Today we begin our journey through the Bible. I pray that these weekly blogs will challenge you to dig deeper in your Bible study as we take time not only to read the Old and New Testaments, but also to get involved in what we are reading. In other words, we don’t want to read the Bible like any other book, we want to experience God’s word. For example, when we come to a wedding, we will pause to look at a Jewish wedding, if the text leads us to a funeral, we will walk along with the mourners. At the occasion of a birth we will join in to observe the naming of the baby, and on the occasion of a teen’s Birthday we will join the Jewish mothers sing Hallelujahs. It is my belief that for too long many have tried to read their Bibles without stopping to ask the Lord for the deep meanings behind the words. When we read the Bible we should learn the context in which it was written. The culture of Biblical times is very important to understanding the truths of God’s word. “There are many truths in the word of God that we seem to miss because we do not understand the Jewish customs of Israel.”- Dan Goodwin, author of The Last Jubilee. Understanding these things, let’s go now to Genesis for a lesson or two in ancient Jewish culture.
This week we will look at one of two foundational beliefs present in the culture of Old Testament believers. The first is foundational to spiritual faith, and the second is foundational to the Jewish calendar for times and seasons. You will need to know these truths to understand Israel’s relationship with their God. Keeping these two basic concepts in your mind will help you better comprehend the Biblical text. Both will be introduced in this first study, but we will focus on only the first today. 1. There is one God who created all things. 2. God established times and seasons.
1. There is one true God who created all things.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
Look at that one verse. Within it is a multitude of truth. First of all the heartbeat of the Jewish faith rest in the concept of one God and only one God.
The first four commandments deal with honoring the One True God. Exodus 20:1-11
Israel’s theme, the Shema, begins with “”Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
You may say, ” Yes, that is simple. We all believe that.” Yet truly, just as the first people groups of the world looked to many false gods, people of our day do as well. Many children are learning something opposite of Genesis 1:1 in schools every day. They are not being taught of one God who is the Creator of all. Satan is aiming at the foundational layer of our faith. Sadly, like Israel if we look away from the one true God, the next step is idolatry. When God is put aside, we look to many other vain gods.
In Deuteronomy 6, after the Shema declares the foundational belief in one God, it goes on to emphasize the importance of implementing the foundational teachings of one God every day, throughout each day. In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, God’s people are told to constantly teach their children of one God – when they sit in their home, when they travel, when they get up and when they lie down. The truth of one true God was also to be written on their doorposts and their gates. (We will learn about the doorposts and gates in a different lesson, and I dare say you will never see them as ordinary again.)
One God. It is a simple concept, yet daily we are bombarded with false gods who wish to steal His worship. Take a moment to think of the messages that enter a young child’s mind each day. Cartoons that are void of any concept of God busy their minds. Science museums have written displays of how something came out of nothing. Schools teach that we descended from a monkey. As Christian parents we need to instill the truth of one God in creative ways each day-throughout the day.
For the young child it can be simple truths such as pointing out that God made the flowers, the birds, the trees…etc. It also helps to involve their senses in creative ways while learning these truths. One thing I like to do with young children is a “Bible story in a box”. For instance, I have a small plastic tote with “Genesis” written on it. Within the box are contents such as: small plastic trees, toy animals, and a bouncing ball that lights up. When going over the story of Creation these visuals help capture the child’s full attention. Another box has the fragrances of frankincense and myrrh so that the lesson of Luke 2 becomes more interesting by adding the sense of smell to the Christmas story. Then I can’t leave out the Noah’s ark tote- a large art caddy (which I thought resembled an ark) holds a dove made of paper, a couple of plastic leaves, a blue plastic tablecloth (for the water) and of course several pairs of toy animals.
For older children, take time with them to delve into amazing facts about how God is the wondrous designer. For example, you could study the geometry of a spider’s web or the symmetry of a snowflake. Take time to ask them challenging questions that help shed light on worldly theories. One I like is “Would you suppose that a cell phone could have suddenly evolved into being without a designer?” “How then could we, more complicated than any man-made material have been created without a designer?”
As adults, the reality of God as Creator needs to incorporate every area of our life. We need to live with an eternal outlook over a temporary one. Are our days busy with things that will vanish away or are we taking time to invest in the eternal things- Bible study, Witnessing, and attending the house of God.
The flourishing faith believes the foundational truth that there is one God and that He created all.