This will be my first blog after moving into our new home. The subject of this writing has been on my mind for weeks now.
In trying times be it personal, communal or even national, one of the cries of the religious community is, that we the people and we as a nation needs to put God first to help correct the woes and wrongs of our society.
When the religious community begins to cry out that God needs to be put first, a question comes to my mind – “How do we put God first?”
There are several ideas many have about what they think is putting God first, such as having belief/faith, praying, attending places of worship and so on. These are great things to be doing, but what can we learn from the Hebrew Scriptures about putting God first?
A good place and obvious place to start is in the beginning. The very place where God was being put into second place.
In this blog, we will be examining two places where we can learn when God was moved out of first place.
All the Scripture used in this blog will be from the Artscroll English Translation.
Our first example is with Adam and Eve.
Genesis 2:16, 3:1,6
“And HaShem God commanded the man…”
“Now the serpent was cunning beyond any beast of the field that HaShem God had made. He said to the woman, “Did, perhaps God say…?”
“And the woman perceived that the tree was good for eating and that it was a delight to the eyes, and the tree was desirable as a means to wisdom, and she took the fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her and he ate.”
Now lets examine this set of passages to see what the Creator wants us to learn. On a side note, this is not the only lesson to be learned from these passages.
The wrong use of a Divine gift.
Man, would become the only part of God’s creation to be made in His image. Out of all plant and animal life, man would possess a gift that God would not be giving to any other aspect of His creation. Free will, the ability to make choices (see Genesis 1:26 & 9:6).
In Genesis 2 the Creator gives His creation an instruction to follow. When you get to Genesis 3 we find the instruction being challenged. We also find that the creation uses its gift of free will to make a choice to turn away from the instruction of God.
By choosing to turn away from the instruction, man chose to put himself, his desires and wants before God.
“The sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, each took his fire pan, they put in fire in them and placed incense upon it; and they brought before HaShem an alien fire that He had not commanded them. A fire came forth from before HaShem and consumed them, and they died before HaShem.”
In this example we find the sons of Aaron allowing their ego and zeal to rule them. They decided upon themselves how they wanted to serve God. They thought that they could invent their own way to serve and worship God.
They died for one reason, they did something that “…He had not commanded them.”
Here is another example of the wrong use of free will. The sons of Aaron thought they knew a better way to serve and worship God, so they used their own ideas to invent how they wanted to worship God instead of just doing how they were told to serve and worship Him.
By not following the instructions given to them, they put themselves before God.
There is a strong message from God to us in these two examples.
In the service and worship of our Creator, the wrong use of our free will, will cause us to put ourselves before God.
What do we need to do to put God first?
To put God first, we must do what He has instructed us to do, plain and simple.
Both examples show the primary way how God got moved out of first place.
Man for the most part has elected not to do as he was instructed!
So, you may ask, “How do we find His instructions so we can put Him first”?
What He has Instructed us to do can found within the first book of Torah, the book of Genesis. It contains all of the instructions we need to live as the Creator has desired for us to do.
From the beginning man has used his free will to turn away from God to do what he wants, he has chose his own path and invented worship/religious systems not given to him by the Creator.
I once again emphasis, by doing the instructions that we were given by God is how we put God first and correct the woes and wrongs of our society. This is the only way to correct the order of where we and God belong.
To learn more about these instructions, the where and how to locate them, stay tuned.
To be continued.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Terry Hayes