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.
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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.
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 . . .
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.
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.
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
(1) The Stone Edition Chumash, the ArtScroll, Series, published by Messiah Publications, ltd, September 2005 edition, Parashas Bereishis/Genesis, p 3
(3) The Murmuring Deep, Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg. Schocken Books, New York, 2009.
(4) Moshe Weinfeld quote: TheTorah.com