And EVERYTHING That Is In It – by Annelise
In the five books of Torah, we see that God revealed something to Israel that they would need to carry throughout their generations. Part of this is summed up in the Shema: that the Creator alone is the God whom they must offer their souls in worship and trust towards. It is revealed even in the opening verse of Genesis chapter 1: “In the beginning, God created…” There was no war between many gods to form the earth. We don’t just exist on our own either; we can’t take our existence for granted. All reality is dependent on God, a miracle formed by one cause alone. The Jews have held this message in their hearts and teachings throughout history.
A second big element of this revelation is also seen clearly in the Bible’s first chapter. The testimony of the Jew is that everything that ever has been, or is, or will be in the heavens above and in the earth below owes its existence to God.
Isaiah 40 talks a lot about this message. It begins by showing how God comes very close to His people like a mighty king and a gentle shepherd. That he is the power above all natural powers, and no one can teach Him wisdom or justice. Then it contrasts Him with an idol that people make out of a piece of wood. The words here are full of meaning: “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in… To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name… The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.”
The focus here is not that we should only worship God, but still need to figure out who or what we could worship as God incarnate. The point is that every single end of the earth is, by definition, created. When our souls look to God, our eyes must be turned away from all things and all imagination. That is an integral part of the Jewish testimony. When a Christian says that the idea of ‘multiplicity in God’ can be harmonised with the wording of the Shema, we believe they aren’t giving enough consideration to the caution implied in that verse. But we have an even clearer objection. They are ignoring an important Jewish message besides the Shema, which is the knowledge that every single thing within the heavens and earth should be seen without exception as a subject of the King of Kings. The Jewish scriptures teach us not only how to relate with God, but how to relate with everything around us.
Many other verses come back, over and over, to the same theme. These often mention the heavens and earth as parallel images, to illustrate the vast and incricate concept of ‘everything, without exception.’ Here are some examples of the Hebrew scriptures’ rich story about our world. All things around us, in every time and place, declare the absolute nearness of God on whom they rest, to exist.
Deuteronomy 10:14 – “Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it.”
Joshua 2:11 – “And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.”
1 Chronicles 29:10-11 – “Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.”
Nehemiah 9:6 – “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.”
Psalm 8:1 – “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.”
Psalm 89:11-12 – “The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and the south, you have created them; Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.”
Psalm 148 (the whole psalm sings about this) :11-13 – “Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and maidens together, old men and children! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven.”
Isaiah 42:5-6 – “Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations…”
Isaiah 44:23-24 – “Sing, O heavens, for the Lord has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the Lord has redeemed Jacob, and will display His beauty in Israel. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: ‘I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself…'”
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Some great quotes here from scripture.
I am intrested in your comment about ” the world wasnt created by waring gods” or words to that affect. What are you referring to, is it something you heard from a christian perspective?
It is not something I heard from Christianity, but an idea that seems prevalent in ancient belief systems like those surrounding ancient Israel.
The rest of the article addresses Christianity, though. All the earth’s inhabitants are ‘grasshoppers’…the ideas in these verses are not generalisations but absolute beliefs and testimony.
Thanks for an inspiring article, Annelise!
Thanks, Dina! I’m just highlighting something I heard from Rabbi Yisroel. All these articles are my way of looking at things that he and others have said, which made sense to me. Hopefully the varying perspectives on the one thing are helpful for people from varying backgrounds.