Torah Portion: Bereshit (In the Beginning) Genesis 1:1-6:8
HafTorah: Isaiah 42:5-43:11
New Testament: John 1:1-18
For the next few weeks I want us to look at the Torah and the New Testament together to see how one compliments and illuminates the other. Where better to see this than here in Genesis and in John. They both start with exactly the same words, “In the beginning.” In fact I would think John had Genesis in mind as he wrote his gospel.
So, it is important for us to read John’s gospel as a parallel to the words in Genesis of the creation. In fact one of my questions asked you was to look for those similarities and see what you could find. We have already seen one in the opening words. Another is the emphasis that G-d created light and here Yeshua being the light of the world. In Genesis there was the initial creation of the world and through Yeshua we are new creations.
Now, I want us to look for a moment at the Torah concept of the word, “Word” to see how that might give us a clearer picture of what John is saying in the opening words of his gospel. Jews saw, at Yeshua’s time and also today, G-d as transcendent and beyond the boundaries of the created order. As Creator of the universe He was over it and not contained by it. But then that presents a problem. If this is so, then how do we explain His interaction with the world? He was walking in the garden, speaking to man, abiding in the cloud over the tabernacle. One way to deal with this is through the agency of His Word. His living Word is an expression of Himself. After all, at creation G-d created by His Word. He spoke and it was so. Psalms 33:6 reads “by the Word of the L-rd the heavens were made.” Other verses concerning His word are: Psalms 147:18, Psalms 119: 89, Psalms 147:15, and Psalms 107:20.
In these verses we see the Word, the divine living Word, as no less than G-d Himself. It is a finite form of G-d that can operate in His created universe. Like the sun, we can see the sun but we cannot touch it. However, by it’s light we can experience it, be warmed by it. The Bible says no man can see G-d and live but as John says we can experience His living Word, that light that shines in the darkness.
In Genesis 1:3 G-d says let there be light and there was light. In John 1:4-5. 9 John speaks of light. This light was found in Yeshua who was like G-d in everything He did and said. All through the book of John we see this theme of light with Yeshua identified as the Light of the world. In Genesis the sun, moon and stars were not created until day four but light was there from the beginning. G-d’s Word was the source of that light. However here in John 1:10-13 we see that the world did not recognize this Light – Yeshua. Even His own people by and large missed Him and still are missing who He is.
Now I want us to think about what John means by “receiving” and “believing” in the name of Yeshua. In John’s time these were theological Jewish concepts. Receiving or not receiving were common terms for listening to G-d and obeying Him. Believing in His name (Yeshua) is equal to believing in or having faith in G-d. “Receiving” the word of G-d means to be obedient to His word. As in the Genesis story of creation here we are recreated through this process. Not by our own effort but by the creating force of G-d’s Word.
In John 1:14 we read where this “Word”, this exact representation of G-d, became flesh and dwelt among us. In Philippians 2 Paul writes that this “Word” left its form of G-d and dwelt among us. Yeshua was human like us in that this Word of G-d contained itself within a body of flesh and bones to pitch His tent among us. (same word as tabernacle). So as the Shechinah presence of G-d dwelt in the tabernacle His Word took up residence in the flesh and blood body of Yeshua and dwelt among us.
In John 1:14 we see John going back to this tabernacle experience to say as the presence of G-d filled the tabernacle in Exodus 40:34 they saw His glory. Here in Yeshua this same glory is evident as a product of Yeshua being filled with the “Word” of G-d which worked itself out in miracles, signs and wonders.
We finish with John 1:18 where John says no one has ever see G-d but this only Son has made Him known. We can know G-d, experience Him, love and worship Him through Yeshua His Son.
I want to finish with my last question. Why did Adam and Eve choose to eat from the one and only tree forbidden to them? They chose this tree because it was forbidden. What things do we find so hard to not do – things that are forbidden.