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The Face of the Waters: The Book of Genesis & the Heaven Within Us

Jesus' Face in the Waters of Heaven
Atlas Porter via The God of Abraham

I. Introduction

The Bible is, at once – the most popular book of all time (according to the Guinness Book of World Records it has sold more than five billion copies), and unfortunately, it is also the most misunderstood book of all time.

The scope of this misunderstanding is profound. Think about it, 500 years ago people were being burned at the stake for translating this book into English. Now: there is a disregarded Bible in the nightstand drawer of every hotel in America.

Because of this misunderstanding and subsequent disregard – many people often associate the words on these pages with their most vocal champions, as if the two are actually in agreement.

Just because someone yells the loudest does not mean that they deserve to be heard.

It is time for this misunderstanding to be cleared up.

It is my privilege to be able to let you in on what is actually happening beneath these covers, in these sheets.

I invite you to continue reading this if you are interested in the real meaning of the Bible, that is to say, if you are interested in discovering the truth about mystery of the Word of God. The only requirements of you are your time and an open mind.

I must warn you though – this essay is much different than other Bible essays you may have read in the past – meaning, if you think I am going to try to explain away the reality of human life with some lofty, illogical notion of God with no basis in fact then you are in the wrong place; or if you are looking for me to dismiss this book as just another man made book, then you, too, are in the wrong place – because it is not just another man made book. I am going to show you why it is so much more.

This is the Word of God. {*He said, holding the Bible}

It is my intention to let the words on these pages tell their own story. God does not need me speaking for him. I am not a prophet. However the writers of these books were. There is a palpable power in these words. So stick around if you want to know how this power works.

II. Preamble

The preeminent prophet of the Old Testament is Moses – a Hebrew man who was raised in Egypt. He is the author of the first five books of the Bible. The first book, Genesis, will be the primary focus of this essay. It is in this book that we are provided with a comprehensive blueprint of how we are to understand the Bible as a whole – Heaven and Earth are distinct yet connected (seems simple enough – well, this is the thesis of the entire book and there is an important meaning behind it.)

Before we even open our Bibles to see how this central theme works, there are couple of things I want us to be aware of. The first is the cover itself. What is the name of this book? The Holy Bible. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but this book has encapsulated its entire theme/story in these words.

Let us break it down, we have Holy which means “Hallowed” and this is the Heavenly, and we have the word Bible which means “Book” and this is the Earthly.

So like I said, Heaven and Earth are distinct, yet connected.

Also, before we open our Bible we must also understand what is meant by the concept of “The Word of God.” Like the title, it too has the heavenly meaning and the earthly meaning. Starting with the latter, the earthly is the literal word of God (i.e. the book itself, scripture, the material), but “the Word of God” also has its metaphorical, heavenly interpretation, which is God’s promise. That is to say, when someone gives you their word, so to speak, they are making you a promise. This Book is God’s Word to man.

What is important to note here is that the Bible is broken down into two parts: the Old and the New Testament. “Testament” is another word for promise. In other words, these “Testaments” are the Word of God, literally and metaphorically, earthly and heavenly.

Also interesting to note here, Jesus who is said to be the fulfillment of God’s promise(s) is also called his “Word.” (I will return to that momentarily)

But for now what is important to understand is that “The Word of God,” or “The Holy Bible” have two layers of meaning. There is the literal, earthly interpretation, and the metaphorical, heavenly interpretation. Like I said, Heaven and Earth are distinct, yet connected.

And the ramification of this understanding – although it seems simple -- is spiritually profound.

III. In the Beginning

Now let us finally open our Bibles:

The first two lines of Genesis lay the groundwork for everything that is to follow.

“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).

So we see here, what we have been talking about. Right in the first line: Heaven and Earth are distinct (created separately) yet connected (created together).

I have made a very rudimentary diagram to describe what is happening.

The spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. The waters are the earthly part, and the spirit of God is the Heavenly part moving upon it. Again, Heaven and earth are distinct yet connected.

Moving ahead to line 6, “And God said, ‘Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the firmament and separated the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament. And it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven” (Genesis 1:6-8).

So the firmament is Heaven.

But as we can see, the Bible has repeated itself; for our diagram still applies. The firmament was “in the midst of the waters,” which is just another way of saying “the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.” It is the heavenly within the earthly.

Let us return to the Word of God, It may surprise you to know that Jesus is very much present in these opening lines. But how can that be, he wasn’t alive yet? Line 3 says, “And God said, ‘Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). Jesus is here. For you see, God used his Word to create. Or as the Gospel of John puts it, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him. And without him, was not anything made” (John 1:1-3).

Jesus is this Word in the beginning; meaning he is the creative force within us, through whom we are all made. (I know this is sounding hyper religious – stick with me, it will all make sense.) Jesus’s presence in the beginning is re-emphasized in Genesis.

Moving on in the text we read, “Then God said. ‘Let us make man in our image and our likeness”(Genesis 1:26). Notice the use of the plural possessive here – “us” and “our.” What’s important to understand is that the Hebrew word used for God in these opening lines is the word “Elohim,” which is actually the plural of God. Meaning, “the Gods said, let us make man in our image and our likeness.” How can this be? I thought Christianity was monotheistic. “You should have no other Gods before me” (Ex 20:3) -- and all that? Well, returning to my previous point from John’s Gospel, it was Jesus as God’s Word (his creative force) who was with God, and was God in the beginning.

Furthermore, what is this image and likeness that the father (God) and his son (the Word) are speaking of? So far the only description we have of God’s image is this. The Earthly with a piece of the Heavenly in the midst of it – distinct yet connected.

Well this likeness holds true:

For Genesis continues, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7)

This is God’s image and likeness. For the dust is the earthly, and the breath of life is the heavenly inside of man – or another way to put it, “the spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters.”Both, the earth and our bodies are over 70 percent water – (Coincidence? ~Perhaps.)

With the breath of life, scripture tells us, “Man became a living being.” Another way to put it, the dust from the ground plus the breath of life from God and we are a “human being.” The “human” is the earthly and the “being” – the breath of life or spirit of God inside of us – is the heavenly.

IV. God’s Being

We must step back from Genesis for just a moment and jump ahead to the second book of Moses: Exodus, so that we can add a bit of context to this idea of the “being,” which is God, inside of us. Before Moses returned to Egypt to save his people from slavery, he asked God who he should tell his people has sent him – in other words, he was asking God what his name is. God responds to Moses with, “”Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has me to you’” (Exodus 3:14). Put simply, God is “I Am”

What is more, if we were to describe ourselves we would use the phrase “I am” followed by an adjective: I am good, I am happy, I am spiritual, etc. What we are describing with these “I am…” statements is our state of “being.” So God, saying he is “I am” is essentially him saying that He is “being” itself, which confirms what Genesis is telling us about the breath of life inside of us; or another way to put it, “the spirit of God was moving over the face of our waters.”

The point is, God is metaphorically and literally within us, and scripture makes reference to this repeatedly.

V. The Trees in the Garden

Now let us return back to Genesis, and continue on. After man is created, he is placed in the Garden, and we read, “And out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9).

Notice it is the same pattern yet again, evidenced by the same language – the firmament (i.e. heaven) was “in the midst” of the waters, and likewise the tree of life is “in the midst” of the garden.

We can think of the tree of life as the heavenly, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as the earthly.

We will start with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God forbids this tree – which in light of all the other evidence seems to indicate that he wants man to not be concerned with the earthly, material world. Nonetheless, the serpent (i.e. the one that represents the earth because it is literally the closest to the ground, crawling through the dirt as it were) convinces mankind to disobey God, playing on earthly desires such as power and lust. Note how Man’s transgression is revealed to God; it is through man’s shame of his naked body. In other words it was the material/external/ earthly world that invaded man’s thoughts. And man’s punishment for eating from this tree is all earthly/ material/ bodily related – labor, pain, and death. Or as God puts it, “you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).

Nevertheless, there is also the tree of life in the midst of the Garden. It represents the heavenly/ divine/ internal world. God says that man will be punished for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil “lest he put forth his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat and live for ever” (Genesis 3:22). In other words, the tree of life is the way for man to return from his earthly woes to his heavenly center. Nevertheless, we read that God “drove out the man” from the garden and “placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword” to guard the tree of life.

So we have the tree of life, which is how we escape our earthly woes, but it is guarded by cherubim and a flaming sword. What does this mean? To understand what the Bible is telling us here, we have to step back from scripture momentarily.

Let us look for a moment at this picture of the front of a brain. I want you to notice the interesting shape here. Its resemblance to wings is quite clear. And this can also be seen distinctly underneath the brain as well. The wing shape is apparent. The wings appear to sit at the top of the spine. Take a leap with me for a moment, and let us assume that the wing shape represents the cherubim and the spine represents the flaming sword.

I understand that just because the front of the brain looks like it has wings does not mean anything. At the current moment this connection between cherubim and a wing shape on the brain, and a flaming sword and the spine is extremely flimsy. But stick with me.

As we explore this further, this will all begin to make a lot more sense. There is an ancient symbol that is still widely used today. Perhaps you may recognize it. It is the caduceus. In the ancient world it was associated with the the Greek/ Roman Gods Hermes/Mercury – today it is often used (incorrectly) in the medical field. Nonetheless this symbol is very relevant to our current Biblical discussion. Many people have seen this symbol their whole life, and have no idea what it actually means. The wings are the wings of the brain that I just pointed out and the staff itself is the spine or “flaming sword,” if you will. Also note the serpents moving up the staff/ spine.

If this is true, then it would imply that the caduceus is symbolic of the tree of life.

VI. The Fruit of the Tree

Let us continue

The most important part of the symbol is the cap, the fruit of the tree as it were, between the wings.

It represents the most sacred part of our body.

In Eastern cultures it is known as the Third Eye, the mind’s eye, the all-seeing eye. It is believed to be the portal to the inner realms of higher consciousness. The scientific name for it is the pineal gland, and it is located in the third ventricle of the brain. It is responsible for producing melatonin in the body, which regulates sleep. And this gland is the cap that is on the caduceus -- located right between your eyes on your forehead at the brow line.

According to Eastern thought, there is also a divine force within you that resides at the base of your spine called the kundalini (which means “coiled serpent”). The goal of the practitioner is to raise this life force up the spine -- through the sushumna which is the spinal canal -- to the head.

Let us move from the Eastern understanding of the third eye to the Western understanding. The esteemed French philosopher, Rene Descartes – the mathematical genius who invented the Cartesian plane – said that the Pineal Gland was “the principal seat of the soul.”

And likewise, one can see in Michelangelo’s famous creation painting -- which resides on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican – that God is shown as residing in the brain, and his creative force (represented by his outward reaching hand) emanates out from where the third eye/the pineal gland is located

I want us to take a moment here to acknowledge another insight of Rene Descartes. In his Discourse on the Method he wrote the famous line, “I think therefore I am,” which most scholars take to mean, “Because I am a thinking thing, I exist.” However, what these scholars fail to acknowledge is this same point of Descartes, which he elaborated on Meditations on First Philosophy, had a much bigger purpose. To say “I think therefore I am” is not to prove that he exists, but rather to prove that that God exists. Moreover, earlier we pointed out that God is “I am.” So, that being said, another way to read Descartes famous line is: “I think because God (exists).” For it only seems logical that the same person who said that the pineal gland was “the principal seat of the soul” would also say that a process of our brain (that is to say thinking) proves the existence of God.

Now let us return to scripture to see if we can confirm this extra-biblical understanding.

There are two statements of Jesus that seem to confirm Descartes perspective.

First he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), which, in the light of what we have said thus far, seems to be him confirming his place in the beginning with God as God’s creative force – “the Word” -- through which all of us are made in the image and likeness of God.

John’s Gospel says that “the Word was God,” and the Word is Jesus. And as we already noted God is “I am.” And here Jesus is speaking in the same language, also saying that he is “I am.” Interesting to note, in Descartes native language, French, the way that you say “I am” is “Je suis,” which as you can tell is just Jesus with an “I” put in the midst of it.

Speaking of an “eye” put in the midst of things, Jesus also said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22).

With these two statements Jesus seems to be confirming his place in the beginning with God – as the “being” within us – and also that there is an “eye” of our body which determines our spiritual luminosity.

So as we have already pointed out, the caduceus seems to symbolically represent the tree of life. The Egyptians, the culture in which Moses was raised, was quite aware of this heavenly spot within our earthly body. The Eye of Horus and the serpent crown (called the Uraeus) are just a couple of the ways in which the Egyptians symbolically acknowledged the spiritual power within us. Would it surprise you to know that Moses also had a caduceus? Well, in the Book of Numbers (the fourth book of Moses) it is written, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live’” (Numbers 21:8).

So as you can see – this is the description of both the caduceus and the tree of life connected through Moses. His staff, referred to later in scripture as the “nehustan” is wrapped with a fiery serpent (i.e. a “flaming sword”), and it gave life to those who believe (which is to say, those who “eat of its fruit” so to speak).

VII. The Flood