CREATION/RESTORATION OF CREATION
Part One - Creation - An Overview
1. Science v Religion
a. The Gap Theory
b. The Day/Age Theory
2. Is God Creator or not?
3. The Creative Word of God
4. Additional points
b. Waters separated
c. The Jewish day
d. The Second Law of Thermodynamics
e. Mitochondrial DNA
Part Two - The Creation of Man/The Restoration of Creation
1. Man - Created to have fellowship
a. Veils of separation
i. The cherubim with a flaming sword in his hand
ii. Moses’ veil
iii. Solomon’s veil
v. Into New Testament times
vi. The rent veil
b. So what did Jesus do on the cross?
i. Sins paid for
ii. Sinful nature crucified
c. What relationship now? How do we get to know God?
i. It is not knowledge about God
ii. It is not activity for God
iii. It is not power in God
iv. It is getting alone with God
d. What of the future?
2. Man - Created in God’s Image
a. Jesus is God’s image
b. Man and woman created in God’s image
c. Be fruitful and multiply
i. Perpetuating the image of God
ii. Perpetuating the name of Jesus
iii. The Church and the family ideal
1. Producing children is not an end in itself
2. Availability and producing spiritual children
3. Man - Created to Rule
a. The Fall
b. The Man of promise
These notes have not been compiled to offer Scientific rebuttals of Evolution’s beliefs or for its adherents. It isn’t because I don’t believe that Evolution is seriously flawed but because an individual’s acceptance of a six day Creation must necessarily be primarily based upon faith and not upon material evidence. Neither do I think myself particularly qualified on the subject. There are far better people who have devoted their lives to promote the Creationist model. It is to these that the reader should refer if Scientific background and refutation is needed.
The Theory of Evolution is in a constant state of flux as more evidence comes to light that’s made to fit in to its overall structure. A christian’s rebuttal of Evolution on Scientific grounds similarly needs to be updated as these discoveries come to light. That is the work of christians with a scientifically trained mind (not Christian Scientists - they’re something totally different) who’ve a good background and working knowledge of other scientific discoveries and who are able to meet new theories and assertions in suitable language and with appropriate arguments.
When Darwin first proposed his ‘theory’ in ‘The Origin of Species’ (a ‘theory’ of which he doesn’t appear to have been the sole originator), he publicly declared that research needed to be done to find the links in the fossil record that would validate his assertions. So far, these have not been found though, occasionally, fossils come to light that are claimed to be intermediary states between one form and another - only to be disproved later on when more evidence comes to light.
The ‘discoveries’ of human ancestors (pre-humans) has had a similar history with many claims being made that, upon further scientific investigation, have been proven to be false interpretations (even though they may have been sincerely interpreted). These refutations are rarely published in the more popular newspapers and periodicals where the majority of men and women look for news, the overall impression given being that discoveries and their interpretations of human ancestors are firmly established in the fossil record.
As I type this, the ‘Mars Rock’ (the meteorite that fell to earth so many years ago and which was offered up as proof that life once existed on Mars) has been shown to be possibly contaminated by earth life, thus undermining the interpretation that life can spontaneously begin given favourable conditions and circumstances. Though there were programs shown on popular television about its discovery and much excitement demonstrated by the scientific community through the mass media, it’s unlikely that the new theory will inspire very many producers of programs to run out into the street and make a documentary!
So, while I do not wish to enter in to the scientific debate, I do want to pass on to the reader some resources that they may obtain to stimulate thinking this way if needs be. However, books go out of print so quickly and other resources become unavailable almost overnight that, by the time this introduction is read, none of the following may be obtainable!
With the advent of the popularity of the Internet, Creation resources are only a few clicks away, downloadable and therefore fairly cheap to access and read. I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading and thinking about Creationist material on the sites of Creation Science (now returning a 404 error code when accessed) and Creation Research (though, when I accessed it, it was located elsewhere) which I found by accessing an Evolution versus Creation links site that lists addresses for web sites that espouse both views (now, sadly, removed from the web). Alternatively, the Institute for Creation Research (ICR) can be accessed but their presence on the web to date is to advertise their existence and to provide a listing of their publications for direct order. I’ve read a number of their publications which have brought home to me some important and valid points and evidence that often gets swept under the table when Evolution is talked about.
The ‘problem’ with the evolutionists’ interpretation of the creationists’ view is that a Biblical interpretation of scientific discovery is what’s being proposed and insisted upon when it would be better perceived that the doubts thrown up in the light of scientific discovery are clearly discernible as undermining the evolutionary framework and that science can never hope to prove ‘Creation’ anymore than it can provide an answer as to why miraculous events take place.
Therefore, a book like Philip E Johnson’s ‘Darwin on Trial’ goes a long way to showing the problems with the entire scientific community in their unbending promotion of evolution even when the evidence begins to contradict the ‘established’ theory. Perhaps this book shouldn’t be thought of as being acceptable to the ‘non-christian’ because it’s written by one who claims to be some type of christian (‘a philosophical theist and a Christian’) but, as he doesn’t necessarily believe in a literal six day Creation, his book is of value.
There are just two books by non-christians that I’ll mention at this point (seeing as most of the christian publications that I’ve previously found useful will probably be out of print as you read these notes!).
The first is ‘Earth in Upheaval’ by Immanuel Velikovsky - written by a Jew of Einstein’s generation (and who was a colleague of Einstein to boot but also somewhat discredited by his book 'Worlds In Collision' and subsequent releases. However, it's always best not to discount everything one person says as you tend to meet some real gems). Evolution proposes Uniformitarianism (as opposed to catastrophism) - that the processes we can see around us in the universe, if extrapolated backwards, are the natural phenomena that have shaped planet earth for millions of years. It means that ‘Darwinian’ evolutionists have to believe in an earth that has never had major universal cataclysmic events that have caused an evolutionary setback (such as a flood) but which has only slow, gentle processes whereby animals and plants have gradually evolved.
This position seems to be in a state of flux judging by some of the more recent programs I’ve been watching on the television with assertions by many that cataclysmic events can account for the sudden mass extinction of many species which are preserved in the fossil record. Although some of the assertions seem somewhat ludicrous - one which I’ll mention is the ‘comet/asteroid strike’ theory which has all sunlight being blocked from the earth for an extensive period and which would have killed off all animal life only for it to have to re-evolve, thus requiring even longer periods of time - that the scientific world is coming round to the possibility that cataclysmic events have taken place in earth’s history is positive.
They’ll never, however, go the whole way and confess the Biblical record of a flood!
Anyway, back to the book in question. Velikovsky shows that the earth has had cataclysmic events occur on a universal scale and therefore calls into question the theory of Uniformitarianism. However, his conclusion to the evidence is one of ‘cataclysmic evolution’ whereby life is seen to have still evolved but at phenomenal rates within short bursts of time - something which Johnson chronicles as being wholly unacceptable to the present day evolutionist but, from the gaps in the fossil record, it seems to be the more logical and necessary theory to accompany a belief in evolution.
Uniformitarianism, first challenged by Creationists, seems to be becoming more and more defunct as discoveries come to light that indicate that, in earth’s past, the world saw catastrophes on just such a global scale - proposals are then put forward that explain away, for instance, the extinction of the dinosaurs due to such occurrences. This has quite some significance for the evolutionist who has needed to revise an unswerving belief in slow gradual changes over millions of years with species dying out because they were not fit to survive into sudden mass extinctions of animals that died out through no fault of their own - this would lead not to the theory of the ‘survival of the fittest’ but to ‘survival of the luckiest’.
The theory of ‘punctuated equilibrium’ (as it is now called as opposed to Velikovsky’s ‘Cataclysmic Evolution’) has gained popular support (though it doesn’t yet appear to have touched the UK’s wildlife presenters on television!) which states (in crude terms) that evolution took place in fits and bursts, settling down into times when little or nothing happened for tens of thousands of years until the next sudden ‘mutation’ from one species to the next.
The fact that, for instance, the mosquito has remained unchanged since the age of the dinosaur (remember ‘Jurassic Park’ anyone? How the mosquito trapped in the tree sap contained dinosaur blood?) should pull against a theory which proposes that all nature is evolving ‘upwards’ into complexity. Even coelacanth, the presumed extinct fish, was recently discovered and shown to have become simplified from its presumed descendant.
The second of the two books is ‘The Facts of Life’ by Richard Milton (in its second edition it seems to have been renamed to ‘Shattering the Myths of Darwinism’), written by a non-christian and now an international best-seller. It’s interesting to read simply because someone who doesn’t begin from the viewpoint of faith in a Creator God would ever think to write a critique of evolution and show, in quite simple terms, why evolution is flawed. But one can’t help but think that he’s been reading many Creationist publications to get his ideas together!
What must be remembered, however, is that his arguments are leading him towards a theory of ‘controlled evolution’ in which he sees the hand of some ‘life force’ (my words - I can’t extract a full theory from the latter half of his writings) that shapes and controls evolutionary processes to bring about what we see around us. While he’s useful to read to see a catalogue of instances of rebuttals for the normal ‘slow’ evolutionary processes, beware of reading too much into the leading of his arguments that arrive at a conclusion that evolution still took place but at a much quicker rate and by a mysterious hand. This is a type of what many evolutionists have done over the years - holding fast to the label ‘evolution’, the concept has been largely reinvented since the time when Darwin first wrote his book ‘The Origin of Species’.
The future is bound to throw up more adaptations to the Theory of Evolution - it will, no doubt, evolve! Whether the Scientific community goes over wholly to ‘punctuated equilibrium’ or not, or whether the Big Bang theory on the origin of the universe is replaced by a belief in the eternal existence of what we see around us, only time will tell. I noted with some mirth that, instead of our universe decelerating in its expansion, scientists have now shown that, in fact, it’s accelerating and, in some other publication or other, preliminary conclusions about the speed of light were pointing towards the possibility that it was decaying (that is, that it has a half-life) so that even such a constant as this would seriously influence theories of the origin of the universe (but you can bet your house that the existence of God won’t be suddenly inserted into the discussion).
Whether either of these two assertions are ever accepted as fact remains to be seen.
So, even though the Creationist might one day prove his point about the shaky foundations upon which evolution stands, it’s extremely unlikely that the scientific community will ever wake up and loudly proclaim that the evidence points to the existence of the God of Genesis chapter 1 and to the Creation of the world by the Word of God!
Finally, I need to note that this web page is in two parts.
Part one deals with the Creation account in Genesis chapter 1 from more of a philosophical viewpoint than a scientific one, before going on to look at some Scriptural principles and teaching that can be drawn from the passage.
I shouldn’t need to state my conviction that the earth was created in six cycles of the earth (that is, six twenty-four hour periods - the earth is slowing down so one hour would be a tad longer than the hour we use today) but, just in case any other belief may be read into my notes, I think it only safe to do so!
In Part two I go on to look at the restoration of Creation under three specific headings, trying to show how the promises and commands given to the first man and woman are restored in Christ through His work on the cross and through the resurrection and ascension.
This was the main reason behind these notes but I couldn’t help but feel that Part one was needed to clarify some principles and to assert my confidence in the Scriptural account.
Creation - an overview
1. Science v Religion
Science is primarily the discipline of the eye.
By the observation of phenomena, science progresses to make statements that summarise the experiences that are witnessed. Sometimes Scientists propose theories based upon scant evidence which are then refined and modified as more experiments and discoveries are made. But Science progresses through observable phenomena that can be quantified rather than by, say, philosophy which develops through meditation, contemplation and intensive thought.
For example, Darwin, trying to understand the zoological and biological evidence that both he had personally recorded and seen and that he had read from the hand of others similar to himself, proposed a theory in ‘Origin of Species’ that is subject to later modification and refutation when further evidence and discoveries are made. Indeed, Evolution is very different to that proposed by Darwin in his original book - numerous evidences that were cited to support his contention have now shown to be false, not just in recent times but even before his work was published. Even when the book was first published, dissenters to the theory were mainly from the scientific, non-believing world who observed that the fossil record didn’t substantiate the theory (which, I hasten to add, it still doesn’t).
Similarly, Newton watches an apple fall to the ground, it is said, and so proposes a statement about gravity which is qualified and quantified by successive generations.
We are a scientific generation who continually want to see. That’s why television is more powerful and popular than radio - when we witness something with our own eyes (whether that be in real life or broadcast through the media) then we’ll readily believe it even if we have written or oral evidence that runs contrary. It may be a chilling thought but, if what is seen becomes adaptable or what is reported through the news media is tampered with by using computer generated graphics, then an entire population may be swayed to believe a lie.
Similarly, selective presentation and editing can tell a story which is a long way from the reality of the event. But the reason we would rather accept a television report over that of, say, a radio station, is because we rely more on our eyes in our culture than we do upon our ears for irrefutable proof and testimony.
Religion, on the other hand, is primarily the discipline of the ear. By the ear we hear the Word of God that produces phenomena that we see after it has been received by faith. We hear to see - not see to hear. God speaks a word into a believer’s heart/life and, having accepted the Truth of what has been said, will receive the reality and substance of that word even though what is being witnessed with the eyes may contradict that word.
Of course, such belief is dangerous.
Many’s the person who’s proclaimed the ‘Word of God’ against the witness of the eyes, only to find that the eye was more accurate! In the christian life, God will not be misheard but He may be misunderstood or, even worse, the believer may be interpreting his own thoughts and desires as being products of the Divine will. But, nevertheless, true christianity will only advance forcefully when the ear is given priority over the witness of the eye.
Science and religion, therefore, are founded upon different disciplines. Science can only interpret religious experience when it has phenomena that it can see - it can never explain the invisible workings of God for it cannot perceive them.
Science can never say
‘God healed Mrs Smith’
unless it’s able to witness something physical taking place in the woman’s body by a physical source - and then it would have to be able to accept that the force operating was God and not some ‘power’ which was then theorised about. When God heals in a moment, with no observable phenomena, it cannot define it because it cannot see it.
Further, I have had the experience when what is witnessed with the eyes is refuted for what is more probable. A lady who had been diagnosed as having terminal cancer - with medical tests showing unanimously that the disease was present and accelerating through the body - came forward at a healing meeting to be prayed with.
When she returned to her specialists at the local hospital and insisted that she be re-tested as she believed that the cancer had gone (the best option when life-sustaining medication is being taken - have it checked out first before you stop taking the tablets), they reluctantly agreed.
The tests came back negative and there was no trace of cancer in her body - but the doctors, instead of accepting the explanation offered by the woman, chose to assert that the first tests had been faulty or contaminated and that the new tests were to be relied on (so they were confessing to some sort of malpractice by saying that their treatment of the condition wasn’t carried out with sufficient proof to make the illness certain - I wonder if they realised what they were saying?).
In other words, they opted for a theory that they probably believed with unswerving faith that runs something like
‘Cancer does not disappear from a body when it has taken hold of it to such-and-such a degree’
having to dismiss the miracle through faith (as crazy as that may sound!) when the evidence refuted it.
On the other hand, religion can only interpret scientific phenomena in the light of the Word of God that’s heard. For instance, Science may say that a person is ill because of a bacteria called ‘x’ whereas Religion knows that behind all sickness is sin, satan or the Fall (see my notes on ‘Healing’) because it knows what God has said.
If Science then fails to ‘heal’ the sick individual and comes to the Church to be prayed for, the Church won’t pray medication into the body (or maybe some will - Church belief is indefinable sometimes) but take authority over one of the three areas as it senses the need, and attempt to speak the authoritative Word of God to the situation to change the state of the individual back to wholeness.
Evolution* is (loosely) a science - a theory based upon evidence.
Creation is a matter of religion - an event based upon the spoken Word of God.
Do we trust our ears more than our eyes? The first way is the path of faith, the latter is the path of doubt. This is why, largely, I’ve refrained from presenting the reader of these articles with Scientific evidence. A christian’s belief in the Creation of the universe by the word of God must begin with faith before evidence is given to it.
There have been two major attempts to explain Biblical Creation in the light of Science and Evolution, the harmonising of the witness of the eye with the witness of the ear.
These two ‘theories’ (the Gap Theory and the Day/Age Theory) are discussed below very briefly in passing.
*Evolution is not strictly a science for it’s not the product of observable phenomena that produces a statement that can be tested and observed. Rather, it is a theory that presupposes certain principles that cannot be proven.
Certainly, when Darwin proposed his theory in ‘Origin of Species’, he was attempting to give an explanation for what he saw around him, but even he believed that much more proof needed to be done to substantiate his claims as any good scientist would have done. The philosophy and belief in an evolutionary process was a definite forerunner of there being any tangible and definitive proof from the natural world.
Today, the evidence that Darwin knew to be necessary is not there while conflicting evidence is now well documented but often ignored.
Creationists are often accused of relying upon a written report from the Bible and failing to accept what Science is able to ‘prove’ by the things it’s found, whereas Evolutionists are claimed to have developed a theory based upon things discernible around them.
However, both Creationists and Evolutionists start with faith.
That the former do this is quite easy to see, but an Evolutionist begins by believing what he has been taught and then substantiating his belief by recourse to the evidence that’s presented to him.
School children and students are not presented with arguments both for and against evolution and asked to decide whether the theory is substantiated by what has been discovered - a scenario which would be the correct way to go about teaching evolution and which would not require statements of theories which affirmed the Creationist’s point of view - but they’re given Evolution as a fact with evidence that supports it - or made to. There’s little or no evidence presented to the classes that cannot be fit into the theory and, generally, no time is given to this on the school curriculum.
I have, personally, never met anyone who first believed Evolution because they began with an unbiased, open mind and who examined the evidence available - both for and against - and then made a decision based upon what was before them. Everyone I know believed what they’d been told as a ‘fact’ at school or college (or through the media) and then developed their belief in that ‘fact’ when more selective evidence was presented to them.
Therefore, both views concerning origins begin with faith.
a. The Gap Theory
According to the Gap Theory, Gen 1:1-3 is forced into being read as
‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (...then all manner of creatures lived upon the earth, all created by God but, when satan sinned in Heaven, attempting to make himself like God, and fell to earth tainting the world through his sin, God judged the world that then existed and laid it waste, devoid of life, so that He might begin again with a new Creation. Therefore...) 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.
‘And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light’
The Gap Theory is an attempt to explain the apparent age of the earth as given by Science and seems to have only come about when theories as to the vast age of the earth were gaining popular acceptance in scientific circles.
It’s originator was primarily a professor in the Museum of Natural History in Paris, a Georges Cuvier, who proposed that the earth had been visited by global catastrophes separated by vast stretches of geological time, the last of these being the Noahic Flood of Genesis chapters 6-8.
But it was left to his successor, Alcide d’Orbigny, to go one step further by proposing that, after each catastrophe, a special act of creation of animal life took place, replenishing the earth with new creatures.
Finally, in England, Dr Thomas Chalmers in 1814 managed to accommodate this theory into the structure of the Biblical narrative by finding countless years for this cycle of
between the first two verses of Genesis chapter 1. This theory was then developed further in 1876 by George Pember before being incorporated into the footnotes of the Schofield Bible in 1917 - which is where it remains today in all subsequent editions.
Cuvier’s original theory had been widely accepted by many of the leading English geologists of the period because it seemed to offer a straightforward interpretation of what was being discovered in the fossil record. The Gap Theory, therefore, must be seen in this context - that to satisfy the demands of both Science and Religion, a theory was superimposed upon Scripture to bring it in line with modern interpretations of the geological strata.
Since that time, however, the theory of catastrophism has largely been ignored (though it’s making significant inroads into many different disciplines through, for example, the discoveries of impact craters of meteorites) but the Gap Theory still remains, now modified, to bring the Biblical account in line with the Scientific assertion that the age of the earth should be measured in millions rather than in tens or hundreds of thousands of years.
Today, then, the ‘received’ Gap theory proposes that there are countless years between the conclusion of Gen 1:1 and the beginning of 1:2 - inbetween the end of the first line of the quote above and the beginning of the second line - in which a world once created by God was also wiped out by Him in judgment when satan fell from heaven through sin (though, having discussed this with other believers on one of the ‘christian’ newsgroups on the Internet, it appears that there are several ‘gaps’ that are proposed to account for large spans of time - but the traditional and original Gap Theory is the one under discussion here).
If the theory was more than the product of an apologetic and based upon unambiguous statements in Scripture with sound Biblical reasoning, then we could see in it a justification for an old earth with dinosaurs and, subsequently, fossils being the evidence of the world that then existed before the special act of Creation described in Genesis 1:2 onwards.
The main Scripture used to justify such a gap is II Peter 3:6 which states that
‘...the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished’
the first clause of which is taken to be referring to the ‘gap’, while the latter clause to the ensuing judgment of God which left the world (Gen 1:2)
‘...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’
But the thrust of the passage in II Peter chapter 3 makes the verse in question be interpreted as referring to the Noahic flood. II Peter 3:4 begins by referring to a statement of unbelievers saying that God will not step into world history to judge because the world has continued on its own way ever since the special act of Creation.
But, says Peter, they ignore the fact that God did step in and judge the world after the Creation when He sent on the world a flood to wipe out mankind - referring to His action in the universal flood of Genesis chapters 6-8. Besides, Peter has already referred to the Noahic Flood a few paragraphs earlier (II Peter 2:5) and it would seem unlikely for him to allude to some vague pre-existent world if he didn’t redefine the flood of which he was about to talk and was in danger of being misunderstood.
Besides, the theological problems in seeing a world pre-existing and being wiped out through sin has quite a few difficulties. If God forms a new world out of what is tainted by sin, how can He declare it to be ‘very good’ (Gen 1:31) at the climax of all His creating work? In that case, sin would need to have been dealt with which, if satan is still around having fallen from Heaven, would not have been the case.
With the advent of a more ‘cataclysmic’ approach being adopted for the interpretation of the earth’s history, the Gap Theory may well make it’s own comeback into evangelical circles. But, whatever good we may say about it, it was primarily developed as an answer to the scientific assertions that were being made about the age of the earth - the flaws in its theological implications warrant much thought as it virtually undermines the ‘special Creation’ of the world which, when tainted by sin, was not wiped out but was redeemed by the work of Jesus Christ.
b. The Day/Age (DA) Theory
According to the Day/Age (DA) Theory, Gen 1:3-5,20-23 is forced into being read as
‘And God said “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one (age of unknown duration...)
‘...And God said “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the firmament of the heavens”
‘So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them saying “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth”
‘And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth (age of unknown duration in which the Lord had had His hand upon the evolutionary process, shaping and reforming each creature in subsequent generations so that they eventually were well adapted to survive in the environment that He was also constantly changing until, that is, the beginning of the sixth age when He would abandon the evolutionary process by creating mankind out of the dust of the earth and not from any animal that He had so far adapted and reformed - but it may be that He created mankind this way, too, it just depends what Science reckons)’
Whereas the Gap Theory sees the account of Genesis 1:2ff being a specific act of Creation that took only six earth cycles to complete with untold millions of years being added between the first two verses of the chapter, the DA Theory forsakes an attempt to understand the Biblical narrative literally and interprets ‘day’ to mean a vast length of time of untold and immeasurable duration in order for the apparent age of the earth to be incorporated into it.
God is seen, therefore, as the shaper of the evolutionary process, still Sovereign over what’s being formed (created, which is ‘to bring something in to existent from things not presently in existence’ would be the wrong word to use here), but performing His work in six specific and separate ages that are called ‘days’.
The evolutionary process is also seen to mirror the six days of Creation, it being asserted that the sequence of created events in Genesis chapter 1 is in the same sequential order as that of the standard theories currently around.
However, certain alterations and interpretations have to occur to the Biblical narrative for this to be so. For instance, the sun, moon and stars recorded as being made on the fourth day (Gen 1:16-18) are said to have been made in the first age (harmonising it with the Big Bang Theory) with the appearance of light - and that what the fourth day is detailing is not the ‘making’ of the celestial host but the ‘making to appear’ when the sun appeared through the mists that were enveloping the planet up to that point (see the quote from JFB below).
And, when we come to look at the biological and geological theories of the ages of the earth and of its inhabitants, we see that if the Biblical account does detail an evolutionary process then it has done so with serious flaws - primitive animals and fish appearing alongside or after plants to give one example.
Much has been made of the Hebrew words found appearing in the Genesis account and the alternative way they may be translated and interpreted but, read in context and with the obvious and plain meaning attributed to them, they make perfect sense. It’s only as we try to make the narrative fit in with Science that we must reinterpret words to substantiate our chosen theory.
Biblical evidence for this interpretation is gleaned from two specific passages. Psalm 90:4 states that
‘...a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night’
and, II Peter 3:8 which seems to be a paraphrase of the former notes that
‘...with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day’
day=thousand years=age of unknown duration
is thus brought back to be imposed upon the Creation text to make it look as if there’s justification for a day being interpreted as an age.
But the objections to this are twofold. Firstly, the Bible states in Gen 1:5 that
‘there was evening and there was morning, one day’
which defines the type of day that’s in mind here. It seems hardly likely that an age of unknown duration would be described as having both an evening and a morning but that a cycle of the earth would be described in this way is entirely natural.
Secondly, the interpretation of the actual Scriptures used to formulate the equation then imposed upon Genesis chapter 1 is seriously flawed. Ps 90:4 is the least convincing, the psalmist making a declaration that a thousand years to God is nothing when compared to the eternity that God inhabits (Ps 90:2), also going on to compare this with the finitude of mankind (Ps 90:3).
The final clause is conveniently missed out which compares a thousand years also to
‘a watch in the night’
thus showing that the verse cannot be a simple equation. Besides, a day is not said to be a thousand years but a thousand years like a day - there’s a comparison being made without a literal interpretation being expected and the reduction of time into a day doesn’t then warrant the expansion of a day back into an age of unknown duration.
II Peter 3:8 (the passage that’s also used to substantiate a Scriptural basis for the Gap Theory considered above, no less) says similar, but is used in the context of the Lord’s delay in returning to earth. All Peter is saying here is that time is immaterial to God when it comes to working out His purpose. He’s certainly not introducing an equation into Scripture that we can use at will on passages that we wish to reinterpret.
Therefore, the phrase
‘...with the Lord one day is as a thousand years’
is to be taken more logically to mean that God can achieve so much in just one earth day that it can appear to be like the work that can be accomplished in a thousand years while
‘with the Lord...a thousand years [is] as one day’
gives the reader the meaning that vast periods of time are nothing to God when viewed in the context of eternity. We try to limit God to our own time scale (as the unbelievers were doing in II Peter 3:4) but He will not be made to hurry as He seeks to fulfil His ultimate purpose for mankind.
Even if we were to use the equation
one day=one thousand years
it’s a very big step to then go on to equate one thousand years with an age of unknown duration and we would be forced in to seeing the six day Creation as a period of a mere six thousand years. Besides, to subsequently go on to insist that the ‘thousand years’ is a figurative term for a lengthy period of time, undermines the literal interpretation that one day equals one thousand years.
Like the Gap Theory, therefore, the DA Theory is an interpretation based upon scientific theory, seeking to justify a belief in evolution and geological processes. But even with a basic knowledge of evolution, we can see that a six stage Biblical ‘evolution’ is opposed to the scientific equivalent while the Scriptures quoted to justify the theory are not mathematical equations.
2. Is God Creator or not?
At the end of the day, no matter what type of alterations and adaptations are made to a literal interpretation of the Creation narrative, the crux of the matter is whether we intend seeing God (as revealed in the Bible) as the Creator of all the physical substances and objects that we see around us.
To understand the issue at stake - and its importance and relevance - we need to look at the two Hebrew words used in Genesis chapter 1 which describe God’s act of forming the universe and which are translated differently in most versions.
Firstly, there’s the word transliterated as ‘Bara’ (Strongs Hebrew number 1254) meaning ‘to create’. The word exemplifies God as Creator and is used in Gen 1:1, 1:21, 1:27 (x3), 2:3, 2:4. The special meaning of the word is
‘to bring something into existence from nothing that is currently in existence’
This word, therefore, must be specially Divine - it’s only God who can bring into existence physical objects without having to use other physical objects currently in existence.
The other word is transliterated ‘Asah’ (Strongs Hebrew number 6213) meaning ‘to make’. The word exemplifies God as Maker and is used in Gen 1:7, 1:16 (x2), 1:25, 1:26, 1:31, 2:2 (x2), 2:3, 2:4, 2:18. The special meaning is
‘to bring something into existence from things already in existence’
Unlike Bara, this word is not specially Divine for all creatures are capable of producing something physical from the manipulation and application of other physical objects (see the following chart for this summary in diagrammatic form).
I read a half-joke, half-serious story about a scientist confronting the Almighty and I’ll reproduce a copy of it which I found on the web to illustrate the importance of differentiating between these two words.
‘One day a group of scientists got together and decided that man had come a long way and no longer needed God. So they picked one scientist to go and tell Him that they were done with Him.
‘The scientist walked up to God and said
“God, we’ve decided that we no longer need you. We’re to the point that we can clone people and do many miraculous things, so why don’t you just go on and get lost?”
God listened very patiently and kindly to the man and, after the scientist was done talking, God said
“Very well, how about this, let’s say we have a man making contest”
to which the scientist replied
But God added
“Now, we’re going to do this just like I did back in the old days with Adam”
The scientist said
“Sure, no problem”
and bent down and grabbed himself a handful of dirt. God just looked at him and said
“No, no, no. You go get your own dirt!”
The point is this - mankind may very well make life (asah) but he can’t create it (bara) from nothing. He must needs begin with those things which are already in existence in order to bring about that which he wants. God, on the other hand, speaks and it is, even when there’s no chance of it ever occurring with those things which are currently existing.
Although there’s not too much difference in meaning between these two words in certain parts of the Bible, the usage in the same passage indicates that the author is conveying different concepts in different verses.
The same is true, of course, with the NT’s ‘phileo’ (Strongs Greek number 5368) and ‘agapao’ (Strongs Greek number 25), both of which are translated ‘love’ in various places throughout the NT and which overlap in meaning. But, in John 21:15-19, the words are used in the same passage to emphasise the differing meanings of both the questions that Jesus asks and the statements that Peter makes. While a single word standing on its own may be used with the meaning of the other word, the existence of both in one passage indicates that the special meaning is intended to contrast it with the other.
If God didn’t bring things into existence from nothing (bara), but merely shaped those things that were already in existence (asah), then we could create (?!) God to be the One who produced man by natural processes and not by a Creative Word (see the following section). He would be the Maker and not the Creator, readily fitting into our scientific theories of evolution, adding merely a Being in control of the process rather than seeing pure chance bring it about.
In that case, we would see the universe as always pre-existing, perhaps the Big Bang being the means whereby this god fashioned the universe over millions of years into its present form. A Theistic Evolution based upon either of the two concepts previously discussed would be a distinct possibility (that is, the Gap Theory or the Day/Age Theory).
As it is, though, Theistic Evolution is an extinct possibility. One would have to be iconoclastic in our approach to Scripture, altering vast portions of it to fit in with our belief if we were to hold to this well catalogued belief.
The theory limits our concept of God. Even worse, it changes our view of God from that picture of Him in the Biblical narrative to a god that we’ve fashioned and created for ourselves (Ex 20:4-6). This god cannot be the One who turns water into wine (creating something out of things that cannot be made to change by natural processes into the end product - John 2:1-11), who brings healing in sickness (creating wholeness where there was no natural possibility of it occurring - Mtw 8:1-4), who feeds multitudes (creates provision for 4,000 men - not counting women and children - from seven loaves and a few small fish and have more left over than He started with - Mtw 15:32-38) and who creates a ‘new person’ in the lives of those who put their trust in the work of Jesus (that is, He creates a new nature where there was none before and where natural processes would fail to produce such a phenomenon. This is the ‘new creation’ - II Cor 5:17. The entire basis for the work of Christ in people’s lives for salvation would therefore be undermined if our created god could not himself create).
Each of these claims would be fraudulent if God does create something physical out of something that is not presently in existence and which has no possibility of ever coming about by natural processes. That water cannot change into wine is stating the obvious - but to see that where there was once water there’s now wine is to bear witness to the fact of a special creative act having taken place.
As the following chart shows, Genesis chapters 1 and 2 teach that God created and did not merely make (Heb 11:3b). Where there was nothing, He produced something, though at the same time He produced something from things that were already in existence (by His creating!). God is both Creator and Maker.
We must note that the Genesis account asserts that all physical substances came about from nothing (Gen 1:1) but that, when God was forming and fashioning the universe in which we live, He chose to use some of the physical substances that He’d already created to bring about His will while arranging other parts. Therefore, we see that the atmosphere was made by God from things already in existence, for example (Gen 1:6-8), while the set up of the earth as having both land masses and oceans was a direct result of the ordering of substances already in existence (Gen 1:9-10). The circumstances of the existence of light on day one are special also (see section 4 below).
Mankind is a special case here. Not only did God make man’s body from the soil of the earth (Gen 2:7, 3:19) a production similar to the animals made the same day (Gen 1:24-25), but He created his soul and spirit to make mankind special and distinctive from all the other of His creatures (Gen 1:26-31).
Heb 11:3 states that
‘By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear’
That the world around us came in to existence from things not once in existence is acceptable only by faith in an individual’s life.
I stated at the outset of these notes that I wasn’t aiming to give the reader good scientific evidence for being persuaded that a literal six day Creation took place - neither have I attempted to give evidence for an age for our universe which is far younger than is asserted in scientific circles for the Big Bang origin of the universe - not because there aren’t Scientists around who can show both flaws in current reasoning and ‘evidence’ and who are also able to present evidence that substantiates a Creation standpoint, but because the acceptance of such a work of God demands faith. Faith first, that is, substantiated by evidence when faith is active. To convince a person through recourse to scientific evidence alone would be to rob them of the necessity of exercising faith in the revelation of God.
If God is the God who created, therefore, we can expect Him to act in like manner amongst us if He is unchanging. True, He does form things out of things in existence but, more importantly, where there is no possibility of anything happening because of natural phenomena, He can bring something into being out of nothing - even in total conflict with natural processes that He Himself sowed into the framework of the universe.
Natural laws are God’s habits - He changes them at will.
3. The Creative Word of God
When God wants to create, make or accomplish actions, He speaks. Genesis 1:3 notes that
‘...God said...and there was...’
(see also Gen 1:6-7,9,11,14-16,20-21,24,26-27, Heb 11:3a). Notice also that, throughout Scripture, God speaks a word that accomplishes all that He desires (Is 55:11).
When Jesus wants to create, make or accomplish actions, He speaks. Mtw 8:3 records the command from His lips
‘Be clean...and immediately his leprosy was cleansed’
where we should be careful to notice the use of the word ‘immediately’ - this healing didn’t evolve (see also Mtw 8:13, Mark 4:39, 7:34-35).
When believers want to create, make or accomplish actions, they also speak. The early Church are recorded in Acts 3:6-7 as saying
‘...in the name of Jesus...walk...immediately his feet and ankles were made strong...’
(see also Acts 9:34, 9:40, 14:10).
The use of the ‘word’ is slightly different in each case - believers aren’t summoning from within themselves some authority that is naturally resident but using authority that has been granted them by the God they serve (Luke 9:1, 10:19). But, fundamentally, it’s the same word, the Creative Word of God - the Word that was spoken at the beginning of the universe to bring into existence all things that now appear around us.
What, then, is this ‘Creative Word’?
Concerning the concept of what ‘word’ signifies in Scripture, Zondervan records that
‘From the very first, the Hebrew “word” seems to have had both a noetic element (the thought) and also a dynamic element (the power)’
These twin concepts of thought and power must both be present for there to be a Creative Word. That is to say, though the Bible can be considered to be noetic (expressing the thoughts of God), it only becomes the living Creative Word of God when it has a dynamic element breathed upon it (the breath of God, which is the Holy Spirit).
There have been many denominations who have placed greater reliance upon either the one or the other of these twin concepts, becoming unbalanced after a period of time and either ‘blowing up’ (as in the case of those who rely almost solely upon the dynamic) or ‘stagnating’ (as in the case of those who rely upon the noetic).
Certainly, over recent years, the move away from a noetic based religion to a more dynamic and life-giving one has been necessary - but, instead of arriving at a place where both noetic and dynamic aspects are found working alongside one another, the noetic has too often been forsaken and congregations have sold themselves over to seeking after the dynamic at their own peril with little reliance (in practice) upon the authority of Scripture.
When phenomena manifest themselves within meetings, they’re largely accepted as being ‘from God’ without criteria being present with which to judge and test them.
These fellowships, although gaining attendees and adherents at rates only paralleled in revivals, spring into error far too quickly and often disappear as quickly as they appear . These are also the types of churches that attract the attentions of the media with their extremely outward and forthright witness to the manifestations of the Spirit that are occurring within their ranks - but they’re also the ones who are more susceptible to scandal and corruption, there being no responsibility to live moral and upright lives in accordance with Scripture.
On the other hand, some churches have consigned the Bible to a higher place than God ever intended it to have by continually affirming that when the Bible refers to the ‘Word of God’ it’s primarily referring to Scripture.
This is far from the truth, however. The vast majority of occurrences of the phrase ‘the Word of God’ have reference not to Scripture but to the now Word of God, His Creative Word, the Word that makes things happen and that’s being spoken at a specific time into a current situation.
Scripture is most definitely infallible (II Timothy 3:16-17, John 10:35) and therefore carries with it authority, but it’s not creative unless the noetic element (the thought behind the writing) has a dynamic element (the power) breathed upon it by the Holy Spirit.
Scripture, though rightly used to decide upon theological issues in the local churches and to offer reproof and correction when doctrines are brought in to fellowships that do not originate with God, is not inherently creative but solely noetic. It expresses thoughts and concepts but needs the dynamic breath of God to breathe upon it to impart life to both its readers and hearers.
A congregation that elevates the Bible into such a high place where it becomes known as the ‘Word of God’ devoid of an understanding of the Creative Word, will be a congregation that tends towards legalism and death. Thinking that they’re pleasing to God by observance of a written code - whether that be Scripture written in the New or Old Testaments or traditions compiled and written by men - they are only living under a type of the Mosaic covenant where individuals strive to please God on the basis of works rather than with faith (belief in and action upon the living word of God - see ‘Faith’).
But God’s Creative Word at the beginning of the world was both noetic and dynamic. He expressed thought, His intent (‘Let there be a firmament’), and the power with the authority brought His purpose about (‘And it was so’).
In like manner, the Church has a calling to use the Creative Word of God to speak into situations and see them change because of the dynamic element that’s upon their words.
But we can only use God’s Word when we hear God’s Word. It doesn’t come by reading but by hearing (or, hearing by reading). It’s this Creative Word that God desires His people use to change situations in a moment, to create something out of nothing, bring healing where there’s no possibility of it occurring and, simply, to do all those things that Jesus Himself does.
4. Additional points
Embarrassed by the Biblical account of the production of light before the existence of the luminaries on the fourth day, some Bible expositors have tried to give a scientific answer. JFB write that
‘Whether the sun was created at the same time with, or long before, the earth, the dense accumulation of fogs and vapours which enveloped the chaos had covered the globe with a settled gloom. But by the command of God, light was rendered visible: the thick murky clouds were dispersed, broken, or rarefied, and light diffused over the expanse of the waters’
But such a position is untenable if the Biblical narrative is to be believed. In the quote above, notice the iconoclastic approach to the Scriptural account. Firstly, the sun is said to have been created at the same moment as Gen 1:1 or long before, even though the Bible states quite clearly that
‘...God made the two great lights...’
on the fourth day of Creation (Gen 1:16). The Scripture doesn’t say
‘He made them to appear’
but that He made them from things in existence on the fourth day of the Creative week. If the DA or Gap Theory is held to, then it’s necessary for the sun to have been brought into existence long before day four.
Secondly, the earth is considered to be in ‘gloom’ because of the supposed ‘fogs and vapours’ which engulfed the earth. Though there’s no comment on the latter, the former is definitely not the meaning of the statement (Gen 1:1) that
‘...darkness was upon the face of the deep...’
It wasn’t ‘gloom’ but ‘darkness’, the absence of any sort of light whatsoever. If there’d been fogs and vapours encompassing the earth then it’s a wonder that God was able to see what He was creating and to be able to pronounce that it was ‘good’ (only joking).
Finally, light is considered to have become visible on day one, even though God’s command was not
‘Let light appear’
(Cp Gen 1:9 where the land is commanded to appear) but
‘Let there be light’
(that is, for light to begin its existence where there was none before). Notice also that the Hebrew word for both ‘create’ and ‘make’ are absent here which implies that we need to understand the work of day one in a different context.
What fails to be pointed out is that, in the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:23)
‘...the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light and its lamp is the Lamb’
Or, perhaps, are we to regard this verse as meaning that due to the ‘fogs and vapours’ engulfing the new creation, the Lord Himself will have to produce light in the wake of a universal destruction? How preposterous! But if we interpret the Genesis account this way, we’re fully at liberty to do so with that passage in the Book of Revelation.
Light is a concept that runs throughout the Bible and which refers on occasions to the presence of God (I John 1:5). It was the symbol that Jesus used at the Feast of Tabernacles to proclaim Himself as the Shekinah glory of the world (John 8:12 - the Jewish celebration at the festival involved ‘lights’ that were indicative of the presence of God - see here).
Though visible light is definitely meant in Gen 1:3-5, there remains an allusion here to God stamping Creation with His seal so that those things that are created from that time onwards will reflect His Light (because they are created in Light) and proclaim His name (Rom 1:20, Ps 19:1-4).
There remains no reason, therefore, for the celestial bodies to have been created on day one when it wasn’t until day three that vegetation was established on the earth. Only if we’re struggling to see in the Creation story some Scientific harmonisation would we ever need to expect such a problematical interpretation of the narrative.
The other point of note is that Scientists propose vast ages for the most distant stars and galaxies because of the time that light would need to travel from those galaxies to reach us. If, however, light was created totally distinct and separate from the celestial bodies, it's plausible that light pervaded all things before those bodies were created to control and regulate it.
In that case, the 'travelling' of light becomes no problem to the Creationist for it never did travel - it was already present at all points in the Universe.
b. Waters separated
We may well read these verses and understand by them that water vapour in the form of clouds are formed, while the seas are brought into existence below. However, at this time, there was no precipitation and therefore no need for clouds (Gen 2:5-6).
Biblical Creationists, therefore, have proposed that what is meant is the existence of a ‘water canopy’ which would greatly increase the temperature of the planet, keeping it more constant than we know it today (so making it possible for cold-blooded creatures such as the dinosaurs to survive on the earth - though the Scientific community recently proposed that dinosaurs may well have been warm-blooded and this appears to be the general belief).
At the time of the flood, this water canopy would have collapsed (Gen 7:12 - continuous rain for forty days) and the earth would have been reformed into a structure similar to that in existence today.
This ‘theory’ is certainly in harmony with the Biblical narrative and has gone a long way to show that Evolutionary Uniformitarianism is quite unjustified - whether this is the correct solution will never successfully be proven one way or the other, no doubt, but we should be aware of the possibility of this phenomenon without insisting that it’s definitely the explanation.
More research and discoveries may well point the theory into a different direction and it’s more than likely that it will need to be revised or refuted.
c. The Jewish day
Gen 1:5 records that
‘...there was evening and there was morning, one day’
(or it could be translated ‘dusk and dawning’). For this reason, the Jewish day begins at sundown when three stars are visible in the sky and continues until sundown the following day. This always needs to be taken into consideration when dealing with ‘time’ in the Scriptures.
It also explains the apparently problematical Hebrew phrase ‘between the two evenings’ (see Ex 12:6). The first ‘evening’ is when the sun declines during the afternoon of the 24-hour cycle. The second evening is the early twilight/night of the beginning of the new day. the phrase will refer to a time around our 3-6pm (depending on the seasonal variation of sunlight hours).
d. The Second Law of Thermodynamics
In my notes on Homosexuality, I noted that an acceptance of the process of evolution needed to be consistent across all disciplines for the adherent but that, sadly, most 'believers' would rather pick and choose when it comes to personal relationships and cultural mores.
I noted there that evolution condemns homosexuality (as well as it does lesbianism) simply because the principles upon which evolution are founded are denied by the sexual orientation of the participant.
However, Western society has taken the liberalism of sexual experience to be a mark of a truly democratic society and has, in a very real sense, thrown off their belief that evolution is still a present reality, seeking to halt the progress of 'natural forces' through a new belief system that opposes it.
In fact, it could be said that belief that homosexuality is a valid sexual orientation is necessary so that men and women are allowed to reproduce for, unless such a position is accepted, the individual who holds such adverse views will often be sidelined in society, ostracised and even be forbidden to work in some cases that they might provide for their offspring that will succeed them.
The acceptance that homosexuality is a valid expression of sexuality is not and never can be incorporated into a working belief in Evolution but such are the contradictions in our Western society that very few seldom stop to think whether they have a consistent belief structure.
Evolution (and, indeed, the entire development of the theory of how the Universe came in to being) also doesn't sit well with the Second Law of Thermodynamics (as many Creationists have already pointed out). Although formulated originally to state that heat is not transferable from a 'less warm' body to a 'more warm' body (to put it crudely), it has other implications that are more wide-reaching in their implication.
It also means that you can't get out of a system more energy than is in that system and, more importantly, that when substances interact and react with one another, the energy available for further processes must be less than there was at the beginning of the previous interaction.
Or, to apply that to the Universe and into what we can see around us today, we would have to state that the Universe is at its simplest of forms, less organised and more chaotic, and that less energy is available now for use than has ever been available.
In short, the Universe is 'winding down' because, like Paul said in Romans 8:21, the entire order that we see around us is subject to a 'bondage to decay'. The scientist shouldn't find that a problem to accept - he would, of course, find it a problem to accept a believer's insistence that God has subjected the Universe to decay, but that isn't something a scientist should be expected to believe.
Therefore, the Universe must have had a beginning and, eventually, there must also come a time when available energy is zero and nothing more can take place. To say that it must 'end' and so not be eternal would be going too far but certainly there must come a time when the Universe must simply 'stop' through lack of available energy, when, to continue the analogy, the mainspring has no further tension in it and movement ceases.
But how can we perceive that there was ever a time when infinite energy was available when decay is constant and consistent? In short, there must be a beginning before which there was nothing, a time when there was nothing in existence (a tautological statement in itself) for there could not be a time when there was more energy available than was present at 'zero entropy' (again, to put it crudely - I have used the phrase 'zero entropy' here simply because it's the most common way to express the state of the Universe before which it could not have existed. 'Entropy' is the measure of energy that is 'locked up' or not available in a thermodynamic process. By extrapolation - a tool greatly loved by geologists, evolutionists and the like - the zero entropy of our universe is a necessity and, therefore, the implications of a cosmic beginning. Not the point of the Big Bang but the point at which everything must have come in to existence).
The problem for the evolutionist is that it is self-evident that what is seen around us is becoming simpler, less ordered, more chaotic - and there is no reason to suppose that this state of affairs has not been continuing ever since the state of zero entropy.
In Sanford's book 'The Primary Axiom', I quoted a statement in my notes on Homosexuality that summarised the overriding evolutionistic principle thus:
'The Primary Axiom is that man is merely the product of random mutations plus natural selection'
Although the statement is faithfully reproduced and is true to the belief of the evolutionist, the problem is that such a theory cannot produce more complex organisms and neither can it produce more order. It can, however, produce simpler organisms and less order.
In other words, a more complex finch (in whose DNA code there was a wide variety of possibilities and, therefore, physical variations) might produce a plethora of birds with different characteristics that could become isolated and distinct from other birds descended from the 'complex' finch, but the descendents would become simpler and less complex forms of the original.
It would be impossible for a breeding group of finches to randomly develop complexity - they may develop complexity if there was a guiding hand (notice the lowercase 'h') but not if there was a random force at work. Such a situation would not produce more order.
There have been a great many programs that have left me aghast.
One that I remember in particular (and which I turned off after the first ten minutes) began with earthworms that had 'evolved' in the space of 150 years to produce a brand new species that were resistant to the arsenic that had been deposited from mining in an area of the UK.
This was proof, said the presenter, that evolution was taking place.
The unscientific nature of the programme was frightening - even though it was presented as cutting-edge evolutionary science. Questions immediately arose in my mind such as
'How did they know that there weren't a species of earthworms resistant to arsenic during the Victorian era in an area that is naturally abounding in arsenic? Was any survey done?'
'Are these earthworms more complex forms of the simple earthworms that were in existence 150 years ago?'
'Did the earthworm of the Victorian age have the ability to be resistant to arsenic and, so, when the spoil heap was dumped there, those who were resistant survived and those who weren't died?'
But, if the presenter was able to provide the scientific proof for her assertions then the most damning conclusion would be that, if a new species of more complex earthworms had developed from simpler earthworms in only 150 years, Darwin no longer needed millions of years as is currently maintained. Therefore, a young earth. Therefore, geological timescales are undermined.
In short, instead of affirming Darwinism, the presenter's statement was actually undermining it if they were right.
Evolution can be accepted as occurring where complex creatures become simpler. Indeed, such a principle is demanded by science and should be expected by even Paul's statement. But simple becoming complex is not possible with random mutations and natural selection - not because we believe that God exists but because the Universe is decaying into a less ordered state where chaos will eventually be the norm.
Therefore, not only can the Universe not have become ordered from the chaos of its origins but the complexity of what we see around us today on earth must be more simple than that which has existed in times past.
While I would, at this point, add God in to the equation, the scientist need do nothing of the sort.
But the principle of chaos from order and simplicity from complexity should be a guiding principle when the progression of the Universe is considered.
e. Mitochondrial DNA
It's quite strange how I can be watching a regular Scientific programme on TV or the Internet and stumble over a piece of Scientific information that gets my heart racing and my mind surprised.
Such was the case recently when I was watching a video on the world's first 'three person baby', a title used more especially in the media than in Scientific circles.
It appears that mitochondrial DNA (don't panic at this point - this is not going to become a technical treatise on biology) is only present in the ovum - that is, the female egg. The male sperm doesn't contain it (according to some sources I accessed - others state that the sperm does contain it but that it doesn't transfer into the ovum, others that, by the time fertilisation takes place, the sperm has lost it).
So, when a human female has mitochondrial DNA that's damaged and unable to function, conception and development is impossible because the male sperm cannot provide what is lacking but necessary for cell growth and division.
What the new technology had achieved was to use the undamaged mitochondrial DNA of a third person, taken from the ovum of a woman, and replaced the damaged area of the ovum with it, thus making possible both conception and development. Therefore, three people were involved in the resulting baby.
The ethical and moral implications are complicated - but even worse are what this will mean for mankind for it's impossible to be sure what effects this will have long-term on future generations. Science may know a great deal about the body and mind but it doesn't know everything. Dynamic relationships between one person's mitochondrial DNA and another person's genetic material housed in a single cell are not fully known.
Leaving that aside, there was a matter raised in the video about 'Mitochondrial Eve' and how Science believes that everyone was descended from a single female who had existed in earth history - because they were able to extrapolate backwards and work out from the variations now present both when and where they came to be identical, present in a single human.
As this part of our genetic structure isn't inherited from the male line, it means that only the female line could be traced back.
So, I did some searching and found that Science believes that we are all descended from a single female who lived somewhere between 150-200,000 years ago. From that single female, all mankind should be able to trace back their genealogical tree. Whether black or white, European, African, Asian, Native American or Australian Aborigine - all of us were changed by circumstances and successive generations to be what we are today.
Further, the colonisation of the entire planet by mankind has come through that one woman - and, even then, through her female offspring, not her male (for mitochondrial DNA is not passed through the male line).
The first 'group' of Homo Sapiens are believed to have appeared somewhere around 300,000 years ago and are thought to have been present in Africa. Miraculously (or incredulously), all the other females who existed at that time of Mitochondrial Eve (the sum total of the entire existing species that had developed and multiplied over the space of not less than 100,000 years) failed to produce female offspring who succeeded in reproducing females in successive generations down to the present day.
Science will say that this is possible because it happened - that there could not have been a single human but simply one human amongst many who managed to emanate all the other female genetic lines though time and random chance. I would say rather that, if the dates are established and not open to revision (as often they are), then it gives the date of the Eve of Genesis chapter 1-3 as somewhere between 150-200,000 years ago and that, if the Creation of the earth is closely tied in with her existence, an age of the earth can be tentatively suggested.
The Creation of Man/The Restoration of Creation
‘God has done nothing new in 15,000 years.
He’s simply restoring the entire Creation to what He originally intended it to be’
God’s plan has always been to have a perfect Creation and a perfect mankind. In that sense, His plan has never changed. If we read Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we see God’s plan - that man would multiply and fill the earth (along with the animals) and rule over it in true righteousness, perfection and sinlessness.
In Genesis chapter 3, we read of man’s fall through personal disobedience to a clearly understood command of God - but His plan still remained unchanged. The history of the years after that fall to the present day isn’t the story of God moving forward from His plan for man and neither is it of man moving forward and onward - it’s the story of God bringing man back to where He originally intended him to be - it’s a restoration of the old.
God is, therefore, restoring His Creation back into His original intention and plan. To see in Genesis chapters 1-3 what God wanted then for mankind is to determine what God is now restoring mankind into - but especially His Church.
In the following pages, we shall look at three specific areas concerning this restoration of Creation - how God intended man to have fellowship with God, to reflect the image of God throughout the earth and to rule over the entire created order in true perfection and righteousness and how the work of Jesus Christ on the cross has made the way possible for God’s original plan to be fulfilled.
1. Man - Created to have fellowship
It is evident that man was created to have fellowship with God. In Gen 3:8 we read that the first man and woman, Adam and Eve
‘...heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden...the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden...’
where direct access into God’s presence is the natural requirement of such a statement and observation. In the garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve walked freely in the midst of God’s Creation, they had perfect fellowship with God, there being no barriers that restricted their access to Him and there being nothing that was negative in their relationship with the Creator. God walked in human form with man (or so the interpretation appears to be of Gen 3:8) - they conversed face to face.
Though this may be hard for us to conceive, there’s certainly no reason to see in the set up of the original Creation any ground that they could not have shared with God.
But then man chose to go his own way apart from God. Instead of listening to the One who’d given them life and trusting Him for all the wisdom and knowledge that they needed, they effectively rebelled against His rule by choosing to listen to the voice of the serpent over His voice. When the suggestion of the serpent plainly contradicted God’s known command, they had every opportunity to put a creature who was already under their rule down (Gen 1:26 - see section 3 below), but they chose instead to listen and obey and the fellowship that man had had with the Creator was destroyed.
Man became spiritually dead (that is, not alive to God) and a sinner from the heart (not a life for God). The fellowship that man had had with the Creator was destroyed.
It’s better for a man to know something is disobedience to God in innocence rather than by learning by the experience of doing it - innocence, once lost, can never be regained. Scars result from the wounds of sin and it’s better that no man receives wounds.
God wants us an innocent people even though He has the power to forgive and restore. He heals wounds through His work on the Cross through Christ, but not all the scars - the results of sin - are removed.
Adam’s experience of sin, then, caused the relationship to be broken. Had he remained in the innocence of knowing what was wrong without experiencing it, then there would have been no judgment - but once he overstepped the mark, God had to step in and judge.
So began the barrier - the ‘veil of separation’ - between God and man, the veil being a symbol of the sin that had been committed in the garden and which separates mankind from the presence of God. This ‘veil’ speaks to us of something that prevents two objects from becoming one and, as we now go on to trace these ‘veils of separation’ through the Biblical record, we’ll see how the presence of this separation is indicative of man’s plight up until the work on the cross by Jesus.
a. Veils of separation
i. The cherubim with a flaming sword in his hand
As we’ve already seen, the result of the first life that committed sin became eternal separation from God’s presence. Is 59:2 tells us that
‘...your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God’
before going on to state that
‘...your sins have hid His face from you so that He does not hear’
Primarily meant for the children of Israel as the Davidic line of kings was drawing to a close over the kingdom of Judah as a consequence of sin and rebellion, it has a secondary application in every situation where a person chooses a way of life that’s opposed to God - there comes a separation between individuals and the Creator on account of their own freewill choice and, even worse, the perception of God in that individual’s life then becomes increasingly corrupted until, finally, gods are worshipped that bear little, if any, resemblance to the true God (Rom 1:18-32).
In John 17:3, Jesus says that
‘...this is eternal life, that they may know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent’
because eternal life is simply fellowship with God, a friendship relationship with the Creator. Therefore, on exclusion from God’s presence in the garden, mankind was excluded from the tree of ‘eternal’ life (Gen 3:22).
God had told the man that, in the day that he disobeyed His voice, he would die (Gen 2:16-17). It’s quite plain that Adam and Eve didn’t suffer physical death until many years afterwards, even though the curse that was put on both they and their descendants was that they would return to the dust after a life of toil and struggle (Gen 3:18-19). But God’s instruction concerned spiritual death.
Just as physical death means a separation of the soul from physical life (the body), so spiritual death means a separation of the soul from spiritual life (that is, God, through the believer’s spirit). Though mankind shrinks away from the final separation of body and soul, the worse horror is to live a life of spiritual separation before physical death that then continues after what’s tangible is swallowed up by immortality.
The first ‘veil of separation’ was a cherubim which guarded the way both into God’s presence and to the tree of eternal life (Gen 3:24). It prevented mankind from both coming in to fellowship with God, and, to a certain extent at least, it restricted God coming out of His dwelling place (Heaven) to fellowship with man. Of course, God, being who He is, showed His presence to men and women on the earth throughout the OT and revealed His nature to all He chose. But, because of sin, the fulness of His presence could not be revealed.
As we trace the line of veils in other parts of the Scriptures, we need to remember this twofold function of the veil - as a restriction placed upon both God and man, the former voluntarily through another’s actions, the latter obligatory through personal choice.
ii. Moses’ veil
Ex 26:31-33, 40:3
The Tabernacle that was set up in the wilderness as the Israelites journeyed onward to the promised inheritance of Canaan had three divisions. Firstly, as you approached from the outside, you came in to what was known as the outer court into which all Israel had access to bring their offerings to worship God. In the centre of this compound lay a roofed enclosure (roofed temporarily so it could be easily removed and packed away when they moved onwards) which contained two further divisions.
The first of these two was the inner court or Holy place where only the priests were allowed access to minister to the Lord by applying the blood of the sacrifices, burning incense on the altar that stood there, laying out the shewbread on its table and trimming the branched lampstand. Each of these have their own applications and relevance to a believer’s walk with the Lord but they aren’t relevant to the subject under discussion.
Finally, there lay the most holy place, the Holy of Holies, where the presence of God took up residence (Ex 40:34-35). It was here that only the High Priest had the right of access - and then only once every year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) - but even on this day he wasn’t allowed to have fellowship with God. He entered in fear of His life to atone for the sins of Israel, taking with himself the blood of bulls and goats and a burning censer full of coals (see my notes on ‘Yom Kippur’ for a detailed explanation of this day and of its application to the work of the cross).
Because God’s presence (symbolised by the Ark, but present in the cloud that filled the Tabernacle) dwelt in the Holy of Holies, the veil of separation was hung up between this area and the outer two divisions, thus preventing men and women from being able to come in to His presence. The veil showed man that, while it was still hung, the way to God was barred because of sin.
But notice that God commanded that there were to be cherubim embroidered on the veil (Ex 26:31) which served as a reminder to Israel of the cherubim that God had placed between Himself and man to ensure separation. The cherubim reminded the nation that the consequences of what had been committed in the Garden of Eden were still in force (even though the people wouldn’t have actually been able to see the cherubim while the veil hung).
This veil of separation also became the protective covering to prevent the Israelites from seeing the Ark of the covenant when they moved on in their journey. It was used to veil the symbol of the presence of God before the other coverings were applied and before the outer tents were removed (Num 4:5).
God hadn’t originally intended that the veil should separate all His ministers from His presence continually but, for their own protection, entry into the Holy of Holies was restricted to just once every year on the Day of Atonement because of the sin of Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1-2, 16:1-2) who appear to have been drunk (Lev 10:8-9), both men being slain in the presence of God for their sin of wrongful approach.
iii. Solomon’s veil
II Chr 3:14
The Temple of Solomon, the first fixed location for the Tabernacle which had remained in its mobile form until this building, was simply a glorified version of the Tent of the wilderness.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that the same threefold structure was present. Here again, the veil of separation was hung up to shield the presence of God from mankind, it being a similar design to that one used in the Tabernacle constructed (II Chr 3:14 - my italics)
‘...of blue and purple and crimson fabrics and fine linen, and worked cherubim on it’
The cherubim again are indicative of the sin of mankind in Adam and the way into the presence of God is similarly restricted, showing that the consequence of that original sin was still in effect.
I Chr 16:1, II Sam 7:18
Having stated above - and shown - that God took great care to show mankind through His people, the Jews, that the consequences of mankind’s sins were still in effect, He nevertheless gave occasional windows into what was planned in Christ - not only through the prophets but through the events that He allowed to happen which were often in contradiction to the Law He’d established through Moses.
For example, the tent that David set up to house the Ark of the covenant (the symbol of God’s presence) doesn’t appear to have had any divisions in it. Though one could be forgiven for thinking that the old Tabernacle structure was still present from I Chr 16:1, the verse II Sam 7:18 says that king David
‘...went in [to the tent] and sat before the Lord’
something that it was not permitted to do under the Old Covenant. Even if we were to read the Scripture and understand by it that David sat in front of the veil of separation, he would still be violating the clearly set out Mosaic legislation which allowed only the priests this right of access.
These windows in the OT give the reader pictures and illustrations of what was going to be made available in the Christ at a time to come - though it’s only possible to understand these facts retrospectively.
v. Into New Testament times
When Christ came, Solomon’s Temple had already been destroyed by the sacking of Jerusalem under the Babylonians. Zerubbabel’s Temple (the restoration of Solomon’s destroyed Temple that the returning exiles had constructed) had also ceased to exist by its absorption into future rebuildings of the Temple area, but most notably under Herod’s grand extensions.
In the place of both these two temples, stood the Temple of Herod (which reached it’s completion, ironically, only very shortly before it was destroyed by the Romans c.70AD) with the same 3 divisions (Outer court, Inner court/Holy Place and Holy of Holies). Here also there was a veil of separation hanging between the presence of God and the outside world.
Although the Bible remains silent on the construction and layout of the Temple (it details nothing about the architectural plans of the Temple from the time of Zerubbabel onwards), we can be sure of the presence of the veil through Josephus, who describes the Temple in detail in ‘The Jewish War’ (Page 304 lines 17-20). He writes
‘The innermost chamber measured thirty feet and was similarly separated by a curtain from the outer part. Nothing at all was kept in it; it was unapproachable, inviolable [meaning “that which must not be profaned”] and invisible to all, and was called the “Holy of Holies”’
However, the Mishnah (compiled around 130 years after the destruction of the Temple) set out to record the ways of the Jewish religion including the service of the Temple before its destruction and mentions the existence of two veils in connection with the ceremonies of Yom Kippur (Yoma 5:1). It notes that
‘[The High Priest] went through the sanctuary until he came to the space between the two curtains separating the Sanctuary from the Holy of Holies. And there was a cubit’s space between them’
But it states in another place (Shekalim 8:5) that
‘The veil was one handbreadth thick and was woven on [a loom having] seventy-two rods...Its length was forty cubits and its breadth twenty cubits; it was made by eighty-two young girls, and they used to make two in every year; and three hundred priests immersed it’
This verse certainly makes the reader think that there was just the one veil but, like the offering of the two goats as one sin offering on the Day of Atonement (see my notes on this festival), it’s also possible that, although two veils hung, there was only considered to be the one.
Whether there was at one time two curtains that hung that were regarded as being one veil, or whether the explanation of the two veils in the context of Yom Kippur was simply given to show the reader how the High Priest was able to get behind the veil and into the Holy of Holies when his hands were full, is unclear. Whatever the explanation, there was definitely a veil of separation that continued to be hung in the Temple in Jerusalem which concealed the presence of God from the majority of mankind.
That veil, just like all the previous ones, was a symbol of the rebellion and sin of mankind.
vi. The rent veil
Mtw 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:45
The implication of the above three verses in the Gospels is that Christ’s physical death sealed a work in which it was fitting that the veil of separation was torn in two. As this veil was the symbol of the restriction that was in force as a result of mankind’s original sin, it’s rending showed that Christ had opened up the way into the very presence of God - He had enabled man once again to have access to and therefore fellowship with God, to develop a relationship with Him.
The Jews’ reaction would have been to rehang the veil as quickly as they could, no doubt, to protect the sanctity of the Holy of Holies - but God had made a way to deal with the consequences of man’s own actions, so bringing to an end the service that had been commanded under the Old Covenant.
While it’s quite true to say that the veil rent allowed man in, it’s equally true to say that it allowed God out to dwell in the midst of His Church. We find a similar dual purpose in God’s actions in Mtw 28:2 where the stone that was rolled away is often considered to be so that Christ could get out - even though He had no need of this (John 20:19). The stone, therefore, was removed by the angels not to let Christ out so much as to let man look in and see that He’d risen and that His body had gone.
b. So what did Jesus do on the cross?
We’ve seen in the previous section that upon Christ’s death there was a change effected in the restriction placed upon access into the presence of God. Here, we need to understand the work that Jesus did in order for that change to have been brought about (see also the notes on ‘Baptism (in water)’).
i. Sins paid for
He remedied what we do
By committing sins, mankind makes a separation between himself and God. In Is 59:2 the thought is not so much that the original sin which mankind committed ‘in Adam’ in the Garden that’s made a separation, but the continuing individual rebellion that’s part of each human’s life. Whether we try to justify our actions or not, we still rebel against what is the plain and obvious revelation of God in the world around us and so, literally, push God’s presence away from us (Rom 1:18-32).
But God in Christ was going to take upon Himself the price that needed to be paid in order that His people might be reconciled to Himself. If that original sin - and continuing sins - resulted in alienation from the presence of God, then Jesus, to take the just punishment that each man and woman experiences because of individual sin (partly now but forever upon death), had to be separated from the presence of God. When Jesus cried (Mtw 27:46)
‘My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?’
we see Him separated from the presence of God, suffering the punishment of sin even though He never knew sin by experience (II Cor 5:21).
Therefore the OT Scriptures along with the New proclaim the work of Christ in sacrificial language. Isaiah (Is 53:6,8,10,12) states that
‘...the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all...He makes Himself an offering for sin...He shall bear their iniquities...’
while Matthew (Mtw 26:28) quotes Jesus as saying
‘...this is My blood...which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins...’
This verse should be compared with Lev 4:7 and other parallel passages where the blood of the OT sin offering is recorded as being ‘poured out’ at the base of the altar. Had the idea been other than Jesus’ life was an acceptable offering for sin, then the phrase ‘poured out’ would not have been used but, as it is, it directs us to the reality of His work on the cross as a sin offering.
In the letters of Paul, also, we read (Eph 1:7) that
‘In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses...’
and that, in Jesus (Col 1:14)
‘...we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins’
In both these verses, the word-picture ‘redemption’ occurs where the idea is that the work of Christ on the cross ‘buys back’ those who’ve committed sins from the slavery that they’ve sold themselves into by their rebellion (see the notes on ‘Redemption’ for a fuller discussion).
ii. Sinful nature crucified
He remedied who we are.
To have remedied the things we do without bringing a solution to who we are would have very quickly brought us back in to a position of exclusion from God’s presence and in need of God’s cleansing.
Through Adam, there’s inside of us a part that wants to rebel against God and to choose to go our own way regardless of what’s best for our lives. We like to be in control of the pilotage of our ship and to steer ourselves through life using our own insight and strength, rejecting the ways of God whenever and wherever it suits us.
The doctrine of the ‘sinful nature’ has, unfortunately, fallen out of fashion along with the rise of humanism which teaches that man is good at heart and a victim of the circumstances that either happen to him or that he finds himself in. But a person who holds to this belief system will never be in a position to see that mankind was in desperate need of a revolutionary solution that needed Jesus Christ to go to the cross on their behalf.
However much we’d like to think of ourselves as good at heart, when we look at what our eyes tell us about the human race, the evidence is not compelling. We see that even children don’t have to be taught to do wrong - this type of behaviour comes naturally and the command ‘no’ is often a great incentive for children not to obey!
This rebellious sinful nature (known also as ‘the flesh’, ‘the old man’ and other varying titles in the NT) cannot submit to God’s Law. If the Law had ever been able to legislate to improve that part of us, to reform it, then there would have been no need for Christ to have had to die on the cross. But, as it is, the sinful nature was crucified with Him (Gal 2:20, Rom 6:6). When Jesus was nailed there, so too were we - when Jesus died there, so too did we. In order that, by the resurrection from the grave, we might rise to new life and share in His life by faith in the work of God through Him.
We are, therefore, dead by faith to the old way of life (Rom 6:11-12) and yet, at the same time, we find that that old way of life continually tries to rise back up to haunt us and lead us away from obedience to Christ. The christian life is rightly described as a battle where each individual must continually choose to put down the ‘old nature’ until we’re freed totally from it when we die (see the charts in the study on ‘Baptism (in water)’).
Access into God’s presence, therefore, was secured by the work of Jesus on the cross between the sixth and ninth hours, Heb 10:19-22 bearing witness to this when it says that
‘...since we have confidence to enter the [place where God dwells] by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near...’
Having gone through an exposition of the old sacrificial system and shown that Christ has fulfilled its legal demands, the writer makes the declaration that now, in Christ, the way has been opened into God’s presence through the veil.
That veil of separation, indicative of mankind’s sin and rebellion, is now removed because of the work of the cross. Jesus is considered to be the veil that separated mankind in the sense that, having become sin (II Cor 5:21), He took it upon Himself to be separated from God, to deal with the problem that sin had brought about - so removing it in His own body.
But, having said that the way has now been opened, it doesn’t follow that mankind is automatically there in God’s presence. Freedom of access has been won by Christ for all who want it, but simply having the right of access doesn’t mean that the freedom is being used.
For example, salvation is available to all now that Christ has died and has risen from the dead - but it doesn’t follow that all men are saved because not all men have accepted the sacrifice that was given for them and not all have received it ‘by faith’. And it is ‘by faith’ that men and women enter in to the presence of God - not believing what Christ has done with their minds only, but letting what Christ has done become a part of their lives.
To want forgiveness but to stay in rebellion is not salvation. Faith in what Christ has done means not to choose one’s own way but to live the way that God created man to live - that is, sins forgiven and rebellion killed, being able to say in all sincerity that
‘I’m fed up going my own way - from now on I will follow God’
Having seen in this section that the way has been opened, we must go on to think about the sort of relationship with God that is now available to us - and that’s necessary that we experience - but also consider the types of relationships that so often pass for the real thing.
c. What relationship now? How do we get to know God?
To answer these two questions we must first look at what isn’t a relationship with God, before we go on to look at what is.
i. It is not knowledge about God
A lot of people think that because they know about God, they have a relationship with Him . This is not so. Many years ago, there was an actor who, as part of his performance, recited the Gospel of Mark. The knowledge that he must have acquired about Jesus through the storing of the text in his mind didn’t reflect how well he knew God - it only showed people who came to listen to him how much he knew about God.
While studying is a good pastime in order that we might learn about the character and nature of God (though too much can become like a wade through treacle - Eccles 12:12), it doesn’t necessarily develop a relationship with God.
In Is 29:13, God pointed out to the Jews that their learning had not become a reality in their lives. While their learning had taken up residence in their minds, it hadn’t made that long journey into their hearts where it becomes a part of the individual’s character and lifestyle. ‘Knowledge’ in the Bible often demands the understanding of ‘knowledge by personal experience’ in the context in which it appears.
For example, we may know about God being the Healer but unless we experience God healing us, we have never really ‘known’ God as Healer. Similarly, then, we may know much about God - and our theology may be unflawed - but unless we experience God, then we haven’t even begun to get to know Him.
Similarly, each of us may hear much about our neighbours from other people. We may read about them in the local papers (and if you’d had neighbours like we’d had some years ago then we were often reading about them under the heading ‘In Court’). But it’s not until we come to meet these people that we begin to establish a relationship with them - our knowledge about them becomes ‘knowledge by experience’ and a relationship can begin to develop.
ii. It is not activity for God
Jesus’ first words to His disciples were ‘Come and follow’ (Mark 1:17, Luke 5:27) not ‘Go and preach’ (Mark 16:15). For three and a half years after the great commission to ‘Come and follow’, the disciples ate, slept and lived with Him - they asked Him questions, they followed Him, they shared with Him.
The command to ‘Go and preach’ only came out of their relationship with Christ. I remain convinced that unless the Church rediscovers its calling to ‘Come and follow’, it will never effectively fulfil its calling to ‘Go and preach’.
We can get so busy for God that He begins to take the sidelines in our lives. We can rush from one meeting to another, find involvement in the ‘prayer group’, the ‘music group’, the ‘youth group’ - and any other group that has its existence within the fellowship we attend - and yet not have as deep a relationship with God as He would like.
Activity gives us the sense that we’re serving God in what He wants. But, very often, it can be illusionary - achieving religious targets can be deceptive.
When the Israelites found themselves being threatened by the Assyrian armies, they decided that the only way to win deliverance was to form a league with Egypt in order that they might have an army to confront them. But God said to the Israelites through Isaiah that it was is in returning and rest that they would be delivered, in quietness and in trust that they would be strong - not in activity (Is 30:15).
Similarly, the problems that come upon us in this life don’t always have to be met with an equal and opposing force to counteract them, but by recourse to God and developing our relationship with Him in order that we might hear His voice on the matter.
Healings will pass away - so will crusades. Evangelists will come and go - but only our relationship with the Father and the Son is eternal (Jer 9:23-24, John 17:3).
iii. It is not power in God
Perhaps the most difficult to be understood is the statement that the demonstration through an individual of God’s power in the miraculous is not an indication that the individual has a relationship with God. A power ministry is no guarantee of salvation (Mtw 7:21-23).
In Psalm 27, David asked just one thing of the Lord - that he might dwell in the place where God was all the days of his life (v.4). When God commanded him to seek his face, he could honestly say that that had been all he’d sought (v.8). But the Psalm goes on to speak of the victory that David experienced in his own life (v.1-3,5-6) even though it’s obvious from the previously quoted Scriptures that this had not been what he’d been seeking.
David experienced victory not because he’d been seeking it but because he’d been seeking God and it came as part of the same package. When you find God, you get everything He is, but to obtain one aspect of the Lord’s blessing - such as a miraculous power ministry - is not an indication that a relationship with God is present.
iv. It is getting alone with God
When Arthur Blessit walked through the almost impassable Darien Jungle, the Lord took everything from him until all that was left was Himself. It was the only way God could get him to spend some time with Him. The Lord said
‘Everyone wants to plan a crusade or go somewhere, but few seem to have time for Me, Arthur. I’m more interested in who you are than what you do for Me. The world will be blessed as a result of the overflow of our relationship, but some would rather talk about Me...’
Later on, Blessit recorded in his diary
‘A father gives a child a toy, but how it breaks the heart of the father if from now on the child loves only the toy and loses interest in the father.
‘See, that is what a lot of people have done with the ministry. God gave them a gift or a calling and now they spend all of their time talking about it or thinking about healing or evangelism, or planning crusades, and forget who gave them the gift!’
Tozer was also mindful of the need to ‘seek God for God’. He writes
‘God being who He is must always be sought for Himself, never as a means toward something else...Whoever seeks God as a means toward desired ends will not find God...He will be all in all or He will be nothing. God will not be used...God wills that we should love Him for Himself alone with no hidden reasons, trusting Him to be to us all our natures require’
When we get alone with God, we often bombard Him with an endless stream of prayer requests - but God wants us to spend time alone with Him because He is who He is - that is, ‘Seek God for God’ not ‘Seek God for God and...’
Courting couples spend time together because they enjoy each other’s company, not because they are showered with presents (well, they shouldn’t, anyway! Unfortunately, some relationships are based upon this). Wives, too, share their entire lives with their husbands not just fifteen minutes in the morning and half-an-hour at night. Both partners seek to please one another in all things (or they should do. Marriages break down when individualism becomes more important than their corporate identity, either through one or both sides of the relationship).
God created us to have fellowship with Him continually - we need to spend time alone with Him. That means that we shouldn’t necessarily read the Bible, listen to Christian music, praise God in song or word, or intercede - but just talk and listen to Him - we should simply hold a conversation with Him. That’s why we were created.
When others come out of God’s presence are we reluctant to go or do we eagerly rush out (Ex 33:11)? When we find ourselves ‘distant’ from the Lord, do our hearts earnestly long for Him or are we not all that bothered (SofS 5:8, Ps 42:1-3)?
d. What of the future?
Rev 21:3 notes of a future time that
‘[God] will dwell with them...and God Himself will be with them’
and, a little later in Rev 22:3-4, that
‘...the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in [the New Jerusalem] and His servants shall worship Him; they shall see His face...’
Today, we can never really imagine what it must have been like in the Garden of Eden before the Fall. But when all things are restored, sin removed and the world set free from its bondage to decay, then we’ll return to the relationship with God that we were meant to be partakers of - that is, face to face.
Now in this present day and age we converse Spirit to spirit.
Then in the coming Kingdom it shall be Face to face.
To me, it’s never the same to speak to someone over the phone - I much prefer to speak face to face when the opportunity is present to have a break in the conversation and go and make a cup of tea. God has planned a day when all the phone wires will be cut and when the kettle will be close at hand - and He longs for it to come quickly...
2. Man - Created in God’s image
The basis for this section comes from the much misunderstood passage of Gen 1:26-27 which runs
‘Then God said “Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness”...So God created man in His own Image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them’
When I first began to share these thoughts, I had numerous ‘singles’ come up to me and thank me for helping them not to get tied up in the ‘image’ of a marriage which had to produce children or else it couldn’t be considered as being blessed by God by the married - and I had many married people with children come up to me and tell me I was wrong. Not that they had any Scriptures against it, but that my teaching was perceived to undermine their own importance and pre-eminence within the local fellowship.
Having carefully thought the message through once challenged, I became even more convinced of its importance to remove barriers between the single and the married - and that fallacious assertion that man exists primarily to unite himself together with a partner and to produce children.
While marriage must still be the norm for believers, no one should fall into the error of thinking that God wants every believer to be married and to have children. After all, every believer prays to a single male who had no natural offspring...
a. Jesus is God’s image
God didn’t sit down at a drawing board like an architect and produce a blueprint of what He intended man to turn out like, finally bringing about His design when He created mankind. That would have been to have had the Image outside Himself, based upon an external scheme that may or may not have been consistent with His own nature.
Rather, God Himself was the image in the person of Jesus Christ. As it says in the NT in Col 1:15
‘[Christ] is the image of the invisible God...’
and, in II Cor 4:4
‘...Christ, who is the likeness of God’
In other words, the nature and character of man was to be a reflection of God Himself throughout the entire earth - we were to be a representation of all that God is, so crowning His creative work with the supreme demonstration of His character in us.
Now we know that, through the Fall, because of sin, the likeness of God was marred and tarnished beyond repair (Eccles 7:29) that, though mankind has opportunity to reform and improve himself, he’s never able to bring himself up to the perfection that God originally created him in.
But, in Jesus Christ, a new nature is received, given in place of the old that’s crucified with Christ on the cross and killed off, which is the likeness of God dwelling within - it’s a perfect representation of all that Jesus is and a perfect ‘copy’ of all that He originally intended us to be (see the notes and the charts on ‘Baptism (in water)’).
As Paul wrote in Eph 4:24 (see also Rom 8:29)
‘...the new nature [which is] created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness’
The new nature, the image of God, is both Christ’s nature and the nature that God created man to have at the beginning of the world before the Fall.
b. Man and woman created in God’s image
Corporately, men and women were created as one unit to reflect the image of God. Gen 1:26 reads
‘...Let us make man(kind) in Our image...’
where ‘man’ is not ‘the man’ referring to Adam or ‘men’ referring to all ‘males’ but ‘mankind’ referring to both men and women. Individually, also, both men and women should be reflections of God. Gen 1:27 reads
‘God created (the) man in His own Image...male and female He created them’
where we see that, while ‘man’ was created to be a reflection, both aspects of male and female, when standing alone as individuals, should be reflections of the nature of God.
Male and female were not each created with certain aspects of God’s nature so that only corporately (husband and wife) they would be the image of God but individually He created mankind to be like Jesus. If this hadn’t been the case, then Jesus (one man and no woman) could not have adequately been the total revelation of God to mankind.
Both corporately (Gen 1:26) and individually (Gen 1:27), therefore, mankind was created to bear the image of God and to demonstrate it wherever he found himself and in whatever he was doing.
In Christ, there’s no distinction with regard to salvation (Gal 3:28) and, as we are all called to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29), neither sex can claim either sovereignty over the other or dependency upon the other (by ‘sovereignty’ we mean that neither sex can claim to be exclusively the image while the other is not and, by ‘dependency’, we mean that it is not only together, in paired units, that we are the image).
For a time, a wife is subject to her husband through the Fall (Gen 3:16 - the Scripture doesn’t mean that woman(kind) has been subjected to man but that, in a marriage relationship, a wife has been subjected to her husband), but this is only a temporary state of affairs (Mtw 22:30) and has no relevance to individuals - both men and women - being the image of God to the world.
c. Be fruitful and multiply
[In the second part of this discussion I use the words ‘celibacy’ and ‘celibate’ instead of the word ‘single person’ as ‘in Christ’ all single people are called to be celibate. Today’s ‘single person’ in the world’s eyes does not carry with it the idea of celibacy.]
Coming to the Creation account, we find the words in Gen 1:28
‘And God said to [the man and woman] “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth...”’
and it’s to this which we must now turn to begin to understand a little of what God had in mind when He issued the command to both Adam and Eve.
i. Perpetuating the image of God
God’s original command concerning children is to be found in Gen 1:28 where the Lord says to Adam and Eve
‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth...’
But if God’s primary intention was merely to ‘fill the earth with more humans’, it’s difficult for us to understand His actions when He utterly destroyed the inhabitants of the earth by a flood in chapters 6-8. If man had been obedient to the command, why did God wipe out an entire civilisation when the multitudes that then existed had been brought about in fulfilment of His original intention for mankind?
The fault lies in our interpretation of Gen 1:28 and not with God. For
‘...God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created Him [then] God said to them “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth...’”
So, the command to produce children is, rather, a command to fill the earth with the likeness of God by producing children in His likeness.
This is the reason why God is angry in Gen 6:5-8 - the unlikeness of God abounded. He would have been content if the original command had been fulfilled, that the earth would be filled with people bearing the image of God wherever they went and in whatever they did, but it hadn’t been fulfilled because the command had nothing to do with the success in the production of children but in filling the earth with His image and likeness.
The production of children is not, therefore, an end in itself. God doesn’t look down upon the sons of men and rate one family in better standing with Himself on the basis of how much their marriage has become a production line for the introduction of children! It is only the means whereby God causes His image to be perpetuated throughout the generations.
It’s interesting to note that the NT doesn’t command believers to conceive and give birth to offspring as a fulfilment of their calling in Jesus but, if they have them, it commands them to bring them up in the knowledge and fear of God (Eph 6:4 - see OT Scriptures Deut 4:9-10, 6:6-7 and 11:18-19). In other words, believers are obliged to perpetuate the image of God throughout the earth.
We are not commended for bringing high numbers of natural children into the world but we are to follow Jesus’ command to bring spiritual children to birth and maturity in Him, thereby multiplying the image of God even when there is no natural procreation. The commission of Mtw 28:19-20 should therefore be seen in the light of the first Creation where God desires that His own image be made known throughout the earth - new believers are to be the reflection of His image throughout the entire world.
ii. Perpetuating the name of Jesus
Under the Mosaic Law (the Law of Moses), the production of children was considered to be primarily the perpetuation of the name of the man/father. Deut 25:5-10 speaks of continuing the name of a deceased man who has no male offspring to perpetuate it, such was the shame and horror that it was considered to be if the genealogical line of any man came to an end. In that case, one of his brothers was to take the man’s wife as his own and the first son to be born (Deut 25:6)
‘...shall succeed to the name of his brother who is dead, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel’
Of course, the Law was only a shadow, an illustration of Christ and all that He has achieved for His people (Heb 10:1, Mtw 5:17). So, we see that this ordinance has to do with perpetuating the name of Jesus, the true Brother, the likeness of God. God doesn’t expect us to perform the literal role of the OT ordinance, but the role of bringing spiritual children to birth that perpetuates the image and name of God throughout the entire earth. Spiritual children are of more use to God than natural children (I Cor 2:14-15) - He is more delighted when one child turns from going his own way and turns to Him for healing and forgiveness than with a hundred children who are conceived, brought in to the world and then go on to live lives sold out for their own pleasure.
These considerations will help us to understand Paul’s apparently peculiar advice given to the body of Christ in I Corinthians chapter 7 concerning both marriage and celibacy (that is, remaining single).
Marriage produces ‘anxieties’ (v.32), anxieties about worldly affairs (v.33), that have no relevance with regard to serving the Lord. Although marriage is a provision and institution of God (v.28), the believer must decide what’s best to do in order to be wholly devoted to serve the Lord (v.35).
A married man cannot be as available to the Lord as a single man for he must, out of necessity, use much time and effort to look after his wife. Further, a married man with children will find it even harder to be fully available to serve Jesus than both a married man with no children or a single man - His concerns are divided for he must provide for his wife and children at the expense of supporting and applying himself to the Lord’s work.
Therefore, Paul stresses (I Cor 7:8) that
‘...it is well for (the unmarried and the widows) to remain single as I do’
and (v.38) that
‘...he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better’
He’s not saying that, for the christian, marriage is sin (v.28a, 36) but that in order to serve the Lord fully, it’s better to remain single. And, to those who are already married, it’s better for them to live as though they were not married (v.29) - in other words, to live to please the Lord, not the partner. When children become part of the marriage this becomes impossible to the fullest extent for children need upbringing and commitment.
Note that, in Biblical times, a marriage necessarily produced children unless there was barrenness, impotence or the like. Today it’s not inevitable because of modern methods of contraception (‘contraception’, that is, and not ‘abortion’ when life is terminated after it’s begun). The only possible comment on contraception, as far as I’m aware, is in Genesis 38:8-10 where Onan is slain by the Lord for continually (so the Hebrew) spilling his seed onto the ground in order that conception would not take place. But the judgment visited upon Onan doesn’t have anything to do with contraception but with his selfishness in refusing to perpetuate his brother’s name (see the notes on ‘Genealogy’). He treated it all with contempt - after many opportunities for Onan to fulfil his tribal obligation, the Lord slew him in judgment for his sin.
Celibacy, then, is the best way (though marriage with children is good, and marriage with no children is better) for one can be devoted to the perpetuation of the name and image of God (Jesus) throughout all the earth with no other worldly obligations hindering obedience to His revealed will. It’s spiritual children that the Lord longs for, not natural ones - and mature spiritual children only come about by, firstly, the preaching of the Gospel and, secondly, the discipling of believers.
But one final word before all the single believers resolve themselves never to marry. Paul writes in I Cor 7:2,9)
‘...it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion’
Celibacy is a gift of God and from God (v.7) - a special provision goes with the calling.
iii. The Church and the family ideal
When I first put together my notes entitled ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ they seemed to cause quite a lot of misunderstanding. I was told, mainly by married couples with children (well, wasn’t that a surprise?), that I wrote against the family and God’s commandments concerning such. On the other hand, a number of ‘singles’ found the notes encouraging and brought them to an understanding of what God would want from their lives having been unable to find a suitable partner.
Of course, it was never my intention to comment on either the family or God’s commandments concerning the family, but I was obliged to produce notes similar to the ones that I now produce below. Not only did the opposition I received help me to reiterate the point I was trying to make, but it covered some new ground concerning some of the dangerous teachings that both my wife and I have come across in certain fellowships that we’ve attended over the years.
After all, when you’re told by the leader of a fellowship that your marriage relationship is out of God’s will because you’ve decided not to have children - and this because we might make ourselves more available to do the Lord’s will - you naturally realise that any word spoken against the tradition of the family will cause a lot of problems. I also realised that I would never be accepted for what God had made me and we had to leave the place a couple of years after the occurrence of the leader’s speech to me.
Though I had been deliberately vague in certain areas so as not to cause unnecessary offence but also to allow the Holy Spirit to bring out the teaching’s implications, I decided to be as blatant as I could in the follow up to cause as much offence as I could to those who had elevated themselves and their families into a special place before God, putting down others by the consequence of their belief.
Well, that’s just the kinda guy I am...
1. Producing children is not an end in itself
There are many ideals in the Church that seem to be ‘Godlike’ but, at the root, there often lies ‘Godless’ materialism. One of these is that if you get married and have children then you’ve ‘spiritually arrived’ - you are fulfilling God’s commands concerning generating offspring.
But this is far from the truth even though the general leadership structure of the Church normally reflects this ideal and has few believers in their ranks who have either no children or who are single.
God’s command is that, if you have children, you are to bring them up in the knowledge and fear of Him (that is, to reflect the image of God) - if you’re married, you are to love your wife as yourself.
Merely being married or having children, per se, is not God’s intention at all. He’s concerned with getting His image into society so that all may see Him for who He is.
If you’re married with children, you’re commanded to teach your children by example and word how to live like Christ. If you’re married - or single but are thinking of getting married - you’re under no obligation to have natural children. You’re only under an obligation to perform your God-appointed role as father/mother if you decide to produce offspring.
2. Availability and producing spiritual children
What God commands is the production of spiritual children (Mtw 28:19-20 - whether within marriage or outside marriage), the latter phrase making it plain that marriage is not the be-all-and-end all simply because it can only produce natural offspring through natural procreation - but spiritual children come about through the preaching of the Gospel and not through sex.
But, if marriage restricts your service of God, or if the production of natural children would seriously restrict your availability to fulfil the calling of God upon your life, then what is to come first?
Obviously, serving Jesus!
The Church has often promoted the ‘family ideal’ going one step too far and showing in practise that married couples with children are first class citizens while everyone else are second or even third rate. Having children in a marriage relationship does not mean that you’ve spiritually arrived any more than buying the biggest Bible available from your local bookshop does.
Notice also that God’s ‘natural children’ are the nation of Israel but that His ‘spiritual children’ are the Church. These are two totally different covenants. His natural children received privilege but salvation was not an automatic part of that privilege, while His spiritual children have received salvation and, as a result, privilege.
It’s spiritual children that He longs for, not natural ones.
3. Man - Created to rule
When God first created man upon the earth, He created him with dominion over all that He’d made on the earth and with dominion over all the earth itself. Therefore Gen 1:26 records God’s considerations as being developed into the command
‘...let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth’
The only One that man had to be subject to was God by obedience. So long as man was obedient to God’s dominion and sovereignty, he had delegated dominion and sovereignty. When mankind stood as ‘one’ with God, then he could be His representative throughout the entire earth to rule and to reign for the good of the One who’d created all things.
In Gen 1:28 we read the command
‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’
given by God to man after his creation. He was to be fruitful by filling the earth with the image of God (sexual reproduction and upbringing - see the previous section) and, also, to subdue the earth.
After the Fall, however, and after the Flood, God gave a similar command to Noah and his sons in Gen 9:1 where we again read
‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth...’
As we’ve said, this command was very similar to the original and, realising that it’s something we’ve read before at an earlier point in the Bible’s pages, it’s very easy for us to gloss over the actual command and forget to look a little more closely at the entire phrase. Towards the end of the line, we should notice that the phrase ‘and subdue it’ is missing from this new command to Noah.
This phrase (literally ‘have the earth in subjection under you’) by being left out shows us that the dominion over God’s entire Creation was lost somewhere inbetween the two points of God giving Adam the commission and Noah’s exit into the new earth. The place where this occurred, specifically, is the Fall (Gen chapter 3) when mankind chose to go their own way apart from God.
One of the curses of the Fall was that ‘thorns and thistles’ would be yielded from the ground (Gen 3:18), a Creation that would rebel against the one for whom it was created. Another (Gen 9:2)
‘the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon all creation’
brought about in the Creation, though created to be one with mankind, a statute of war. The very Creation which was supposed to be in subjection to man (and for whom it had been created) was allowed to rebel because of sin.
Much has been made in recent years with the rise of the New Age religions and ideals of the idea that man can somehow shrug off the disharmony he feels with nature and so return to be ‘one’ with the natural world around him. But, although there may be a very real desire to regain what we’ve once lost, we’ll never regain it by self-effort - union with the Creation can only come about when there is unity with the One who made it - that is, with the Creator.
a. The Fall
If we look at the Fall in Genesis chapter 3, we’ll see the reason for man’s loss of dominion and sovereignty - the serpent, as one of God’s creations, was in subjection to mankind. The order of rule, shortly after the completion of God’s entire work, was
THE SERPENT (as a representative of Creation)
Mankind had no-one to answer to except God - only Him were they under any obligation to serve and obey. When the serpent came along, the real issue was whether man would submit himself to God’s sovereignty - the issue of the fruit from off the tree is sometimes dwelt upon too long for this was only the means towards the end. Both Adam and Eve chose, firstly, to reject God’s sovereignty but, secondly, and further, they chose to subject themselves to a creature that they already had dominion over. Satan, therefore, usurped the right to be king over man through the form of the serpent because Adam and Eve had laid down their dominion and rule in their act of disobedience.
Though they knew that they should obey God and though they also knew that they had the right to tell the creature what to do, they failed to apply both.
So, the re-arranged order became
SATAN (and Creation)
MANKIND (husband and wife)
and, as a result, man lost a sinless dominion over Creation. Instead, what should have been subject to them rebelled against them. Since that time, the entire Creation has been under a bondage to decay (Rom 8:21) including mankind. Man has become more and more sinful at heart as the years have progressed because his continual desire to seek out his own way alienates him away from the presence of God who is the only source of reconciliation and healing (see section 1 above).
Though God has moved in society on numerous occasions to stem the increase of sin, man left to Himself will only tend to decay away from the image in which God created Him
It’s interesting to note part of the curse upon the serpent in Gen 3:15 which reads
‘I will put enmity/hatred between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed’
Satan is seen plainly as a hater of mankind and is seeking to destroy, so ending God’s loved Creation. We should remember this! God is out to build, to structure - satan is out to destroy, to annihilate (see also the notes on ‘Adam’ under the subject ‘The Genealogy of the Messiah’). The rule that satan thought would be his was short-lived as unending war was declared upon the serpent by God through mankind.
b. The Man of Promise
But God gave mankind a promise through the curse upon the serpent. In Gen 3:15 we read the words
‘He [the coming Messiah in human form] shall bruise your head [that is, the serpent’s rule and authority]’
God’s plan to redeem Creation lay in one of Adam and Eve’s offspring overcoming the dominion and rule (‘the head’) of the serpent. That One who was to come was Jesus - perfectly God yet, at the same time, perfectly man.
It’s as a man that Jesus Christ overcame satan - as God, He already has dominion over all Creation. It had been by disobedience to the will of God that man had originally lost his dominion, so if a man was to regain rule over the serpent, it would have to be by a life of perfect and complete obedience to the will of God from the moment of his inception into the world until its end - so having authority over the Creation while alive but sealing the victory upon death.
Like Adam, Jesus had to be tested in order to see whether, as a man, He would be obedient to God’s commands. The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13 - see my notes) can often be glossed over without realising the implications of satan’s temptations. We aren’t witnessing some event that has very little relevance to God’s purpose - we’re seeing satan battling for his life, knowing that before him stands a man that, to date, hasn’t committed one sin.
That puts satan in the unenviable position of being in subjection to His will (though, at the same time, seeking to rebel) and it’s this temptation where we’re witnessing the first shots being fired that continued throughout the next three and a half year battle with Jesus. On the one hand, Jesus is plundering satan’s goods while satan, on the other, is desperately trying to lead Jesus into sin and, therefore, subjection to himself.
Throughout all His temptation - indeed, throughout His entire life - Jesus never once gave ground and submitted to the dominion of satan - He never once ‘sinned’ (Heb 4:15). Jesus did this as a man so that a man would win back his authority over satan. Col 2:15 runs
‘[God] disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in [Jesus]’
Jesus Christ the man now has His authority sealed over all Creation. As God, He already had that rule but it’s as the man Jesus Christ that He’s won that authority back. The bold statements of Scripture need to be fully appreciated for Col 2:10 announces that Jesus
‘..is the Head of all rule and authority’
while Mtw 28:18 records some of Jesus’ final words on earth as
‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me’
I Peter 3:22 also proclaims that Jesus
‘...has gone into heaven and is at the right-hand of God, with angels, authorities and powers subject to Him [Gk -’Obedient to Him’]’
and Eph 1:21-22 notes that Jesus is
‘...far above all rule and authority and power and dominion...’
and that the Father has
‘...put all things under His feet and has made Him the Head over all things for the Church...’
By a life of perfect obedience to the will of God, Jesus achieved what no man had throughout their entire life - He maintained the authority He had over Creation with no act of disobedience to rob Him of its possession. When Jesus breathed His last, therefore, the order of sovereignty was changed to
THE MAN JESUS
But God has gone one step further. By being crucified with Him, by being raised up in resurrection power with Him and ascending with Him into Heaven by faith, we are One with Jesus Christ. He has (Eph 2:6 - see also my notes on ‘Ascension’)
‘...raised us up together with Him and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus’
By faith now, we are seated with Christ in Heaven. Because of Jesus’ life of perfect obedience to the Father, we are raised together with Christ far above all rule and authority. And so, the order of sovereignty becomes
THE MAN JESUS AND REDEEMED MANKIND
SATAN (and Creation)
We have been given back the dominion that we lost because of our disobedience - through one man’s obedience we share in Jesus’ Kingship over all Creation.
In our witnessing to unbelievers, we must understand that we’re speaking to them from our position in the heavenly places.
Our words come from heaven itself. Between us and unregenerate mankind there is satan and his dominion, for he’s still the god over the majority of men. We need to breakthrough the principalities and powers that hold people bound if we are ever going to reach them. That’s why Paul wrote (Eph 6:12 - about all our struggles and battles as disciples of Christ) that
‘...we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places’
and (II Cor 10:3-4) that
‘...though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war for the weapons...have Divine power to destroy strongholds’
Sometimes, when men oppose God’s message of reconciliation, or are blind to it, we should recognise satan operating through man. He opposes it as fiercely as he can through the strongholds he has both in and over people’s lives.
Let us not forget that though satan no longer has dominion over us, he still has power. Luke 11:21-22 is a parable about the devil and which is particularly relevant here. The stronger One who has overcome is Jesus - He has taken away satan’s armour. But that doesn’t mean that satan is powerless, just that he’s without armour. A city with no walls is as strong as a city with walls but it’s the one without walls that’s unable to defeat or repel a direct assault because of the lack of protection. The city can still forcefully advance and take ground, but the lack of defences are only a problem when it comes under direct assault from a conquering enemy.
Satan, therefore, still has power (I Peter 5:8-9) and there is a need for the Church to bind (that is, to forbid him to exercise power over areas). Mtw 12:29 and 16:19 read
‘...whatever you bind on earth will have (already) been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have (already) been loosed in heaven’
By binding the principalities and powers that rule over areas and people, we are able to ‘plunder his goods’. The Church now has the right to do that solely on the basis of Jesus’ completed work and of their unity with Christ through His death, burial and ascension. We have the right to oppose satan’s rule because through Jesus we have been given the dominion over him once again. The only rule that he has over us now is the rule that we allow him.
Therefore, let’s not listen to him again as in the garden but let us also heed Jesus’ warning in Luke 10:19-20. The real area over which we are to rejoice is not that we have dominion over satan but that we’ve been restored back into a relationship with God Himself through Christ. Once we were exiles away from the Lord’s presence and without any real hope in the world. But now God has brought us into His presence, adopted us as sons into His own family, so that the relationship we lost in the Garden is restored.
Sovereignty over satan may be one of the fringe benefits of such a relationship, but the real source of rejoicing is the restoration of our relationship with God.