“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” – Genesis 1:1
The year 2018 is important for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. You can be part of this momentous milestone with Rabbi Eckstein’s 70 devotions offered now through April 19th, Israel’s Independence Day. These devotions are tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land using the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L.
This devotion is part of ten devotions focusing on the letter “I” — Important to God — and will explore Israel’s importance to God as expressed through His promise to Abraham more than 3,000 years ago.
“In the beginning” is a fitting title for the story about the creation of the world. They also are the words that begin the entire Bible. The Jewish sages, however, were bothered by this and they asked, “Why? Why not? It seems to make perfect sense to begin any book at “the beginning.” Would it make more sense to start in the middle or at the end?
The answer depends on what kind of book you are writing. A history book should start at the beginning of history. A storybook should start at the beginning of the story. But the sages understood that the Bible is neither. It was not given to teach us history or to entertain us with a nice story. The Torah is an instruction manual for living. Anything it contains is there to teach us about God and how to live our lives.
Since that’s the case, the sages felt that it would have been more appropriate to start with the first commandment given to man or a story with a moral. But instead, the Torah begins with a description of Creation. The sages ask, “What does this have to do with the way that we should live?”
Open your heart and hear the answer. It was given thousands of years ago, but couldn’t be more relevant today.
The sages taught that one day, the nations of the world were going to come to the Jewish people and say, “You are robbers! You stole the land that you live on!” And they would try to take the land away from the Jews and give it to someone else.
Is this not an accurate description of what is happening in the land of Israel today? Many in the world are working very hard to take Jerusalem from the Jews and the Jews from Judea.
The sages explain that God begins the Bible with Creation so that we would know that He created the world and has all authority over the universe. The land on this earth is His to give and His to take away. Only He has the right to do so. He states very clearly in the Bible that He gave the land of Israel, a small portion of the entire earth, to the children of Israel. No one, not even the United Nations, has the right to take that land away.
God begins the Bible with a message for the critical moments at the end of time. He wants us to be strong and unwavering in our support of Israel. No matter what the world may say, the only voice that matters to us is the Word of God. So stand proud with Israel, as she celebrates her 70th birthday. It is the very first message from God and should be our top priority, too!
Join the celebration and get the entire Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. curriculum for free — for you, your small group, or even your church.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President