BSF Genesis: Week 2, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

5.
1st day: intrinsic light – light that will never end. 4th day: the vessels that deliver light to the earth: sun, moon and stars – Psalm 147:4, He knows the number of stars and calls them all by name

6. a. Separate day from night, signs to mark sacred times, give light on earth – Give testament to God’s glory (Ps 148:3)
b.

  • The size and majesty of God compared to man
  • Declare the glory of God
  • To tell the appointed seasons, the requirements of the Lord
  • Saw a star, come to worship the king of the Jews
  • Mark the end times, 1/3rd turn dark

7. a. He gathers the waters. He reveals it in the plants. He marks it from the sky: seasons, lights and patterns that sing His praise.

b.  In the areas that are out of balance. More time praying and trusting in Him and seeking His direction.  I would be far more efficient if I simply accepted His word as fact up-front rather than the circuitous route that I take to get back to it.

My Daily Journal:

I am delayed this week, in part because I spent too much time digging into the challenge question/discussion about Day 4 of creation.  This is such a stumbling block to so many and one I felt I needed to wrestle with to fully understand.

The quandary is that on the 4th day God creates the sun and moon and stars; after He creates the earth and even after He creates plant life.  Commonly accepted scientific theory/evidence is that the stars date back far before the earth and even far before our own sun.  Science says that the universe is vast and the earth is a relatively insignificant spec in the cosmos.  The bible account says the universe is vast, but it exists for the significant souls that God places on the earth.  But, how do we reconcile the timing.  Which came first, the stars or earth?  Which came first, the sun or the earth?  What do we do when the “scientific evidence” doesn’t match the biblical account?

Very noted biblical scholars take varies approaches in answering this question.  Some profess that what Genesis is really saying isn’t that God created the stars on the 4th day, but that there was a cloud or haze that blocked them from the earth (separated the waters below and above) so that their light only became visible on the earth on the 4th day.  Some profess that, because there isn’t clear distinction in the Hebrew words used between past and past perfect tense that it may be saying that God created them on day one but is just referencing them on Day 4.  Some argue that the days are not meant consecutively, but that they just reference distinct phases or periods of time and not necessarily order.

Could these be right?  I don’t know.  But I’m not comfortable with any of these approaches.  To me, they seem a little too loose in bending the words of the bible to match commonly held belief.  They seem a very slippery slope in flexible interpretation, one that naturally lends itself to a re-writing or at least a re-interpretation of any part of scripture that doesn’t match commonly held understandings.

I studied economics in college and my professors drilled into us that in any economic theory it is absolutely critical to always remember what the assumptions are that the theory is based upon.  I think the same applies to any scientific theory since all theories accept some things, whether stated or implied, as given assumptions.

In my understanding of current day scientific theory on the age of stars in comparison to the age of the earth or the sun, three of the key assumptions are:

  1. The “earth” was then (at formation) essentially what we define as the “earth” today (i.e., the third planet from the sun, similar in shape, mass, atmosphere, etc to what it is today)
  2. The stars, sun and moon were, at their formation, essentially the same as what we would define as stars, sun, moon today.
  3. We have sufficient information to reliably predict and test our assumptions.

Where I am going with this is that I believe we (mankind) draw boxes in our mind of how we understand things and then try to make God fit into those boxes.  For example, when Genesis 1 says the earth, is it talking about this ball of mass that we call home?  Yes, I believe it is.  Is it specifying that ball of mass has all of the exact properties that it does today?  Clearly not.  How could it if it was without form?  How could it if the sun and moon did not yet exist?  The same goes for assumption 2 in regard to the sun, moon and stars.

However, I think the most critical, and obviously most arrogant on the part of man, is the assumption that we have sufficient information to treat our theories as fact.  Within the past couple of decades science is just discovering that all of what we know, everything about matter and mass and energy that we understand across the universe, accounts for less than 4% of what is out there.  We are now finding that 96% of the universe is “other” (dark matter/dark energy) that we barely have any understanding of at all.  (see The 4% Universe by Richard Panek).

Call me whatever name you like, but I’m sticking with God’s account of creation as it is written.  I trust in God and I trust in His word.

By the way, if any others may be under the assumption that this is a new argument or that belief in the bible is “out-dated” based on our advanced scientific knowledge, it is important to observe this writing by Theophilus of Antioch in 181 A.D.

“On the fourth day the luminaries came into existence. Since God has foreknowledge, he understood the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on earth come from the stars, so that they might set God aside. In order therefore that the truth might be demonstrated, plants and seeds came into existence before the stars. For what comes into existence later cannot cause what is prior to it” (To Autolycus 2:15 [A.D. 181]).

About these ads

BSF Genesis: Week 1, Lecture

Genesis StoriesIn the beginning God created.  Let’s spend some time and really look at those 5 words.  There is so much that is answered just in this statement.  It addresses the when, in the beginning.  It addresses the rarity, the beginning not a beginning.  What? Created.  How? Created, as in out of nothingness from the creator.  It answers what existed before the beginning, God.

Actually, this is the key word, God.  Everything else in these first few words of the bible, fittingly, centers around and flows from this word.    In our lesson today we are going to focus on the first few verses of the bible and see what they tell us about, “Who is God?” As we understand from our discussion last week, the entire bible is God’s design to reveal Himself to man, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there is so much of that message packed into this first chapter.

As an aside, this language of God packaging the revelation of Himself into these words and pages for us to unpack it is such a great metaphor and parallel to the gift that it is.

First, let’s look at the fact of God as creator.   For God to have created, He had to be before the beginning.  He was not created or formed.  For those of us who grew up in the church, this is familiar, but to any other religion it is an unfathomable concept.  The greeks believed the earth and heavens and their gods were formed “out of chaos”.  The Egyptians believed the gods and earth were formed from the waters and the sun.  Baal worshippers believed there was a battle between the god Baal and the god Yam and the land of the earth is made up of the dismembered parts of Yam, gross, right?  Many people of our generation believe everything was some accident flowing out of the power of “the Universe”.  Not so different than the people of the apostle Paul’s day who built a temple to worship “the unnamed god.”  And, as in Paul’s day, we Christians actually know the name of the one and only God.

We know from the very first words that God is singular.   There weren’t multiple gods, just the one.  We know that creation occurred by God’s plan and by His action.  We know that creation was both instantaneous and completed over time.  There was nothing, then there was the heavens and the earth.  But it wasn’t a finished work.  The earth was without form.  God continued His work for 6 days.

People often talk about leaving a legacy.  Parents talk about the legacy of their children.  Sports teams and athletes talk about the legacy of championships and records.  But a legacy is something we make, something that remains that is bigger that tells something about the best that we are.  In that same way, all creation is God’s legacy.  Not that He has left it behind, but that it is a completed work by His will and effort that He made and which tells something about who He is.  All of His created work is good.

When you look at a new day, do you see the good that God created or do you have a hard time seeing past the “stuff” of the day, your tasks and chores?  Do you ask God each day to show you the good He has planned for you today?  Are you under estimating God’s power and what He can accomplish in a single day?

Was God alone in creation?  Yes and no.  We can draw a lot of analogies to try to understand the concept of the trinity, but there is nothing in the physical world that is the exact same as this heavenly host.  We know from John 1 that Jesus (the word) was in the beginning, that He was in God and that He was God and He was with God.  So both the Father and the Son, together and unique were not only at the creation but created.  Colossians 1 tells us that all things were created by Jesus and created for Jesus.  This tells us that before anything existed God already knew that His creation would choose sin over Him and that He, Jesus, would need to become lower than even the angels and become a human in the creation to save and redeem it, buying it back for Himself.  And from Hebrews 1 we learn that creation was not just set into motion and abandoned but that it is continuously being sustained by the word of Jesus.  All things were made through Jesus, all things were created by Jesus, all things are sustained by Jesus.  The emphasis in these different sections is not only on God and Jesus’ presence in the trinity, but on the word “All”.  If all was created by and for Christ, that is a very broad stroke of the brush.  That means no mistakes, no throw aways, no do overs, no trash.  What a challenge to our thinking.  Does my compassion extend to all?  Do I see the potential for salvation of all or are there some that I have written off before they have taken their last breath?  According to the word and revelation of who God is, my acceptance that some are meant to be saved and some not is faulty.  All are meant to be saved, but some will choose not to – I pray that someone’s choice to not accept the gift not be influenced by anything I do or fail to do with the power of the spirit in me.

Which brings us to the third part of the trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The spirit of God is often described as the breath of God and/or the wind in that you see the influence and impact of the Spirit even though you do not see the invisible nature of the spirit.  This is a good reminder to the skeptical doubters of this world who deny the presence of God because “they want to see God with their own eyes… they want proof.”  Can they see the wind?  No, but you can see the outcome of the wind and the power that it holds.  Few question that the wind exists based on these results.

In God’s work of creation, the Holy Spirit is at the forefront in the creation of life.  It is this pouring out that is the critical leap, the spark that cannot be fathomed without the divine, going from inanimate to alive.

But we know the Holy Spirit to be much larger and deeper than this.  The Holy Spirit of God is the creator of physical life and the source, the giver, of spiritual life.  When we humans turned from God in disobedience and sin (something I am guilty of daily, so I can’t get too mad at Adam and Eve), we stepped out of the design of being “in” God’s image that was His original design and creation.  But Jesus paid the price to buy us back, to redeem us, through His sacrifice of death and through His power to defeat death in the resurrection.  When we accept this gift of salvation, the separation from God is removed and the holy spirit indwells in us transforming us back into the image of God.

When you wake each morning, do you push the presence of the Holy Spirit to the back of your being so that you can “focus on stuff”? Do you seek and use the power of the Holy Spirit to guide and direct your life?  If you have accepted the gift of salvation, then, in you right this very second, is the full power of the Holy Spirit of God, the exact same power that defeated death.  With that power, what can’t you do?

The “in” of God is a critical component of not only who God is but what He desires.  He is “in” as the unity of the Father is in the son and the son is in the Father and the Spirit is united in the Trinity and God seeks for us to be rejoined into that unity, that image, by Him and with Him   We are not designed simply to be by or with God, but to be cradled in His arms.

BSF Genesis: Week 1, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

9.
a. The heavens and the earth: Mass, matter, dark matter, and all the physical building blocks and laws.

b. Out of nothing. created not repeated again until 21 when he creates living animals

10.

  • He was with God, was God, through Him all things were made, nothing has been made without Him
  • Firstborn, in him all things were created, He is before all, in him all held together
  • All treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden in Him
  • In Christ the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form
  • Radiance of God’s glory, exact representation of His being, sustaining all by his word, at right hand of Father

My Daily Journal:

Today’s lesson is a reminder of the immutable (unchanging) nature of God.  We grow and mature, I grow and mature, but God, who is perfect, has no room or need for growth and maturity or change of any kind.  The God that we know through the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the man who walked on the earth, ate, drank, breathed, suffered, died and raised Himself from the dead of His own power, is the exact same God in every way that created the heavens and the earth.  This does not mean God is inanimate or somehow frozen is a fixed state.  This is the wrong understanding of unchanging.  God is alive.  He not only acts, but He reacts to the cries and desires of His people.  But don’t mistake, the God of the old testament and the God of the new testament are the exact same in every visible and invisible way.

BSF Genesis: Week 1, Day 3

Today’s Scripture

Questions:

6. I do not believe that a day is necessarily 24 hours. Could it have been? – yes. Could it have been more or less time? – yes. We think of time as a fixed dimension despite our own knowledge that it is not (time slows down as an object approaches the speed of light)

7.   Why the earth? As a home for mankind. Why all creation? As a home for the earth. Why mankind? Because He is majestic and loving and chose to.

8. spoke, saw, eternal (he was before the creation)

Journal:

The bigger question isn’t whether a day is 24 hours or what elements constitute heaven and earth.  The big question is why is Genesis 1 in the bible at all.  I mean, why did God tell his creation about how He created everything and the order of that creation.  We aren’t on a need to know basis.  It has no impact on any persons daily life (at least not that I can discern) to know that birds came before horses.  Frankly, it would have sufficed and been accurate to say, “I’m God, I created everything, period.”  But He chose to break it down for us.  I think in large part He did it not so that we would concentrate of the beginning of the paragraphs (God said and it was so) but instead on the end when He saw that it was good.  We either don’t see that or we forget it.  We look at the waters and see them as wet, vast, deep, a bit scary, but we don’t normally see them as “good.”  For each element of creation God wants to ensure we know (1) He is in it and created it and (2) in His eyes (the only unfiltered eyes that exist), it is good.  When you fill your eyes with seeing God and goodness in all creation rather than inanimate blobs of matter, it changes your viewpoint and changes your heart.  Then, we you recognize that God made this “good” comment about each part of creation up until man, when He saw that it was “very good”  it changes your eyes and your viewpoint to the heart of God

BSF Genesis: Week 1, Day 2

Today’s scriptures

Questions:

3.
a.  God’s name appears 31 times. He created, said, saw, called, made, set, blessed. He conversed with man (alone). God was active, engaged, sensory (with human senses) and master (whatever he said happened).
b.  God is the creator. He spoke and it became so. Everything was His plan and purpose and everything occurred by and through His will

4.  It was good – except for man, where it was very good.

5.
a.

  • made by His power, founded by his wisdom
  • God made the world and everything in it, He gives life
  • since creation God’s qualities are clear in His creation

b.This message and my belief about the Earth’s origin are the same. God was in it and God did it.  So many scientists are tripped up today because they start with a bias that the story as stated in the bible must be false.  However, every revelation of science confirms the order of the story of God creating as outlined in Genesis. The more we try to disprove the more faith is required. Creation is not a repeatable experiment that can be duplicated, it is a historical fact, supported by the evidence of everything that was made.

Journal:

First:  In the entire bible, God spends exactly 1 chapter telling the story of all creation.  Immediately, in chapter 2 He moves to a discussion of His relationship with man.  We think of ourselves as miniscule dots in comparison to the enormity of the universe.  God considers the creation of the universe as miniscule in comparison to His love of us.

Second:  Let’s face it, if you or I were going to write a creation story, we would be right in the middle of it.  We would be created first, then we would do this, that and the other thing.  I would put animals on land before flying animals, seems easier to crawl than fly.  But here is what is interesting.  I wasn’t there.  God was.  And, the more we learn and observe and study the more we reinforce God’s record of what happened.  We sometimes get so big headed thinking we know everything, then there is a discovery like dark matter and we find that the entire scope of everything we know and understand makes up only 4% of what is really out there.  It is difficult to not be in awe of creation and to see it as unbelievably beyond comprehension.  It is, but God is bigger!

Getting Started in Genesis

I am very excited to get back into BSF this year and the structure it provides.  I am also very excited about the “kinder and gentler” structure of BSF.  We see this right off the bat in the childrens program.  In years past there was a heavy focus on going over guidelines the first night.  This year we jump right into fellowship and interactive discussions about the bible, Genesis, the BSF study, etc.  Later in the first night we discuss, together, standards that we (leaders and students together) want to have for the class this year.  There is involvement, input, engagement and participation right from the start.

Most importantly, I am very excited about studying Genesis.  God’s word is so amazing.  There is a depth and richness in it that seems to flower the more I mature.  There is truly a beauty that, while there on the surface, becomes even more beautiful as we look deeper.  It is good.

My plan is to post as I did last year (although with a bit more regularity and simplicity).  I would like to do my lesson daily and post my lecture notes each week