Invasion of Light

Discovering God's Glory One Day at a Time

Month: April, 2012

The Mystery of Creation – Day 137

The only proper biblical understanding of God’s Word is that it is creative. It is God’s Word that creates history. History does not imagine God’s Word; rather it is the fruit of his voice. This is the main message of the first creation account. More than any other phrase, “vayomer elohim” (and God said), is the most repeated.

It is clear that the author is trying to impart to us a deep reverence for the Word. We need to come to the Word of God with fear and trembling. The Word is the answer to all our needs. The Word creates and it is the foundation of the new creation. God’s Word is what is spoken and it must be real to us if we are to be real.

In light of the magnificence of God’s Word, animals cannot be the product of random chance. If they are, then Jesus is not Lord. Animals are the fruit of God’s Word and spring from the womb of the earth. This does not mean that God did not build somet type of evolutionary principle into the DNA of animals. Careful observation suggests that animals do evolve (some prefer the word ‘adapt’)  in a limited sense just like man evolves over time. In the same way, our whole Christian walks are an evolution going from glory to glory. Even creation itself seems to evolve over six days, going from a lower order to a higher order. However, Genesis 1 does not record human beings evolving from animals. Yes, we have come from the same source––God through his earth––but human beings are of a different stock. There are boundaries that cannot be crossed. God made the animals according to kinds. How we classify these kinds can be debated by scientists. What we do know from this creation account is that there are distinct boundaries established between different kinds of animals that cannot be trespassed.

The very fact that God took six days to create the heavens and earth reveals that God was lovingly condescending to become like man and operate in his created world. God was setting an example and precedent for man. He was giving human beings a set cycle and rhythm. Creation comes from eternity and that is why it may seem to be the product of 16 billion years. Are the scientists wrong? Yes and no. Some may be reporting what they “see and hear.”  But they are limited. Humility is needed on both sides of the debate by creationists and evolutionists.

Creationists should not glibly discard the findings of science, but neither should scientists be so proud to think that they know how the universe came into being and the length of time it took. Words like “it seems like,” “it may be,” or “it appears” should fill the scientists’ vocabulary. None of us were present at the beginning, but through God’s Word we can enter into the forming of the world as though we were there. We need to enter into the creation week and feel the work of creation. The more we enter in, the more our thoughts are clarified, but also the more mystery we encounter. In all our zeal Christians cannot eliminate the mystery of creation.

Prayer: Father, I pray that us believers would walk in humility when it comes to creation and science. Yes, we have your Word and yet your Word leaves us humble––it doesn’t explain all the details. But your Word tells us the essential things and I ask you, God, to help me stand on those essentials without compromise, in Jesus’ name.

Myth, Liturgy or History? – Day 136

What are the origins of the livestock, insects and wild animals? Are they the product of chance? Or did God create these creatures? About a century ago science thought it had solved the epic enigma with the revolutionary Origin of Species. In this book Darwin proposed that the similarities seen in the different species of animals all had a common link. Every animal was connected to another based on an enormous evolutionary tree. Secular scientists thought they had won the battle against God and that now they finally could subvert his lordship. Theologians even began to incorporate Darwin’s evolution into their worldview, seeing the evolution of man from animals as the way God created. Genesis was no longer thought of as history but rather as myth: a story that teaches us about God, but is not congruent with historical fact. Other theologians rebelled against the myth theory but never fully crossed the road. They proposed that Genesis 1 is neither myth nor history, but instead liturgy––a liturgy written by the priests of the exile revealing God’s order for the purpose of turning people back to the true God.

During the last half of the 20th century a new type of scientist arose. These scientists believed that the theory of evolution was just that, a theory. They saw fundamental flaws in the foundation of evolutionary theory. And not all these scientists were Bible believing Christians. Science’s trophy was really an idol that could not speak, hear or act. Based on their idol, scientists and educators built all of their subsequent theories around evolution much like the church of the dark ages built the universe around the earth. They constructed their solar system around the “earth” of evolution rather than the “sun” of God’s Word. Needless to say, one day, future generations will view their efforts as naïve and even archaic.

What is the main issue? It is God’s living Word and name. Genesis declares: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures…and God made the beasts’” (Gen. 1:24-25, NKJV). What many scientists, as well as some theologians, miss is the power of God’s Word and a corresponding deep reverence for God’s name. In the beginning of the Bible the Holy Spirit is communicating how foundational God’s spoken Word really is, the God “who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not” (Rom. 4:17). The writers of Scripture were moved by this Holy Spirit to pen these living words for the generations to come. The Spirit had revealed to them the power of “every word that comes from the mouth of God.” They never flippantly penned God’s name. Instead, like Moses, they knew the holiness of drawing near to the presence of God in his name. When writing God’s name they were conscious of entering holy ground, requiring them to “take off their shoes” so that their feet could be washed by Yahweh himself. Therefore, they would never use God’s name for a mere myth.

The only proper biblical understanding of God’s Word is that it is creative. It is God’s Word that creates history. History does not imagine God’s Word; rather it is the fruit of his voice. This is the main message of the first creation account. More than any other phrase, “vayomer elohim” (and God said), is the most repeated. It is clear that the author is trying to impart to us a deep reverence for the Word. We need to come to the Word of God with fear and trembling. The Word is the answer to all our needs. The Word creates and it is the foundation of the new creation. God’s Word is what is spoken and it must be real to us if we are to be real.

Prayer: Father, let me see your Word in this new, living and reverent way, in Jesus’ name.

Embarking on Tumultous Waters – Day 135

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind’; and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.”––Genesis 1:24, 25 (KJV)

As we embark on the sixth day we enter into the most vast and detailed day of all creation. On all other days God speaks once or twice. But on this day he decrees four specific things. It is a day like none before; it marks the climax of God’s work, the crowning of his deeds. On this day we also venture into a surging storm of modern controversies, an uproar of conflict between faith and science, as well as between conservatives and conservationists. How did the animals come to be? Who are their evolutionary predecessors? Where do human beings fit in the scheme of progress? Are these words myth or reality? Do human beings have a responsibility to creation or do we have a God-ordained sanction to take dominion and exploit the earth for our pleasure? These are the tumultuous waters that buffet us by the sixth day’s subject matter.

As these storms rage it seems like Jesus is sleeping in the boat. Doesn’t he realize that we are in great danger of being swamped? Is the church going to survive such an onslaught of resistance? We feel like we are going to drown. Like the disciples we often react with fear and worry. Where is Jesus? This fear and worry often taints our preaching and prayer, and the world knows we are scarred. Why are we arguing? Why are we defending our faith? Why are we praying? All of these things can be done in the right spirit. But also our debates, defences and prayers can be the result of unbelief. Sadly I think much of our reaction has been caused by fear: we are being smothered by the world and we don’t believe we can make it to the other side.

Jesus sleeping in the boat during the storm exemplifies the spirit we need to have during the rage of the current age and its controversies. Jesus has said, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake” (Luke 8:22). We need to have complete confidence that his Word will come to pass: we will get to the other side. It is our lack of faith that causes us to sink. When we trust in his Word we can enter his rest; but without that trust we are overwhelmed. If we trust in the Word of God we can actually calm the storm, but when we doubt we are dictated by its aggression. In the middle of the storm Jesus “got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm” (Luke 2:24). In the same spirit of rest and faith we need to get up and rebuke the storm.

Prayer: Father, today we enter into a meditation on day six of creation. These are deep and tumultous waters. Help us to rest in you in complete confidence and trust. Through Jesus we will get to the other side.

The Fullness of Him – Day 134

The Father’s will is specifically seen in the generations. On day five the Father begins to establish family––fathers, mothers and offspring––in the seas and air. Through these families God’s purpose will be completed: the earth will be full. Without these families something is missing, the earth is incomplete and barren. God’s blessing means the continuation of life and fullness. It expands and causes his creatures to prosper.

God’s blessing also gives permission to the birds and sea creatures to be fruitful and multiply. Their increase is not contrary to the Father’s will; rather it is in accordance with it. In other words, they are given permission to be successful and this is done in the light of the threatened disorder and death that was soon to come into the world. Even before death is introduced, the Father will not let death be lord. Instead life and blessing will increase even in the face of death. Life will always overcome death because the rate of reproduction is multiplication while the rate of death is only substraction. In the fifth day we see that grace will overcome sin and death. The Father has set something in motion that not even the devil can stop.

We can apply the truths of the sea creatures and birds to us today. God’s blessing initiates the cycle of life––it enables us to participate in his purpose––but it is up to us to carry out what God has started.  The fullness of God’s glory on earth is left up to his creatures. His creatures are blessed in order to fulfil his plan. Without their fruitfulness and multiplication the earth is left empty, without the covering of God’s glory. Thus in the light of what God did on day five we can understand more clearly why Paul said: “the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Eph. 1:22-23).

The Empowering Nature of Blessing – Day 133

“God blessed them, saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth’” (Gen. 1:22). This is the first time we encounter God blessing a part of his creation. Consequently, this blessing serves as a prototype, teaching us the purpose of God’s blessing and how it applies to the church in the present age.

The first thing that strikes us about God’s blessing is that it empowers. The text implies that without the Lord’s blessing the birds and sea creatures would be barren, unable to reproduce. God’s blessing gives power to reproduce: it enables his creatures to fulfil his will. Without God’s blessing there is no enabling and no fullness on earth. Even in this blessing we see God’s way of slowly bringing increase. God’s animal kingdom starts off small like a mustard seed, but soon it will fill the whole earth.

It is important for us to reflect on how God starts things: God gives a blessing but he does not do everything for his creatures. Rather he gives them ability and instinct, and with this ability and instinct the creature fulfils God’s purpose to fill the earth with his grace. Therefore, we see that even the birds and sea animals are participating in God’s story and testimony. The Lord sets the stage and groundwork for the creatures to “live, move and have their being,” but they must carry out his will. When God’s work is finished then the work of the creatures begin, not in their own power but in the power of God’s Word.

Prayer: Father, your heart is blessing and that blessing reproduces life––both spiritually and naturally. May I live in your blessing today and speak your blessing over all that has been entrusted into my care, in Jesus’ name.

The Ultimate Revelation is Found in Jesus’ Name – Day 132

After the people on board wake up Jonah, he then lays down his life for the Gentiles. He tells them to throw him overboard. In other words, he tells them to put him to death. It is his disobedience that caused this mess in the first place and the only way to avert the calamity is to remove the cause. This is prophetic of Jesus’ mission. Even though Jesus never ran from his calling, he did stand in the place of those Jews who were running from the mandate of God. Jesus, the ultimate Jew, allowed the Gentiles to put him to death in order to appease the wrath of God.

Jesus’ death saved both the Jews and Gentiles from God’s burning judgment.

Even though the crew did their best to get back to land (salvation) without sacrificing Jonah, there was no hope. Like Pontus Pilate they did not want to kill an innocent man. The sailors said, “Please, Lord, do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man” (Jon. 2:14). Pilate also tried to escape crucifying Jesus but saw that he could not calm the uproar: “When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’” (Matt. 27:24, TNIV).

Immediately when Jonah was thrown overboard, the raging sea grew calm. This moved the men to greatly fear the Lord. Consequently, they made sacrifices and vows to God. The whole point is that Jonah’s “death” motivated the Gentiles to turn to the Lord.

In the Gospels the Gentiles’ conversion through the cross is especially typified in the confession of the Roman Centurion: “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’” (Mark 15:39, TNIV). This confession was the fruit of this soldier’s vision of the cross. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” the storm of darkness ended and the sun began to shine (Mark 16:33-39, Matt. 27:45-54, Luke 23:44-49). Surely this, as well as the way Jesus died, was a spiritually arresting sight.

What happens next in Jonah’s story is even more startling: “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights” (Jonah 1:17). At this point we see one of the tanninim—the great sea creatures (monsters) that God created on the fifth day. These great sea creatures invoked man’s greatest fear in regards to the sea. They were man’s chief sea enemy. But in the above verse we discover that the Lord provided the great fish. What was once man’s chief enemy is now man’s greatest provision.

The thing that man fears the most is death, but the death of God’s Son––the sacrifice of an innocent man––is now God’s greatest provision. Just as God created the tanninim (they were not the creation of the devil or the gods) God foreordained the laying down of his life––it was not an accident, nor was it the overcoming of good by evil. The cross is God’s provision chosen before time began (2 Tim. 1:9-10, Titus 1:1-3, Eph. 1:4, Rev 13:8).

What looked like the greatest darkness for Jonah actually turned out for his mercy as well as mercy for the Gentiles (Nineveh). Jonah’s disappearance in the belly of a huge fish for three days and nights is a picture of Christ’s death and burial. All hope seems to be lost! Jonah is “deep in the realm of the dead” (Jon. 2:2). But God has a greater plan! When Jonah finally says, “Salvation comes from Yahweh,” then “the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (Jon. 2:9-10). Jonah’s statement before his “resurrection” is the ultimate thing that Yahweh desires to reveal to his people––“salvation comes from Yahweh.” This ultimate revelation of God is found in the name of Jesus, which means “Yahweh is salvation.” Jesus is the full and complete embodiment of God and salvation only comes from him.

In this story we clearly see that death and burial is not the end of the story. Rather, God’s resurrection salvation is the climax. The first to receive God’s salvation after Jonah’s resurrection is Nineveh, a Gentile city. In the same way the Jews rejection of Jesus meant salvation for the Gentiles (Rom. 9-11). Like Jonah, the Jews had a hard time comprehending the mercy given to the undeserving nations that had a history of severe hostility toward them. Nevertheless, in the end Yahweh gives Jonah a fuller understanding of his mercy, and this parallels what God is beginning to do now with his chosen people, Israel. The Lord is showing the riches of his grace to the Jews through the Gentiles. God surely has not rejected the Jews, but he wants them to have the same revelation that the Gentile believers possess of himself as Jesus. At this point we must join in unison with Paul and proclaim: “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Rom. 11:33, TNIV).

Now we can understand more fully what Jesus meant in his response to the Jews demanding a sign from him (Matt. 12:38, Luke 11:29).

“But He answered them and said to them, ‘An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here'” (Matt. 12:39-41, NASB).

God used the sign of Jonah and a tanninim to reveal his glory, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious mystery, which is Christ, in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:26-27).

Running from the Call – Day 131

The good news is that the creatures that have fallen short of God’s glory can be redeemed. Whatever the enemy has meant for evil, God turns for good. When God created the tanninim he knew how they would degrade, but in his mind he was also thinking of Jonah.

In Jonah’s story we have a great lesson of the redeeming power of God for the tanninim and man.

In the beginning of Jonah’s story we find Jonah running away from two profound things that are eternally inseparable: Yahweh’s presence and his Word. When God calls Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it, Jonah goes down to Joppa and boards a ship going the other way to Tarshish. As Jonah was fleeing the Lord’s presence, God caused a violent storm that threatened to sink the ship. Jonah was below the deck in a deep sleep, indicative of the spiritual slumber he had chosen. But even though he was trying to shut out God, he was not able to. What seems to the sailors as the end of their lives is really God’s mercy revealed in a storm. Yahweh is shaking Jonah out of his sleep!

Ironically, it is the unbelieving Gentiles that wake up Jonah and plead with him to pray. Not only that, they have enough wisdom to discover that Jonah is responsible for the calamity. Could it be that the world is experiencing judgment because the church has tried to run from its call? Is the call for prayer and repentance coming more from outside the church than from within? Everything about Jonah’s story has prophetic significance for us today, especially the fact that the Gentiles are pleading with a Jew. This is the call of Gentiles today: to awake the Jews to their prophetic call, the very call they are running from. Throughout history there has been a strong tendency for Jews to not want to be God’s chosen, to just fit in and be like the other nations. But no matter how far they run, God in his mercy causes storms to bring them to repentance in order that they would fulfil their prophetic, apostolic and priestly destiny.

Prayer: Lord, help us to see that you are using the world to wake up the church as well as Israel. Let us see your wake up call like Jonah saw his, in Jesus’ name.

%d bloggers like this: