I looked at my watch again. Only the second hand had moved and it hadn’t moved much since my last glance several seconds ago. “Why is it that time always goes slow when you want it to go fast, and fast when you want it to go slow?” I thought to myself. The train chugged along steadily, caring nothing for my inner struggle. Soon I would be there and soon I would see her again. But soon was not soon enough.
Why is it that time always goes slow when you want it to go fast, and fast when you want it to go slow?
It’s not advisable to make long train journeys when you’re in love. Or perhaps it’s not advisable to fall in love with someone who lives far away. In any case, teleporters would be much more efficient and a lot less stressful. Perhaps they would also change our perception of time – then the last 30 seconds of a train ride to your loved one wouldn’t seem like an eternity. The frustration that we all have to deal with is that time is on the one hand empirically measurable and yet on the other seems to defy that very measurement if another variable is introduced. Or, in other words, sometimes a days seems like a thousand years and a thousand years seem like a day.
This is exactly the impression that this week’s parasha leaves us with. Simchat Torah has come and gone and we’ve completed a whole cycle of Torah reading. Now, we’re back to the…beginning (Bereshit). Not only has history repeated itself for us, but we actually cover over 1500 years of history in one week’s reading. God creates everything there is; Adam and Eve ruin everything; their descendants spread throughout the earth. Not bad for a few chapters!
It’s easy to wonder why God gives us so few details about such a long and intensely significant period of time. Yet while it’s easy to complain that God is silent about so much of those first 1500 years, perhaps it would be better to focus on what He actually does tell us. And ironically, God doesn’t just inform us of what happened in the beginning, He gives us a glimpse into events that would happen thousands of years later. Events that would ultimately influence what would happen at the end of time.
“In the beginning…” We all know the story well: God creates everything and it’s perfect. Adam and Eve choose to bizarrely throw all of this perfection on the rubbish heap and decide that knowing the difference between good and evil is better than living forever (Tree of Life, anyone?!) and that the words of a snake are more trustworthy than their Maker’s. The hours, minutes, seconds after they ate the fruit must have seemed like days, especially as God walked through the garden calling Adam’s name.
I will put enmity between you and the woman
What follows next is crucial. God curses the serpent and says to him, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Bereshit/Genesis 3,15) It is almost as if the stories of the Tanakh that we know and love are swept together under this one pronouncement. Satan was going to hate us, the offspring of Eve. Sure, he was going to cause us a lot of damage, he would bruise our heel. But one day we would conquer him, one day we would bruise his head. One day, this nightmare would all be over and we’d be able to go back to how it was at the beginning…
Time went by and the prophecy was fulfilled. Satan wreaked havoc and succeeded in bruising not only our people, but all peoples. But the time came for us to bruise his head and there was only one person who could do it – the Messiah. A descendant of Eve.
Yes, that’s right, the promised deliverer was to be the offspring of the woman. Interestingly, nothing is said about Adam’s offspring, only about Eve’s. In addition, God tells us that, “Behold the virgin will conceive and bear a son and you shall call his name Immanuel [God is with us].” (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 7:14) The one who could ultimately finish Satan once and for all had to be an offspring of woman. One of us, one like us and yet at the same time, one stronger than us. One who could actually defeat Satan. This is the mystery of the Messiah – God and Man in one package. Not a demi-God, not a “better man” but a “God-Man” – fully divine and fully human.
Finally, the time came. God sent His Son, Yeshua the Messiah, born of a woman to die for our sins and to rise from the dead. Through His death and resurrection he broke the chains that kept us as slaves to Satan – the wrong things that we’ve said, done and thought as well as our broken nature – and crushed the serpent’s head once and for all. Thanks to the Messiah, Satan doesn’t have to have a hold on us anymore. Like a toothless dog, he no longer has the power to do us any real harm – if we put our trust in the Messiah Yeshua and hand over our lives to his leadership.
“So if Yeshua is the Messiah and has dealt with sin and Satan once and for all, why is the world still so broken?” I hear you ask. Let’s go back to the beginning of the article (if you’ll pardon the pun) and consider the changing nature of time. God deals with the whole of the Tanakh and the Brit Chadasha in one sentence, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” From the Almighty’s perspective, this was already accomplished, thousands of years before we would see it actually acted out. In this world, we are slaves to time, but God, who is outside of time and sees the beginning from the end can sum up the whole of history in one sentence. For Him, Satan is already defeated. Life is still as it is for us because, from our perspective, God is patiently waiting for His people and all people to recognise His way of escape – Yeshua. Eventually, Yeshua will come again and then it will be too late for us to put our trust in him. The God who is outside of time will once again enter into time in order to bring all things to an end, or better put, back to the beginning. Back to the way it was in the garden – intimacy with him, no more suffering and the tree of life: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.” (The Revelation 22:1-5)
I’m so grateful that I don’t have to go on long train rides anymore to see the woman I love. I’m so grateful that she is now my wife and those seconds of anguish in the train are finally over. But I’m also looking forward to the genuine anguish of life being over when the Messiah returns. From my perspective, it seems like he’s been gone for an eternity. I’m sure from his, it feels like just a few moments. I can appreciate what the Rambam says, “I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Messiah and though he tarry I will wait daily for his coming.” Because I know that when he comes back, he’s coming for me. What about you? Don’t put it off a moment longer – put your faith in the Messiah before it really is too late. After all, “In a favourable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” (Yeshayahu/Isaiah 49:8) Let today be your day of salvation!