Bereisheet (In the Beginning)
Genesis 1:1–6:8; Isaiah 42:5–43:10; John 1:1–18
“In the beginning [Bereisheet] God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)
In the traditional Jewish system of reading through the Bible, the last fall feast, called Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah), ends the cycle of Scripture readings. The cycle begins once again with Genesis (Bereisheet), which means in the beginning.
This beautiful custom reminds us that our study of the Word of God is ongoing and never comes to a conclusion.
In the same way that we must continue eating in order to live, we must continually sustain our spirit man with the spiritual nourishment of God’s Word.
Reading the word of God never gets old. The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) keeps it fresh, delivering to us new insights and guidance as we read passages that we might even know by heart.
In this Parasha, God speaks and creation comes into existence. Think of it! God fashioned the world with words.
If you consider the physical impossibility of something being made out of nothing, then you understand that the Word of God is a powerful, creative force that is so complete it is capable of bringing forth life.
And what He created through the power of His Word was so perfect that Elohim (God) declared it good after surveying His handiwork.
Perfect Fellowship with God
On the sixth day of creation, Adam was made and Chavah (Eve) was taken from his side.
The two lived in Gan Eden (the Garden of Eden) and enjoyed a perfect fellowship with God. They also had a perfect knowledge of God’s truth.
There in the Garden, God commanded them not to eat from the “Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
Nevertheless, Eve did eat its forbidden fruit after the serpent tricked her into violating God’s command. Afterward, Adam also ate it.
In this way, sin came into the world, and because of that sin, man lost the knowledge of God and experienced spiritual and eventually physical death.
By disobediently seeking to possess the knowledge of good and evil, humankind became ignorant of God and no longer enjoyed being in a personal relationship with Him.
Genesis (Bereisheet) recounts the growing darkness caused by sin, with the resulting violence and deterioration of society.
Creation, Sin and Redemption in the Haftarah
“No longer walk as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:17–18)
Each Parasha (Torah portion) has a corresponding Haftarah—a Scripture portion from the prophetic books of the Bible that usually has a connection to the Torah portion.
This week, both the Torah portion and Haftarah portion affirm the sovereignty of Elohim as creator of the entire world (ha’olam) and spotlight the problem of sin.
In the opening words of the Haftarah, the Hebrew prophet Isaiah (Yeshayahu) declares God as the source of life:
“This is what God the LORD says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it.” (Isaiah 42:5)
A key Messianic prophecy promising salvation follows Isaiah’s declaration of God as Creator:
“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:6–7)
Yeshua fulfilled this wonderful prophecy, and He proclaimed it when He read from Isaiah 61 in the synagogue:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (see Luke 4:16–21)
Bringing Light to Spiritual Darkness
Israel has a high calling, chosen by God to be His servant, a light to the nations that illuminates the way of righteousness and salvation for all of mankind; yet, Israel herself is in need of redemption.
In an earlier chapter of Isaiah, the prophet placed part of the blame for Israel’s failure on the leaders of Israel, saying, “Those who guide this people mislead them, and those who are guided are led astray.” (Isaiah 9:16)
Yeshua (Jesus) confirmed this saying, “Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)
In her own strength, Israel has been incapable of enlightening those who are spiritually blind to the truth, and freeing those who are in spiritual bondage, as is her destiny.
Nevertheless, Yeshua fulfilled this destiny perfectly.
Through Isaiah, God tell us that the Messiah will not only restore the tribes of Jacob (Israel), but He will also be a light for the Gentiles, bringing salvation to all the peoples of the earth:
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
This theme of light shines in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament); for instance, when Yeshua was born, it was prophesied that the Child would be “a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.” (Luke 2:32)
Later, Yeshua confirmed that He was the promised Light:
When Yeshua spoke again to the people, He said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Word of God and Light of the World
“I am the way, the truth and the life.” (John 14:6)
In the book of John in the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant), we hear the echo of the creation story found in this Torah portion.
“In the beginning [Bereisheet] 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 nothing was made that was made…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1–3, 14)
Yeshua, who is the promised Light of the World, is also the Living Word of God.
The first epistle of John skillfully weaves together the ideas of creation, life, light, and the Word:
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.… This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:1–5)
Yeshua was present even from the very beginning of time. Despite His transcendence, He humbled Himself and lived among us in our broken, dark, sinful world.
The Book of Revelation says that when God destroys this present earth and creates a New Jerusalem, there will be no need for the sun and moon and stars to illuminate the city, for Yeshua will be its light:
“But I saw no Temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light.” (Revelation 21:22–24)
Yeshua is the aleph (alpha) and the tav (omega), the beginning and the end. He is the light at the beginning of creation and the light at the end. He was, is and will forever be the Light for all who seek Him.
“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
Although Isaiah is clear that the Messiah will redeem Israel and be a Light to the Gentiles, many Gentile Believers have been taught that because Israel failed in their mission to be His light to the Gentiles and rejected Yeshua, God is finished with her and that all of His promises regarding Israel have been transferred to the Christian Church.
This errant doctrine is called Replacement Theology.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however. God is not finished with Israel.
Bible prophecy concerning Israel will be completely fulfilled. We have and will increasingly see evidence of this in these end times.
Israel’s high vocation will be fulfilled as God’s witness, as written in this Haftarah, to reveal the One True God to the world:
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me no god was formed, nor will there be one after Me.” (Isaiah 43:10)
In fact, Revelation spotlights 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel playing a key role in witnessing to the world at the time of the end. (Revelation 7:4)
These Jewish Believers are distinguished from the great multitude of Gentile Believers that go through the Tribulation period.
They are redeemed from the earth as the firstfruits of all Believers, sealed with the name of the Father and the Lamb of God (Yeshua HaMashiach) on their foreheads.
“And they follow the Lamb wherever He goes.” (Revelation 14:1–5)