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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Bara'; the Creation of Covenant

And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you [ are ] shall see the work of the Lord.
Exodus 34:10

Traditionally, Genesis 1 & 2 refer to the creation of the known universe, or at least the physical globe on which we stand, and the Sun, Moon & Stars which give us Light. The fact that no planetary orbs besides the Earth, Sun & Moon are mentioned in the account should give us pause, first of all, because they are part of God's Creation, just like the others, and second, because if the Divine Author had meant to give us a physical cosmology lesson, He most certainly would have included them in this account. Obviously, He didn't think they were important enough to mention, although the writers of Scripture made numerous mentions of constellations and such. (  II Kings 23:5, Job 9:9, 38:31, Amos 5:8 ) Also, the Moon is spoken of as 'the lesser light' ( Genesis 1:16 ) Scientifically, we have discovered that the moon is not a light at all, but simply reflects the Sun's light!

Paying close attention to Gesenius' Hebrew/Chaldee Lexicon, we can see that the word translated 'create' or 'created', most often in Scripture, 'bara'' is tied very closely to the word most often translated 'covenant', 'bĕriyth'. The former word is also used to describe the cutting down of trees ( Joshua 17:15-18 ), filling oneself with the meat of sacrificial offerings ( Samuel 2:29 ), choosing or appointing ( Ezekiel 21:19 ), and for literally slaying ( cutting ) with the sword ( Ezekiel 23:47 ).

As we have noted before, the Hebrew 'bara' literally means 'to cut, to carve out, to form by cutting'; on the other hand, 'bĕriyth', which itself formed from the root of the former word, means ' covenant ( from the idea of cutting )'.

The Cosmology of Creation

As we have also noted before, the phrase 'heavens and earth', in various iterations, is used throughout Scripture in a very peculiar way. While it seems most often to refer, especially with a presuppositional bias, to the physical elements of this world in which we live, but, particularly in the prophetic, or apocalyptic Scriptures, this phrase, in it's various iterations, is used in a uniquely literary way!

In Deuteronomy 32, for instance, as Moses is giving his farewell speech to the Israelites he refers to them as the 'heavens and earth.' The first chapter of Isaiah, almost word for word, echoes this admonition, and David, in Psalm 50, uses similar terminology to refer to His people, in one of many examples of what may be called Biblical Parallelism. Psalm 96 also contains this kind of literary genre to refer to His human creation. The Book of Isaiah is full of these references, with 13:13 announcing the coming judgment on Israel as a result of her unfaithfulness. 44:23 records another command like the previous ones in Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 1, except this time, in exultation of Her just judgment! 49:13 contains another such adjurement! In Isaiah 51:16, we find another example of that Biblical Parallelism, where our Heavenly Father refers to His special People as the 'heavens and earth'. Jeremiah 4:23 again echoes Genesis 1:1, where Israel is warned of imminent invasion & destruction. Finally, we find in Zechariah 12 yet another example of this literary style that David uses so well in his Psalms!

Previously, we have seen, that though there are these and more passages that speak of our Heavenly Father's Covenant Creation, there are those as well that seem as clearly to point to the physical creation, or speak of an earthly cosmology. It is clear that the Creator of Heaven & Earth made everything that is! The universe, which we have only begun to discover, is infinitely full of possibilities, and man will most likely never reach its limits!

This Is Our Father's World!

Heaven & Earth, while in a purely covenantal sense, refer to the creation of covenant ( relationship ) with His good creation, also refer to the relation between man & woman! In Joseph's second dream, recorded in Genesis 37:9 & 10, his father understood immediately that his son's dream of the Sun, Moon & Stars referred to himself, his wife, and his sons.

The Moon reflects the light of the Sun, and shines a mere modicum of its brilliance, its glory onto the inhabitants of the night-time world. This is a perfect picture of the glory of the old, or 'first' covenant! As the Moon, or the Betrothed of Yahweh in that first 'heavens and earth' ( II Peter 3:5-7 ) shone His Glory into a darkened world, so now the Son of God shines His Light in blessing on the Marriage of Heaven & Earth!

The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, says the Lord of hosts.
Haggai 2:9

For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house.
Hebrews 3:3

Paul wrote to the Church at Corinth ( II Corinthians 3:9 ) in reminder that, while 'the ministry of condemnation' was itself glorious, 'the ministry of righteousness' was much ( infinitely ) more so! The Creation of the Covenant had finally matured, and now would spread like the True Vine it was over all of God's good Creation! His Covenant would finally reach its Consummation; Heaven & Earth would become One, and, because of the Glory of His New Creation, there would be no need for the Sun or the Moon, for 'the glory[k] of God illuminated it. The Lamb [ is ] its light'!

As we Live & Love in this New Creation, let us forever celebrate the glorious fact that our Creator & Heavenly Father loved His Creation so much that He divested Himself of His Glory, took upon Himself the common clothing of man, and died for the sins of Man so that He could have a relationship with His Creation!

Let us forever enjoy, not only this infinitely glorious fact, but also the physical Creation that He has so graciously placed us in & among!

Charles Haddon Shank


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