Tuesday, March 10, 2009

God created Heaven and Earth - Hell is up to us.

I love reading Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible) in the original language. Hebrew is incredibly concise. From the beginning of creation to the end of the first day requires about 80 english words. Hebrew does it in 50. The Hebrew language has an ambiguous quality. The same word or phrase can have a wide range of meaning depending on how it is read. Heaven (Sham’yim) has an obvious connection to Water (m’yim) and Sea (yim). Water is simply From-Sea. The Hebrew expression Ha-Eretz can be the entire planet earth, any dry land, or even the land of Israel. Ruach can be Spirit, wind or breath and yom is a period of time - anything from a day to a geologic epoch. In Hebrew, the entire creation process from a formless, empty void to a revolving planet with continents and oceans is done in a series of 3 divisions (B-D-L) - between light and darkness, earth and sky, land and sea. According to the Torah, the entire creation process ended on the seventh or Sabbath day. Sabbath (SBT) having a direct connection to seven (SB’H) and to “rest-from-work” (SBT). In Hebrew, the number seven also signifies completion, wholeness or fullness.

Last December I was asked to teach an introductory Bible course at the Koinonia home school. This gave me a much-needed excuse to refresh my Hebrew language skills, which I had learned more than 20 years earlier, and devote some time to the Torah. I read the first chapter of Genesis (B’RoSHeeT) in preparation for the first class and I was struck by verse 31.

It goes something like this; “And God saw Everything that was made - IT was Very Good”.

The next day, Bud and I were unloading pecans from a wagon into the sizing shack. It was cold, noisy and cramped. There were almost as many sticks as nuts which made the work slow and tedious. It was a terrible waste of time.

I thought, “You couldn’t pay me enough to do this job”.

At that very moment, I realized that I was blissfully happy!

We had witnessed a beautiful sunrise. The air was fresh. The sky was blue and clear. Birds were chirping in the trees. I was working with Bud. He is a wonderful man and a good friend.

I couldn’t think of anywhere I would rather be.

What happened?

Then it hit me. God created Heaven and Earth. As for Hell, we create our own.

The other day, we were driving down the highway to Mill Bay and our youngest daughter spoke up from the back seat. “At least there was one good thing about Georgia. I’m no longer afraid of death because I’ve already been through Hell.”

It certainly didn’t matter what the rest of us thought - and I guess that’s the point.

PS: That's sunrise over the Koinonia chapel.

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