Tag Archives: laws of nature

Peter’s Reaction

Studies in First Peter

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1 ESV)

Luke 5:1-11

Peter witnessed a miracle. Jesus told Peter to fish in a place and at a time Peter knew there would be no fish. Some have suggested Jesus saw a shoal of fish just out in deep water. He saw the fish but the trained eyes of the fishermen standing with Him could not see them because of their exhaustion. Yet, the phenomena of actually catching fish, so many their nets were breaking, suggests not quick observance but a control over nature. One of the characteristics of the image of God in man is dominion. God gave Adam, and Adam’s progeny, dominion over the earth. God’s image in the people He created is not degraded and perverted. The vessel which carries the image is corrupted. Jesus, fully Man and fully God, exercised His dominion over the earth and the animals of the earth and the fish of the sea.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28 ESV).

A miracle is an extraordinary action of God showing His control over the laws of nature. God developed and put the laws of nature in place. He suspends the laws of nature, for a moment, at His discretion, which to us is a miracle. It was not ordinary for the fish caught by Peter and his fellows to be where they were at that time in in that place. They were brought there by the will of God and His dominion over creation. Jesus, by exercising His control over nature for the benefit of those He wishes to bless, gives evidence that He is God in the flesh.

Peter did not know the depth or all of the implications of what occurred. He did know he was in the presence of a Man who just did something supernatural. Jesus was different. He was in the presence of holiness. His reaction was appropriate for the circumstance. Aware of his sinfulness, Peter wanted only for Jesus to go away. People, Peter included, are too comfortable with their sin. They want to sin and ignore the consequences. Jesus does not allow any to ignore sin. Having assuaged his guilt with ignorance, Peter is confronted with the living God and can no longer ignore either his sin or guilt.

But, Peter really didn’t want Jesus to leave. Every person, including Peter, faces a dichotomy when they suddenly realize they are in the presence of Christ. Peter fell before Jesus and declared his own sinfulness. “But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ‘Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord’” (Luke 5:8 ESV). The visual implication of the passage is Peter is on his knees before Jesus, holding on to Him in worship, afraid for his life, asking Him to leave while giving himself to the Man.

In Scripture there are many examples of people who became fully aware of being in God’s presence. When Isaiah suddenly found himself in God’s presence his reaction, like Peter, was a declaration of his sinfulness. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5 ESV). Ezekiel, when he realized he was in God presence, fell on his face so he would not have to look at God. “Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell on my face, and I heard the voice of one speaking” (Ezekiel 1:28 ESV). John, Peter’s fishing partner, at the end of his life, saw Jesus and fell at His feet as though dead. “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:17 ESV). Peter reacted to Jesus like He was God.

Before a person can repent they must acknowledge the truth of sin in themselves and in the world in which they live. Then they must accept their guilt before a righteous God. Peter declared himself sinful, which means wicked, stained with specific crimes and personal vices. Peter declared he was devoted to sin and not worthy to be in God’s presence. He knew he could not stand before God because of his rebellious nature. Like Job, who found himself speaking to God, he despised himself. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6 ESV).

All in the group were astonished at what occurred. All heard Jesus’ words. All followed His command. “For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon” (Luke 5:9-10 ESV). Only Peter fell at Jesus’ knees, worshipping Him. Only Peter declared himself sinful and wanted Jesus to leave, afraid for his life. The others were astonished at their catch, but only Peter acted appropriately awestruck, like Isaiah and Ezekiel, and finally John toward the end of his life.

Peter’s individual reaction to Jesus’ dominion over nature is only the first of many. He becomes a leader of the disciples because of his actions and reaction toward Jesus.

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Separation

Meditations on the Psalms

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; (Psalm 1:6 ESV)

God gives another parallel statement about the ultimate end of those, beginning with the Deceiver, who rebel against Him and do that which is unrighteous. Stand is a different word than used in the first verse and means to fix oneself, to endure, to validate and prove. Judgment is to stand before a court, to declare your case and receive the judgment and sentence. Congregation is a gathering and righteous means right, correct, justified.

Those who are wicked will not prevail as they present their case before God. Those who are sinners are not included in the community of those who are righteous before God. Since the basis for righteousness is identity with God the Son, Jesus Christ, nothing done by the righteous qualify them for inclusion in the community of believers standing before God.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. … And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:12, 15 ESV)

God separates those who are righteous in Jesus Christ from those who disobey His command to follow Christ and continue in their rebellion and sin. Scripture is filled with separation. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of the Apocalypse, God continually separates from Himself those who rebel against Him. Yet, there is even more to separation, which seems like a normal function of the created universe.

In the beginning God separated light from darkness. He separated day from night. He separated waters from waters and the expanse above from the waters below. He separated one species from another, plants and trees and herbs, each with seed according to its kind. He separated animal from animal, fish and birds and the beasts of the field and the livestock. He separated seasons from seasons. He separated Man from the rest of creation, giving Man dominion over the earth.

He made a garden and placed Man in the garden and told him to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lest he be separated from both physical and spiritual life. When man rebelled, God separated Adam and Eve from Himself, from the garden and from each other. He separated Cain from his family when he murdered his brother. He separated Noah from the rest of humanity, whom He then put to death in a flood.

He separated out Abraham, then Isaac then Jacob. He separated out Moses and Joshua. He separated Israel from the rest of the people of the earth, not because Israel was special but because through the people of Israel would come His Son. He separated out David from his brothers, Solomon and the line of Judah. He separated the northern kingdom from the southern kingdom, then He separated the northern kingdom from Israel forever.

He separated out His Son, the disciples, the Church from the world.

Scripture is filled with separations. It is no wonder Psalms begins with a hard separation between the righteous and the wicked.

Separation is a spiritual and eternal principle, woven into the spiritual laws of eternity and natural laws of the physical universe.

River Eden

Studies in Genesis 2

A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. (Genesis 2:10 ESV)

Eden was watered by an unnamed stream. From this stream came four named rivers. God determined the names of the rivers and tells us but He does not give us a name for the stream which watered Eden. We do not know the exact location of the Garden of Eden nor of the rivers God mentions.

God, created the universe and the Earth to operate within specific laws, obviously placed the Garden of Eden high in altitude. The stream He used to water the Garden was the headwaters for four rivers. We cannot know for certain but the stream probably began as a spring or series of springs gushing out of the side of a mountain, growing as other streams merged with it finally breaking off into four directions. With this stream God watered the entire Garden.

“Watered” means to drink or irrigate. Every living creature, whether flora or fauna, needs water to survive and flourish. On the second and third day of creation God made an atmosphere for the planet then collected the waters on the face of the earth in low areas making oceans and seas. Yet, He also made rivers and streams to water the ground, for the next day He would create all the plants, herbs and trees. He surrounded the earth with an atmosphere and covered the earth with vegetation. While He could have easily sustained life through His will, He instead created an environment to sustain life. Most probably, the whole earth was well watered and filled with vegetable life. And the water was pure.

While God planted a Garden, a paradise named Eden, in the East, we can surmise He desired the entire planet would be a paradise. Relative to the small stature of Man, the Earth is huge, and God did not just dump Man somewhere but gave him a home. His home was filled with every kind of tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food. He had pure water to drink, delicious food, and a comfortable and beautiful home. People were blessed to fill the earth and subdue it.

Eden had physical boundaries though probably not surveyed and marked with signs that said “leaving the Garden of Eden.” Perhaps the boundaries were physical mountains surrounding a large valley with an opening through which the river flowed. We do not know and we should not allow our imaginations to dictate an unverifiable perception of reality. However, Eden was a true place with a true geography, filled with real trees and plants. An actual river flowed from Eden. God placed a real, historical Man in that Garden. Though we cannot state emphatically what Eden looked like we can use our imaginations to help us understand. Trying to imagine eternity and heaven is futile. Imagining the Garden of Eden is not because we can go to places and see and experience what may have been. Eternity is an unimaginable paradise.

As the river of Eden flowed out of the Garden it split into four rivers. God does not concentrate on Eden to the exclusion of the rest of the Earth. As the plants and animals, and especially people, reproduce, multiple and fill the Earth God readies the earth for His complete blessing.

General and Special Revelation

Studies in Genesis 1

And it was so. (Genesis 1:30 ESV)

God makes Himself known to those seeking to know Him. We must look at the evidence of God’s work in creation. More importantly, we must listen to what He says in Scripture.

God shows Himself in general and in special revelation. Revelation is an act of God where He partially shows Himself to those given the ability to see Him and to know, both intellectually and intimately, truth. However, He has hidden Himself because of sin, covering Himself in mystery. Yet all people, created in His image, are given the tools needed to know God. Sin does not destroy the given image of God but does corrupt the vessel containing the image. Man is corrupted, unwilling and unable to know Him but still having the image of God which drives them toward Him.

General revelation is God showing Himself through nature, history and the individual’s conscience. God’s creation shows His work and the intricacy and intelligence of His mind and heart. History shows the direction of God’s continued involvement in the lives of those He created in His image. Conscience directs the attention of the individual toward Him and His moral law. Yet, sin has corrupted Man’s desire to see God in nature, history and especially in conscience. We hate Him therefore we want to not see Him in anything.

In special revelation God speaks specific truths about Himself none could or would know unless He decides to tell. He reveals Himself and His eternal characteristics we could not otherwise know. He tells us about Himself though Scripture. Yet, there are many statements in Scripture which are not about Him but about creation, history and the individuals created in His image.

Genesis chapter one is special revelation. Had He said nothing we could surmise, from studying creation, God’s existence. God tells us creation operates according to the laws of nature He devised and put in place. Creation works the way He wants it to work. Our place is to study creation to know Him. We do not get to ignore the evidence of general revelation simply because it does not fit our idea of special revelation. Nor do we get to ignore special revelation because it does not seem to fit general revelation.

An illustration, even an imperfect illustration, is in order. An event happened in the mid-20th century known as the Holocaust. There is substantial evidence the Holocaust occurred and those who deny it happened are not viewed as having all their reasoning abilities in place. I lived in Europe in the 1960’s when I was a child, yet old enough to see and remember the evidence of what had happened 20 years earlier. I was not part of it but saw the evidence. I stood on the concrete slabs and peered into the ovens. I saw the pictures and read the words. You could say I was exposed to the general revelation of the Holocaust.

I know a man who, when he was a child, lived in the Lodz ghetto, went in a cattle car with a hundred others to Auschwitz where he and his father were separated and sent to Dachau. They were liberated and he came to the United States. He was there. I have helped him publish six books on the Holocaust. He and thousands of other survivors give first-hand accounts, special revelation, about the Holocaust. Will their first-hand accounts cease to have value or tell the truth after they are dead?

God does not die so His special revelation is of eternal consequence. God tells us about Himself because He only knows Himself. God tells us what happened in Genesis 1 because He only was there. We must carefully and prayerfully study His words and study creation. More important is our desire to know God intimately.

Food

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30 ESV)

God is the Creator of life and everything created. God is the Sustainer of life. God governs and gives purpose to life. He created light on the first day and the sun, moon and stars on the fourth. He created a habitable planet on the second day and plant life on the third. His universe is orderly and operates under specific laws determined and emplaced by Him.

On the fifth day God created the sea creatures and the birds of the air. On the sixth day He created the land dwelling creatures. He created Man in His image. Man stands apart from all other created life on Earth.

God gave Man food. Every “plant yielding seed” and “every tree with seed in its fruit” was food for Man. Nothing God designated as food was poisonous or would hurt Man. Man was to rule over and govern life, the sea creatures, the birds of the air and all animal life dwelling on dry land. Man was originally created as an herbivore, not a carnivore.

God also says “everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” Does this mean all life capable of eating ate only vegetation? It wasn’t until the sixth day God designated food for the animals created on the fifth day. Did they not eat until the sixth day?

It is my opinion a “day” in God’s calendar of the first week is a period of time but is not a literal 24 hours. Though He created time when He created space He did not set the Sun and Moon and the days and seasons until the fourth day. Though God certainly could have created everything in a literal 144 hours I do not believe He did. The physical evidence, including the speed of light, suggests He created all over an unimaginably long period of time. God is not constrained by time. He was there and tells us what He did but does not give us blow by blow details. We are given, by God, the faculty to observe and examine and draw reasonable conclusions about what He did based upon both general and special revelation. We can make reasonable assumptions. But we cannot tell God what He did and do not have the right to put words in His mouth.

Based on the evidence of my study of Scripture, observations and my own thoughts I believe we are in the sixth day. We are looking forward to His seventh day rest. In my opinion.

 

The Fifth Day

Studies in Genesis

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, the fifth day. (Genesis 1:20-23 ESV)

By the end of the fifth day God accomplished everything He determined to do up to that time. An environment is in place made to sustain the living plants and creatures He created and to provide all of the food needed for life. He always perfectly finishes what He begins.

Over what appears as a long period of time God creates life that breaths, moves and flies. Previously, on the third day, He created plant life, flora, fruits and vegetables, grass and trees. Then, on day four, He created the Sun and Moon, the greater light to govern the day and the lesser to govern the night. On fifth day He created some animal life, fauna, the sea creatures and the birds of the air.

Every living thing He created, and will create, filled the Earth, blessed with the natural ability to reproduce after its own kind. Each species of grass reproduces the same grass. So, too, each different species of vegetables and fruit tree are blessed, making more of the same. Plant life, as part of a life cycle, produces seeds which grows more of the same. So too, the sea creatures and the birds of the air reproduce after their own kind. A fish does not reproduce a bird, or that which is rooted reproduce that which moves, swims or flies.

All He has done is according to His eternal logic and design, in His power and strength. He established the laws of nature and of the universe according to His eternal determination. Our comprehension of His laws suggests a different order of events. For example, the solar system needed to be in place before life on earth could self-create. Plants need light and without a sun there is insufficient light. Yet, on day one God tells us He created light. Combined with the atmosphere He created on day two, this light and environment was sufficient to sustain plant life He created on day three.

Another example is the fossil record, which shows a great many land animals coming into existence somewhere between the first sea creature and the first flying bird. Most, if not all, of these land creatures are now extinct. Yet, sea creatures and creatures of the air, birds, are plentiful.

God does not give us a blow by blow with encyclopedia entries for any of His creation. He does tell us what He has done on each day in a broad, all encompassing way. We want to know exactly what happened so we can control Him. He told us what happened because He is in control, and we are not.

After Their Kind

Studies in Genesis 1

So God created the great sea creatures 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.” (Genesis 1:21-22 ESV)

God uses two terms in these verses to show how He has set up the natural order and the laws of nature to propagate each species to increase their numbers. He states that the sea creatures and the bird exist “according” or “after their kind” or “after its kind.”  He uses a word which means to sort or group according to form and likeness. This word is used only 31 times, all of which are in the Pentateuch, except for one instance in Ezekiel (47:10).

While there are swarms of creatures, large numbers filling the seas and sky, there are uncounted groups of like creatures. They are “after their kind.” Though God made a single human He made large numbers of each kind of creature.

Then God commanded these creatures “be fruitful and multiply.” He wanted them to fill the Earth with life. The emphasis of the words is the ability to produce offspring of their kind. We know now God created male and female of each species because He determined the way the animals would have offspring. He set up the natural system according to natural laws so the population of each species would increase naturally.

This may seem an obvious statement yet the current reaction to the way God introduced life on Earth rejects the evidence of His involvement so as to skew the natural order and reinterpret the natural laws. Yet, God’s work and the laws He established are minutely intricate, profoundly simple and point to Him as Creator.