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Parashat Bereshit - From the Midst of the Whirlwind

The Midst of the Whirlwind

Further thoughts on Parashat Bereshit

by John J. Parsons
www.hebrew4christians.com

Marc Chagall

For reasons not explained in Scripture, God chose to begin creating the world in chaos: תהוּ וָבהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ / tohu vavohu v'choshekh: "confusion and emptiness and darkness" (Gen. 1:2). From chaos and darkness God would shine forth light - indeed, the divine light was the first of all God's creations (a counterpart of the "Light of the World" Himself): יְהִי אוֹר וַיְהִי־אוֹר / yehi or, vayhi-or: "Let there be light, and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). God's handiwork in creation, then, first involves His mastery over chaos...

God speaks from the midst of a whirlwind (סְעָרָה, "tempest"), demonstrating that He is LORD over the seemingly chaotic world around us (Job 40:6). "Greek-minded" theology is more inclined to seek after "Apollo" (the pagan god of harmony and order) than the seemingly chaotic ways of the LORD God of Israel.  We often want some sort of "systematic theology" and for God to be explained to us in an orderly, logical way.  There is danger here that we forget that the LORD is called Esh Okhlah (אֵשׁ אכְלָה), a "consuming Fire" (Deut. 4:24, Heb. 12:29). God's thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are His ways our ways (Isa. 55:8-9). As the prophet Isaiah also said: יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חשֶׁךְ עשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם וּבוֹרֵא רָע אֲנִי יְהוָה עשֶׂה כָל־אֵלֶּה / "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things" (Isa. 45:7).

We live in fearful times, chaverim.  People are afraid of losing their jobs, of losing their health, of losing their freedoms, and so on. But we must be careful here. The fear of "losing control" can move us to anger, yet the sages liken anger to idolatry since it denies the providence of God in our lives (hashgacha pratit).  Anger over the apparent chaos of life implies that we don't really believe that God is in control -- that He is speaking "from the midst of the whirlwind" -- and therefore we feel aggrieved and perhaps embittered by what might happen to us. We must look to God as the Master of the storms of life and draw closer to Him in trust. The Scriptures affirm that for those who love God "all things work together for good" - gam zu l'tovah - even if the present hour seems chaotic and even dangerous (Rom. 8:28-39).

Yeshua warned us not to live in fear of man, but rather to live in fear of God (Matt. 10:28). The worst that man can do is "kill the body" but he has no real power over the soul... Tribulation - the "squeezing of grapes" - is part of the life of faith, but we are invited to come "boldly" before the Throne of Grace (παρρησίας τῷ θρόνῳ τῆς χάριτος) to find help for our lives (Heb. 4:16). Note that the word translated "boldly" in this verse (παρρησίας) means that we can speak freely to God from the center of the chaos of our hearts -- without fear or shame. We don't need to conceal ourselves from the Divine Light, since this is the very Light that overmasters the chaos of creation!  Those who accept that God is in complete control of their lives are set free from the terrible burdens of fear and anger. Abiding in ahavah shlemah (אַהֲבָה שְׁלֵמָה, God's "perfect love") means that you can let go.

May it please God to help us all remember: חֶרְדַּת אָדָם יִתֵּן מוֹקֵשׁ וּבוֹטֵחַ בַּיהוה יְשֻׂגָּב / "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe" (Prov. 29:25). May the LORD help us abide in His perfect love, free from the ravages of fear and anxiety.


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