Creation part 1

Science today makes it possible to estimate the age of the universe to be 13,77 billion years old and the age of the earth 4,53-4,58 billion years old. Science can also demonstrate through verifiable methods that all natural life evolved ever since the dawn of organic matter. Reaching this understanding has been a gradual process since the dawn of the Scientific Revolution in the 16th and 17th centuries. Science has no holy answer book, but makes hypothesis validated by emperical evidence.

In 1862 Lord Kelvin used the science of his day to calculate the earth’s age to 98 million years and this was accepted by many conservative Christians. With the mysterious beginning of Genesis 1 speaking of an empty and void earth (gap theory) and understanding that ‘day’ in the Bible does not have to be 24 hours literally, a very old earth is reconciable with the creation text and does not bring into question commonly accepted core doctrines like evolution theory later did according to the opinion of many. Man could still be created 6,000 years ago and dinosaurs millions of years ago, all directly by God’s hand. Many Christians accepting the old earth, also believed in the local flood theory or a purely figurative flood as science showed that a global flood could not have happened. There is no geological evidence, despite the claims of pseudoscience and flood myths found all over the World (just as dragon myths etc.). But this was not known before sciencitific geology. To the ancient church fathers the global flood had a powerful theological message; all the other gods people worshipped all over the earth were powerless against it. They had no other origins account but the biblical perceived through their “glasses”. But due to geology science, the creation record was reinterpreted and Bible faith found to be reconciable with the new science.

To the point that the flood could be local according to the Bible. It’s an indirect support I see, and I think the flood account in itself is open to both a global flood and a local flood.

When we read about “the earth” in the Bible today, we tend to think of the planet earth. This is because of our modern science. But the ancient Biblical “cosmic geography” was more restricted and sometimes this is seen clearly. Granted when we read that God created the earth, we have no reason to put any limits on it. There are much fewer Words in biblical Hebrew than in modern languages, and we must therefore consider the context. Examples where the earth – or another cosmic term – clearly isn’t the Whole planet / earth in modern sense:

Deuteronomy 2:24 “‘Rise, take your journey, and cross over the River Arnon. Look, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land. Begin to possess it, and engage him in battle. 25 This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the nations under the whole heaven, who shall hear the report of you, and shall tremble and be in anguish because of you.’
Habakkuk 1:6 For indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans, A bitter and hasty nation Which marches through the breadth of the earth, To possess dwelling places that are not theirs.
Luke 2:1 And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.
Colossians 1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

To the point that ‘day’ in the Bible does not have to be 24 hours literally, consider some examples:

God’s rest day is very long:
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
Hebrews 4:3 For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said: “So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest,’ ”although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all His works”; 5 and again in this place: “They shall not enter My rest.”

Israel’s 40 years in the desert “day”:
Hebrews 3:8 Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness,

The day of salvation is very long:
2 Corinthians 6:2 2 For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, And in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Luke 23:43 And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”
Revelation 14:6 Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— 7 saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”

Why? Because the Bible uses a lot of figurative language. The anti-symbolism claim of the fundamentalists that the Bible “Means what it says” (in their warped literal definition) is ignorant and since it creates false understanding and slavery, we should not be silent.

One of the first Christian writings accepting the early science revolution came from the influencial reformer John Calvin. In 1554, John Calvin had his huge Genesis Commentaries published. Among his comments to Genesis chapter 1, we find:

Moses describes the special use of this expanse, “to divide the waters from the waters,” from which words arises a great difficulty. For it appears opposed to common sense, and quite incredible, that there should be waters above the heaven. Hence some resort to allegory, and philosophize concerning angels ; but quite beside the purpose. For, to my mind, this is a certain principle, that nothing is here treated of but the visible form of the World. He who would learn astronomy,” and other recondite arts, let him go elsewhere. Here the Spirit of God would teach all men without exception ; and therefore what Gregory declares falsely and in vain respecting statues and pictures is truly applicable to the history of the creation, namely, that it is the book of the unlearned.’The things, therefore, which he relates, serve as the garniture of that theatre which he places before our eyes. Whence I conclude, that the waters here meant are such as the rude and unlearned may perceive. The assertion of some, that they embrace by faith what they have read concerning the waters above the heavens, notwithstanding their ignorance respecting them, is not in accordance with the design of Moses”.

By the rude and the unlearned, he refers to those not knowing the latest science of his day. So Calvin is being very progressive and visionary concerning issues that would later become very talked of and important. But such a knowledge was not and is not required to understand the creation record. Men ignorant of science ever since Moses can understand and apppriciate this record. As Calvin knows, it is not scientifically true that there is a sea above the earth. But ancient man could relate to it. God kept Water up there to let it rain and so God could also flood the earth later. The theological point is that:

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

In 1855, the famous preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon expressed Classic Old Earth Creationism in his sermon “The power of the Holy Ghost”:

“But if you will look in the first chapter of Genesis, you will see there more particularly set forth that peculiar operation of power upon the universe which was put forth by the Holy Spirit; you will then discover what was his special work. In Ge 1:2, we read, “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” We do not know how remote the period of the creation of this globe may be—certainly many millions of years before the time of Adam. Our planet has passed through various stages of existence, and different kinds of creatures have lived on its surface, all of which have been fashioned by God”.

In part 2 we will look at the implications of evolution science on creation and the Christian faith.

The heavens, the earth and the sea in Revelation 21:1

The Bible is a spiritual book. It’s also an ancient book written to ancient people as the first receivers. They lived in a specific part of the World and at a specific time. It’s good to remember this in interpretation.

Now I offer my interpretation of the heaven, the earth and the sea in this verse:

Revelation 21:1 Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

The sea:
Some noteworthy verses:

Isaiah 27:1 In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong, will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan that twisted serpent; and He will slay the reptile that is in the sea.
Isaiah 51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord! Awake as in the ancient days, In the generations of old. Are You not the arm that cut Rahab apart, And wounded the serpent?
Revelation 13:1 Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name.
Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.

“the Waters”:
Revelation 17:1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters,
Revelation 17:15 Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

What is it that will:
a) disappear at the White throne judgment?
b) contains symbolic beasts and dead people?
c) which necessarily must be connected with “the many waters”, in which another beast, the whore of Babylon sits and which is “peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues”?

The conclusion seems pretty obvious; the sin World. There will be no more sin World.

A new heaven and a new earth
Some noteworthy verses:

Isaiah 51:15 But I am the Lord your God, Who divided the sea whose waves roared – The Lord of hosts is His name. 16 And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, That I may plant the heavens, Lay the foundations of the earth, And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’” [same theme as verse 9 quoted above]
Zephaniah 3:8 “Therefore wait for Me,” says the Lord, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations To My assembly of kingdoms, To pour on them My indignation, All My fierce anger; All the earth shall be devoured With the fire of My jealousy. 9 “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, That they all may call on the name of the Lord, To serve Him with one accord.
Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them.

What happened in the days of Pentacost:
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’

A literal heaven and earth can’t be in view. God will when salvation is fully established have “planted the heavens” and laid “the Foundations of the earth” and be the God of Zion. All the earth devoured in fire connected with (possibly universal – so Origen thought) salvation. Heaven and earth flees away from God in the judgment. A case can be established for the heavens being the religious systems and the earth the political powers. They will flee in vain when God conquers them and establishes a new heaven and a new earth.

Finally an example is shown in which the annointing at Pentacost according to Peter fullfilled an Old Testament prophecy that includes some radical apocalyptic language concerning the sun and the moon.

Many other verses could be quoted. Why this – to us today – strange symbolism? It is not spelled out anywhere to my knowledge. But there is a widespread scholary conclusion that the biblical perspective on the natural World and also when the natural World is used symbolically as here is phenomenological (knowledge based on observation). From a view that embraces inspiration of the Bible, there is no mentioning of Mars, neanderthals or dinosaurs in the creation record because Israel did not know these and could not relate to them. If a World system collapses, it would be a fitting use of symbolism to speak of heavens and earth collapsing. Or from the individual viewpoint:

Leviticus 26:19 I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze. 20 And your strength shall be spent in vain; for your land shall not yield its produce, nor shall the trees of the land yield their fruit.

Heavens like iron and earth like bronze obviously ruins the harvest (or rather makes it impossible). Or as we say in modern language exaggeration promotes understanding.

Concerning the sea, this is possibly more obvious. There are several biblical references to people quite understandably being afraid of the pontential and unpredictable dangers of the sea:

Isaiah 57:20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea, When it cannot rest, Whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
Luke 21:25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring;

So in conclusion, what Revelation 21:1 is saying in my opinion, is that a new system has appeared in this vision. It has replaced the old “heavens and earth”. The sin world is no more, the source of the beasts, powers hostile to God’s people and containing a great deal of mankind, has been emptied and is no more.

Additional October 26th 2014:

The end times are compared to Noah’s time.

Luke 17:26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.

2 Peter 3:5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

There will be judgment of the old World/Heavens and earth and a new World/Heavens and earth made. Whether this is AD 70 – judgment upon God’s fallen Israel and in symbolic terms a cosmic event or future yet, is not clear and easy, but I favor AD 70.