MJ Basic Beliefs #2: Creation

earthThis series is a set of foundational beliefs, a Jewish theology (a Messianic Jewish theology) heavily based on Rabbi Chaim Luzzatto’s book Derech Hashem (The Way of God) (c. 1735). The purpose of this series is to be a resource for educating disciples. See the first part of the series for an introduction: “MJ Basic Beliefs #1: Creator.”

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1.2 Creation

Why would the perfect, independent, necessary being that is God make a universe at all, much less a universe like ours, which was bound to and does, in fact, grieve him often? Luzzatto sums up God’s purpose as “to bestow his good on another.” Luzzatto’s chain of thought about how Creation will achieve this divine purpose is very tightly constructed. There are seven truths in a chain of thought moving from the fact of Creation to the accomplishment at last of God’s purpose to bestow his good.

Good is God’s own essence: Good is not something outside of God, but is God’s intrinsic nature. As Luzzato says “God alone is true perfection, free of all deficiency, and there is no perfection comparable to him.”

Attachment to God is the ultimate good: For God to bestow good on another can only mean bestowing “the true, perfect good that exists in his intrinsic Essence.” Therefore, God’s purpose is ultimately in giving his creatures the “opportunity to attach themselves to him to the greatest degree possible for them.”

Humanity is created as the recipient of good: There is a “creature destined for . . . a bond of closeness to him” and that creature is man. Note that this is speaking of what little we know about this one world in which we live and this is not denying the possibility that God may have other creatures in the universe which is also drawing to himself. “All other created things,” says Luzzato, “. . . only exist for [humanity’s] sake, to complete his environment.” The many things contained in Creation are “an aid . . . toward this goal” of receiving the good, which is attachment to God.

Free will: God is independent and free and therefore the good he bestows can only be received by free will of the creature: “. . . for such good to be perfect, the one enjoying it must be its master.” God’s own perfection “is not a matter of chance” and neither would chance (total predestination) be a true bestowing of good. In order to come to resemble God we must be free and to some degree independent like him.

Every person’s task is to seek attachment to God: Our experience of life teaches us to be drawn toward the good, which is ultimately God’s own intrinsic perfection. The more we realize what the true good is and the closer we come to it, the more we are actually cleaving “to the Creator’s perfection” and finding what we were made to possess.

Creation must contain concealment and illumination: Every good is the result of God’s perfection and his illumination is revealed in all truly good things. Every deficiency in Creation is the concealment of his Presence, the absence of his good. Creation must contain both so that we would have the potential to attain good and reject deficiency: “. . . the world in general must contain great multitudes of different elements of each time, in varying relationships to one another, so that the purpose for the world [may] be realized.”

Relationship: Humans are unique creatures [in this one world we know about] “balanced between the elements of perfection and the elements of deficiency.” When people “strengthen” themselves by “striving for elements of perfection” and “incorporating them” into their being through personal growth, they increase their “bond and association with God.”

A MESSIANIC ADDITION: The essential, indispensable agent of God’s purpose in Creation is Messiah. Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:10 sum this up: “[God] made known to us the mystery of his purpose . . . that he should administer the days of fulfillment, to unite all things in [Messiah].” From our perspective it seems as if we strive toward God, but from the other side, we could never attain attachment to God with unaided strength. This is evident in Luzzatto’s choice of the word “bestow.” God bestows this purpose and goal. Yeshua is the means by which he bestows it.