The First Three Words of Genesis
In the original Hebrew the first three words of Genesis are bereshit bara Elohim. Bara, created, is singular, but Elohim, God, is plural. In the first three words of God‘s revelation to man, God declared in a hidden way what he would later reveal as the Holy Trinity, one family of three divine persons. Moreover, in its fundamental structure, the Hebrew language points to the Holy Trinity whose signature is on all that is made. Most Hebrew words derive from a root form that consists of three consonants, a constant reminder of God who is a Holy Trinity.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Gen 1:1. In the very first word, bereshit, a message is hidden. The first part of the first word can be read as bera, son. The last letter of bereshit is a tav, which in early Hebrew was written as a + cross. In retrospect we can see it as, “The Son of God will end on a Cross.”
The traditional English translation reads: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’” This rendering construes the verse as an independent sentence complete in itself, a solemn declaration that serves as an epitomizing caption to the entire narrative. It takes the initial word be-reʾshit to mean ‘at the beginning of time’ and thus makes a momentous assertion about the nature of God: that He is wholly outside of time, just as He is outside of space, both of which He proceeds to create. In other words, for the first time in the religious history of the Near East, God is conceived as being entirely free of temporal and spatial dimensions.
The divine word shatters the primal cosmic silence and signals the birth of a new cosmic order. Divine fiat is the first of the several modalities of creativity employed in this account. ‘God said’ means ‘God thought’ or ‘God willed.’ It signifies that the Creator is wholly independent of His creation. It implies effortlessness and absolute sovereignty over nature.
The First Three Days of Light
“And God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” Gen 1:3. “God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day” Gen 1:5. During the first day there was light. On the fourth day, “God made the two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night; he made the stars also” Gen 1:16. “And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day” Gen 1:19. There was light on the first day, but God did not make the sun and the moon and the stars until the fourth day Gen 1:1-19.
Isaiah prophesied, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Is 9:2. Rabbi Yeshua had always been associated with light. “I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” Jn 8:12. “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb” Rev 21:22-23.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” Jn 1:1-3. Rabbi Yeshua said, ‘I am the light of the world’” Jn 8:12. The Holy Spirit present as well. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” Gen 1:2 Rabbi Yeshua told Nicodemus, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” Jn 3:5.
The sign on the workshop of creation might have read, “God and Son.” Rabbi Yeshua was present with the Father at the creation.
Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth.… When he established the heavens, I was there … when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman Prov 8:23-30.
In the evening and morning sky we see the sun and moon. The sun emits light. The moon can only shine by reflecting sunlight. In this our Father reminds us that God is the source of all light. We, his creatures, can shine only by reflecting his light back to Him and to one another. If we are obedient to Him we will reflect much of his light and shine brightly before God and man on earth and in heaven. At night, we can look up at the clear sky and see millions of stars. Our Father told Abram, “‘Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’” Gen 15:5. He repeated his promise to Abraham, Gen 22:17 and recalled it to Isaac Gen 26:4.
The Big Bang
The “big bang” origin of the universe also brings to mind Rabbi Yeshua’s own entry into mortal life. Again in the beginning Jn 1:1 there was nothing, no man’s seed. An infinite power and intelligence living as pure spirit outside of space and time made something out of nothing Lk 1:35, and the Word was made flesh Jn 1:14. Rabbi Yeshua’s human nature began as a tiny seed, grew to be a man, and extended his influence over all the earth, while his divine nature extended to the farthest reaches of the universe and beyond to the realm of heaven.
The Great Annual Pageant
“Glory to God in the highest!” Lk 2:14. When we look up at the sky and see the sun give light, we remember the Son, the “light of the world” Jn 8:12. And when we see the moon reflect the sun’s light onto the earth, it reminds us of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who reflects Rabbi Yeshua’s light back to him and onto the earth. And when we look at the earth we see the trees that covered the land. The leaves remind us of ourselves, the laity, receiving constant nourishment from the root through the trunk and branches. We can see the root as Christ, speaking through His Church, the trunk. “He who hears you hears me” Lk 10:16.
The branches, large main branches and smaller branches attached to them, remind us of the bishops, priests and deacons. We leaves remain alive only as long as we remain attached. Tree leaves, like most plants, contain green chlorophyll in such abundance that it masks the other pigments. But in autumn the tree receives less sunlight and produces less chlorophyll. As each leaf’s chlorophyll naturally deteriorates and is not replaced the other colors that were there all year become visible, especially yellow, gold and orange but also red and other colors. Each leaf has its own beauty, but the beauty of autumn in the countryside comes from the symphony of millions of leaves together.
Death and Rebirth
God designed into the universe a pattern of first physical then spiritual, of dying and rebirth. He told us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” Jn 12:24-25.
God made this great annual pageant to remind us that if we become spiritually beautiful before we fall to earth we will find resurrection. Rabbi Paul told us, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” Rom 6:4. It is a new life. Rabbi Paul added, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” Gal 2:20.
God has written the same message to us in our need for sleep. Why would God not create us so that we could work or eat or reflect at any hour of our lives? Our need to sleep is a preparation for our death and resurrection. Each night we go to sleep, and each morning we awaken. During our lifetime we have slept and awakened many thousands of times. We do not fear sleep, we welcome it, exactly as we should eagerly welcome our death and resurrection to eternal life. God even gave us nights. In the rural areas, the land as He gave it to us, it appears that the earth is also dying, because we can’t see it on moonless nights, and rising again in the morning when the first rays “resurrect” it for us again. We sleep and rise in rhythm with the nights and days. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” Rom 6:5. “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” 1 Thes 4:14.
In earthly life we are primarily perceived by men as physical persons, but in eternal life we will see one another as spiritual persons. In this we model Rabbi Yeshua. During most of our lives we have physical health. But in our last days or weeks we experience a kind of crucifixion; our bodies gradually dis-integrate to the point of death. Then those judged worthy experience resurrection with Rabbi Yeshua in heaven.
God’s covenant with Abraham required that a man enters God’s family through circumcision Gen 17:11 which places a permanent mark on his body that remains for the rest of his earthly life. His New and Eternal Covenant requires that both men and women enter his family through baptism Jn 3:5 which imprints § 1272 an indelible mark, called a character, on his soul that remains for all eternity.
In the Torah the first two books, Genesis and Exodus, are primarily historical. They tell of us mostly of physical events that took place in this life thousands of years ago. The later books, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, tell us mostly of God’s law for his people Israel.
In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the first part, the Liturgy of the Word, is a physical reading of the Word of God. The second part, the Liturgy of the Eucharist, is consecration on the altar of the Word of God Made Flesh, during which Rabbi Yeshua transubstantiates bread and wine into his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity § 1373-1381.
The Land and the Sea
God even designed the land and the sea and the wind to teach us about him. For most of recorded history every sailing vessel of significant size needed a vertical mast and a horizontal beam so that the sail, once hoisted, can catch the wind and use it to move the boat. Usually the mast and beam together have the appearance of a cross, reminding us of Rabbi Yeshua. “The Spirit of God [Ruakh Elohim] was moving over the face of the waters” Gen 1:2. The Holy Spirit provides the wind that moves the boat along. When the wind stops the sailors have some time to reflect on Rabbi Yeshua’s observation, “Apart from me you can do nothing” Jn 15:5. At night the sailors can look up and see the stars, as much of the great universe the Father made for us as human eyes can see, so that all three divine persons of the Holy Trinity are present in the boat. In a sailing vessel even during the day we can see ahead only to the horizon. At night we can hardly see ahead at all. But we are secure in the Barque of Peter. “Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat” Lk 5:3. “And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm” Mk 4:39.
Who We Are
God’s vast design reminds us how limited our own perceptions are. Hamlet declared, “There are more things in heaven and on earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” We need God to teach us who we are, where we live now, and where we can live someday.