Posts tagged “salvation

Genesis 2:16-17, A Matter of Abundant Life and Death

And Jehovah God layeth a charge on the man, saying, `Of every tree of the garden eating thou dost eat; and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it — dying thou dost die. (Genesis 2:16-17, YLT, emphasis mine)

On Genesis 2:15, I saw Adam was to “work” and “guard” the Garden, which is a parallel to labors in the Kingdom of God, and its preservation through the guarding (or keeping) of His commandments. As this passage continues, we now understand Adam was to guard the Garden from perversion by keeping just one commandment (to not eat from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil). Adam’s labor and keeping of God’s commandment was reasonable service for his prototype-of-salvation experience. [Note: The “work” Adam would do is implied throughout several chapters – to gather food, to keep the fruit producing, giving names to animals, and other labors inspired by God]

Today I used Young’s Literal Translation because it is the only English version that captures two similar and glaring linguistic patterns which amplifies our understanding of Adam’s mitzvah (commandment). The phrases “eating thou dost eat” and “dying thou dost die” are translated repetitions of one Hebrew word:

way’tzah yahweh elohim al-ha-adam lemor miKol etz haGan akhol tokhel
wme-etz haDaat tov wara lo tokhal mi-menu kiy b’yom akhal-kha mi-menu mot tamut.

Obviously, this is no accident; it shows a specific choice given to Adam: to feast for eternity, or to experience the long process of dying.

Grain for Sustenance, Fruit for Feasting

We must keep in mind that it wasn’t just fruit that Adam could eat:

Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree, which bears fruit yielding seed. It will be your food.” (Gen. 1:29)

The difference is that grains and herbs of the field appear literally “over the face of the whole earth”; they are abundant and designed for sustaining life (sustenance) as they can be produced in a single growing season. Fruiting trees are much rarer and sparse in the wild, and may not set fruit for 20 years! However, it was not so in the Garden – every fruit tree created was present and productive.

As I previously noted, this fruit orchard in the Garden would have been considered a treasure by the ancient Hebrew culture. We may have lost sense of how much our ancestors valued fruit as a delicacy (we’ve been spoiled by the ‘produce section’ of supermarkets), but if we could pick any fruit in his own backyard – at any time of the year – who would complain?

Adam had just seen the land of dust and clay where he was made, but then saw the “pleasant to the eye” Garden, complete with every delectable fruit. God has told him that not only will he eat the grains of sustenance (ref. Gen. 1:29), but he would spend his life eating fruitful delicacies (Gen 2:16).

Therefore, God actually gave Adam the option to feast in a type of abundant, luxurious life that would never end, versus experiencing the process of dying and decay. By stating it through a redundancy of words, God captured Adam’s attention to weigh his options seriously. As we were all in the loins of our common ancestor, God was trying to get our attention as well.

A Matter of Abundant Life and Death

We only have one ultimate choice to make in this life: we partake of God’s blessing, or part ways to death! This is no false dichotomy, but a fact of life. This may be the first time this choice is presented in Scripture, but it’s certainly not the last! Our covenant relationship with God has always been a choice between a blessing of an abundant life, or one that leads to destruction:

Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of Yahweh your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you today, to go after other gods, which you have not known. (Deut. 11:28-29)

“…one who doesn’t enter by the door into the sheep fold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber… Most certainly, I tell you, I am the sheep’s door… If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture. The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. (John 10:1-10)

Since the time of Creation, we have been presented with merely one choice: Shall I live life to the fullest, or shall I just wait to die? If we are not walking with God, we are simply “dying until we die”. On the other hand, if we accept God’s salvation, we can have purpose and vision, and feast on all His benefits. The invitation to know God is still open, as is His promise of abundant life. This one choice culminates with the fullness of God found in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ), as His death and resurrection is also a blessing and a curse. Just as God took Adam from the land of dust and clay, He can take us from our ‘waiting-to-die’ routine and bring us into an abundant life – one of power, purpose, and joy. Don’t let anyone rob you of your opportunity, make that one and only choice today!♦



Genesis 2:15, A Message of Salvation

   “The LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:15, ESV)

First and foremost, this verse might proffer the question, ‘why not create man in the garden in the first place?’ A fair question, but the answer lies within the text itself!

On the surface, this verse seems simple. Most English translations opt for common verbs “take” and “put”, which rank an estimated 10th and 26th among the most common English verbs, respectively. “Work” and “keep” are two words we’d expect to see associated with a garden. These four words are not mistranslated, but we can miss the takeaway – literally – occurring in the Hebrew:

w’yiqach Yahweh Elohim et-haadam w’yanichehu v’gan-eden l’avdah w’l’sham’rah

From left to right, the above transliteration highlights four key words translated in English above: yiqach (“He would take”), yaniche (“He would put”), avdah (“to work”) and shamrah (“to keep”). Like their English translations, these Hebrew terms are fairly common; their most accurate meanings are easily verified throughout the Scriptures.

yiqach (fm. laqach). The verb “yiqach” is the most important in the passage because everything else hangs on this initial action. Appearing in many forms, qach is used 965 times in the Scriptures “in the widest variety of applications”. “marrying (as in “Avram and Nachor took wives…” Gen 11:29) and even the buying of goods! Common to any use of qach is the act of removing an entity from its original place or owner, such as the taking away sheep from the flock (as Rachael instructed Yaakov, “fetch me from two kids of the goats… Gen 27:9) buying a field or grain from the market (e.g. Proverbs 31:16, Nehemiah 5:3), and even marriage (e.g. as in “Avram and Nachor took wives…” Gen 11:29). In all contexts, qach describes the act of “taking away” something to a new owner or new place, as in the context of Gen. 2:15. YHVH Elohim takes Adam away from the place he was formed to the newness of the Garden.

Why Adam was Created Outside the Garden

Therefore, God didn’t create Adam inside Eden because Adam had to see his roots with his own eyes, in order to appreciate the beauty of a better life. He came from a land of clay and dust, but after seeing the beauty of the garden – its topography, its perfect climate, and its lush vegetation, he appreciated the gift of God when he received it.

yanich (yanach). The “put” in Gen. 2:15 (yanach) differs from the “put” of Gen. 2:8 (yasem) – yasem being closest to the generic and oft-used “put”. However, in Gen. 2:15, yanach entails an act of establishment, or rest, which usually follows a transference – sometimes upheaval – of one position to another. Biblical examples include the placement of Lot outside Sodom by the angels’ hands (ref. Gen. 19:17) and the placement of pots before the altar (throughout Deut. 26), and several examples of holding one’s position in warfare. Therefore, yanach describes objects and persons being left, set, or established in a fixed position. In Gen. 2:15 this makes perfect sense because it is paired with laqach (as described above). In other words, God takes Adam away from the mire in order to establish him in the Garden.

Avad and shamrah. After Adam’s establishment in the Garden, “avad” and “shamrah” describe Adam’s response to God’s gift of a well-established garden, but not surprisingly, these terms also describe pious and godly lifestyles. While avad literally means “work”, it also means “to serve”. Yeshua often described the Kingdom of God by terms associated with working a field- such as sowing and reaping, the planting of seeds, and plowing. These parables relate to our service in the Kingdom of God. Like Adam was expected to enhance the Garden, God expects His followers to advance His Kingdom.

Shamrah” (to keep or guard) is most often used in conjuction with keeping God’s commandments (called mitzvot). It is also used in the context of a soldier keeping watch over a wall or tower. In other words, the preservation of God’s commandments are ensured as they are “kept” from perversion and nothingness. It’s more than just fulfilling the letter of the commandment – it’s the mindset to also guard His words from corruption. The takeaway from this context however, is that just as Adam was charged to preserve the Garden for future generations, we are expected to preserve the legacy of God through the keeping and preservation of His commandments.

A Prophecy of Salvation

In this verse, there is deep prophetic significance in the language. Adam wasn’t just saved from a birth in mud, muck, mire, and clay, he was rescued! He had no knowledge, he had no direction or purpose in the mud. Yet Yahweh Elohim took Adam away, and “took” is the same word used elsewhere used in Scripture to describe purchasing, marriage, and personal gains. Not surprisingly, similar terminology is used to describe our salvations in Messiah Yeshua who represented God Himself:

“You were bought at a price.” (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23).

For this cause a man will leave his father and mother, and will be joined to his wife. The two will become one flesh.” This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Messiah and of the assembly.” (Ephesians 5:31-32)

God takes us, then establishes us in His Kingdom, and in return, we are grateful. Our eyes have seen the mire that we call “the world”, or the “evil age” (olam hazeh), but when we see His kingdom, we appreciate the Kingdom’s newness and abundance of life in contrast to our former life, and how mundane, boring, and sinful it was. In appreciation and love for so great a rescue – which the salvation of our souls – we aim to live a life of guarding his commandments, and advancing the Kingdom of God:

“Whoever believes that Yeshua is the Messiah has been born of God. Whoever loves the Father also loves the child who is born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is loving God, that we keep his commandments. His commandments are not grievous. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world: your faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Yeshua is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:1-5)

God’s rescue can await any of us, so believe in Him today! He will take you away as one of His own child kidnapped into a world that wants you to return to dust. God wants to take you from that place, into a life that abounds with joy, and peace, and perhaps most importantly, a purpose for life! His work is purposeful but light, and His commandments are not burdensome. Everything was designed to favor you, so let Him take you away in His salvation today!♦

Genesis 2:14 — Was Eden a forerunner of the “New Jerusalem”?

“A river went out from Eden to irrigate the garden; and from there it was scattered, and became the source of four headwaters. The name of the first is Pishon: it flows through the whole land of Chavilah. The name of the second river is Gihon. It is the same river that flows through the whole land of Kush. The name of the third river is Chiddekel. This is the one which flows in front of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.” (Genesis 2:14)

It is impossible to pinpoint the locations of the Pishon and Gihon Rivers with absolute certainty. In order to propose a theory on these locations, I assume the following:

1) As I previously proposed, the original water source of Eden was scattered (not “parted”) in accordance with the common meaning of the Hebrew word yiPared. The four rivers mentioned in Genesis 2:14 became four new “heads” after the Great Flood. There are other references to the pre-Flood world from a post-Flood perspective throughout Genesis 2, including Genesis 2’s introductory sentences.

2) I assume there was both a greater region of Eden, and a lesser “Garden in Eden”. I assume the four rivers which came from a now-defunct original source filled the greater region of Eden, which would make Eden a fairly sizable place.

3) I condone the scholarship of Farouk El-Baz and James Sauer, the former of whom discovered the now-defunct river system of the Wadi al-Batin and Wadi Al-Rummah, and the latter of whom argued for this ancient river as the Pishon. This river, which flows through Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, passes through a land in which is found gold, gemstones (including onyx), and indigenous trees having bedolach (gum resin). Additionally, it fits the geographic disposition described in Genesis 25:18 and 1 Samuel 15:7, as both sources cite a “Chavilah” situated between Egypt and ancient Assyria (modern-day Iraq). This area corresponds to modern-day Kuwait.

4) I also agree with Juris Zarins’s conclusions associating Iran’s Karun River with the Gihon. There are two “Kush” families mentioned in Scripture; one is in Ethiopia and the other is in Mesopotamia – where lived the Kassites, who originated from the ancient civilization of Elam. Associations with Ethiopian “Kushites” lead many to associate the Gihon with the Nile; however, the Nile is far removed from the Tigris and Euphrates, while the Karun empties into the Euphrates delta. Additionally, known communities of dispersed Jews still live beyond the Karun, which matches descriptions in Isaiah 18:1-7 and Zephaniah 3:10. Therefore, the “Kush” described by these verses must lie between Israel and Persia, the latter being the known site of the Babylonian Diaspora. Even today, the cities of Hamadan and Susa both lie “beyond the Karun” with respect to Israel, and host the shrines of Esther and Daniel, respectively. When all the facts are weighed, the Mesopotamian “Kush” – the Kassites – is the only civilization which had a dynasty in the region of the Tigris and Euphrates, and was situated between modern-day Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora.

If these assumptions are correct, I imagine that Eden was a sizable place filled with rivers – perhaps a delta teeming with life, as each of the four rivers previously identified still have several tributaries feeding them. In fact, the three extant rivers comprise the lush “Fertile Crescent” as it’s known today. This area is still filled with gold, gemstones, trees which produce aromatic resin, and edible fruit. This area, at least at one time, also contained fertile soil from nearby volcanic activity.

Interestingly, the distance between the head of the Pishon (Kuwait River?) – located near Medina, Saudi Arabia – and the head of the Karun – located in Bakhtiari Province, Iran – is only about 950 miles. The distance from the northernmost head of the Euphrates – near Erzurum, Turkey – to the southernmost tips of the Karun or Kuwait Rivers is just shy of 1,100 miles (no matter which waypoint is used).

Even if I assume the borders of Eden lay at the northernmost points of the Euphrates in Turkey, the Eastern and southernmost points of the Wadi-al-Rummah in Arabia, and at the westernmost point of the Karun River in Iran – the entire area could lie within a 1,200 mile square wall. In actuality, the entire Fertile Crescent, stretching from the Eastern Persian Gulf to West of the Nile, could fit into a 1,400 mile square, perhaps looking something like this:

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

What’s interesting is that the above photo was a 1,400 mile scale not of the distance around Eden or the Fertile Crescent, but of “New Jerusalem”- as measured in Revelation 21:16. This 1,400 mile-scale is a conservative estimate, as other interpretations determine a 1,500-mile measurement!

The eerie thing to me is the similarities in descriptions of Eden and the New Jerusalem. Both areas contain gold, gemstones including “onyx”, rivers, trees of life, new names, trees for food, and most importantly, the Presence of the One True God. If that were not enough, both areas seem to be comparable in size, at least when assuming the boundaries of Eden’s four rivers.

This may all be my vivid imagination at play, but I like to believe that the description of New Jerusalem is a picture of a type of ‘Second Eden’ – perhaps larger than the first, but nevertheless a Paradise with plenty of room. Perhaps what God is saying through His word is that His Paradise is a place where everyone can have a spot on the river, surrounded by resins smelling like frankincense and myrrh, a perfect climate, with fruiting trees and fellowship among all peoples.

This past year (2014-2015) has seemingly been the exact opposite of this promise: There is no healing of the nations, though there have been plenty of riots among the races! There is no new titles given to anyone, though plenty have their good reputations tarnished! I don’t read about perfect climates anymore, although today I read news about heat waves and floods claiming many lives! I only read about gold and gemstones when they’re robbed or sold swindled, so I don’t know about you, but going home to a Second Eden sounds pretty good right about now!

So be it! King Yeshua, maranatha! (O Lord, Come!)♦

Genesis 1:6-8, Yom Sheni: Cutting off the Excess

[This is the second in a series about Creation week, specifically, how each day corresponds to progress men and women as they work out their salvations. Almighty God could have made everything in a brief instant, but instead chose to create our heavens and earth by a deliberate, methodical process. These posts will hopefully show that fruitfulness brought to the physical earth is a foreshadowing of God’s ultimate plan to bring men to the same.]

On Yom Echad– the First Day- I learned that God’s Word is the light of truth, and I learned how to separate truth from “darkness”- everything that tries to overcome truth.

Yom Sheni: The Second Day

And said God, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide a space between waters from waters.” And made God the firmament, and divided a space between the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament; and it was so. God called the firmament “heaven”. And were evening and were morning, the second day. (Genesis 1:6-8, Hebrew Interlinear)

The Hebrew words for water and heaven are mayim and shamayim, respectively. I have already written why “heaven” is not the best translation for shamayim, but even for my green sense of Hebrew it’s easy to see how these terms are familial to “water”, one representing the waters above (shamayim, likely a compound of sham, “there is” and mayim, hence “water is there”) and the other below. The first thing God purposefully made was a “firmament” (Heb. raqiyah) to divide the mayim. (Note: the light of Genesis 1:2-5 appeared; it was not created; God already knew its name as it seems to be eternal).

Cheating ahead to other pre-flood portions of Genesis (i.e. 2:5 and 7:11), it appears that the raqiyah enabled a terrarium “in the beginning” as this initial atmosphere did not rain, yet nevertheless contained water. After the Great Flood, God said He would “bring clouds upon the earth” (9:14)… so the present shamayim also contains water, remaining true to its “water-is-there” name. I suppose the point is, man has always relied on shamayim for life-sustaining water. God promises “water is there” and named the raqiyah appropriately. Yet, where does mayim-from-the-shamayim originate? In both pre-Flood and post-Flood worlds, water is taken from the earth. Put in a different way, I can say God relieved the earth of its excess water… the earth had a circumcision!

God would multiply other wonders in the shamayim. He also placed the sun, moon, and stars in this raqiyah (Gen. 1:16), and allowed birds to fly within the raqiyah (Gen 1:20). All these wonders defy gravity, arguably the greatest creation of Yom Sheni. Though not explicitly stated, it’s implied that God created the gravitational field which suspends heavenly bodies, and restrains earthly bodies. It occurs to me that the making of the raqiyah on Day Two doesn’t just separate mayim from mayim, it’s the framework for separating ALL things that belong in shamayim from all things belonging to Earth.

Therefore, the physical lessons garnered from Yom Sheni are two: First, Earth’s excess water was removed to be returned in a process beyond Earth’s control; second, while some things do belong in the shamayim, human beings are grounded to the earth by gravity.

Do I have “Excess?”

Spiritually speaking, however, what do I learn on my Yom Sheni? What spiritual lesson is God teaching by dividing excess mayim from the Earth, and forming shamayim?

The Scriptures do indicate a “painful” time following salvation that accomplishes two main feats, which I think are metaphorically similar to what physically occurred on Yom Sheni. First, a man learns of his excess. He becomes “born again” on Day One but “circumcised” on Day Two, and it is painful- oh so very painful. Secondly, at the same time his up and down limitations are realized (For example, there are things ascribed to heaven above, and things ascribed to the earth beneath – John 3:12). These two realizations bring about the main objective of our post-salvation “Day Two”: humility. If excess water stays on the physical earth in the beginning, dry land could never appear, and therefore any chance for life would literally be drowned. Likewise, if I am not circumcised from the excesses of my life, I too will drown, and I won’t ever rely on shamayim for “rain”. Therefore, I must lose from my excesses to experience spiritual rain from “Heaven”.

I’ve written before that in biblical symbolism, large masses of water (i.e. the Deep, or “great waters”) represent masses of people, with both good and bad connotations. However, water falling from heaven is always a favorable biblical symbol. Rain represents revelation (Isa. 55:10-11) and good teaching (Deut. 32:2). Rain accompanies righteousness (Isa. 45:8, Hos. 10:12, Psa. 84:6) and the presence of God (Hos. 6:3). Perhaps this is all encompassed by saying rain from shamayim symbolizes God giving back to man (Psa. 68:9-10, Psa. 72:6). [Note: the opposite is also true. The drought of Eliyahu (Elijah), and general lack of rain is paralleled with rebellion (Jer. 3:3), stinginess (Mal. 3:8-10), and oppression (Isa. 5:6, Amos 4:7)]

Basically, the spiritual phase of Yom Sheni is the process of making the Deep not-so-deep. After a man “sees the light” he is still deep in Gentile ways of thinking, and begins the next phase of working out his salvation. This can be a painful process where God takes his excess “water” into “heaven”, that He might one day “rain” on his new creation blessings, revelation, and varieties of spiritual gifts. The process is designed to teach humility and reliance on God. Men therefore learn spiritual evaporation – how to evaporate excess to receive showers of blessing:

  • He might have excess lands or possessions. He offers it to leadership in God’s Kingdom (Matt. 19:16-26; Acts 4:32-37).
  • He might have excess pride and suffers for a while. He learns humility and submits to his elders. He learns to give his time (draws near) to God that God may “rain” (draw near) on him (1 Peter 5:5-10, James 4:7-10). He learns to give his life to get life.
  • He might have excess anxiety in thinking like a water-en-masse Gentile, i.e. ‘What will we eat?’ He learns to first seek God’s righteousness (Matt. 6:31-33). He must become not-so-deep.

Heaven’s Hierarchy

Aside from exiting Gentile/pagan thinking (“excess”), this is also the time to understand Heaven’s hierarchy. Given Yeshua taught “Heaven” is God’s throne (i.e. Matt. 5:24, 23:22), prophetic visions also instruct on this hierarchy:

“Over the head of the living creature there was the likeness of an expanse (raqiyah), like an awesome crystal to look at, stretched out over their heads above. Under the expanse, their wings were straight, one toward the other. Each one had two which covered on this side, and each one had two which covered their bodies on that side. When they went, I heard the noise of their wings like the noise of great waters, like the voice of the Almighty, a noise of tumult like the noise of an army. When they stood, they let down their wings. There was a voice above the expanse that was over their heads. When they stood, they let down their wings. Above the expanse (raqiyah) that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone. On the likeness of the throne was a likeness as the appearance of a man on it above.” (Ezekiel 1:22-26, emphasis mine)

During the phase of Yom Sheni, men learn there is a spiritual raqiyah that separates YHVH’s throne from men. They learn is it not yet time to dwell with the Most High, and begin to understand their limitations on the earth. However, they also learn how to join fellow believers. They learn that to be successful in the Kingdom of God – where they are grounded beneath the greater Shamayim – they must work together as One Body. They move by the command of God from Heaven, and echo His words like the noise of an army – as a great mass of water people, yet with one voice. Yes, the four living creatures are the kiddushim from the four faces of the Earth- North, south, east, and west. At times they are bold-faced as lions, compassionate as eagles, or have burdens like oxen, yet when YHVH speaks, the kingdom stands still to minister to Him, and sabbaths their wings. After God refreshes them, the Kingdom moves again, continuing the evaporation-to-rain spiritual principle.

Ezekiel describes a “wheel” accompanying the four living creatures (the kiddushim) wherever they go:

“When the living creatures went, the wheels went beside them. Then the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Wherever the spirit was to go, they went. The spirit was to go there. The wheels were lifted up beside them; for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. (Ezekiel 1:19-20)

The wheels represent the “vehicle” making all things happen on the earth. Men may be separate from the full Glory of God, but they can experience what makes everything under heaven work – the Divine Presence (aka the Spirit of God)! Without the Presence it is impossible to move in one direction corporately, and impossible to hear the voice of God. This “vehicle” was demonstrated on Shavuot (Pentecost), when the Divine Presence put wheels on the body of 120 believers and caused them to move. YHVH spoke from heaven, and made them move like the voice of the Almighty (Acts 2:1-4). This is ultimately how God wants to administer His kingdom, as unity of believers and moves of the Spirit go hand-in-hand (or should I say, wing-to-wing?).

Newcomers must learn how to be in one accord and also to walk in the Divine Presence. Contrary to popular belief, an identity cannot be solely formed in an individual (“personal relationship”, “what God can do for you/me”, prosperity goose-pile, etc.) but in the identity of the whole kiddushim. It requires a time of perspective to learn lessons not taught in the Gentile world:

  • They must learn how to love his brothers and sisters in Messiah (John 15:17, Gal. 5:13, 1 Pet 1:22).
  • They must learn how to gather in one accord, for to be divisive is to hinder the Spirit (1 Cor. 1:10, 3:1-4, Jude 1:16-22).
  • They must learn that neglect of the poor, widows, and orphans is not unity (Acts 6:1, James 1:27, 1 Tim. 5:8).
  • They must learn to pray in one accord and for each other (Eph. 6:18, James 5:16).

Disciple to Decipher

Young men and women in YHVH should have help through this phase, because it is an unfamiliar, sometimes overwhelming process. After all, circumcision hurts! I believe this is probably why God doesn’t call anything on Yom Sheni “good” like the rest of Creation week. This separation process isn’t fun, but it’s necessary. This aid, though, is supposed to come in the form of discipleship – the same way Yeshua taught the original twelve shlichim (apostles).

Discipleship was a fixture of God’s kingdom even before Yeshua appeared. The prophets of old taught Israel’s tribal elders who in turn taught their divisions, who taught their captains, and so forth, eventually making it to fathers teaching their children. I know this mentorship style is nearly extinct, but elders are supposed to teach disciples how to lose their excesses and experience heaven’s hierarchy in the Spirit and unity. The truth is, God desires shepherds to feed his “sheep”, the favor Yeshua asked of Shimon Keefa (ref. Yochanan 21:15-19). Keefa not only did this, but like the rest of apostles, exhorted the elders to not forsake discipleship, to lead the teachings, fellowship meals, and prayer (Acts 2:42-45, 1 Pet. 5:1-4, Tit. 1:7-9).

Without discipleship it is difficult to lose the excess of Gentile-thinking, and to learn the hierarchy of heaven. If men and women endure this trying time, they will mature in the Kingdom, and God will lead them to the next phase: Yom Shelishi (the Third Day), when God makes something appear that was always present, but never realized: dry land. I’ll talk about the physical and spiritual implications of this in my next phase.♦

Genesis 1:2, Darkness and the Deep

The earth was formless and empty. Darkness was on the surface of the deep and God’s Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters. (Genesis 1:2)

Believers in YHVH know that with a blink of His eye He could create the earth in all its fullness, ready-made for life. However, He chose to develop the earth from specific circumstances and as I believe, took His time to hint at a similar compassion He would have for all mankind. In my last post I proposed that just like the physical earth at the beginning, all of mankind is tohu v’bohu (formless and empty) before seeing God’s truth. Assuming I’m correct, it stands to reason that ‘darkness’ and ‘water’ also represent metaphors for our original state of emptiness. I don’t have the space to exhaust all the Scripture verses portraying the metaphors of darkness of water, but the following is a sampling:

Water is Always Plural for a Reason

It is fitting that the Hebrew word for water (mayim) is always plural, because it symbolizes a great multitude of people. The use of ‘the Deep’ (tehom) is also significant because it has specific characteristics that further paint a grim picture of the beginning:

  1. Ezekiel 26:7,19— For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Behold, I will bring on Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, from the north, with horses, with chariots, with horsemen, and an army with many people…. For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘When I make you a desolate city, like the cities that are not inhabited; when I bring up the deep on you, and the great waters cover you…
  2. Habbakuk 3:10—The mountains saw you, and were afraid. The storm of waters passed by. The deep roared and lifted up its hands on high.
  3. Revelation 19:6—I heard something like the voice of a great multitude, and like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of mighty thunders, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!
  4. Revelation 17:15—He said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the prostitute sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and languages.”

I can see from the above examples that “the Deep” and “waters” represent masses of people. The fact that God allowed water to cover the earth in the beginning leads me to believe this is also an allegory that mankind is tohu v’bohu, lost without God in our collective life. Another thing I see is that the Deep is never quiet. It thunders, it roars, it… rages. I further believe God alludes to the “noise” of mankind here, with our raging, shouting, wailing, hissing… just as the Deep never shuts up, mankind is always roaring. In other words, when God hovered over it, the Deep was “roaring back” at God, and this also occurs in the allegorical- there is much more rage directed against the word of God than stillness and peace.

Darkness Means Evil (Big Surprise)

Moving on to the allegorical meanings of darkness (Heb. choshek), nothing really educates:

  1. Psalm 107:10-11— Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron, because they rebelled against the words of God, and condemned the counsel of the Most High.
  2. Proverbs 2:12-15— …the men who speak perverse things; who forsake the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness;  who rejoice to do evil, and delight in the perverseness of evil; who are crooked in their ways, and wayward in their paths…
  3. Isaiah 5:20—Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness…
  4. Isaiah 42:6-7—I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people, a light for the nations; to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.

As expected, the above examples show that choshek metaphorically means a complete opposite of uprightness, such as perversion, evil doings, and rebellion against the Most High.  I can also see  choshek refers to a prison, both the brick-and-mortar kind and of the spiritual variety. As a matter of fact, the latter verse from Isaiah is a reference to the covenant of Messiah Yeshua, who came for the very reason (among other reasons) of releasing all people from their prisons. In context of Matthew 12:18-21 which quotes Isaiah 42, Yeshua was healing people and casting out demons.

Final Verdict

This allegory elaborates on the tohu v’bohu state of mankind before knowing God. Mankind stumbles around, participating and organizing all sorts of perverse acts.  I see clearly that the tohu v’bohu state is a prison full of a wide variety of evils, ranging from our own devices to unclean spirits. No man in the great multitude of peoples is exempt from this fact of life. The good news is-literally, the Good News is that Yeshua came as foretold in the prophet; the great deep that is mankind has someone to release them from the prison that is darkness. The picture of earth at its tohu v’bohu genesis paints a prophetic picture which will play out over time. I will comment more on that point in my next post.

While I uncovered the hidden meanings of darkness and the deep/waters, I haven’t yet talked about the Spirit of God who enters the equation. Fortunately, just as the Spirit is the only chance for the earth to gain structure, the Spirit of God is mankind’s only chance to break free from the chaotic state of perversion and his evil ways. As I see it, there are two powers vying to rest on the face of the “waters” (symbolically mankind)- the first is choshek, and the other of course is Ruach Elohim (Spirit of God). As I will show in my next post, it doesn’t appear like either power is interested in sharing.

Genesis 1:2, I Too Was “Formless and Empty”

There are many positives of Genesis 1:1 (“In the Beginning God created the heavens and the earth”)- answering mankind’s Two Big Questions, hinting about our ultimate destiny, implying an ending by declaring a “Beginning”- all of which are wonderful.  While it’s a beautiful verse and perhaps the most important as it introduces the reader to the Set-Apart Scriptures, it’s also both an introductory and topic statement that sets up the narrative of the Creation Week. Therefore, the first real detail we get about the creation of our world is in the next verse, Genesis 1:2, where we find that the earth was “something and nothing”. By this I mean something was there, yet nothing was also there:

“The earth was formless and empty…” (Genesis 1:2)

We sometimes think the first act of creation was “Let there be light!” but we conveniently forget that something else “existed” before this phrase.  We’ll  ever know how or when the earth originally appeared, but the text says it preexisted light as “something” but at the same time as “nothing” – described as “without form and empty”. There aren’t many details about this chaotic state, but… was there anything really worth describing?

I love the Hebrew phrase which describes this, “tohu v’bohu” (TOW-hoo va-BOW-hoo), usually translated “formless and empty” or “without form and void”.

Tohu v’bohu is an interesting rhyme, but it’s also quite mysterious. While the meaning of tohu is established, nobody really knows the meaning of “bohu.  The assumption is that bohu is a synonym of tohu because they always appear together, as some believe bohu is meant to embellish the use of tohu.

The meaning of bohu remains a mystery, so we must rely on tohu to fully grasp its meaning and significance.  Let’s look at a few examples of the use of the first word tohu, to see what use it carries throughout the rest of the Hebrew Bible:

  1. Deuteronomy 32:10: “[The LORD] found [Jacob] in a desert land, in a tohu howling wilderness.
  2. 1 Samuel 12:20-21: “…serve the LORD with all your heart. Don’t turn away to go after tohu things which can’t profit or deliver, for they are tohu.”
  3. Job 12:24: “He takes away understanding from the chiefs of the people of the earth, and causes them to wander in a tohu where there is no way.”
  4. Isaiah 24:10:The tohu city is broken down. Every house is shut up, that no man may come in.

Fortunately for us, the use of tohu exists in many synonymous parallels as shown above; we can easily ascertain its meaning through the context of this constructive style (Note: some translations prefer ‘vanity’ but I don’t believe that adequately defines tohu; its not the same ‘vanity’ as Heb. hebel of Ecclesiastes fame). Judging from the verses we just read, we learn this about tohu:

  1. Deu 32:10: Tohu describes the conditions of a desert land, the synonymous parallel dictates tohu is a “wasteland”.
  2. 1 Sam 12:20-21: Tohu is the antithesis of something which profits or sets at liberty; therefore, tohu is something completely “unprofitable”, and also powerless to advance our lives, “useless”.
  3. Job 12:24: If wise men lose their wisdom, I would then call them fools. Given that tohu is a place of wandering, it seems that tohu is describing a place of “bewilderment” where one gets lost, and can’t find his way out.
  4. Isa 24:10: Tohu describes a scattered, empty city, completely boarded up and deserted. In context, Isaiah 24:1-10 describes how God will scatter the inhabitants of the world!

At a minimum, we can clearly see tohu is a negative adjective; in fact, in all 20 of its occurrences it never describes a positive happening. Tohu is something unprofitable, useless, a waste, wandering aimlessly in foolishness, empty, scattered, vain. It means so much more than “formless” like water vapor or an amoeba lacks true shape; it describes conditions less than ideal when the more positive scenario is in reach, or was in reach.

We might ask then, ‘tohu is bad enough- why then the need for bohu?’ We might think tohu v’bohu is just a clever rhyme penned by an ancient scribe, but that is not the tale of the text. As we read their pairings it appears tohu v’bohu is a type of proverb- meaning something akin to “it’s worse than tohu– it’s tohu AND bohu!”

Now we know the first instance of tohu v’bohu is in Genesis 1:2—the first description of anything- but the second and third instances describe something much more alarming:

 “For the LORD has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense for the cause of Zion. Its streams will be turned into pitch, its dust into sulfur, and its land will become burning pitch. It won’t be quenched night nor day. Its smoke will go up forever. From generation to generation, it will lie waste. No one will pass through it forever and ever. But the pelican and the porcupine will possess it. The owl and the raven will dwell in it. He will stretch the line of tohu over it, and the plumb line of bohu.” (Isaiah 34:8-11)

“For my people are foolish. They don’t know me. They are foolish children, and they have no understanding. They are skillful in doing evil, but they don’t know how to do good.” I saw the earth, and, behold, it was tohu and bohu; and the heavens, and they had no light. (Jeremiah 4:22-23)

If the descriptions for tohu by itself weren’t bad enough, it’s indescribably evil when married with bohu. Isaiah envisioned tohu v’bohu as a hideous judgment upon Israel (Zion). We might be surprised that tohu v’bohu is not always a state which is formless, but something that can be formed!

This verse from Jeremiah is what hits it home for me. Jeremiah through the Spirit saw PEOPLE ‘foolish and lacking understanding’ and ‘evil and not good’. It was actually YHVH comparing the metaphorical tohu v’bohu of man’s ignorance to the physical earth in chaos- in its tohu v’bohu state!

God could have made the earth anywhere, but he chose something so useless and literally a waste of space that it might as well been nothing.  Yet, when I read Genesis 1:2, I think of myself. I was lost, a waste of a life, empty, scattered in my thoughts and intentions, a fool- yep, that was me alright. I was formless, I lacked structure to secure me in my place, a compass to guide me out of bewilderment. I was going through the motions of life, so while technically I existed as something, I was altogether nothing in my thoughts and deeds. I was not just tohu– I was tohu AND bohu.

When we teach that God created the world ex nihilo (out of nothing) we disservice ourselves. He may have very well created the entire Universe ex nihilo long ago, but that’s not the point of Genesis 1. In actuality, it’s not something deemed necessary for human beings to know. However, God did form the earth from its tohu v’bohu state to teach us this: that God wants to form and shape US from our formless and empty existence, much like He did with the earth.