Beginning, A Series
Genesis 1:1a (NKJV)
Exodus 3:14 (NKJV)
Isaiah 46:9-10 (NKJV)
What does the beginning mean, and how does that word speak to us in everyday life?
Well, the beginning is the start of something. If you’re running a race, the first part of the event is the beginning and a sound (like a gun) starts the race. But...in scripture the beginning isn’t always the actual start. It’s just one way to measure time. In scripture, the word beginning takes on a whole new meaning.
The first word of the Torah (the start of the scripture, the Old Testament) is Bereshit, pronounced Bereishith. It’s translated as “in the beginning”. Because of that, we often think of ‘beginning’ as THE beginning.
Makes sense, right?
But, here’s where it gets complicated with scripture. The beginning isn’t really an apt description of the whole beginning. This beginning refers to the start of creation we call earth.
The real beginning I’m referring to is a different kind of beginning. I was first introduced to that beginning when I was in my early teens. One day, ‘unbeknownst’ to me, I asked my dad a question about the beginning. Like many middle school age girls (especially girls) I liked to use my words. Another way of describing that is to say I talked a lot about nothing. I asked a LOT of questions. The day I asked my dad about ‘the beginning’ was my way of opening up a dialogue about the first words of the Old Testament. I thought I knew the answer.
I learned that day I only knew a small part of the answer.
My dad’s answer that day set me on a path of understanding that science, theology, and even art isn’t always perfectly explainable. You need to understand that my dad was not a theologian. He was a student of scripture, but by trade he was an engineer. During World War 2 when he was in the Navy, he was a mechanic on ship. After the war ended, he went to college and got a degree in engineering. He THOUGHT like an engineer.
In the simplest form, an engineer has an understanding of mechanisms. Think of it as gears going round and round. Mechanical engineers THINK in those terms. My dad was also an artist, especially in the sense of drawing mechanisms and machines.
That day, my dad drew me a picture of an EIGHT laying down. Think of an eight sideways.
He told me the ancient symbol was for infinity. In terms of engineering we can think of infinity as gears going round and round continuously. In terms of theology, my dad used the symbol for infinity to refer to God.
When God introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush and told him how to say who sent him in Exodus 3:14, “God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.”
The prophet Isaiah puts it this way in Isaiah 46:9:
“Remember the former things of old,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,”
The first three words of scripture, ‘in the Beginning’ are a good description for the first book of the Bible. Scripture is an account of God interacting with His people. However, the beginning of creation wasn’t really THE beginning. The beginning in Genesis 1:1a was a description of a beginning.
That day my dad was trying to get me to see that the I AM, creator God is much more. Our God is eternal. Our God is the great infinity, beginning to end. There IS no beginning and ending to God.
As I said, in Seminary I learned the first word of the Torah was Bereshit. The original Hebrew didn’t have vowels (those came later to help give us context). The first word in scripture before vowels was BEGINNING. We think of it as “In the beginning”, but Bereshit without the vowels really is a more accurate description. God, THE beginning, created.
The truth is: God was, and is, and is to come.
I don’t know about you, but the lesson on infinity I was given as a young teenager blew me away. I couldn’t really ‘wrap my head around it.’ I still can’t. It’s far beyond what I can comprehend.
Our God has no beginning and no end.
That’s how great our God is...our God really IS far beyond what we can comprehend.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Beginning
Spend time throughout your day meditating on the infinitive of our eternal God. When you think of God, remember God’s power and love. Eternal power. Eternal love.
In God, Deborah