In the Beginning

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Last week, Simchat Torah was celebrated in synagogues all over the world. Immediately upon reading the last portion of Deuteronomy, the Torah scroll containing the Five Books of Moses, is rolled back to the beginning, to B'resheet and Genesis 1:1-5 is read.

This way we remember that the Torah is God's never-ending teaching for right living. It's a handbook for how to obtain blessings in our lives. This is a fun time, when we actually "dance" around the ark or building, holding the scroll in our arms. It's always exciting to have a new beginning, which is why we enjoy Simchat Torah so much.

B'resheet begins the Bible and it begins by describing how God formed light out of darkness. The days of creation are explained, and culminate with the creation of humans on the sixth day. Finally, there was Shabbat, the seventh day, the Sabbath, a cessation of work and effort.

According to the Sages of Israel-the rabbis who wrote before the time of Messiah-the seven days of creation foreshadowed the seven millennia that would follow.

They wrote, "The world is to exist six thousand years," based, in part, on Psalm 90:4. "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day when it passes by." Whether the psalmist was providing poetic expression or theological truth, the idea was also held by the followers if Yeshua. Peter wrote, "With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day" (2 Peter 3:8).

Consider this: The Rabbis said that in the first two thousand years after creation there was desolation. Looking back, they were right. Humankind just wasn't following the ways of the Creator. In fact, the events of the Towel of Babel, which came after the great flood in Noah's time, showed how difficult it was for humanity to hold godly way.

That's when God called Abram, who promoted the concept of One God. That was necessary to enable His creatures to trust the instruction necessary to receive the blessings God had for them. The first two millennia were characterized by confusion.

In the next two thousand years, the Sages say the Torah flourished. Abram really initiated this through his faith, but it still took time for the Torah, the Way, to be brought to Israel. The Children of Israel had to grow in number in the incubator of Egypt. Moses had to receive the teaching on Mt. Sinai. The people had to be called back to follow Torah by Israel's prophets.

The next two thousand years, from the time of Yeshua to the present day, saw the spread of his Kingdom, what some people call the "Church age" or the "Dispensation of Grace," both terms that don't capture all that needs to be said. The Sages had predicted that the Messiah would come at the end of the 4,000-year period, which is why many Jews were looking for him and asked Yeshua whether or not he was the One.

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