“Let There Be Light”

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  The earth was without form and void; and darkness was on the face of the waters.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light, Genesis 1:1-3 NKJV.

Though they are directly and categorically opposed to the thought of this age, and they are categorically opposed and denied by the thought of this age, these verses in the first chapters of Genesis are some of the most profound verses in Scripture.  In broad brush strokes, they give us the picture of the creation of this world and the universe it sits in and lay the groundwork for understanding the moral and spiritual chaos that surrounds us in this year of our Lord 2019.

There is a lot of discussion about these verses, even among Christians.

What does it mean, for example, that “the earth was without form and void”?

Some have tried to answer this and to make room for the millions of years required by the theory of evolution, by translating this clause, “the earth became dark and void,” or empty.  These folks, known as “old earth creationists,” hold to the view the earth is indeed millions of years old.  They advance the idea that the earth underwent some catastrophe by which it became “dark and void.”  Doing so, they think they are believing the Bible while giving science the place it deserves.

Though they likely disagree with me on this, they are wrong.

On both counts.

The earth isn’t millions of years old, and there was no “catastrophe”.

Genesis 1:2 simply describes this planet as it came from the mind and word of God before anything had been done to it.  It was “dark” because there was as yet no light.  It was “void” or empty because God had not yet done anything to it.  It was, as it were, a lump of clay in the Potter’s hand, waiting to be molded by His skill and purpose, except for the fact that when He made the heavens and the earth, there was nothing “in His hand,” no pre-existent material for Him to work with.  He made everything ex nihilo, that is, out of nothing.

As for the “age” of the earth, the Lord Jesus placed the creation of Adam and Eve at the beginning of creation, not as a result of countless ages of “upward” development from an amoeba, Matthew 19:4, but by a direct act of God.  God Himself said that it took Him six days to do all that He wanted to do, Exodus 20:11.

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

It’s a foolish thing to try to understand God by looking at how humans do things, though we do that way too often.  I guess it could be said that I’m doing that in this post.  None of us can create by simply saying something.  And, no, this isn’t the same thing as asking Alexa to turn on the lights for you.  I’ve never sculpted or worked with clay.  I have done calligraphy and, in this case, do know something about laying out work that needs to be done.

So, when the Spirit of God was looking things over, if I can put it like that, was He laying out the basic design for this world?  The Americas here, Europe here, Africa there.  This flower and that bee.  These animals and that locale.  We do know from Scripture that the history of this ball of dirt has been laid out already, so why not its geography?

There are no “accidents” in this world.  Every rock, every clod of dirt, every tree, is right where it’s supposed to be.  As I’ve written before, there are no erasers on God’s pencils.

With this viewpoint, the question often arises, did God “put in” evil? Lord willing, we’ll deal with this difficulty, Lord willing, when we get to Adam and Eve, but for now, did He “put in” evil in the same sense that He put in the rock and the tree?  No.  On the other hand, as some teach, did evil catch Him by surprise?  Also, no.  Did it “mess up” His planning, so that He had to go to “Plan B”?  Absolutely NOT!!

But there is another, much worse, kind of darkness –

There is the darkness of moral evil, of sin.

This other kind of “darkness” has nothing to do with the presence or absence of physical light.  Proverbs 2:13, 14 refers to those who leave the paths of uprightness, To walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice in doing evil…, emphasis added.

It is a darkness in which all of us have walked, and perhaps are still walking:  for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.  For there is not a just man on earth who does good And does not sin, Ecclesiastes 7:20.

This is God’s description of us.

This does not mean that we’re all as bad as we could be.  All of us can think of some who are worse (in our estimation) than we are.  It means that we’re not as good as we should be.  And we’re certainly not holy, harmless and undefiled as Hebrews describes the Lord Jesus.

There’s another agent at work in all this, as well.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul wrote, But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do no believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them, vs. 3, 4.

“The god of this age.”

A lot of people deny any such being as Satan, but Scripture speaks of him from the Garden of Eden clear to that future time when he will finally be cast into the Lake of Fire, never again to interfere in the world of men, Genesis 3; Revelation 20:10.

But he’s the one behind the plethora of cults, false religions, false beliefs and the moral chaos in our culture.  He wants no one even to look at that book which foretells his ultimate doom and wants to take as many as possible with him to that place of torment.  So he does all he can to counteract the clear witness of the Word of God.

What better way than to present a counterfeit worldview in which the idea of “God” has no place at all?  Evolution has no place for God.  From the beginning, with its incomprehensible belief in a hot blob of something which blew up, to the idea that we’ve all just evolved, hit-or-miss, with no purpose or reason, evolution has presented us with that counterfeit.

But that counterfeit won’t do us any good when we stand before God, as we all will, every one of us.  No exceptions.  There’s only one currency, if you will, that can pay for sin and grant entrance into eternal bliss.  That payment is the one made by the Lord Jesus on the Cross.  That death is the reason He was born.  The only reason.

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.”

Voices of Christmas: The Promise

Beginning with this post and going throughout the month of December, Lord willing, we plan to do a series of posts on “the voices of Christmas.”  This will have nothing to do with Santa or Rudolph, but will look at both the Old and New Testaments to see what they might have to say about this time.  It will by no means be an exhaustive look at the season through the eyes of Scripture.  We just want to focus some attention on what it’s really all about.

In Genesis 3:15, the Lord said to Satan, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

It really struck me for the first time as I was just reading this verse that God gave the first promise of redemption, at least that we have any record of, to the one who made it necessary, namely, the Devil.  I know many refuse to accept the Genesis record as anything more than an allegory or a myth or just the ignorant thinking of primitive people, with no more historical reality or value than Santa himself.  I can’t help that.  Such people probably won’t pay any more attention to what I have to say about it than they do to what the Scripture says about it.

We’re not given a lot of detail about what happened, just enough to know that it did and the results of Adam’s foolish act.  No doubt, Satan thought he had foiled God’s plan for humans.  He knew what happened when one disobeyed God; he’d experienced it himself.  He probably thought that if he could get Adam and Eve to disobey, that God would judge them, as well.  

He was half right.

Satan knew about God’s justice, but he didn’t know anything about God’s grace and mercy.

Adam and Eve did disobey and God did judge them  Adam was given increased labor and so was Eve, although of a different kind.  Their paradise was closed to them and they were thrown out of their home.  We have no record that they ever had fellowship with God like they had enjoyed before their sin.

However, though He judged them, God didn’t disown them, like He had Satan, or destroy them.  He clothed them with coats of skin, thus foreshadowing the truth of redemption: that sinners can only live through the sacrifice of an innocent substitute.

This, then, was the promise to Satan – that instead of destroying God’s purpose, he had simply turned it against himself.  God would do for humanity what He wouldn’t do for angels, namely, provide redemption for them.  Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.  …For verily, he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham, Hebrews 2:14, 16 (KJV).  Though Satan would successfully “bruise the heel” of the coming Seed of the woman, that would only serve to “bruise”, or crush, his own head.

In the midst of the shambles and ruin of our first parents’ first sin came also the first promise of redemption:  the first “voice of Christmas”.

The First “Bible Study”

Genesis 3:1-4

It’s interesting to me that the first “Bible study” in Scripture was initiated by Satan.  Granted, Adam and Eve didn’t have “Scripture” as we understand it, but they still had words God had given them – and I don’t suppose that we have a complete record of everything that was said.

Anyway, the tactics Satan used were so successful, as he thought, that he’s used them ever since in his attacks against the Word of God.

1.  Doubt.

“has God said,….”? (NKJV)  The NASB has it, “Indeed, has God said,…?”

So, we hear:

“The Bible was written long after the events it supposedly tells about.”
“The Bible was just written by a bunch of priests to oppress the people.”
“Jesus never existed.”
“A God of love would never do that.”
“That’s just Paul’s Rabbinic prejudice showing through.”
“Paul took the teachings of Jesus and turned them into something Jesus never intended.”
Etc., etc.

We might ask a question ourselves.  Why DID God give the restriction against the one tree?  There are several reasons.  The main one, I think, was to remind Adam, though he was, in effect, lord of all he surveyed, was to remind him that he was still just a creature, and as such, was to obey his Creator.  This was a very simple restriction, nevertheless.  Some will say that the most important reason was so that Adam could have a choice.  That is also true.  Adam and Eve were the only human beings who ever truly had anything approaching “free will.”  They knew nothing of evil.  They had no sin in themselves, and their wills hadn’t yet been corrupted by the Fall.  If anything, they were disposed toward good, that being all they knew.  Still, God didn’t create robots or puppets.  The final reason for the prohibition was what happened whey they did eat of that tree.

2.  Distortion.

Satan presented God command negatively:  …you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?  That’s not at all what God said.  In 1:29, He said to them, “See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; for you it shall be for food.”  In 2:16, 17, we have more of the conversation, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat; for in the day you eat of it you shall surely die.” 

Adam and Eve were given a whole world as their pantry.  Everything was theirs for the enjoying, except one lone tree.  But Satan focused on that one tree, as if that prohibition were the whole conversation.

So, today, people have the idea of Christianity that it’s all about giving up fun and good times.  It’s all dreary church services and long faces.  As one man told me, “God forbids all the things we want to do.”

The Scripture says that God gives us all things richly to enjoy, 1 Timothy 6:17.  The Christian has found that to be so, and that all the things the world enjoys, those “good times”, just last for a while, cf. Hebrews 11:25.  When they are over, they leave in their place only heartache, headache, and life-ache, to say nothing of their eternal consequences.

3.  Deviation – although this was Eve.

She added “touching” to God’s command.  Here was the first legalism – the first “list” of “don’t”.  Some have suggested that this was Adam’s idea.  Who knows?  Perhaps it was just to “protect” God’s Word, to make it less likely to disobey.  Still, it was presumption, as if the Word itself weren’t enough.

4.  Denied.

“You shall not die,…”  A blatant denial of God’s plain statement.

But you can’t just deny God’s Word; you put something in its place, which leads us to

5.  Dismissed.

Satan gave a totally different meaning and message that what God had given.  He said that not only would they not die, but that they would become godlike themselves.  The idea is implicit that they wouldn’t need God, they could decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, what is good or evil.

He neglected to mention that they would become powerless to do good, at least as God defines it, and programmed, as it were, to do only evil – again, as God defines it.

Mankind today, even though it may deny any such being as a devil, has certainly bought into his lie.  Pornography, abortion, marriage equality, immorality of all kinds, violence, bloodshed, the list could go on and on.  Greed and injustice in business.  Political malfeasance on all levels.  Deceit, false advertising – “this product will make you look young and beautiful.”  Why don’t such advertisers use models who aren’t already “young and beautiful”?  Youngsters killing each other.  On and on.  The Bible has pretty much been thrown out, and the devil’s lie put into its place.  With pretty much the same result as the first time it happened.

Because

as much as man denies it,

The wages of sin is death, Romans 3:23.