Let’s Call It A Day

Screenshot (1048)

My Musings – What difference does a day make?  This is a question we should not take too “lightly.”

Screenshot (1050)

God Said – This phrase occurs repeatedly in the account of creation and means willed, decreed, or appointed. In each instance the spoken Word of God was followed by an immediate result. “I the LORD will speak what I will, and it shall be fulfilled without delay.” (Ezekiel 12:25).

Let There Be Light – The first thing God does is correct the darkness, for without light there is only chaos. The light was natural, physical light. Its creation was an immediate victory because it dispelled darkness. Light and darkness in the Bible are also symbolic of good and evil. Here began God’s work, which will culminate in the age to come when there will be no more darkness. “I am the LORD, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness.” (Isaiah 45:6-7).

The Light Was Good – The Hebrew word used here, tov, has a broad range of meaning but generally describes what is desirable, beautiful, or right. God is declaring that what He has created is good. “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19).

Separated Light From Darkness – The creation of light did not eliminate darkness, but rather was a separation of the light from the dark matter. On a macro-level, as the cosmos expanded following the “big bang,” the galaxies and stars that were formed grew further and further apart (separated), with the darkness of space in between. On a micro, level, with respect to the earth, the revolution of the earth on its axis, produced the ultimate separation between day and night. “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8-11).

Day and Night – The division of time into day and night represents one of God’s first acts in the ordering of creation. God is bringing order out of the initial chaos. It’s clear that in the Creation account there are distinct sequences and order. Chaos and randomness are rejected. “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalms 19:1-4).

Evening and Morning – The expression “evening and there was morning” specifies the length of a “day” (yom, in Hebrew). While the author may have meant a 24-hour day, less specific interpretations are possible. The Hebrew word yom can refer to a 24-hour cycle [day and night, one revolution of the earth on its axis], the daylight hours [“God called light day”], or an unspecified future “someday.” The meaning of the word, though, does not settle the debate over whether the passage references a literal six-day creation or symbolic days. In addition, while the sun (which marks the change from evening to morning) was not created until the fourth day, presumably the earth was already spinning on its axis for the one revolution that came to mark our days. Following are some of the more prominent explanations for what is meant by “day.”

Literal 24-Hour Days – The days described in Genesis are literally 24-hour periods of time. This is indicated by the phrase “evening and morning” and the coupling of the Hebrew word yom with a number (e.g. “the first day”).

Day/Age – The days of Genesis are a chronological description of the remote past, where each “day” corresponds to a long period of time (e.g., the geologic time periods, eras or epochs).

Progressive Creation – Creation occurred over six 24-hour days, each of which was separated by long periods of time allowing His creation to “be fruitful and multiply.”
Literary Framework – The days of Genesis do not describe a linear sequence of 24-hour days. The first chapter of Genesis conveys a structured outline of creation activity where the description of days 1, 2, and 3 conceptually parallel days 4, 5, and 6. Days 1–3 are preparatory to the acts of days 4–6.  Charles Pfeiffer (The Biblical World, Baker) suggests this pattern:

Work of Dividing                                   Works of Adorning
1st: light                                                     4th: sun, moon, stars
2nd: air and sea                                       5th: birds, fish
3rd: land, plants                                      6th: animals and man

Revelatory Days – The six days described in Genesis are 24-hour periods (more or less), but creation did not occur on those days. Rather, over the course of six days God revealed to the writer how He created the heavens and earth [perhaps like John received the Revelation when he was in the Spirit on the LORD’s “day?”].

Analogical – The six days of creation are an analogy for the normal human work week preceding the Sabbath.

Religious Polemic (Defense/Rebuttal) – The creation described in Genesis reflects ancient pre-scientific cosmology as understood by the ancients, and not the “science” understood by modern man. How one understands the days is less important than the actual purpose of the account, which is to assert that YAHWEH credited with the creation (defense), while discrediting the claims of rival deities (how we have come to revere science?) that are otherwise associated with the cosmology and its descriptive elements (rebuttal).

Appearance of Age – Simply stated, the idea of “creation with appearance of age” means that God created things to superficially look as if they had a been around for a while. For example, when Adam was created, he no doubt looked like a mature adult, fully able to walk, talk, care for the garden, etc. When God created fruit trees, they were already bearing fruit. In each case, what He created was functionally complete right from the start—able to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. Stars, created on Day Four, had to be seen to perform their purpose of usefulness in telling time; therefore, their light had to be visible on Earth right from the start. God’s proclamation that the completed creation was “very good” necessitated that it be functionally complete, operating in harmony, with each part fulfilling the purpose for which it was created.

Relative Days – Time is not absolute, or so said Albert Einstein. It is flexible. It can be stretched so it flows at different rates. But the different flows are only observable by comparing one flow of time relative to the other flow of time (relativity). Most people are aware that as speed increases, time slows down relative to time at slower speeds. Someone making a round trip to a distant planet traveling at the speed of light would age much slower than the loved ones he returned to. “For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.” (Psalms 90:4). Fewer people are aware that as space stretches (and along with it the light waves are also stretching), time also slows down, and the universe has stretched a lot since the “big bang.” “He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” (Isaiah 40;22)

So, how does this help reconcile 13.8 billion or so years to 6,000 or so years? Relative to God’s perspective (looking forward as the universe expanded), each day of creation was a literal 24-hour period. And it continued to be as He continued His creative work. Relative to man’s perspective (looking back on a universe that has expanded enormously) the collective six-days and the “earth” years that have since passed, the universe could very well be 13.8 billion or so years old [and 6,000 or so years old].

Regardless of which view one holds, there is no demonstrated conflict between creationism as it recorded in Genesis and scientific fact. The real conflict is not between God’s revelation in the Bible and scientific fact; it is between some interpretations of what the Bible says and the various scientific theories about the age of the heavens and the earth. In the end, these differences will be reconciled and “every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess” their Creator.

And these are but the outer fringe of His works;
how faint the whisper we hear of Him!” (Job 25:14)

My Advice – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (John 1:1-5, NIV 1984).  Accept the light.  It will be the best “day” of your life.

References

All Scripture references, unless otherwise indicated are from the New International Version, 1984.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/02/28/first-light-ever-shone-universe-picked-astronomers-revolutionary/.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 1, p. 17). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ge 1:3). Biblical Studies Press.
Ross, A. P. (1985). Genesis. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 28–29). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Keil, C. F., & Delitzsch, F. (1996). Commentary on the Old Testament (Vol. 1, p. 31). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.
Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Richards, L., & Richards, L. O. (1987). The teacher’s commentary (pp. 22–23). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 1:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
https://www.icr.org/article/did-god-create-with-appearance-age/ Institute for Creation Research.
https://sixdayscience.com/six-days-2/.
Geisler, N. L. (1999). Genesis, Days Of. In Baker encyclopedia of Christian apologetics (p. 273). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

 

Breaking The Bonds Of Fellowship

Screenshot (1033)

My Musings – Let there be no mistake about this.  The Day is rapidly approaching.  “When you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” (Matthew 24:33-34, NIV 1984).  Read Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, and pay attention to current events.  Are we not at least beginning to see “all these things” happen?

And yet, are we not also seeing an increase in forsaking the meeting together?  The habit of some is becoming the habit of more and more?  It has always been important that we not give up meeting together, but the urgency today is more so, because the day is approaching.   And yet the congregations in many places are dwindling.  Maybe their “itching ears” are not hearing what they want to hear?  Perhaps they are following another gospel that  “is no gospel at all?”  It could be that other priorities have displaced their “first love?”  How many have simply decided to “abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons?

God said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5, NIV 1984).  So why are so many forsaking Him?  Because Jesus said they would (Matthew 24:10).

My Advice – “A day may come when we forsake our [Lord] and break all bonds of fellowship! [Let it] not [be] this day!  By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand!”  My paraphrase of Aragorn’s speech before the black gate in “The Return of the King.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Only For This Life…

Screenshot (1022)

My Musings – “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:20, NIV 1984).  What if there was no “but?”

Our Faith Is Futile – Incapable of producing any useful result; pointless.

We Are Lost – Beyond recovery or redemption.

We Are Hopeless – Having no hope or chance of changing or improving.

We Are To Be Pitied – To feel sadness or sympathy for someone’s unhappiness or bad situation.

The all-seeing eye of God beheld our deplorable state; infinite pity touched the heart of the Father of mercies; and infinite wisdom laid the plan of our recovery. – David Brainerd.

We are not to be pitied, because God took pity on us.  The death of His Son on the cross gave us a chance at improving our hopeless situation.  He recovered the unrecoverable.  He redeemed the unredeemable.  What we were incapable of, He was more than capable.

My Advice – If you live “only for this life,” “you are still in yours sins,” and “are to be pitied,” for your life is “futile.”  This need not be.  Turn to Christ.  Live for the life to come.  Your faith will not be in vain.

 

 

 

Where Can I Go?

Screenshot (1018)

My Musings – I see two possible reactions to this – Indescribable peace for those who are resting in Him and uncontrollable anxiety for those who are resisting Him.  We are either relieved by His ever-present watchfulness over us, or disquieted for our inability to escape His presence.  Comfort or conviction.  Nothing to fear or everything to fear.  Love or loathing.  There is no neutral ground of indifference.

My Advice – Seek peace, rest, relief, comfort and love.  Perfect love drives out fear.

In Sickness and in Health

Screenshot (1006)

My Musings – Norman Rockwell is my favorite artist.  Some claim that he was not a “real” artist, but rather an illustrator.  Whatever you call him, he was able to capture the human condition, tug at the heartstrings and nearly write a novel, all with one simple painting.  Like the above painting of a young patient and seasoned physician.

Jesus used the analogy of the doctor patient relationship, to the sinner Savior relationship.  We are all sick (sinners) with a terminal illness (“the wages of sin is death“).

Some deny that they are sick and insist that they have no need of a doctor or a cure.  Denial does not change the underlying facts, or the ultimate consequences if left untreated.  Only Jesus can offer the cure.

Some realize that something is not right, but are not sure they have the right physician or that the physician has the right “credentials.”  Jesus’ credentials were validated by the resurrection.  Yet some still reject His treatment.  If they seek any treatment at all, they seek it elsewhere, all of whom are charlatans and imposters who are practicing “medicine” without a license.

Others know that they are sick and in need of the cure that only the “Great Physician” can provide.  They readily seek and receive the cure.  No deductibles, no co-pays, no denials for lack of insurance.

My Advice – There are none who are healthy, none who are righteous.  If you think you are, a check-up is in order.

Hanging Out In The Shadows

Screenshot (999)

My Musings – Michael Jordan just may be the greatest all-around basketball player of all time.  But the one who played in his shadow, Scottie Pippin was no slouch either.  Babe Ruth is a baseball legend, but playing somewhat in his shadow was a pretty good baseball player in his own right, Lou Gehrig.  For several years, Aaron Rodgers stood patiently on the sidelines as back-up quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, waiting his turn to come out from the shadow of Brett Favre.  Many people (Barnabas, Titus, Silas, Timothy) labored alongside the Apostle Paul, largely in his shadow.  But for the person casting the shadow, many of these shadow dwellers may have shined brighter.

There are examples in the scriptures too. Verses that “hang-out” in the shadow of the better verse we all love to quote.  Here are three examples.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”  (John 3:16-18, NIV 1984).

Standing in the shadows of that great promise for all who believe, is the condemnation for those who do not.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV 1984).

Standing in the shadows of astounding proclamation of salvation by grace through faith alone is what God has prepared for those who take that step of faith.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:6-8, NIV 1984)

Standing in the shadows of  that precious promise of peace and guarded hearts and minds, are the instructions on how they are obtained.

There are, I am sure, many other examples I could cite.  But the point is, let’s not be satisfied with quotable “sound bites,” as marvelous as they are.  There is so much more we can learn in the surrounding context.  In many cases, what is obscured in the shadowy context, may reveal we’ve been applying the more well known verse improperly.

My Advice – We need to correctly handle the Word of truth.  For “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  By the way, that last phrase (“so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.“) sometimes gets overlooked in the shadows.

 

Striking Out On Humility

Screenshot (990)

My Musings – In my humble opinion…just kidding.  But actually, I’m not sure I can blog about humility without violating the whole concept. At any rate, I guess I’ll risk it.

In the dictionary I consulted, the first two definitions of “right” fit the above quotes nicely:

Humility (What Is Right) –  Morally good, justified, or acceptable.

Pride (Who Is Right) – True or correct as a fact.

In today’s sermon, I copied down this quote from my Pastor.  “Christianity is not about getting everything right, it’s about a change of heart that causes us to desire [have a passion] for what is right.”  Of course, we will never get everything right (we still have a sin nature), but we can have a desire for what is right (we also have a “Son” nature).

If we focus too much on being right, we plant the seed of pride – a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.  If we shift the focus to what is right we cultivate a harvest of humility – freedom from pride or arrogance.

Another danger, perhaps even more dangerous than pride, is false humility.  This can manifest itself in a couple ways. One is to act humble in order to call attention to how “right” we are.  “A man is never so proud as when striking an attitude of humility” – C. S. Lewis.  Another less subtle way is self-deprecation.  This is self-humiliation, not self-humility.  “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” – C. S. Lewis.

One final quote form today’s sermon.  “Our pride blinds us to all but ourselves.  Our humility allows us to see others.”

My Advice – When I looked for the definition of righteousness, there was only one definition – the quality of being morally right or justifiable.  Let’s seek quality (always seeking what is morally right) over quantity (always having to be factually right).  Do not “strike an attitude of humility,” imitate the (Jesus’) attitude of humility.  This should be our passion.  This should be our purpose.

Today’s musing was inspired by Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon “Fueled Worship” on September 29, 2019. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you too.