As you’re reading every day, keep in mind that there are many layers to each verse and each passage. Some Jewish teachers believe there are as many as 70 different levels of understanding to every verse! As often as possible, we are going to look for at least 4 levels of application in the Old Testament: At the time it happened; with the coming Messiah (Jesus in the New Testament), for my life today, and in the future prophecy events. The other thing you need to keep your eye out for is the one message that is threaded throughout scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. I don’t think you’ll have a hard time finding it, maybe as soon as Genesis 1.
Right away on day one, I also plan to show you a glimpse of how scripture all ties together. The teachings of the New Testament are all tied to the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) in ways I am only beginning to learn, but all very exciting and faith building!
Lastly, don’t quit. There are many great reasons why you want to finish, but one of the best I know of is this: Satan has lied to you about God. From the time you were born, Satan has been on a smearing campaign to get you to doubt and distrust God and His intentions, even if you don’t fully realize areas it has worked in your life. In fact, the only power Satan has over you and me (as believers) is the lies he can get us to believe. It’s time to find out just who God is, and why He is worth staking our hopes, dreams, lives, and eternities on.
1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This is a profoundly significant verse, setting the stage for the rest of the Bible. If we don’t believe this verse, then why believe anything else God says? A lot of Christians believe either in evolution, or that “God used evolution over millions of years” to form life and the world as we know it. This is in direct contradiction to the first book of the Bible in God’s own words.
Some people say that “a day is like a thousand years to God,” so who can say these were literal days? In the NASB translation, it says, “there was evening and there was morning, one day.” According to the Hebrew calendar that God established for the Israelites, a day started at sundown, hence “evening and morning.” Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke very literally to His people through His word. Most everything He said, even prophecies, could be taken literally in human language and understanding. When He said there would be a flood, there was a flood. When He gave specifications for His Temple, or the Ark of the Covenant, or even the priestly garments, His measurements and instructions were incredibly minute and detailed. When He gave instructions for Holy Days and Feasts, they were literal days. So why would creation be any different? Answer: It wouldn’t...there was nothing vague or mysterious about it. He wanted us to know right from the start, what kind of powerful God we serve.
We don’t have time to address the creation/evolution debate, but from my own personal study through the years, there is a great deal of convincing evidence to support a 7-day literal creation. For more info on this, go to: http://www.answersingenesis.org/.
Another interesting point to note. God said that He created plants and grass and trees on the third day. But He did not create the sun until day four. I think He purposely did this so that we could not mistake that this was all an ordered miracle. Plants and trees could not exist even a day without the sunlight, unless God was sustaining them.
Here is something else fascinating about Genesis 1:1. According to Mark Biltz (see resources at bottom), the Hebrew word for God right in the first line of scripture is equivalent to the Greek “Alpha and Omega.” This ties to Revelation when Jesus stated that He is the Alpha and Omega.
Or how about John 1:1-3, “In the beginning the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make.” So you see, Jesus is present in the very first verse of the Bible.
1:3 Again, this light is not a physical light. The sun has not been created yet. This is a spiritual light (see John above) that is going to bring God’s spiritual light and illumination into the sin-darkened world (God is planning ahead). Are you wondering if I’m stretching too far? Look at 2 Corinthians 4:6. “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness,’ has made us understand that this light is the brightness of the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.” Wow, amazing, huh?
Add to that, the Hebrew word for the God of the Old Testament where we get “Jehovah” is Yood Hey Vav Hey. In Hebrew picture language it literally means, “The hand revealed, the nail revealed.”
As you’ve probably guessed by now, I’ve recently begun studying Jewish teachings and customs to gain understanding of the Bible. I am so glad I did! It’s opened up a whole new world in scripture and I highly recommend it if you want to fall in love with God and His Word like never before. One of the things I learned recently while studying about the significance of Jewish feasts that God established in the Old Testament is that it is believed by some that Jesus was actually conceived on Hanukah, which is coincidentally the “Festival of Lights.” Biblelight.net makes a very good argument for this. And in fact, many Jewish teachers believe Jesus was born on the Feast of Tabernacles (mid-September) when He came to tabernacle or dwell with us (see more info on Matthew today). If this is the case, back up 9 months and you have Hanukah!
1:26 Then God said, "Let us make people in our image, to be like ourselves.” The triune (three person) God makes Himself known in this first chapter of the Bible. I have no idea if I’m right or not, but I tend to think of the “Trinity” (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) as one umbrella with three individual people living under it. Like a family who share a last name, genetic ties, the same mission and purpose as one family, yet operate as individuals. Who knows, I could be way off, but I’ve never heard a better explanation for trying to grasp it rationally. And sometimes I think we try to make God too irrational. Yes He’s unfathomable, but I think He is logical and rational. And I think He’s made our world to give us pictures of what He is like in so many ways, so I thought of the family.
2:1 Interestingly, none of the original Hebrew calendar is followed to this day except the seven-day week. For instance, the Hebrew calendar is 360 days in a year with a month added every so often. There is no special reason for a 7 day week to still exist. If God did not truly created the world in 7 days and establish it, then why do we still use this custom today?
Okay, I know this is TMI (too much info) but I have to share this juicy tidbit. Many Messianic Jewish teachers believe that the 7 day literal creation IS tied to the verse about a day being like a thousand years, but not saying that it took thousands of years to make the earth. They believe God gave us a symbolic picture of our time on this earth before we get to the new heavens and new earth (we’ll talk more about this later). They teach that there are 6,000 years of toil and work on this earth, followed by 1,000 years of rest, called the Sabbath Millennium. This Millennium will feature the reign of Christ on this earth (hence, Millennial Kingdom) and will be a time of rest from our enemies (Satan is bound for 1,000 years) and worldwide peace. Okay, so right now, we are at about 6,000 years since creation. 4,000 before Christ, 2,000 since Christ. Isn’t that amazing?
2:9 At the center of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Why do you think God placed these two trees in the middle of the Garden and not the fringe? I think it’s because He was making the point that the decision of following God’s will or my own is always at the center of everything we do.
2:16-17 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden—except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” In his book, “Sidetracked in the Wilderness,” Michael Wells makes the point that the knowledge of good is still not life. The Pharisees had much knowledge of good, but they were full of hypocrisy. We must still choose the tree of life, which is neither the tree of good or evil. It is belief in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus so that we might have eternal life.
2:20 He gave names to all the livestock, all the birds of the sky, and all the wild animals. But still there was no helper just right for him. Notice how God sets Adam up to realize his ache for human companionship. For some reason, God chose to make us incomplete without it.
2:23 “At last!” the man exclaimed. Feel Adam’s relief in finding his life companion. Imagine our relief when we finally see Jesus!
1:1-17 The genealogies are important because Abraham was promised a seed (Acts 3:25) through whom all nations would be blessed. Jesus Christ was that seed. Interestingly, there is a different set of genealogies in Luke 3, of which many Biblical scholars believe was the line of Mary. Since she was a virgin, and Joseph wasn’t technically his father, it was necessary that her lineage was also from Abraham.
1:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Remember, God tabernacle with us) Compare Isaiah 7:14; 8:8, 10.
Many Messianic Jewish teachers believe that Jesus was born on the Jewish holy day called the “Feast of Tabernacles.” Tabernacle means “dwelling” and the fact that Jesus was likely born on this feast is divine timing, declaring that He came to “tabernacle” or dwell with us. John 1:14, also speaking of Jesus says: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” The word “dwelt” that is used here is the Greek word “skenoo” which literally means “to tabernacle!” (for more info, go to: http://www.christianworldviewnetwork.com/article.php/4325/Brannon-Howse/By-Dr-David-R-Reagan
The Feast of Tabernacles is the most joyous of all the Jewish feasts. It is, in fact, their feast of thanksgiving. To learn more: http://feastsofthelord.podomatic.com/
Questions for personal application:
• What new perspective do you have about God after reading today?
• Do you have any obstacles to believing in a 7 day literal creation? If so, what?
• What is the “tree of temptation” in the center of your life? This can be either “evil” temptations or “good” temptations. Remember, good is still not life.
Okay, a long day of reading. Great job!
Tips for your best participation experience (see blog #2)
Disclaimer: See entry #2
Pastor Mark Biltz, El Shaddai Ministries, excellent Bible teacher & Hebrew expert