Bereshit — “In the beginning”
Portion for the week leading up to October 29, 2016
What's the Good Word?
The very first words of the Bible tell of the origin of the world, and start out with a deceptively simple phrase: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." A surface reading of these words would leave you with only the most literal understanding of the creation narrative. The apostle John, however, saw that there was something deeper and more important that needed to be understood.
The book of John begins by mirroring the first words of Genesis, with some interesting alterations: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." What is this cryptic Word that John is speaking of? In the Greek language, the term used for "word" is "logos," a word that is full of nuance. In one sense it does simply mean "a word", but the definition extends to include a word which embodies an idea, or a divine utterance/message. John explains in verse 14, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." It is clear from these passages that the Word, the Logos, is Yeshua (Jesus).
John's purpose in using this parallel is to explain the role of Yeshua as God by showing His role in creation. As God spoke His Word into the void, everything came into existence. But God was not alone in this endeavor. As John puts it, "He [Yeshua] was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being," (John 1:2-3). Everything that has happened and everything that will happen has been set from the beginning through Yeshua. This includes the fact that even before man sinned, a plan for redemption was established: "For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for your sake," (1 Peter 1:20).
In reflecting back on the creation in this manner, we also get the sense that with the coming of Yeshua, a new beginning of sorts had arrived. Prior to the incarnation of Yeshua, the single greatest historical event was the creation of the world. Without it, nothing else would have taken place. But without a Messiah who could reconcile humanity with their creator, the creation would always be incomplete.
There is another application of this title used by John, and that is the fact that Yeshua, as the Living Word, is the physical embodiment of the Torah. "Torah" is the Hebrew word for "teaching," and is typically used in reference to the law given at Mt. Sinai. The Torah is a physical representation of the will of God. It is a guide for how a righteous person should live. The Ten Commandments begin with the phrase, "Then God spoke all these words," (Exodus 20:1). And not only the Ten Commandments, but every word recorded in the Bible is straight from the mouth of the Lord: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness," (2 Timothy 3:16). If it is true of man that "his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart," (Luke 6:45), then how much more so it is true of God, in whose image we are made. Every word that God has spoken is a true and perfect reflection of who He is.
Yeshua, being the Word of God, came to the earth as a living representation of God to mankind. One requirement of this job was to perfectly fulfill, or live out, the Torah. He did not do this to "set us free" from, or somehow change, God's commandments, but because perfectly abiding in the will of God means perfectly fulfilling His commands: "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love," (John 15:10). The commandments of the Father and the commandments of the Son are not two different sets of commandments, but rather Yeshua brought forth the hidden light which was in the Torah all along: "For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Torah was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Messiah Yeshua," (John 1:16-17).
Let's seek to experience the fullness of the grace brought to us through Yeshua by walking both in Spirit and in truth, walking on the path that has been set before us since the first dawning of the light of creation.