Crystal Writes A Blog

A place to read what Crystal writes

Wholly Good Creation


I am so in love with the word of God that I can find multiple things to talk about from even a short reading. For me, Scripture is living and filled with wonder and awe. I can see the possibilities of mistranslations by mankind, and yet the thread of truth is so strong that I do not doubt the validity of life I receive from the written words. Today, I read from Genesis 1:24 through Genesis 2:3.

Creation day 6 was quite the busy one. All the rest of the animals brought forth from the dust of earth, and then mankind. And it was so much more than simple creation. It was the decision to make man a little higher than the animals, so that he could rule them from the earth. It was the decision to risk putting God-like attributes in human flesh made from dirt.

Surely, God being God, knew what He was getting into when He did all of that, and yet upon its finish He said, “It is very/vehemently/wholly good.” Apparently, He saw something more in us that we can see in ourselves. He didn’t just like what He had accomplished, He vehemently loved what He had accomplished. It’s hard for me to imagine why anyone would want to reject that, but I can only guess it comes from people who see themselves as good in their own eyes rather than accepting themselves as wholly good as He sees them and created them to be. That gives me understanding as to why He prefers a humble spirit.

And, after all the flourish of work, creation, risk, and emotion, God was done. He wasn’t done being God, but He was done setting up the dominoes, and it was time for them to do what He created them to do… to multiply, to govern, and to be like Him and create things on their own. I wonder though if His letting go was similar to a parent taking the training wheels off a child’s bike and just letting the child go–even knowing the child may fall. I hope when He takes a chance on me, I bring Him reward that makes it worth the risk of His letting go and letting me have free will.

And this seems like a great place to post a poem called “Free Will” that I wrote back in 2002 in the aftermath of so many claiming 9/11/2001 was something God allowed (or caused) to punish sinful Americans.

FREE WILL

Free will, I say, to all free will,
To do just as you desire.
Tis the greatest of gifts giv’n to man,
It can help or can hurt, as does fire.

Many men seek to do all good,
Neither hurt a friend, nor a foe.
But some men abuse this gracious gift,
And it makes God’s head bow low.

So let us not blame our God above,
For men and their evil deeds.
Let us instead use our own free will,
To comfort a heart that bleeds.

An object or word can cause great pain,
In the hands of hatred and spite.
But in the hands of men filled with love,
A balm of healing and light.

May God be thanked for His gift of free will.
Let all men use it for love.
And bless each other as we fulfill,
The goodness of God above.

Copyright ©2002 Crystal A. Murray

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September 30, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creation Days 4 and 5


Today I’ve read Genesis 1:14-23. I’m stopping at the Ashkenazi portions (the “A” in the “A” and “S” I mentioned yesterday), so some are very short, but later some may get very long.

The more I read and study, the more I see how many ways there are to do it. For a Torah reading calendar, I like the site “Hebcal” which also includes a holiday calendar, Shabbat (Sabbath) candle-lighting times per zip code, and more. Importantly, it also includes a Torah reading schedule that is divided by reader (or day if you choose to do like I am doing), and it has links to commentaries on the topics. When you go to the schedule, simply click on the portion next to the date where you are looking, and you’ll find the divided portion and links to actually read the Scriptures and commentaries. For example, you’ll see for September 28, 2013, that the portion is “Bereshit” (Beginnings) and is Genesis 1:1 through 6:8. You will notice, however, that the divided portions are based on the Sephardic (S) divisions, so if you follow that, it will be slightly different from the commentary I make here. Of course, if you just read the entire portion, those differences won’t affect your reading plan. I could do that and only comment once per week, but I’m trying to make myself write more often, so I’ll push on.

So, the first thing I noticed when I visited Hebcal for today (that is, the day which began at sunset on Saturday and ended at Sunset on Sunday so I visited during the daylight period), was that it listed the portion for the next Shabbat which begins Friday at sundown. I thought to myself, “Wait, am I supposed to be reading the text through the week and ending on Shabbat because it is the 7th day or end of the week?” If so, that would mean I am a week behind. But, if I continue the direction I’m going, I begin my portion on Shabbat (September 28th for Genesis 1:1) and extend it through the week into the seven daily readings, and I’ll finish before the next portion begins. Hmm? What to do.

Well, since I periodically visit a Messianic fellowship called Adat Hatikvah (or Congregation of The Hope) on Saturdays, I don’t think I want to read the portions ahead of the services, so it looks like extending the reading through the week following the given Shabbat portions will work best for me. Yesterday morning, they read Genesis 1 in the service and talked about beginnings. Yep, this feels right for me. But for the rest of you, whatever it takes to get into the Word of God and apply it to your life, please do it. I welcome you to travel on my journey with me, and I’ll keep giving you links to–hopefully–make it easier, but I don’t proclaim to know specific and perfect answers for anyone–including myself. 🙂

And that brings me to this day’s topic; creation of the sun, moon, and stars (day four), and birds and fish (day five). The first thing I noticed in this reading was that the greater and lesser lights were given first for signs, seasons, and years, and then for light. Maybe this is because God had already spoken light, or maybe it’s because we should be paying much more attention to signs, seasons, and years than we do.

I could do a word study to determine if there’s a difference between the light from day one that God called “Day” and the light on day four that He used to light up both the days and nights. Maybe that will be next year’s commentary if The Lord delays His return. But, if I were to guess, I would imagine that the light He spoke into existence on the first day was more about telling the earth who He is and that He is in control. It was sort of like He was saying, “Earth, receive Me–Creator, Wisdom, Life-Giver.” He was giving Earth her first “lightbulb moment” (that one just “dawned” on me–pun intended) of understanding, so she would yield to His words of creation. And maybe that is why He called the light “good” but did not say the same thing about the darkness. Of course, that’s more of a commentary on yesterday’s reading, so I’ll go on.

So we have lights in the dome of the sky that divide the day from the night. The greater light governs the day and is the power generator. The lesser lights govern the night, and the main one (the moon) does not generate its own power. That says to me that if we reflect the power of God, we can light up any darkness. It is not our power or our own light. It is His. And like a full moon, we can bring so much more of His light when we are filled with Him instead of with ourselves. I like that. When I decrease, He will increase.

And on day five, all that light, and the oxygen created from the seed-bearing plants and trees from day three, needed to be occupied. So God created fish and fowl in the same way He created plants and trees–with the ability to reproduce. He commanded fruitfulness and multiplication because He knows that what He creates is good (every good gift and every perfect gift is from above), and He wants to see more of it. May whatever He creates in me also be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth that His kingdom may increase and fill the earth as well. Amen.

September 29, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Joy of The Word (Simchat Torah)


The Torah by Flickr User Lawrie Cate, CC License = Attribution

The Torah by Flickr User Lawrie Cate, CC License = Attribution Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

So, I told members of my writing group that now that I have a WP app on my phone, it is my goal to write something every day. To facilitate that goal, it is my intention to write something about my daily studies in the first five books of the Bible, also known as “The Torah.” So, this will be of sorts a Torah commentary, but instead of being scholarly, it will be more about what it means to me or how it applies to my day. I am beginning today because of the festival day known as “Simchat Torah” which means “Joy of the Word” or “Joy of the Law.”

Simchat Torah comes at the end of the festival of Sukkot, also known at The Feast of Tabernacles. The Lord’s feast (note that Scripture does not say Jewish feast but rather Lord’s feast) is a celebration of remembrance. I have plenty I will say about it in another post, and I have said some already in a note I wrote on Facebook. But to sum up this day, it is the time when those who read the Torah through in a year begin again. It is a man-made time of beginning, but it works for keeping track.

The Complete Jewish Bible is a modern translation that tracks the portions (called Parashahs in Hebrew) and makes it easy to follow along. You can read the entire portion on Shabbat (Sabbath), or you can use the 7 divisions (in Roman numerals in the text) to have one reading for each day of the week. I’m choosing the one reading for each day for the commentary here. A note here: sometimes the Roman numerals will have a letter A or S before them. You can read about it in the beginning of the Bible notes from the author of The Complete Jewish Bible. However, even without knowing their meaning, just remember that if you are following using one of the letters, keep all your future readings using that same letter, or you can get very confused. 🙂

Reading God’s written word is both a gift and a privilege, and I’m grateful for the modern tools that allow me to do it with ease. As I study, I learn more about the personality of My Creator as revealed in the pages of Torah. The “Hebrew 4 Christians” site (in some above links) is another great tool. The link I listed for The Complete Jewish Bible takes you to Amazon if you want one of your own. And, today’s Scripture in CJB is from the Bible Gateway site; a great tool for every Christian. From there, you can search through any part of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation in CJB and a variety of other Bible versions.

One final note before I get to today’s study is the blessing in the word Torah itself. The Hebrew word for “light” is the word “or” which is right in the middle of the word Torah. Follow with me, and may God Himself light your path with the joy of His word.

Today I read Genesis 1:1-13 about creation. I love that God is a God of beginnings and new beginnings. I love that He could come to a place of nothingness and turn it into something. And I love that each time He brought forth something new, He delighted in it and said it was good. In these verses, we have gone through the first three days of creation, and the earth is now bringing forth seed. And the one thing I noticed above everything else was that whatever God spoke, it happened without question. I’ll close with that and let you think on it.

September 28, 2013 Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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