Unless we understand the origin of the Shavuot festival (approx. 1300 BCE), we will never properly understand the beginning of its fullness in the first century CE (Acts 2). Remember that the Goal of Shavuot, like the Goal of the Torah is Yeshua. And Yeshua’s Goal is to do the Father’s will reconciling the repentant to HaShem (God).
Yeshua is the head Who forms the beginning.
“You alone are Adonai. You have made the heavens, the earth’s atmosphere, and the heavens beyond the atmosphere with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them, and the heavenly host bows down before You.” –Nehemiah 9:6
Beginning With Messiah:
Before we begin to study the book of Genesis we must first familiarize ourselves with the Author. No I’m not referring to Moses, we’ll get to that later. I’m speaking of the Author of all things (including the book of Genesis), G-d the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I’m referring to the Author and goal of our faith, Yeshua, the Word (D’var Emet) of truth. In regard to Authorship, the illumination that Messiah brings to the creation narrative is of the greatest importance. Why? Because He is the pre-existent creative Word of G-d through Whom all things came into being (John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:12-20).
Therefore we would be remiss if we failed to examine the wider Biblical text as a foundation for understanding the creation accounts of Genesis 1-3.
From the Messianic Hebrew viewpoint there are two books of the Bible that begin with the beginning: Genesis (B’reishit) and John (Yochanan). In Hebrew, both these books begin with the same word, “B’reishit”: In the beginning. It is interesting to note that the Gospel of John is the first book of the Coptic NT cannon. It is a practice of Jewish tradition to name the books of Scripture after the first word or phrase of the book in question. If this practice had been adopted by the early Church fathers the book of John would be known today as Genesis. It seems appropriate that both testaments begin at the beginning.
Beginning with the book of John (Yochanan), let’s examine what the wider cannon of Scripture says about the Creator, the Messiah and the unity of the G-d-head.
“1In the beginning was the Word (D’var) and the Word (Yeshua) was with the G-d (Ha-Elohim) and the Word was G-d, He was in the beginning with the G-d (Ha-Elohim). 3All things came into being in Him (Yeshua), and apart from Him (Yeshua) nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him (Yeshua) was life (Chayim), and the life was the Light (Ha-Or) of humanity (Ha-adam). 5 The Light shines in the darkness (Choshekh), and the darkness did not comprehend (take possession of) it.”
–Yochanan (John) 1:1-5
The writer of the gospel of John (Yochanan), inspired by the Author of Scripture (G-d) seems intent, from the beginning, to emphasis the fact that Yeshua (The Word) and the Father G-d (Ha-Elohim) are echad (a complex unity), Father and Son. Yeshua is G-d with us, G-d the Son and as the Word issuing from G-d’s mouth (as it were), Yeshua acts out the creative process that brings into existence all things. In a sense, He is the very essence of the mind of G-d, the communicative language of the universe, intrinsically linked with the breathe (Ruach/Holy Spirit), and the present participant in the mechanism of creation. No other interpretation of either the Greek or Hebrew texts of John’s gospel is possible.
Yeshua, the Word, was with G-d and was G-d (G-d never ceases to be G-d). Note that Yeshua, was before the beginning.
Yeshua is Ha-Or, the light. Genesis 1:4 tells us that G-d made a distinction between Ha-Or, the light and the darkness. The light that Yeshua creates in the nothingness of the beginning of creation is one of the first things described in the Genesis creation account. The light commanded by G-d/Yeshua in Genesis 1:3 is a product of Yeshua Himself, G-d with us. This light is unique and precedes the Sun and moon. This light is a manifest representation of the k’vod (glory) of G-d. This is why Colossians 1:19 says, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness (of G-d) to dwell in Him (Yeshua).”
Yeshua is chayim (Life everlasting), His light, Ha-Or, is the means by which all things exist. The life that is provided by Yeshua is manifest as Ha-Or, (the light, Soul seed) for humanity’s existence.
Finally, we learn that the choshekh (created darkness) has no authority over or the ability to comprehend Ha-Or, the light manifestation produced by the Word Yeshua.
It’s important to understand that Ha-Or (the light) was and is in Yeshua, but the light is not Yeshua. In the same way that G-d is light, but light is not G-d.
The text of John 1 affirms the understanding that Yeshua is G-d the Son, uncreated, the Creator.
It’s interesting to note that the Jewish esoteric teachings of the Kabbalah, teach a similar concept to John 1 when they speak of the Ketvi (written word) as being the essence of all created things. In Hebrew the verb usually precedes the subject, indicating the subject’s authority over the verb. In the first sentence of John 1 the preposition, “in”, the noun, “beginning” and the verb form of be, “was” are all subservient to the subject, the Word (Yeshua). Therefore The Word (D’var) is the L-rd of words (Ketuvim: plural of ketvi). Yeshua is not only the Creative Word (D’var), He is also the Author of all written Scripture (Ketuvim) in unity with The Father G-d. I said, Author, not literal penman.
Creation was made Through Yeshua and for Yeshua
“15He (Yeshua) is the image of the invisible G-d, the first begotten over all creation. 16 For in Him (Yeshua) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him (Yeshua) and for Him (Yeshua). 17 He (Yeshua) is before all things, and in Him (Yeshua) all things hold together. 18 He (Yeshua) is also head (Rosh) of the body, the Community of believers; and He (Yeshua) is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He (Yeshua) Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness (of G-d) to dwell in Him (Yeshua), 20 and through Him (Yeshua) to reconcile all things to Himself (G-d the Father), having made peace through the blood of His (Yeshua) cross; through Him (Yeshua), I say, whether things on earth or things in the heavens.”
Yeshua is G-d with us (Emmanuel) v.15 He is the image of the invisible G-d (the Father). He is the firstborn of all creation because He is not created but begotten of the Father, just as the Word of the Father’s mind is begotten of the Father’s mouth. This is a poetic way of saying that Yeshua is G-d with us v.15. Yeshua, being the manifest revelation of the person of G-d with us, is uncreated, He is G-d the Son.
It’s important to understand the difference between something begotten and something made, as it pertains to G-d, Yeshua and creation. A person’s words are begotten, whereas a person makes a book to record them. In the case of G-d, Yeshua is the Word of G-d, and creation is the book. The difference is that a human being requires the base matter of wood pulp, ink, glue etc. in order to make a book, G-d on the other hand created the universe from nothing (ex-nihilo).
By, or, in Yeshua, all things were created and they have been created through Yeshua and for Yeshua v.16.
Yeshua is before all things, that is, He is G-d the Son, uncreated. All things continue to be held together in Him (The D’var/logos/Word essence of G-d) v.17.
Not only did Yeshua participate in the first creation, He is also the head (beginning) and the first begotten from the dead, that is, the catalyst and Word of the New Creation that extends to life everlasting. Hence, in John 1:1-5 He is called the chayim (living/eternal life) which is light to humanity. The hope of eternity, the New Creation, was purchased with the blood of Yeshua v.18.
With regard to the Hebrew, the words beginning and head are synonymous, in fact the Hebrew B’reishit (Beginning) comes from the root Rosh (Head). Messiah Yeshua is both the Head of creation and the head of the new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) v.18.
It was G-d’s will for all the fullness of His glory to dwell in the Son Yeshua v.19.
Before creation, G-d planned to reconcile all things to Himself through His Son v.20. This is symbolized in Ha-Or (the light) of Genesis 1:3 which is created through Yeshua as a symbol of the gospel which cannot be overcome or comprehended by darkness, either literally or metaphorically.
Outside of Genesis, John and Colossians, What Does the Bible Say About the Creator & His Creation?
Yeshua, the Builder
“Therefore, set apart fellow Jews, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Yeshua (Jesus),the Shaliach (Sent One) and Cohen Ha-Gadol (High Priest) of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honour than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is G-d.”
In this portion of Hebrews, Yeshua, the builder, is compared to G-d, the builder of all things.
Yeshua. The Word: We Understand Creation by Faith in G-d
“In faith we understand that the worlds were prepared in the Word of G-d, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.” –Hebrews 11:3
There is no reason to disregard good science or fight over minor details regarding the text, however, we don’t understand creation by science, rather we understand creation through faith in G-d.
Creation was intended to be inhabited
“For thus says HaShem, Who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place (tohu), but formed it to be inhabited),
“I am HaShem, and there is none else.” –Yishaiyahu/Isaiah 45:18
The prophet Isaiah tells us that G-d formed the earth to be inhabited. We were in His mind as the glory of His creation. He designed creation like a loving father who designs and builds a wonderful dream room for His child to live in.
G-d is Eternal Past, Present and Future, Uncreated
“Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are G-d.” –Tehilim/Psalm 90:2
G-d is eternal, uncreated, not bound by time and space, outside of all things and at work in all things.
The Human Writer of Genesis:
There is no reason to discount the traditional Jewish view that Moses penned the book of Genesis. This view sees Moses as the scribe who recorded the words of HaShem and Israel’s history prior to his death, at which point his successor Joshua collated, annotated and completed the narrative. The Scriptures themselves attest to this view:
“Moses wrote down all the words of HaShem. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel.” –Shemot/Exodus 24:4
“So Moses wrote this Torah and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of HaShem, and to all the elders of Israel.” –D’varim/Deuteronomy 21:9
“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Torah of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’” –Luke 24:44
“Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” –Yochanan/John 5:45-47
In modern times the majority view has been that of the redactive theory which attempts to prove multiple writers and narratives which have been later redacted and joined in an effort to produce a fluid document.
One of the greatest mistakes of the redactive theory is that it attempts to place human motivation at the centre of biblical interpretation. Each writer and the subsequent redactor are said to be from various sects, tribes and time periods of Israel’s history, this in turn is said to illuminate the motivation behind certain instructions and narratives in the Biblical text.
After thoroughly examining the redactive theory and its unconvincing proofs I have concluded that it is largely unreliable and should be regarded as presumptuous conjecture. However, if it were conclusively proven to be true and the references in Scripture sighting Moses as human author are simply allusions to his authority over the tradition passed down, as followers of Messiah we must remember that G-d inspired His word and that the motivations of its earthly recorders do not illuminate the true motivation behind the text. G-d is the source of the text regardless of how it was physically transmitted to us.
In fact, as we have seen from the Biblical text itself, there is far greater textual evidence for a Mosaic authorship completed by the collation and postscript work of Joshua. The text was then meticulously copied by devote scribes and passed down through the ages as a G-d inspired historical account of the events spanning from the creation to the death of Moses and Israel’s preparation to enter the promised land.
Leave Your Baggage at the Door
All those who undertake the study of Genesis bring baggage with them. One of the greatest obstacles to the modern student in his seeking to understand Genesis is the wealth of secular scientific misinformation and the false premises that often support scientific theory. We should ask ourselves, “Am I allowing the text to direct my understanding of science or do I require the text to submit to my understanding of science?”
For far too long scholars have perpetuated the practice of (so called) enlightened textual criticism, passing judgement on the text rather than discerning its meaning. We have foolishly neglected to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit which says, “It is the text that critiques you and finds you wanting.” Rather than critiquing the text we should allow ourselves to be critiqued by the Text Himself (Yeshua, D’var v’ketvi). What follows are some important questions that every follower of Messiah should ask when studying the Genesis account of creation:
If you have answered, “no” to any of these questions your interpretation is almost certainly in error.
© Alastair Brown 2016
כתביו של יעקב