Happy 2021! We hope you had a blessed and restful holiday season. We, like many others, are pleased to put the year 2020 behind us. It was a difficult year for many, filled with challenges brought upon us by things and circumstances outside of our control. But a new year offers us a sense of hope for the future. A new beginning, a fresh start. As 2021 presents to us new challenges and uncertainties, I would like to offer you some thoughts on the subject of beginnings that I hope will be meaningful to you as we enter into the new year.
The Bible begins with the words “In the beginning,” translated from the Hebrew word “b’reysheet.” The first letter of this word is a bet (pronounced like the English word “bait”), and it is written very much like a square that is missing its left side. Since Hebrew is written from right to left, the shape of this first letter of scripture forms a powerful illustration, as was first pointed out by the famous Jewish medieval scholar known as Rashi. He noted that the letter is closed on the right, and open on the left. The open side of the letter points toward everything after the creation – all human history, things we can see and know. The closed side of the letter reminds us that we do not know what happened before creation, except for one thing: there was God.
He is eternal. And His eternal existence guarantees us a future and a hope.
Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’ (Isaiah 46:8-10)
God stands outside of space and time, viewing the end from the beginning, seeing what we do not. This is beyond extraordinary - it is actually mind boggling, difficult for us as mere human beings to grapple with and wrap our heads around. However, the implications are profound. There is nothing outside of His knowledge. Nothing takes Him by surprise. There is no problem that stumps Him. No circumstance outside of His awareness. He knows what has, is, and will happen.
For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps (Job 34:21)
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. (Psalms 139:1-3)
He is the God who sees us, knows us, and holds our future firmly in His powerful hand. His infinite nature reminds us of who and what we really are – mortal, imperfect, and utterly dependent upon His goodness and mercy. And finally, since He is before all things, we can find hope in knowing that He has a course charted for each of us. Not one of us is an accident, but a special creation, each with a purpose appointed by the Father.
The words "In the beginning God …" are powerful, profound, and perhaps best of all, assuring - because the Eternal One has declared the end from the beginning. That end will be worth the wait for those who put their trust in Messiah Yeshua, the Divine Word who was with God in the beginning. As 2021 begins, we face many uncertainties, which can easily lead us to fear and doubt. Our prayer is that you would look continually to the Eternal One, finding peace, hope, courage, and purpose in the year ahead.