Monthly Archives: October 2015

Fourth Day

Studies in Genesis 1

And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. (Gen 1:19 ESV)

On the first day of creation God said “let there be light” and “separated the light from darkness.” He declared light “good.” He called light “day” and darkness He named “night.”

On the fourth day of creation God created physical objects which, by their nature and according to the laws of nature, cast light throughout the universe. He created the stars. One of those stars He designated the “greater light to rule the day.” Our Sun came into existence. As Earth rotates on its axis and revolves around the Sun there are periods of time of light and darkness, of day and night.

Yet, He also created a “lesser light to rule the night.” This is our Moon which does not, according to its nature and the laws of the universe, generate light. Our Moon only reflects light from the Sun to Earth during specific times. But not all of the time do we see the reflection of the Moon, which revolves around the Earth but does not rotate on its axis.

Though we know some nights are darker than others yet there is always some light, dim and weak, reaching the surface of the Earth, from the stars of the universe.

We gaze upon the Moon and make its light romantic, for it chases away just enough of the darkness to allow us to faintly see that which surrounds us. We do not see clearly yet our imaginations fill in the blanks, most often with that which we want to see, not with that which is true.

No one gazes at the Sun. Its light is so intense it would burn eyes and blind. But we see what is truly there in the light of the Sun. Nothing is hidden. All is laid bare.

On the fourth day God gave a means to measure time, though “days and years” and “seasons” of the year. “Season” is an appointed time which occurs on a schedule at the same time each year and which signals a specific activity or occurrence. Once night has come day follows, for day follows night as night follows day. Once a season has begun it will come to an end and the next season will begin, each season following in succession. Time moves and never repeats.

At the evening of the fourth day all is in place, prepared for what will come with the dawning of the fifth day. God’s purpose and plans for Earth are sure and unstoppable, true and open for all to see and know.

 

Reality

Studies in Genesis 1

And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:16-18 ESV)

Our universe, the universe which God created and in which we exist and live, is filled with real, physical places. Though no one will ever see these places they exist and move according to the universal laws of nature dictated by God. His laws are not different, nor work differently, from one place in the universe to another. They are the same throughout.

Heaven is just as real as the universe. It is a place not defined by physical laws but by spiritual laws. As with the physical universe God determines and dictates the spiritual laws of eternity. Just as the physical universe shows the evidence of God’s handiwork so the physical laws shows the evidence of the spiritual laws of eternity. Yet, we cannot test and prove the spiritual laws of eternity as we can the physical laws. We must rely upon God’s special revelation for our information about eternity. He does not answer the thousands of questions we have.

Eternity is outside of time and has no physical boundaries. There are no days in eternity. Light in eternity comes from God. Yet, there is darkness. There is in eternity a real place filled with darkness. Hell is a real place governed by the spiritual laws of God which govern eternity.

Even in eternity God separates light from darkness. We are told in Scripture, that God judges those who rebel against Him, those who are “cursed”, which means tried, convicted and sentenced for crimes against God. Their sentence is eternal separation from Him. Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels’” (Mat 25:41 ESV).

It is the fourth day. God has created life. Yet, there is a hint of death in creation, found in the separation of light from darkness. His purpose transcends the physical and fills the eternal.

 

Equilibrium

Studies in Genesis 1

And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.(Genesis 1:16-18 ESV)

God created stars and planets. I am stating the obvious but we tend to ignore the reality and immensity of these objects. They are real places. They are far away. Yet, they must be there to maintain the balance of the universe.

Within close proximity to the Earth, which by the fourth day is covered in vegetation, God placed a “greater light” the Sun, “to rule the day” and a “lesser light,” the Moon, “to rule the night.” God placed the greater light in the center of the solar system with all of the planets revolving around it. He placed the lesser light an orbit near Earth.

Earth revolves once every 24 hours on its axis around the Sun. As the Earth revolves part of the planet is facing the Sun receiving its light while the other part is facing away from the Sun. This does not mean the part facing away is in total darkness. God placed the Moon, which revolves around the Earth once every 28 days, to reflect the light of the Sun. He also placed in the heavens the stars which also give light to that part of the Earth facing away from the Sun.

While the Sun emits light the Moon only reflects the light which bounces off its surface from the Sun. The Moon is a dead chunk of matter. Yet God placed it in the heavens to reflect light from the Sun onto the Earth, along with the stars, so there would not be complete darkness. He created day and night, just as He created darkness and light.

Our solar system is in equilibrium, everything placed exactly where it will provide the most stability to Earth to maintain life.

Equilibrium is a law of nature. God determined, from the creation of all matter, that His universe would balance. God made the universe stable. Even though everything in the universe is constantly moving the movement is within a system and along a path determined by God. The forces which cause movement are countered by the forces moving against the object.

Nothing God does is random or arbitrary. Everything He creates has purpose and is governed by God, the Creator.

Create and Fashion

Studies in Genesis 1

And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:16-18 ESV)

God uses the word “separate” to draw a distinction between light and darkness, just as He did on the first day. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness” (Gen 1:4 ESV). HE also “separated” water from water (Gen. 1:6), that is, He separated the water needed for life from that liquid hostile to life. Our word “separate” is two Hebrew words, bâdal bêyn, which is to divide or distinguish between.

God draws a division and distinction between the light and darkness, the light of day and the darkness of night. This separation of light from darkness is a theme throughout Scripture.

God created both light and darkness. He tells us this in Genesis and again in Isaiah. “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things” (Isaiah 45:7 ESV).

To form means to mold, as potters molds and form clay. To create means to cut down, select and make or fashion. God forms like a potter both light and well-being, which is peace. He also selects and fashions darkness, which may mean a combination of misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness, calamity or that which is bad.

Is God saying He is the author of both light and peace, and of death and evil? It would seem so. Here is what the Gospel of John says about Jesus, the Christ.

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:3-5 ESV)

Do not jump to conclusions. God gives life but also takes it away, bringing death. That He does this is theologically sound. Why He does this, gives life and death, is a theological mystery which requires a lifetime of examination and intimacy with God.

Time

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14-15 ESV) And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.(Genesis 1:16-18 ESV)

God created time when He created the universe. Time is not a thing. It has no material substance, no form and no shape. You cannot touch time. Yet, time is as real as anything we can touch. Our imaginations suggest time can bend or, in some way, be manipulated. These notions are theories, philosophical science fictions, considered possible, because we think anything we conceive is possible.

God placed lights in the heavens for us, to help us measure time. He tells us twice that on the fourth day He placed lights in the sky so we can know the seasons, days and years. These lights give light to the earth. They also separate darkness from light.

We often associate light with speed and think, in some cases believe, moving fast will allow us to move back in time, or forward in time faster.

God governs time, just as He governs all of creation. He has set time as a boundary, a natural law which cannot be broken. This does not mean we should not study to understand time or experiment with time to grow our understanding. It does mean we should take care to never remove God from the equation of our studies and experiments.

Since God transcends the universe He exists outside of time. When He looks at us He perceives all of time at once, knows all which occurs in time perfectly, sees the beginning and the ending of time. Existing outside of time does not mean He is uninvolved. God created and sustains the universe and all which exists for as long as He has determined it will exist.

God governs all which exists, including time.

God Only Sustains Life

An Essay on John 4:46-54 

So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.”

The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.”

Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. (John 4:46-50 ESV)

Even though Jesus regularly performed miracles, John identified only a handful as signs. His first sign was done at a wedding in Cana, a day’s walk from Capernaum. While at the wedding, Jesus turned water into wine. He did something only God could do. He created one thing out of another thing. Water is made from three atoms, two are hydrogen and one is oxygen (H2O). Water is essential for life but is not itself life. Wine comes from grapes which are the seed of grapevines, which are life. Jesus took that which was not alive and created a product of that which is alive. Only God can create one thing from another.

His second sign was healing a royal official’s son, who was on the verge of death. Jesus sustained the boy’s life. Only God can sustain life.

This man came to Jesus begging Him to come with him and heal his son. He had travelled a day to get to Jesus, walking or riding over twenty miles. Jesus’ response sounds like a rebuke. Still, the man pleads with Jesus to come but Jesus does not go. He sent him away with the assurance his son would live. Returning home the next day the official discovers his son is healed. At the exact time Jesus said the boy would live the fever killing him broke and he started getting better. Because of this miracle of healing the royal official’s whole house, everyone within his family including servants, believed Jesus.

Who this royal official was is never indicated in the passage. He was not himself royal but worked for or was related to royalty. In that area Herod was the only royal official we know of at that time. We also know that “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager” (Luke 8:3 ESV) provided for Jesus and His disciples “out of their means.” Was it Joanna’s son who was healed by Jesus after Chuza journeyed from Capernaum to Cana to fetch Him? We do not know. Chuza was a royal official and his wife, Joanna, followed Jesus.

Was Jesus’ comment, “unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe” truly a rebuke? Jesus did more than heal people. He taught them about God and how they should live for God. He demonstrated God’s love for them by more than miracles. He didn’t just heal lepers. He touched them and healed them. He didn’t just talk to people. He ate with “tax collectors and sinners” (see Luke 7:34). He is much more than a performer of miracles and wonders. He associated with those the righteous Jews considered under God’s wrath. He came because they were under God’s wrath.

Are Jesus’ words a rebuke? In Cana, at the wedding, His mother came to Him and told Him there was no more wine. Jesus’ response to her appears as a rebuke to our western ears and mindset, but actually was not. His mother knew what He was capable of but He would not let her control His timing and actions. He traveled around the nation, going to Jerusalem and returning to Galilee. Again in Cana, Jesus is surrounded by a multitude of Galilean’s who had watched Him in Jerusalem during the feast. “So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast” (John 4:45 ESV). When the official, the father of the dying son, asked Jesus to come Jesus spoke to everyone present, including the royal official, the Galileans and His disciples.

One of the implications of this observation by John was Jesus had performed other miracles and healings while at the feast in Jerusalem. John tells us “now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing” (John 2:23 ESV). Jesus did more than drive the money-changers out of the temple or predict His death and resurrection. He healed people. John does not tell us about those healings but the people who traveled from Galilee saw them and mobbed Jesus when He returned.

Most probably the royal official had seen Jesus heal someone or heard He performed miracles. His son was dying and he reckoned Jesus could save him. So he traveled a day on a desperate mission to find Jesus and persuade Him to come and heal, like He had done in Jerusalem.

Jesus’ statement is not a rebuke but a statement of fact. Knowing the hearts of those surrounding Him He told them why they were there. They had seen miracles. They wanted to see more miracles. For them Jesus was entertainment. Yet, there was a part of Jesus’ statement that thrust a verbal blade to the tender core of their motivation. Unless they saw more miracles they would not continue to believe Jesus. Once He stopped performing miracles they would leave and find something else to tickle their senses.

He heard Jesus say these words to the crowd. We do not know how many people Jesus healed that day. We know He was in Cana. We know the people there had seen and heard Jesus do wonders. But, this man was not there to watch Jesus perform. He was there to beg Jesus to come and heal his son. Perhaps he was grasping at the last possibility, desperate to do something which would help his son live. He was a day away from home, constantly aware of the suffering his wife and family were enduring as they watched a loved-one die. He was not there for entertainment but to bring his last hope back.

But, maybe the words were for him. We think Jesus has to be present to work. Present as we demand present. Tangibly present. Though Jesus is fully man, those around could touch Him, He is fully God, untouchable by anything sinful. “So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.’” Unless you can touch the tangible evidence of a miracle you will not have faith. Jesus uses the word pisteuo, which means to believe the evidence and trust the object which did the deed that left the evidence behind. Yet, there is an implication in pisteuo of obedience. There must be action as well as intellectual assent and emotional acceptance. Unless you see you will not actively believe. And even if you see you may only believe for a while and then forget and stop believing.

“Sir, come down before my child dies.” He believed Jesus could heal his son. He did not believe Jesus could do anything after the child died. But, before he died, Jesus can do a miracle.

Jesus knows Himself. He also knows the heart of the father standing before Him and the deepest motivation of all those standing around waiting for Him to do something spectacular. Faith is a moment by moment link to God. Even when there are many moments when it seems there is no connection there are still a few moments of faith with a firm and solid connection. God knows Himself. Where we waver He never falters.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.”

When God speaks what He speaks happens. He spoke creation into being. He spoke light. He spoke the separation of waters from dry land. He spoke life and life covered the planet. When He changed water into wine He didn’t speak to the water but to the servants who knew the difference between water for washing and water for drinking. And they drew out water which became the finest wine.

Jesus spoke to the father of a dying son. Go home. Start now. Your son will not die but will live. I can visualize the father staring into the eyes of Jesus through tears and fear and seeing in those eyes certainty and truth. So he turned and went home. He pistueo, believed the evidence of Jesus’ works and words and emotionally trusted Jesus as the object and walked his faith home in obedience. He would walk home the rest of that day, spend a night somewhere and finish walking home the next.

As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. (Joh 4:51-54 ESV)

But the story doesn’t end with a healed son and a comforted father. He was met by other servants before he arrived home. They came to him bearing news. His son was well and would live. When Jesus spoke to the father the previous day his son immediately began to get well. “The fever left him.” His son had an infection and his body was fighting it and losing. Jesus spoke and the infection ceased. At a specific time the fever broke. When he arrived home and told his story, about meeting Jesus and what Jesus said, his family and those bond-servants in his household believed, pisteou, also.

What did they believe? Did they believe Jesus could heal over distance? He can. Did they believe Jesus’ teaching? If I am right, the wife of Chuza, the head of Herod’s household, began following Jesus and providing for Him and His disciples out of her means. She probably would not do this without her husband’s approval. They believed the evidence of Jesus’ words and works and trusted Him showing their faith through their actions and obedience. There is more to this story but we do not have all of the facts. We have enough.

“This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee” (John 4:54 ESV). Jesus did many miracles, healed many people, even raising some from death before His resurrection. Yet, John identifies this healing as “the second sign” with the first sign the changing of water into wine at the wedding in Cana.

As with His first sign, Jesus here does only that which God is able. At the wedding He created something out of something else. Here, He sustains life. Facing eminent death Jesus spoke and death fled. Yes, the wine eventually ran out. Yes, the boy, and his family, would face death and finally die. But John is telling us about who Jesus is and why we should believe, trust and obey Him. Jesus did that which only God can do. He took upon Himself our sin and covered us with His righteousness. He took us, dead in sin, separated from God, and recreated us, giving us life He will sustain for eternity. Only God can do this.

To Know Him

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14-15 ESV)

We were not present during creation. We were not observing God separate the waters from the dry land and then cover the land with life. At God’s command life sprang into existence. He covered the earth with life. Each plant reproduces according to God’s predetermined will. Earth is surrounded and enveloped by light. There is no darkness.

God’s determined laws of nature are perfectly defined, fixing all existence into its specific place. He places the heavenly bodies in a perfect pattern in the firmament, in the heavens. He created an atmosphere and a wide variety of plant life placed in a perfect environment to thrive.

Our Sun is just the right size and the earth is just the right distance away to sustain life. Too close and all life burns and dies. Too far and all life freezes and dies. Our Earth revolves around the Sun, moving at the right speed, rotating on its axis at the right speed for life to live and grow and multiply. Too slow and we are flung into space and die. Too fast and we are crushed and die.

As the Earth spins on its axis and revolves around the Sun we have Day and Night, and the seasons. We see matter, space and time. God gave the means to explore our environment and His universe. He wants us to know Him by observing the evidence of His work.