The Importance of Beginnings and ...
Updated: Apr 23
Life is a time of beginnings. Since we are all creatures and not eternal, all of us had a beginning, we call conception, and some designate as birth. Whichever, we all are on equal footing in this race of life. Many of us had a dedication or baptism, as a beginning of our association with Christianity, or for Jewish children, the required circumcision if you happen to be a boy. Then there is confirmation or Bar (Bat) Mizpah. We all had our first birthday, and maybe even remember our first day of school. Then there is the first job, the first sweetheart, and on and on.
If you like to read, you have probably noticed that best-selling books, and famous stories have memorable beginnings. As an example, look at the beginning of one of my favorite novels, Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens:
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
After reading this, one has the emotional setting for Dicken’s account of the darkness of Paris in the French Revolution.
Even pithy statements, like Rick Warren's "It's not about you" or M. Scott Peck's "Life is Difficult," set the tone of books.
One should never read the biblical book of Ruth, without understanding the book of Judges intimated in the first words, “In the days that the Judges were judging.” Such a difficult time in the history of early Israel before the kingdom under David is assumed, when the best of godly leadership was questionable, comes a love story of faithfulness to covenant, and the eventual birth of the great king, David. It is the diamond in the midst of lumps of coal.
When you read Isaiah 6, you will find the words, “In the year that King Uzziah died,” setting a contrast with the seemingly magnificent reign of King Uzziah to the eternal reign of Yahweh, God of Israel. King Uzziah brought economic, political and military strength to the people of Israel, but failed to bring spiritual dedication to the living God. It was in that setting that Isaiah received a glimpse of the true God, seeing His holiness and the need for God’s people to see their sins in the spotlight of His light.
Beginnings are important, and whatever kind of beginning that we have has an impact on how our life goes. If we have a good beginning, then this often sets the race of life on a proper footing. This may have an impact on our future success, our religion, and our worldview. Having said that, let us not forget that in spite of a bad beginning, the beginning does not dictate what we must be in most cases. Many who were born in poor families have become successful in business. To be born in the ghetto does not define our character or ability to rise above the environment that seemingly limits possibilities. We should not despair because there is a great difference between the beginning and the ending. A supreme example is the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This has all of the majesty and power of a good beginning, but we see in just a few chapters that beginnings often don’t work out, with the fall of Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, and finally Noah's flood. But for Christians we also have the book of Revelation, with its wonderful ending, when we see that the hope of the beginning in the Genesis is realized even above what could have been anticipated at that time with the new heavens and new earth in which righteousness dwells forever and ever.
This is the beginning of my blogs. I have considered doing these for the last few years, but never got around to it, largely busy writing articles and books, as well as teaching at Faith International University and Seminary, as well as schools and conferences in America and around the world, in association with my wife, Irina, the love of my life. Experiences in life, news on the television and newspaper, and thoughts on books that I have read have caused me to write notes and short statements, but they never saw the light of day. This blog is a means by which I can share my reflections periodically. Hopefully you will enjoy musing with me about ideas, events, ideologies, and biblical texts and theology. If you go to my links on this website you will also have access to some of my writings and books, and one for our study tours in the Mediterranean and Middle East (christianstudytours.com). You may even want to go on a tour with us. “Next year in Jerusalem.”
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