In The Beginning, Part 1
We want to take a closer look at the creation story. God’s Word is complete and total. This means that we should be able to discover all truth through His Word. So let’s begin “in the beginning.”
To begin, we read that God created. But we have to ask ourselves, who is God? The person who opens a Bible for the first time may not know anything about God. I suppose the Bible could not describe God in one book, because you can not explain God in a few words. He is so vast that even volumes of books could not tell you everything about Him. He is above our limited language because He has no bounds, no limitations. We can say that God is awesome, great, and mighty, but this just does not say enough about God. So, like the writer of Ecclesiastes 7:24, we ask this question: “That which is far off, and exceeding deep, who can find it out?”
Well, you know what they say: “A picture is worth a thousand words.” God is quite the Artist, and He has painted a beautiful picture of Himself for us in the Word of God. What we see there is that God is love: “For He so loved” that He created a place for us, a world with all of its beauty. And that is where we are going to start.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.”
As we look at God, the Master Builder and the Great Artist, we will see through His masterpiece—His creation—who He is.
We know that God is a Spirit as Yeshua tells us in John 4:24, “God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
So we say this: We know that everything has a beginning except for God, as Psalm 90:1-2 tells us, “Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.”
If God is a Spirit, then He lives in a spiritual world, a world we will not understand till we cross the great divide in death.
If God is a Spirit, then what do we make of Ezekiel 8:2? “Then I looked, and behold, a likeness as the appearance of a man; from His loins and downward there was the appearance of fire, and from His loins and upward the appearance of brightness, like the appearance of glowing metal.”
Or Isaiah 6:1-4?
It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Attending him were mighty seraphim, each having six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. They were calling out to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s armies! The whole earth is filled with His glory!” Their voices shook the Temple to its foundations, and the entire building was filled with smoke.
And how about Revelation 1:10-16?
On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, which said: “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea.” I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was someone like a son of man, dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
We see so many other scriptures that refer to God being in the likeness of man, or refer to the throne room of God as if it were a place here on Earth. We must understand that it is all about perception. What the writer saw may not be the way it is, but only the way he perceived it to be, as Exodus 33:20 tells us, “But He said, ‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’”
So what about the throne room of God? We know that it exists, because Acts 7:44 tells us, “Our fathers had the tabernacle of the testimony with them in the wilderness. It was constructed exactly as God had directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen.”
And Hebrews 8:5 also tells us, “They serve a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle, ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’”
Both of these verses quote from Exodus 25:40, “See that you make them [the implements of the tabernacle] after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain;” yet the creation story does not tell us when the throne room of God came to be. So it must have existed before He made the heavens and the Earth.
Let’s look at the beginning so that we can understand the end.
The Throne Room
We know that God is a Spirit, so He had no beginning and He has no end. He has no need of time, space, or even air. Before God created, nothing existed, not even His angels. So why would God need a throne room when there was no one to attend to it or to attend to Him? Also, a throne room is for a king. If nothing existed before creation, who would God have been king over? So we can make the assumption, I think, that God created His sanctuary, His throne room, at the same time He created His angels but before He created the heavens and the Earth.
Revelation 4 describes an awesome scene from the throne room of God. It gives us such a clear picture of who God is and the continual worship of God in the heavens:
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things, and by Your will they were created and have their being.”
With the stroke of the brush, God continues to paint a picture of Himself. We do know that God rules and reigns above all of His creation. He is the Most High God and there is nothing higher than Him.
Genesis 14:18-22 tells us this about God Most High:
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High (El Elyon) and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth…”
Psalm 57:2 also uses this title for God: “I cry out to God Most High, to God, who vindicates me.”
Psalm 78:35 says this: “They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.”
Psalm 113:4-6 tells us, “The Lord is exalted over all the nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth?”
Isaiah 57:15 tells us, “For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’”
Even though God is the Most High God who is high and lifted up, He still draws near to those who are humble and lowly of spirit.
Let us continue on as we look into the creation story.
There is so much that we do not understand about God. So much mystery surrounds Him. We have so many unanswered questions. What was it like before He created? Where and how did God exist? The Psalmist writes in Psalm 139:6, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain it.”
Before God created, God had to plan. He is a Master Architect. He laid out His plans of just the right way to create the universe. What elements should He use? Just how far apart should He place each planet, each star? What about the types of trees? Should He have just fruit trees or shade trees, big or small trees? And colors: everything should have its own color. The seasons, the weather, and this animal and that creature… and of course, what about man? God planned it all out and designed it all to perfection. Hebrews 11:10 says this of Abraham: “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Before the Foundation of the World
The rabbis believed that God created seven things before he created the universe as explained in Genesis 1.
God created seven things before He created the World. They are the Torah; repentance; the Garden of Eden; Gehenna; the Throne of Glory; the Temple; and the name of Messiah . . . The name of the Messiah, as it is written [in Psalm 72:17], “May His name endure forever; before the sun His name endures.” (b. Pesachim 54a)
Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” When we read “In the beginning,” what comes to our mind? Well, for one
John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” We also know this about the beginning from Revelation 22:13, which says, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”So we learned that before God created anything, His Word, the Torah, was from the beginning. We know that God was from the beginning and that His Torah was also. This means that when God entrusted His Torah to Israel on Mt. Sinai, it was not something new and only for a specific group of people, but as Romans 3:2 tells us, “Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God.”Why? Because Israel was the only group of people who worshiped the One True God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, at that time. We also see that before God even laid the foundation of the Earth that He loved His Word, as John 17:24 tells us, “Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.”
Around the time when Yeshua and His disciples walked on this Earth, there were several different Aramaic translations of the Hebrew Scriptures that were popular. Some of these translations, called Targums, function more like commentaries or paraphrases than as literal translations. Some of the translators of these Targums pondered how it could be that an infinite, limitless, spiritual God interacted with a physical, finite world. Some of these early rabbis and translators believed that God somehow manifested Himself in a distinct way in order to interact with the physical universe. They called this unique manifestation of God the Memra, which is Aramaic for “Word.” In the Targum, God creates the World through the Memra. For example, in one of these Aramaic translations, Genesis 1:1 is translated like this: “From the beginning, with wisdom the Word of the Lord created.” In the same translation, Genesis 1:3 likewise says, “And the Word of the Lord said: ‘Let there be light’; and there was light by His Word.” This is the equivalent of what we read in John 1:1. It is not as if the Word, or the Memra, is a separate deity, but rather as John puts it, the Word is God. It is an “emanation,” or a facet of God.
God’s Torah is God’s wisdom. Proverbs 3:19-20 says, “By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding He set the heavens in place; by knowledge the watery depths were divided, and the clouds let drop the dew.”
Proverbs 8:22-31 tells us in Wisdom’s own words:
I, wisdom, was with the Lord when He began His work, long before He made anything else. I was created in the very beginning, even before the world began. I was born before there were oceans, or springs overflowing with water, before the hills were there, before the mountains were put in place. God had not made the earth or fields, not even the first dust of the earth. I was there when God put the skies in place, when He stretched the horizon over the oceans, when He made the clouds above and put the deep underground springs in place. I was there when He ordered the sea not to go beyond the borders He had set. I was there when He laid the earth’s foundation. I was like a child by His side. I was delighted every day, enjoying His presence all the time, enjoying the whole world, and delighted with all its people.
WOW! That is some Scripture about the personal relationship between God and His Torah (His Word), and we know that the Torah became flesh and dwelt among us. We also know that if God’s Torah was the foundation to His creation, then His Torah should be our foundation.
Isaiah 40:28 says this: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is an eternal God, the Creator of the whole earth. He does not get tired or weary; there is no limit to His wisdom.”
Psalm 111:10 speaks of wisdom like this: “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.”The same Hebrew word is used as “In the beginning” (reisheet). Wisdom and God are inseparable, or we could say God and His Torah are inseparable, or we could say God and Yeshua are inseparable. All three are the same. God is so beyond and above His creation!
Ephesians 1:4-6 tells us that we were chosen before the foundation of the world.
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Messiah Yeshua, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved.
Also in Romans 8:29-30,
For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.
Titus 1:2 tells us, “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”
We also don’t know why people were predestined to be eternally saved or eternally damned other than we know that God knows the beginning from the end. As the Scripture tells us, He is the beginning and the end. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and ever-present.
The rabbis believe that all of the souls that have ever lived and will ever live in the future were formed during the creation week: “You should know that all the souls that existed from the time of Adam the first man until the end of time, were all created during the six days of creation” (Midrash Tanchuma, Mishpatim 3). The souls are kept in heavenly storeplaces and are implanted into humans when they are ready to be conceived. If this is true, then God knew the character of our souls from the very beginning: He knew those who would choose Him and those who would reject Him. Some of the rabbis believe that Messiah can’t come until the last soul has been put into a body.
Lamb of God
We also see before the foundation of the world that the Lamb of God was slain.
So why was Yeshua, the Word made flesh, appointed to be the Lamb of God before the foundation of the world? We will see as time goes on.
Revelation 13:8 says this: “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship Him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
Hebrews 9:11-12 tells us:
But when the Messiah came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, He went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.
As it continues in Hebrews 9:23-26,
It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Messiah did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. Nor did He enter heaven to offer Himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Otherwise Messiah would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But He has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
So we may not understand how the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world, other than that God sees the beginning and the end all at the same time. But we do know that the sanctuary of God needed to be purified just like the earthly temple needed to be purified before it was used, as we just saw in Hebrews 9 and also as we see in Ezekiel 43:18-20:
Then he said to me: “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: These are the statutes of the altar: On the day it is built to offer up burnt offerings on it and to sprinkle blood on it you will give a young bull for a sin offering to the Levitical priests who are descended from Zadok, who approach Me to minister to Me, declares the Sovereign Lord. You will take some of its blood and place it on the four horns of the altar, on the four corners of the ledge, and on the border all around; you will purify it and make atonement for it.”