Thursday, October 20, 2011

BERESHIT

Joe E. Smith
TP104
BERESHIT
Genesis 1:1 - 6:8


“In the beginning God....” begins the story of creation, not in a scientific, rational sense but as a foundation for the history of God’s relationship with man. All that mankind would ultimately be charged with mastery over went before him, indicating not an evolution from a lesser to a greater but to afford mankind the opportunity to observe the Majesty and Wonder of the world around him and so to know and understand his connection with God and the environment into which he had been placed.
Since the beginning of recorded time, man has sought to explain not only his origins but the origin of the earth he inhabits. It was not the purpose of the writer of the Creation narrative to offer a “scientific” treatise on planetary and biological origins but to reveal that the purposes and will of God stand independent of the physical details which occupy the minds of those whose aim in life is to seek to “explain” and present in a logical manner the “hows” of the universe, of which earth and man are the most readily available hosts for such inquiries.
What, then, are the truths taught us in this narrative of the “beginnings?” The first, and most important, is that there has been a creation, that things which have existed, currently exist and those not yet in existence have not just “grown by themselves” but have been called into being (“let there be....”) by a presiding intelligence and originating will. Despite the efforts and exhausting mental exercises, as well as physical examination, of the natural sciences, none has yet to dismiss the reality of a First Cause (to borrow a Grecian term). The first lesson, then, is mainly this: at the root and origin of all this vast material universe we gaze upon daily, with it’s “laws” which sustain and protect, as well as destroy and crush, is a living conscious Spirit who wills and knows and fashions all things. The other truth which this writer teaches us is that man was the chief work of God, for whose sake all else was brought into being.  Man, and only man among God’s works, can enter into and approve of God’s purpose in the world and can intelligently fulfill it. Man receives this ability as a creative word of blessing at the very outset of his existence and it becomes part of his spiritual nature (“let us make man in our image....”), thus defining his entire relationship with his Creator.
Man’s first command from the Lord was to “tend and keep” the Garden into which he had been placed. The Hebrew words for this indicate that this instruction was a form of worship. Work and worship were meant to be interactive as a means to show reverence for the Lord of Creation. Man was also to “keep” or guard the Garden, which assumes a spiritual significance and will become the word for religious observance---the Sabbath.
Despite the perfect intentions of the Lord, He also gave man the ability to choose to obey or disobey. One boundary set by the Lord was the forbiddance to consume the fruit of the “tree of knowledge of good and evil.” He was even told the consequences of his disobedience. Yet, through the power and freedom of choice, as well as the dialogue with the Adversary, he relinquished his position as “tender and keeper” over Creation and was banished, not only from the presence of God but from the circumstance in which he would have enjoyed the bounty of the Lord’s goodness . This shows us that mankind cannot live as an independent, autonomous moral creature but must have spiritual nourishment from the Giver of Life.
Even though disobedience brought about alienation from the will and purposes of God, He nevertheless promised to send a Redeemer to destroy the works of the Deceiver and restore mankind to his original intent and purpose. Exile from the Garden sets the stage for the human quest for the Tree of Life, which our parents were denied via their disobedience.
In the end, we will not be restored to the Garden of Eden but to a place of far greater order and holiness, “A city built by God.” There  we will have final and irrevocable access to the Tree of Life which we forfeited at Creation. In this City will come the fulfillment of God’s original plan for all humanity (Adam).

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