden of Eden.”

 

(2) “The Tree of Life represents the pure, unbroken power of the holy.”

 

(3) “Since the Fall of Adam, the world is no longer ruled by the Tree of Life as it had been in the beginning, but the Tree of Knowledge.”

 

(4) “Since the Fall of Adam, since the time when the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was eaten, the world is ruled by the mystery of this second tree in which both good and evil have their place. Hence, under the rule of this Tree, the world contains differentiated spheres: the holy and the profane, the pure and the impure, the permitted and the forbidden, the living and the dead, the divine and the demonic.”

 

Agreed.

 

Because whatever generation, whatever scenario, whatever temptation, whatever point on God’s prophetic time clock, it always comes down to the same struggle, wrestling with the repercussions of the Tree of Knowledge debacle, causing us to individually face the question, Which tree are we eating from and what “fruit” are we bearing/spreading?

 

Now step closer to the Promise (Tree of Life) and God’s Love Test (Tree of Knowledge).

 

READ THIS NEXT. God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2b].

 
 

RESOURCES

Targum Onkelos commentary (Genesis 2:9) on Sefaria.org
Gershom Scholem commentary from his book, The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality, as listed on Sefaria.org.
Gershom Scholem biography: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Oxford Bibliographies.
Tree as man: Chabad articles
 

PHOTO CREDITS

PHOTO CREDIT: Green trees by Megan on Unsplash.com

God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2b]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 7 months ago ]

 

It’s go-time—Part 2b. Two trees in the Trees, Serpent, Lies series. The Promise (Tree of Life) and God’s Love Test (Tree of Knowledge). Who knew two trees could play such a big part in the human soul’s condition?

 

[This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.]

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

HIGHLY SUGGEST READING FIRST: God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 1] and God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 2a]

 

READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.

 
 

THE TWO TREES

 

T wo garden trees—one with a promise, the other with a command. Their impact on the soul? Humongous. Here’s how.

 
 

THE PROMISE: TREE OF LIFE

 

Admittedly, it’s usually that other tree that gets much of the press. That’s because our co-protagonists’ fruit-eating episode birthed a chasmic rift in the God-creation continuum, ripping through the physical and spiritual realms.

 

So in our Garden-of-Eden plot line, the Tree of Life may seem to have a minor role. And yet, it is an enduring, indelible, and powerful thread—symbolically and otherwise—throughout God’s story line.
 

It’s unclear what the tree was like and, even more curious, why Adam and Eve didn’t eat from the Tree of Life—there was no hands-off command for it. But it turns out, it’s a good thing.
 

Because whatever spiritual condition you’re in when you eat from the Tree of Life—you’re eternally locked into that condition. You could say that our co-protagonists dodged a bullet. A fatal one.

 

It also explains why God kicked humanity out of the garden and stationed powerful Cherubim (Keruvim) and a flaming sword to guard the way to the Tree of Life from any future attempts.

 

For now, that is.

 

(1). Tree of Life and the rabbinic correlation: The Torah (first five books of the Bible) is like the Tree of Life because it lays the ground rules of how to grow your roots deep in His stream, how to interact, manage, lead, bless, build, grow, sustain, step back, spiritually walk and be with others (in our own tribes and outside them) and with our holy God.

 

(2). Tree of Life and spiritual fruit. Both Proverbs 3:18 and Proverbs 11:30 say that the fruit of the righteous is a Tree of Life, bringing happiness to the soul. The Hebrew says it like this: Etz chaim see l’machazikim bah—she is a tree of life to those who grasp her.

 

(3). Tree of Life and God’s desires. Proverbs 13:12 says that when we hope in God again, His righteous desires will spring up within us and become a Tree of Life.

 

(4). Tree of Life and the future blessed hope. For those on the Judaic side of the bridge, you might not know this one.

 

A future look in the last book of the Bible, Revelation 2:7 and Revelation 22:2 via the Messiah, gives this blessed hope: Those walking with God and His Salvation will eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of His garden Paradise . . . and it will bear twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month—its leaves, the healing of the nations. Those obeying the LORD will have the right to the Tree of Life and may enter the gates of His holy city.

 
 
POMEGRANATE - tal-surasky-u5FA6z5n89U-unsplash
 
 

THE LOVE TEST: TREE OF KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL

 

It’s the same story then as now. The thing we can’t (or shouldn’t) have is the one that catches the eye, captures the soul, and drives the soul to hunger, fixating on the wrong choice.

 

The Tree of Knowledge. A test, indeed. Nothing capricious or superficial about it. It’s God striking deep—way down to the truth-core of His free-will creation. Even the angels had to decide: follow the one, true God or hop on the rebellion train and follow its instigator/leader, Lucifer/satan.

 

God already knew their decisions—the angelic realm’s and humanity’s. He knew, as always, even before He created them what was in their hearts, their souls. The test is so the truth of their inner condition is exposed and the reality from God’s righteous perspective is brought forth, revealing the dichotomy so they would know as well.

 

Remember, when it came to creating the world, God did it for the sake of redemption. Redemption to show His mercy and grace. Redemption to show His holiness. Redemption that involves humanity realizing, knowing Him, and seeking His face, appreciating the giver and sustainer of life, God.

 


 

The word “knowledge” in the Hebrew is da’at. But what is this knowledge, anyway? Rabbinic thought varies.

 

Some say it’s . . .

 

— an academic or intellectual understanding

— an experiential understanding of good/evil [per Aleph Beta’s insightful Rabbi David Fohrman]

— a transformational awareness [per Maimonides, the Rambam, famed medieval philosopher/Torah scholar]

— a Tree of Desire [per translations by the Ramban, citing other biblical references—the Ramban (Nachmanides) was a medieval rabbi/scholar]

 


 

MULLING IT OVER

 

Years ago I heard a Torah teaching on this—possibly Rabbi Schweiger from Pardes Institute in Jerusalem—about how humanity wasn’t ready for the knowledge from that tree. They lacked the maturity to understand what that da’at/knowledge would present to us.

 

In my mind, that could mean being introduced to a world where the veil was removed. Making the Tree of Knowledge an unmasking, a ripping away of childlike innocence and awakening what’s hidden in the crevices of the human soul or what’s been simmering just under the surface.

 

A step into the abyss of self-desire—culminating in millennia of collateral damage to boot. Self-fixation, outright rebellion, desire of every kind and on every level, a betrayal of God’s love and gift of life.

 

Because that level of desire only produces one thing: death, spiritually and otherwise.

 

The soul had been moving about on a different level prior. Innocent, seemingly clean, set apart. Neither the tree nor the fruit had mysterious properties. The test—eating/disobeying or withholding/obeying—unlocked what was already within.

 

Adam and Eve’s unmasking caused them to see and enter another dimension of da’at (knowledge).

 

A dimension that stripped them from the idyllic, realizing their physical nakedness but not yet comprehending their spiritual nakedness which will hunger for self-desire at the cost of a relationship with the living God—and with anyone and everything else.

 

A VISUAL OF SORTS

 

It’s troubling but demonstrates what may have been happening soul-wise to Adam and Eve.

 

Being robbed of innocence is disquieting on many levels. The serpent—a.k.a. satan—didn’t (doesn’t) care. He had (has) his own agenda. Robbing, stealing, destroying are everyday strategy tools to him.

 

Think for a moment of the chilling news stories you hear. Child abuse, rape, young adult drug use. In each case, a soul was violated or seduced, the veil of some kind of innocence violently torn away, forcing a new da’at (knowledge) of another, seamier dimension of life that they didn’t ever need to know or experience. And something their souls certainly weren’t capable of understanding—as if anyone could or should.

 

The underbelly of self-desire. Unconscionable. Irresponsible. Unholy. Profane. Evil.

 

Now in those scenarios, the souls were victims. Adam and Eve had a choice. But their inherent propensity for disobedience—revealed about all of us throughout the Bible, from Genesis onward—was ignited by satan’s grooming.

 

The results of satan’s cunning seduction were no different soul-wise than those disturbing abuse examples mentioned above. What Adam and Eve used to see and walk in via their previous da’at, their innocent lens, vanished in an instant. Satan’s seductive voice resonated with their own inner voice, the one that was subtly stirring within.

 

But once realized, they surrendered to it. Self-will. Self-desire. Self-focus.

 

God was in their soul’s rearview mirror. Rebellion raised its head. The bridge broken. The God-humanity relationship tested to near destruction.

 

You and I would have made the same choice. It’s as if we had to eat from that tree. We had to cross the line . . . so we could ultimately enter into God’s redemption story plan.

 

Now Genesis 3 tells the rest of the story, and we’ll head there. But first we need a closer look at our co-protagonists and the supporting cast.

 

GET READY TO MEET THE CHARACTERS CLOSE-UP.

 

UPCOMING POST: God’s Story Lens: Trees, Serpent, Lies [Part 3]

 
 

RESOURCES

 
Targum Onkelos commentary (Genesis 2:9) on Sefaria.org
Gershom Scholem commentary from his book, The Messianic Idea in Judaism: And Other Essays on Jewish Spirituality, as listed on Sefaria.org.
Gershom Scholem biography: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and Oxford Bibliographies.
Tree as man: Chabad articles
 

PHOTO CREDITS

PHOTO CREDIT: Pomegranate tree by Tal Suraskon Unsplash.com

Lightning Bolts: Watchwords [Wait, His Love Raining, Unity, Stand Firm]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 7 months ago ]

 

Expectant hope from waiting on Him, that’s the 2022 image the Lord impressed on me during prayer right after midnight on New Year’s Eve. Let’s unpack the words He set before me—wait, His love raining down, unity, stand firm.

 

“I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what He will say to me.” —Habakkuk 2:1

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.

 

WATCHWORD GIVEN: January 1, 2022, 12:01 am through the third watch.

 

Wait. That particular word from the Lord (given in addition to three others) is still reverberating in my soul. He later gave me a clearly spiritual dream to underscore the word’s importance. Here’s how it rolled . . .

 

The quick backstory: For years, I’ve had—and continue to have—a New Year’s Eve midnight-rendezvous with the Lord. It’s become a time when He kindly reveals watchwords and images for the upcoming year and often leads me into some level of intercession.

 

The midnight hour appears throughout scripture. In Judaic terms, midnight is the convergence of two forces. One force—gevurah, meaning strength, linked to justice—gives way to another force—chesed, lovingkindness that is demonstrated in God’s rock-solid faithfulness, devotion, mercy, and grace, per His rightfully self-proclaimed character traits in Exodus 34:6-7.

 

God harmonizes gevurah and chesed. The wise psalm-writer Ethan the Ezrahite wrote in Psalm 89:14: Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.

 

And as God would have it: His 2022 watchword “wait” mirrors this midnight push-pull convergence.

 
 

 
 

WAIT . . . LONG FOR . . . HIM

 

Here’s the thing: Waiting flows both ways. God’s and ours.

 

Isaiah reveals that God is waiting with His graciousness, mercies, justice . . . and that we have a need (and a certain way) to wait on Him and spark His action. The red text below gives hints from the Hebrew.

 

Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you,
and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.
For the LORD is a God of JUSTICE;
blessed are all those who WAIT
[piercing through the wait with longing]
for him.
—Isaiah 30:18

 

GOD IS WAITING FOR YOU TO WAIT ON HIM. AND TO WAIT IN A WAY THAT MATURES YOUR SOUL.


 

Hang on to that—we’ll come back around to it in a sec.

 

So on that 2021-2022 New Year’s Eve, I had asked God, “But what about 2022?”

 

He said, “WAIT.”

 

The word stood clear before me . . . and then I saw an eagle—more specifically, it was the eagle’s wings that drew my attention. I sensed myself riding on them, but whoosh! I had wings like the eagle, rising upward, flying in loops, having fun.

 

Immediately following that, I sensed Him counseling me, depositing a scripture within my soul in a new—and exhilarating—way . . . a scripture you may very well be familiar with.

 

But they who wait
[faithfully, obediently, doggedly,
diligently, with expectant hope]

for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
—Isaiah 40:31

 

He impressed on me this view of what waiting is and what it does . . .

 

Waiting is totally resting in Him, soaking in His presence.

Waiting is surrendering to His timing, His kingship.

Waiting is faithfully staying in His Word, drenched by it.

Waiting is going the distance, not fainting, not impatiently.

Waiting is a strengthening process that renews, restores, refreshes, redirects the soul.

Waiting is a tool to help the soul soar higher, go farther.

Waiting is longingly waiting for Him . . . which moves His love even more.

Waiting is when His desires become yours—and shalom floods your soul, healing and answers arrive with joy.

 

These lyrics—from the song “Nothing Else” by Cody Carnes, Hank Bentley, and Jessie Early—capture the longing outcome of the waiting process.

 

And I love, love, love Rick Pino’s version . . . his Davidic-worshipful heart embodies the soul’s cry for more of our King.

 

I’m caught up in Your presence
I just want to sit here at Your feet
I’m caught up in this holy moment
I never want to leave
Oh, I’m not here for blessings
Jesus, You don’t owe me anything
More than anything that You can do
I just want You . . . Nothing else

 
 

YOUR STORY

 

We’ve all been shaken in one way or another—2020 and 2021 brought an avalanche of shifts. Many levels, many ways. But despite what you’re going through, 2022’s word shows the hope stirring within God, ready to be poured out on us and through us.

 

Maybe your personal world has been interrupted. The loss of something, anything—health, job/finances, relationships, loyalty, fidelity, faith, etc.—crashed into your life space and “normal” is fading in the rearview mirror.

 

You’re overwhelmed, no longer in control. No vision before you, no clue of anything around you. Your faith, foggy . . . you’re walking on jello, consumed with your situation. Your soul aches.

 

You feel like you’re in mourning. And you are—but not just for the specific loss you experienced. You’re mourning the loss of what you thought your life was going to be. What you had imagined, planned, desired, expected God (or others) to do.

 

And now: shock, pain/guilt, anger, depression (self-hate/anger turned inward) and loneliness, the stages of the mourning process have stepped in.

 

But with God, so has the rising-up stage when your soul is being refined, strengthened, refocused in His holy waiting room to walk in a new version of your life, faithfully held in His hands.

 

That’s why it’s critical in 2022 for you, me, and all believers to wait . . . to man the post He’s assigned us individually for service and follow His lead.

 

No leaning on our own understanding of how long “wait” is or should be. No taking things upon ourselves, even for a short bit, or doing something else to fill in the wait gap.

 

The Lord gave me a dream to underscore that. The gist of it is at the end of this post.

 
 

 
 

HIS LOVE RAINING DOWN

 

The Lord showed me the word LOVE, large and with a sense of it raining down . . .
 

casting out fear

demolishing the enemy’s lies

strengthening faith

soaking our souls with His Love

teaching, instructing, guiding us

 
 

MARCHING IN UNITY & STANDING FIRM

 

Two other words were put before me on New Year’s eve—and they both play into the “wait” watchword.
 

UNITY. An army of believers in Messiah working and marching globally as one, arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder. In step, in faith, in love for Him and one another.
 

I prayed: Lord, the enemy is revving up. The battle is raging and darkness is growing, spreading out deep and wide to every sector, every nation.

 

What do we do, Lord?

 

I saw this . . .

 

STAND FIRM.

 

Then, Lord, give us your heart on the matter . . . your words coming ALIVE within our souls . . . emanating out to those around us . . . let us not be business as usual again.

 

The LORD . . . He is God.

No other. Ever.

There is nothing apart from God.

 
 

 
 

THE DREAM

 

The gist of it is this: In the dream, I’m “preparing food” for visitors (representing actual people I’ve been ministering the Gospel to). But the main course was missing, and I was waiting for someone (a person from my life representing heaven/God’s direction) to bring the item.

 

My visitors were fine with waiting. In time, I wasn’t. I couldn’t believe I was this unprepared. I mean having people over and not having the main course food even in your kitchen—let alone not cooked, ready to serve—was crazy.

 

So we waited some more . . . and when I offered the appetizer and salad that was ready, they pleasantly said they’d wait.
 

Well, I waited with them, chatted, but inside I was getting even more antsy. Where was my person with the main food so I could finish it and serve these guests? Turns out, the person finally returned—but without my entrée item.

 

Perfect. And so we waited and waited while the heavenly-messenger person left on the shopping mission—again.

 

You have to know this is coming: I couldn’t wait anymore and left my guests to see what the holdup was and to get the food item myself, if needed.
 

Problem: When I returned, the guests were gone, the kitchen/dining area cleaned up, everything put away. I was bewildered—both in the dream and afterward when I woke up.
 

After seeking the Lord, I realized the dream underscores the WAIT 2022 message.

 

TAKEAWAY: As long as I was waiting on the Lord, my guests (to whom I was to minister to) were happily willing to wait. But when I left my post—even for a short time to see why it was taking so long and if I could handle it myself or some other way—the guests left.

 

Obediently waiting at my post is critical to my place in God’s army, my relationship with Him. Probably like you, my soul longs to be part of His eternal work down here . . . and to finish well.

 

Lord, help our souls to hear, love, obey you the way your majesty deserves to be loved and honored.

 

Photo Credit: Lighthouse by Michael Krahn on Unsplash.com

Photo Credit: Eagle waiting by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash.com

Photo Credit: Heart-like Parachute by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.com

Photo Credit: Empty plate by Debby Hudson-Pomy on Unsplash.com

Stilled Waters: Modeh/Modah Ani (I Give Thanks)

By SoulBreaths Author [ 10 months ago ]

More than conquerors. That’s what we are in Him. His strength, His power, His love—sealed within us. So when your first morning breath welcomes the return of your soul from God, how should you be before Him? This 17th century prayer helps lead the way.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 5 MINUTES.

 

The sun rises. The sun sets. And with God’s immense grace, it begins all over again.

 

With each new sunrise, each morning you awake, He lovingly and faithfully returns your soul to you—a resurrection of sorts, coming forth from the slumber of night.

 

Each morning’s breath is a gift from Him, a reminder of His presence and kingship.

 

There are three revealing Hebrew words used interchangeably in the Bible for soul. One of them is neshama [neh-shah-mah], God’s breath of life.

 

Just as God breathed His divine breath into Adam (nishmat chayim [נִשְׁמַת חַיִּים], Genesis 2:7) to spark and animate the body’s and soul’s dimensions . . . so He has done with you. His holy breath flows through you. How glorious is that?

 

Think of it: God’s initial breath gave you life.

Jesus’s last breath redeemed your life.

 

This 17th century Modeh/Modah Ani prayer—serving as a template, a launching pad for a personal deep-dive with God every morning—helps us remember who He is and what we are, putting things in their rightful perspective from the start.

 

In fact, it’s usually said before even getting out of bed—but you can say it anytime during the morning.

 

We say it because . . . . .

 

Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel
and His Redeemer, the Lord of hosts:
I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no God.
—Isaiah 44:6

 

I am the Lord, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you don’t know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me.
—Isaiah 45: 5-6 (verses 6-7 in Tanakh/Hebrew Bible).

 

That’s why when we draw our first breath upon awakening, we can’t help but be . . .

 

Grateful.

 

H

u

m

b

l

e

d.

 

Surrendered to His will and ways, not ours.

 

Acknowledging that nothing is above or beyond or equal to Him. We admit we’re created to praise, glorify, and serve Him in our thoughts, words, actions.
 

So let’s get started by . . .

 

1. Taking a quick stop with the Hebrew and the transliteration—how to phonetically say it in Hebrew. (The English translation is just beneath that.)

2. Then going below the surface to flesh out the deeper meaning tucked within the Hebrew.

3. Next, using the deep-dive reflections as a template to personalize your soul’s words every morning as you greet your King.

 
 

 
 

PIT STOP: THE HEBREW

 

One quick thing: the first two words, the title of the prayer, are Modeh ani (word usage for men) and Modah ani (word usage for women).

 

Modeh/Modah Ani

 

מוֹדֶה אֲנִי לְפָנֶיךָ מלך חַי וְקַיָּם שֶהֶחֱזַרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה,
רַבָּה אֱמוּנָתֶךָ

 

The Transliteration

 

Note: the kh and ch are guttural, like a hard “k” sound stuck in the back of your throat. The audio for a female is posted below so you can follow along.

 

Modeh (a woman says Modah) ani l’fanekha melekh chai v’kayam

shehekhezarta bi nishmahti b’chemla

raba emunatekha

 

Modah Ani – Female

 

 
 

English Translation

 

I am thankful (I give thanks) before You, living, enduring, sustaining, eternal King [my added reflection on that: King of life, King who sustains us]. You’ve returned my soul within me with compassion. Great is your faithfulness.

 
 

 
 

DEEPER-DIVE WITH ENGLISH

 

Rote prayer isn’t your target. You can move beyond the prayer’s words to a more soul-stirring perspective—one that helps you get still and tap into that special place.

 

I’m talking about His secret place. A protective crevice in Him, our Rock, where the powerful waterfall from His throne rains down on your soul and blesses you with revelation, refreshment, new mercies, and a word from Him, the Creator and Lover of your soul.

 

How my Modah Ani prayer time flows: I say Modah Ani in phrases, pausing in between each phrase to reflect on what it means to me that morning. I also weave in prayer requests at one juncture (just before the final phrase).

 

The template below—broken into phrases with deeper reflections after each phrase—gives an example of how you can personalize Modeh/Modah Ani every morning.

 

Let the Holy Spirit lead you as you consider what’s in your soul at that moment when you think of Him, when you think of you standing before Him, when you think about His immense faithfulness and majesty.

 

DEEPER-DIVE TEMPLATE

 

Modeh/Modah ani: I am thankful (I give thanks)

Deeper reflection: I am awake, my eyes open, and my soul acknowledges and is aware that there is something greater than me—You, God, Ruler of the universe.

 

***

 

l’fanekha: before you

Deeper reflection: I—my innermost self, my soul—is here, before you, shadowed and overcome by your greatness, too marvelous for me to comprehend, too deep for me to fathom. I am stilled by your Name, your character, your might.

 

In this moment, I realize that there’s no need for debate. You are the Glorious King. Period. You who created me.

 

I’m grateful for who you are and what you’ve done for me. I surrender before your Lordship. I am yours.

 

Writing that just prompted my spirit to also share lyrics from a worship song sung in the mid-80s about God’s Holy Spirit, a consuming fire, reminding us to approach Him in humility, in awe:

 

Consume me, consume me with your fire, Lord.
Consume me, consume with your fire.
Consume me, consume with your fire, Lord,
that I might know the power of your love.

 

***

 

melekh chai v’kayam: King, living and eternal (sustaining/enduring)

Deeper reflection: You are here with me in this physical world . . . yet you are on your throne, high and lifted up, holy and just, righteous and merciful, eternal without a beginning or an end. You are too marvelous for me.

 

You are the unseen God that my soul sees and knows. You are the promised author and perfecter of my faith. In You—through our messiah, Yeshua (Jesus)—is life, sustaining, full, complete, good.

 

Your Word is everlasting, relentlessly faithful, forever true—and it lives within my soul, correcting me, leading me, teaching me, refining me, reminding me, hemming me in. Day in, day out. With every soul-breath inhaled, with every soul-breath exhaled. You are there.

 

***

 

shehekhezarta bi (bee): you’ve returned within me (restored)

nishmati: my soul (breath of life)

b’chemla: with compassion (mercifully, graciously)

 

Deeper reflection: You have graced me with another morning. A day to serve you, to speak of your greatness and character, to speak your Name, to share the Good News of salvation through our Messiah, to do whatever you ask me to do this day. Your breath flows through me . . . I am yours.

 

But you didn’t return my soul because of obligation or randomly, without thought. You returned it with intentionality, a purpose . . . and you did it personally—from You to me. Not merely in one fell swoop, generically to the masses. Your love, mercy, grace, compassion rose up from your throne and blessed me with another breath to walk with you on earth and serve you.

 

You alone know the number of days you’ve given to me . . . So please teach me to number my days that I may have a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12). Your kindness and love overwhelm me. Thank you, my Lord, my King, my God.

 

***

 

Intercession: If I feel led—and most of the time I do—this is where I begin intercession for critical needs that day for others . . . then I thank Him because I can go nowhere else for help . . . it’s His faithfulness that I’m counting on.
 

***

 

raba emunatekha: abundant/great is your faithfulness

Deeper reflection: Who is like you? Faithful and true, King of Kings, Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:11-16). What am I that you’re mindful of me (Psalm 8:1-4) . . . how vast is your faithfulness, how deep is your love, what breadth, what height (Ephesians 3:14-19), and how mighty are your ways.

 

Guide me today, let me hear your voice in my soul, and please help me to do your will, lifting up your name wherever you send me, becoming a carrier of your presence, conquering by the words of my testimony . . . telling of your goodness, grace, salvation, and faithfulness.

 

***

 

Blessings on you, precious ones in the Lord. May He cover you in the shelter of His wings as you go deeper to seek His face and serve your King.

 
 

CREDIT: Dove photo by Irochka_T purchased 2014 via iStock
(iStock_000012075973)

CREDIT: Wrecking ball basic photo by alphaspirit with my text added on—purchased 2021 from iStock.com (ID:1204137944).

CREDIT: Morning, man praying photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash.com

CREDIT: Women, calm, reflective photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash.com

NOTE: Rabbi Tzvi Freeman’s commentary on Modeh Ani (chabad.org) further sparked my morning Modah Ani reflections.

 

God’s Story Lens: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 1]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year ago ]

 

Genesis 1. God, the master storyteller of truth that your soul needs, delivers factual accounts enveloped within His mystery. From a beginning of beginnings of beginnings to a particular love-fueled purpose behind His creation story.

 

This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 

INTRODUCTION TO SERIES

 
 

Like any good story, it’s best to start at the beginning. The beginning moment that will lead to or expose a protagonist’s unmet desire. But with God’s masterful storytelling, it’s not always that simple.

 
 

The sheer epic size and generational expanse of His story (the Bible) may appear to be a maximal approach. But in reality, it’s minimalistic, razor-focused on a single, eternally driven thread.

 

We read about what was, what is, and what is to come. But the exactness of time remains hidden. He talks of times but defies time, because He created time and exists beyond this physical dimension . . . yet all the while intersecting and embodying it.

 

He is the ever-present, omniscient “character” in His unfolding story.

 

GENESIS 1:1 INTENT

 

But it’s God’s opening line that gets us, capturing, enticing, pulling us. Those famous first words beg to be unraveled.

 

We sense that they’re the gateway to something immeasurably higher, deeper, beyond ourselves.

 

Rashi, the famed biblical and Talmudic commentator from the Middle Ages, said that those initial [Hebrew] words of Genesis scream for explanation. (Okay, my word choice, but he did say it “calls aloud” for explanation.)

 

The next post in this series more closely explores God’s intro line—but let’s take this step first.

 

Homiletically—per commentary notes in the Stone Edition of The Chumash (an orthodox commentary on the first five books of the Bible)—the first word of this creation process b’reshit can be stated as . . .

 

“The world was created for the sake of [for the things that are called] beginnings.”

 

Stone’s commentary equates that to “God brought the world into being for the sake of things that are of such basic importance that the Torah calls them reishit (ראשית), meaning first or beginning.”

 

That is, the world was created for the sake of bringing forth Torah (the Law).

 

But that for-the-sake-of-the-Law beginning unleashes two other critical “beginnings”:

 

(1) The Law reveals the basics, the reflections, of what is good in God’s eyes while exposing the beginnings of humanity’s self-desire nature .

 

A desire that, from the get-go, will fall short of His righteousness, His holiness—and launch a devastating spiritual rift, a broken bridge, between God and humanity. Because nothing is the same after the Garden of Eden rebellion.

 

(2) But even before the creation process, the impending God-humanity chasm would ache for restoration and grace .

 

So in those beginnings within beginnings, God brings forth another for-the-sake-of layer that trumps all others.

 

An indescribable love-move created for the sake of something eternally driven.

 

The world was created for REDEMPTION—hands down, God’s foundational story thread throughout the Bible.

 

MAJESTY DISPLAYED

 

The first word of Genesis 1:1 creates time and sparks its motion, establishing order and setting the stage for God’s breath-defying, mysterious creation work to unfold, revealing even more of what’s to come.

 

Mind you, that beginning-within-beginnings opening comes . . .

 

#1

 

Before God’s unrivaled, unimaginable might and presence hover over the “astonishingly empty with darkness.”

 

An earth that was “desolate and void” (Hebrew tohu va-vohu, תֹ֨הוּ֙ וָבֹ֔הוּ) with darkness on the “face of the murmuring deep,” a “wonder and astonishment”—that would leave us aghast at the sheer emptiness (bohu) of it , per author Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg (The Murmuring Deep, quoting Rashi and author Stephen Frosh).

 

God’s boundless power—reflected in the peals of thunder, lightning flashes, and deep rumblings around His throne (“the life source of the universe” as Dr. Ed Hindson had called it)—and the immeasurable weight of His glory move over the chaotic, the tehom, Hebrew for depths, subterranean waters, and even suggesting a deep soul-to-soul groaning.

 

It possibly is what Zornberg’s book suggests: God is cutting through the chaotic, the deep murmuring—”primal noise”—to form a “creative silence,” a clearing for His creation words to come forth.

 

We witness a similar process when all of creation groans under the chaotic darkness birthed from sin.

 

At the appointed time, God again arises, His presence now hovering over our souls’ darkness, its chaos, its captivity , to break through and silence our noisy, subterranean murmuring, our aching soul-deep calling unto deep—tehom to tehom, תְּהֽוֹם־אֶל־תְּה֣וֹם ק֖וֹרֵא (Psalm 42 ).

 

The silence He created was witnessed on a rocky hill outside of Jerusalem, two thousand years ago. His deep (His Word) transformed the silence into a glorious work and bore the weight of our chaotic sinful state to bring forth the way, the truth, and the life of God’s redemption plan.

 

#2
And the Genesis opening comes . . .

 

Before His kingship calls forth a curious mergence of darkness and light from His unique environment . . . and separates the two independent entities (darkness/light).

 

Neither elements are “dependent on the lights created on the fourth day” and yet they “exist in hidden places [of the heavens] dedicated to them (Job 39:19-20),” per biblical commentator Moshe Weinfeld.

 

#3
And it comes . . .

 

Before He commands water to separate from water—the puzzling upper and lower waters, placed above and below the sky (heavenly) and earth expanse—creating space and order . . . and before He places luminaries in the sky: sun, moon, stars. God’s light-source timekeepers for seasons, days, years, and signs for appointed times.

 

IT’S ABOUT HIS WORD

 

God created (ex nihilo) this dimension—this beginning of beginnings—with a WORD. Per rabbinical teaching, the WORD God spoke in the creative process performed the creation.

 

What or who is that WORD?

 

The next two posts explore more of the wording beneath Genesis 1:1 and the what/who WORD question.

 

READ THIS NEXT: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 2]

 
 
PHOTO CREDITS for this three-part post:
CREDITS: Steam Punk Minister w/Bible by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash.com
CREDITS: Steps with child by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash.com
CREDITS: Follow the Line on asphalt photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Woman in jeans with Bible by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.com
 
 
RESOURCES:
(1) The Stone Edition Chumash, the ArtScroll, Series, published by Messiah Publications, ltd, September 2005 edition, Parashas Bereishis/Genesis, p 3
(2) Sefaria.org
(3) The Murmuring Deep, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Schocken Books, New York, 2009.
(4) Moshe Weinfeld quote: TheTorah.com

God’s Story Lens: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 2]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year ago ]

 

God’s unfolding story thread. Genesis 1:1 is usually translated “In the beginning, God created.” But is it saying something more? Walk this way . . .

 

This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

HIGHLY SUGGEST READING FIRST: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 1]

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES.

 

Discussions—heated or otherwise—span the ages regarding the Genesis 1:1 wording, which is often translated “In the beginning, God created.” But considering a point of Hebraic grammar, is that what it’s really saying—and how does any of that fit into God’s redemption-focused story thread?

 

Some scholars and/or grammarians say those first words aren’t as traditionally translated. There’s no “the” in the Hebrew text. So they translate with a one-word shift: “In a beginning.”

 

A stirring literal translation on a gazillion levels. And how that ups the game on God’s story line. This in-a-beginning view has been discussed many times over the years at Torah study tables—and always sets my mind spinning in a thrilling, isn’t-God-amazing way.

 

Three other views help us branch that concept even further . . .
 
 

 
 

THE BEGINNINGS STORY THREAD: A FEW STEPS MORE

 

Stephen Rayburn points out in his 2009 “D’var Torah: Bereshit” article, that Rashi (esteemed medieval rabbi/Talmudic commentator) regarded the word b’reshit as a statement not about “the absolute beginning of everything” but when “God turned His attention to our own world.”

 

Now add a point of biblical consistency—discussed in this two-minute Genesis 1:1 Hebrew grammar note—the construct in Genesis 1:1 (needing a noun) would be translated . . .

 

“In the (or a) beginning of God’s creating.”

 

And lastly, factor in this intriguing view from Rabbi Jeffrey W. Goldwasser . . .

 

Back in October 2011, Reb Jeff wrote in his blog post (“Bereshit: In the Beginning of What?”) a more illustrative translation based on the grammatical analysis and infusing spiritual innuendos of timelessness.

 

He says the “world never stopped being created” since it “has a beginning, but it is a beginning that has never ceased.”

 

Goldwasser’s Genesis 1:1 translation goes like this:

 

“In the beginning of the beginning that is always beginning, G-d created the creation that is still [beginning and creating].”

 

The Creator is always creating. He “rested” from His earth project but never really stopped creating—everything He creates is in a forward, unfolding, beginning-within-a-beginning motion. Contracting, reaching down, extending out . . . beginning anew.

 

God IS the beginning.
 

The One who has NO beginning.

 

Yet WITHIN HIM is the beginning within a beginning within a beginning.

 

Simply complex. Like that time thing in Part 1. Rattles the brain, right? Causes our souls to ponder the magnitude of His being. In light of creation alone, we’re talking about the mind-bending, humanly incomprehensible dunamis power of our holy God.

 
 

 
 

ON OUR HORIZON: MORE CREATION UNFOLDING

 

Since that Genesis 1:1 opening that underscores God’s unfolding redemptive creation story, He’s been birthing new things all the time—and will continue beyond our era, per His sovereign desire.

 

Here are a few “new beginnings” examples . . .

 

GOD CALLS FORTH ABRAM

He makes a covenant with him, changes Abram’s name to Abraham,

forms a people for Himself to carry His truth to the world. —Genesis 17

 

HE GIVES THE LAW

And He gave to Moses . . . two tablets of the testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. —Exodus 31:18

 

MUCH LATER, A FUTURE PROMISE

He’ll write the Law on our circumcised hearts. —Jeremiah 31:33/32

 

Says, “I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King . . . behold I’m doing a new thing.” —Isaiah 43:19

 

AND A MESSIANIC PROMISE

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD,

when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch

and he shall reign as king and deal wisely

and shall execute judgment and justice in the land.

In his days, Judah shall be saved and Israel shall dwell safely,

and this is his name that he shall be called,
The LORD is our righteousness. —Jeremiah 23:5

 

ANOTHER MESSIANIC PROMISE

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!

Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Behold, your king is coming to you;

righteous and having salvation,

humbled and mounted on a donkey,

on a colt, the foal of a donkey. —Zechariah 9:9

 

FUTURE RESTORATION

I will give her vineyards

and make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope . . .

And in that day, declares the Lord,

you will call me ‘My Husband,’

and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal’ (owner/master) . . .

And I will betroth you to me forever.

I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice,

in steadfast love and in mercy.

I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.

And you shall know the Lord.

—Hosea 2:15-16, 19-20

 
 

THE RESURRECTION PROMISE

And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth [the dead]

shall awake—some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting reproach and contempt.—Daniel 12:2

 

(Have you read John 5:28-29? The same promise is given.)

 

THE “END” OF THIS AGE—NEW BEGINNING, AGAIN

After the 1,000-year Messianic Age, God’s love story is far from over. He’ll create and unfold new things—birthing the coming new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem.

 

For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth,

and the former things shall not be remembered

or come into mind.

But be glad and rejoice forever

in that which I create;

for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,

and her people to be a gladness.

Isaiah 65:17-18
 
(Have you read Revelation 21? The same promise is given.)

 

QUESTION FOR YOU

 

What was going on with these beginnings within beginnings . . . when there was absolutely no beginning because God has no beginning and no end?

 

We know He birthed creation with a WORD. Rabbinic teaching says that the WORD God spoke in the creative process did the creation.

 

I couldn’t agree more.

 

It’s the apex—the critical story thread—linking God’s beginnings within beginnings and the reveal of the redemptive gift to humanity: the Messiah.

 

Let’s take that immense unfolding beginning of God’s story thread and the WORD igniting it all to peer deeper.

 
Read this next: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 3].

 

And stay tuned for more reveals in Genesis and beyond throughout this Bridge series.

 
 

PHOTO CREDITS for this three/four-part post:

CREDITS: Steam Punk Minister w/Bible by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Steps with child by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Follow the Line on asphalt photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Finally spring by Hannah Jacobson on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Woman in jeans with Bible by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.com

 
 

God’s Story Lens: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 3]

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year ago ]

 

Continuing the story dig. After reading Parts 1 and 2 of this “beginning within a beginning” blog series, jump into this Part 3—walking the bridge from Genesis 1:1 to its messianic connection.

 

This series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

SUGGEST READING THIS FIRST: Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 1] and Beginnings within Beginnings [Part 2]

 

READING TIME: 4 MINUTES

 

From page one of the Bible, God is on the move. His love revealed. He speaks forth creation for the sake of His redemption story . . . for a humanity who has yet to be created.

 

A humanity who will rebel against His ways, refuse to surrender to Him, and recant their promises to Him.

 

And yet, His mercies endure forever. His love, the motivating factor in all that He does.

 

With a WORD, God created His story, this dimension, space, order, time, this beginning within a beginning. This beginning that is unfolding, contracting, stretching out and beginning again. Our sovereign God who loves to create . . . who desires to continually bring forth new things in line with His purpose and holy desire.

 

Rabbinic teaching says that the WORD God spoke did the actual creation. But this WORD did more than tell His story . . . it came from WITHIN Him, embodying and performing both the creative process and the world’s REDEMPTIVE process.

 
 

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,

and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;

he puts the deeps in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the Lord;

let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

For he spoke, and it came to be;

he commanded, and it stood firm.

Psalm 33:6-9

 
 

By faith we understand that the universe was created

by the word of God,

so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

—Hebrews 11:3

 
 

But who or what is this WORD that “came from the Father”? And since creation is part and parcel of God’s redemption story, what part does this WORD play?

 

Let’s continue strolling both sides of the bridge to discover God’s mystery and riches in the WORD, in the one whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.

 
 

 
 

WALK WITH ME: AND HE SPOKE

 

Just so we’re clear. We’re not talking about some mere vocabulary word used in the creation process—or even some everyday Joe who was a decent guy who God used down here to do the redemption part of the work.

 

Uh-uh. We’re talking about God Himself bringing forth from within Himself—the essence of Himself manifested in the WORD.

 

Therefore, the WORD is and was and always will be one with the Father.

 

So much so, that when the WORD would later come forth from the Father and manifest down here in the flesh for the sake of humanity’s redemption, he’d be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9).

 

And called . . .

 

a great light—no end to his kingdom (Isaiah 9)

 

the son given—the Son of God (Isaiah 9, Psalm 2)

 

having righteousness as the belt of his waist—and faithfulness the belt of his loins (Isaiah 11)

 

the healer of the blind, the mute, the lame—and the one cleansing lepers, raising the dead, and preaching the good news of heaven (Isaiah 35, Isaiah 61:1-2, Matthew 11, Luke 4:16-19, Luke 7:20-23)

 

the promised King, Messiah—bringing salvation, righteousness, humbly riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9)

 

the reflection of the Father—the exact imprint of His nature (Hebrews 1:1-3, John 14:9)

 

the Word that became flesh—and dwelt among us (John 1)

 

Faithful and True, The Word of God, and be clothed in a robe dipped in blood symbolic of the redemption completed (Revelation 19:11b, 13)
 

I will tell of the decree:

The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;

today I have begotten you [brought forth, per Hebrew]*

Psalm 2:7

*Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew-English Lexicon’s meaning for “begotten”
 

Long ago, at many times and in many ways,

God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,

but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,

whom he appointed the heir of all things,

through whom also he created the world.

He is the radiance of the glory of God

and the exact imprint of his nature,

and he upholds the universe

by the WORD of his power.

Hebrews 1:1-3

 
 

IMPACT: HIS COMING FORTH

 

BACK IN THE LATE 90s/EARLY 2000s . . . I was still struggling at times with the Father and Messiah (Jesus) relationship. So one day, I’d asked my friend’s Greek husband to give me the 4-1-1 on John 8:42—translating the scripture from the Greek since the original language of the New Testament was written in Koine Greek.

 

He said it read that Jesus “came up out of the Father” . . . and that it was similarly written in John 16.

 

That image changed so much for me. It took time, but it began to unravel some of the mystery hidden within the WORD, the Messiah—one that actually mirrored rabbinic thinking about the WORD doing the creation.

 

It also furthered the understanding of God creating the world for the sake of redemption.

 

The fog was clearing for me. The Hebrew in Psalm 2 and in many other Judaic messianic-related passages was echoed and manifested in the New Testament’s factual accounts of the WORD that dwelt among us.

 

The Messiah was with and in God eternally—had come up out of Him—was one with the Father yet distinct in person, and was brought forth by the Father from within God Himself for the sake of the world, for the sake of God’s redemption story.

 

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father,

you would love me,

for I came out from God and I am here.

I came not of my own accord, but he [God] sent me.”

—John 8:42

 

[Jesus said]: “For the Father Himself loves you,

because you have loved me

and have believed that I came out from God

and have come into the world,

and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”

—John 16:27

 

Not only is Jesus the WORD that came out of the Father and was with Him in creation . . . but God’s glory was fully on the Messiah—before, then, and now.

 

We’ll explore this more and other God-nuggets throughout this unfolding bridge series . . . and witness how the narrative, promises, and fulfillment of both the Judaic and Messianic/Christian sides are mirrored. A wondrous plan of God.

 
 
QUESTION FOR YOU:

Is there a MESSIANIC/GARDEN-OF-EDEN connection?

 

ANSWER:

Yep. That thread is part of an upcoming post in this God’s Story Lens series: Trees, Serpent, Lies.

 

Got more time now? Check the scripture list below related to this post.

 
 
 

 
 

GOT MORE TIME?
SCRIPTURES FOR YOUR REVIEW: THE WORD AMONG US

 

JESUS: THE WORD THAT “CAME UP OUT OF GOD”

 

Two Jewish disciples of the Messiah Jesus (part of the original twelve) give a factual, connecting the dots for us. One is John (not John the Baptist/Immerser) and the other is Matthew, a tax collector-turned-follower.

 

John 1:1-5 and John 1:14

Matthew 3:16-17

 
 

Pharisee-turned Believer, Saul Paulus (Apostle Paul), later wrote . . .

 

1 Corinthians 8:6

 
 

JESUS: GLORY BEFORE CREATION EXISTED

 

Isaiah 61:1-2 and Luke 4:16-19

John 17:1-5

 
 

JESUS: IMAGE OF THE INVISIBLE GOD

 

Isaiah 11:2 and Isaiah 11:5

Zechariah 9:9

Colossians 1:13-17

 
 

JESUS: THE WORD, THE NAME, I AM

 

Revelations 19:13-16

 f

Compare the Revelations 19:11-21 description with the one in Daniel 7:9-14 (the Son of Man, everlasting dominion, glory).

 
 

God told Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” [I will be what/who I will be.]—Exodus 3:14

 

Jesus/Yeshua repeatedly spoke of his eternal relationship with the Lord—his coming out of the Father, being one in essence with the Father, and returning to the Father.

 

John 8:54-58

John 18:2-6

John 10:30-38

Philippians 2:9-11

 
 

JESUS: THE REDEMPTION PROMISE TO YOU

 

Isaiah 9:2-7

Matthew 4:16-17

John 1:1-5

John 1:14-17

2 Corinthians 5:17

 
 
 

PHOTO CREDITS for this three/four-part Beginnings series:

 

CREDITS: Steam Punk Minister with Bible by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Steps with child by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Follow the Line on asphalt photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash.com

CREDITS: Woman in jeans with Bible by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.com

 
 

RESOURCES:

Sefaria.org

God’s Story Lens: Beginnings Hebrew Grammar Note

By SoulBreaths Author [ 1 year ago ]

 

A quick Hebrew grammar note on Genesis 1:1, regarding Part 2’s Beginnings post.

 

The God’s Bridge series is related to a spiritual call (started in the early 90s) for me to walk a bridge—from the Judaic camp reaching out to the Messianic/Christian camp and then vice versa—crisscrossing it, realizing and later sharing who and what the real bridge is. Walk with me to discover God’s revelations and passionate plan for our souls.

 

© SoulBreaths.com. All rights reserved.

 

READING TIME: 2 MINUTES.

 

In Part 2 of the Beginning Within Beginnings series, there’s a mention of Hebrew grammar related to Genesis 1:1. Here’s a quick 4-1-1 on that.

 
 

First: two brief, need-to-know points.

 

#1. The Tanakh—”Old Testament”—is written in Hebrew, a consonantal language, read right to left. Meaning that it’s written without vowels. Spoken with vowels, yes, of course. And initially learned using a vowelized version.

 

But early biblical writings had no vowels—and no word or paragraph spacings. So it’s ironic that the spiritual clues to this universe’s beginnings in Genesis 1 lie in the vowel usage.

 

Here’s how Genesis 1:1 looks without vowels:
בראשית ברא אלהים את השמים ואת הארץ

 

Here’s how Genesis 1:1 looks with vowels:
בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ

 

#2. The Masoretes—scribes and scholars in the 7th century CE/AD—created a vowel marking system and a grammatical guide (with word/paragraph spacing and punctuation) using an oral tradition from a millennium earlier.

 

Their work culminated in what’s known as the Masoretic Text, which preserved the Hebrew Bible and became the authoritative text for rabbinic Judaism.

 

EXPLORING THE TRANSLATION

 

Discussions—heated or otherwise—span the ages regarding the Genesis 1:1 wording, which is often translated “In the beginning, God created.”

 

Is that correct—given the Hebraic grammar?

 

Depends who you ask. Some scholars and/or grammarians say no. Their translation: “In a beginning.”

 

That always wows me. On like a gazillion or so levels.

 

And as I mention in Beginnings Part 2 of the God’s Bridge series, it’s a view that’s been discussed many times over the years at Torah study tables.

 

But let’s look at the vowel in question—a sh’va, two vertical dots under the first letter, which is a bet.

 

Simply put, that vowel gives us the word b’reishit in a grammatical construct state. In other words, a construction that’s lacking something: a noun.

 

There are four other biblical occurrences of this voweled wording (b’reishit) that are in the same construction as Genesis 1:1—and all are translated with a preposition:

 

Genesis 10:10.The beginning of his kingdom

Proverbs 8:22.The beginning of His way

Jeremiah 2:3.The beginning of His increase

Jeremiah 26:1. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim

And this . . . Deuteronomy 18:4. In the first fruit/beginning of your corn

 

In other words, the translation “In the beginning of” or “In a beginning of”demands a noun to follow—but in the conventional translation, we only have a verb (created). “In the beginning, God created.”

 

Based on biblical consistency (shown in the four scriptures above), the construct in Genesis 1:1 would be translated with a preposition and a gerund (verb+ing, forming a noun) . . .

 

“In the beginning of God’s creating.”

 

Hop back to the God’s Bridge series [Part 2] to see how all that just might create a stairway to some intriguing connections to your redemption.

 
 
PHOTO CREDITS for this grammar note:
CREDITS: Steam Punk Minister w/Bible by Nathan Bingle on Unsplash.com
 
 
RESOURCES:
Sefaria.org

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