In The Beginning Part 1

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Well actually just before the beginning of creation.

In this first part we will be exploring what happened just before God created the Earth.

So What Happened Before Creation?

Before starting in at the beginning of Genesis there is a common question that is worth addressing: “What happened before the beginning?”  St. Augustine (354 – 430 AD) in his famous Confessions (his autobiography) quotes an old joke: “What was God doing before he made heaven and earth?” answer, “Making Hell for people who pry into mysteries like that!” (Confessions, Book XI, Canto 12; Augustine then goes on to have a profound discussions of the nature of time).  The Bible does say what was happening before creation

 

John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

John 17:24 Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

John 17:5  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love

I Peter 1:20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.

Titus 1:2 In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time

 

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When Was The Beginning?  And Where Did “4004 BC” Come From?

Not from the Bible!  The 4004 BC date originated with Irish scholar James Ussher (1581 – 1656).  For an excellent article on Bishop (or Professor) Ussher see Sky & Telescope magazine, November 1981, p. 404 (400th anniversary of his birth).  What Professor Ussher did was very scientifically respectable for his day (Kepler and Newton did it, for example).  In fact, lots of people attempted to get dates of creation from the Bible.  Alphonse des Vignolles in 1738 (writing what can be regarded as the first “review article” on the subject) claimed to have collected over 200 different dates from Jewish and Christian sources ranging from 3483 BC to 6984 BC!  (– all supposedly based on the Bible!)  For example, the traditional Jewish calendar starts in 3760 BC.  The reason why Ussher’s date of creation became particularly well known is that some unknown person included his dates in the margin notes of a printing of the Authorized (“King James”) Version of the Bible.

While it is often believed that such dates are derived by adding up ages in the genealogies in the Bible and the reigns of kings, in actual fact, people’s ages and king’s reigns are often not given so people have to make pure guesses!  Ussher got his date by assuming average reigns and life spans and finding when the autumnal equinox fell on a Sunday (people believed that the universe had to be made with the sun in a special place; Kepler had favored the summer solstice; Ussher had favored the autumnal equinox since there were fruit in the Garden of Eden! – an obvious British northern hemisphere bias!).  Such things are clearly not “based on the Bible”.

A more serious problem is that if you inter-compare genealogies in the Bible you discover that there are large gaps in them.  If you compare

I Chronicles 6:1-15  The sons of Levi:

Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

 The sons of Kohath:

Amram, Izhar, Hebron and Uzziel.

 The children of Amram:

Aaron, Moses and Miriam.

The sons of Aaron:

Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.

Eleazar was the father of Phinehas,

Phinehas the father of Abishua,

Abishua the father of Bukki,

Bukki the father of Uzzi,

Uzzi the father of Zerahiah,

Zerahiah the father of Meraioth,

 Meraioth the father of Amariah,

Amariah the father of Ahitub,

Ahitub the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Ahimaaz,

Ahimaaz the father of Azariah,

Azariah the father of Johanan,

Johanan the father of Azariah (it was he who served as priest in the temple Solomon built in Jerusalem),

Azariah the father of Amariah,

Amariah the father of Ahitub,

Ahitub the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Shallum,

Shallum the father of Hilkiah,

Hilkiah the father of Azariah,

Azariah the father of Seraiah,

and Seraiah the father of Jozadak.

Jozadak was deported when the Lord sent Judah and Jerusalem into exile by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

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Ezra 7:1-5  After these things, during the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah,  the son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, the son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, the son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, the son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest

you will discover that Ezra omits 6 generations in verse 3.  Another example of missing generations is Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus

Matthew 1:17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

In verse 8 Matthew omits the names of three kings who can be found listed in

I Chronicles 3:11-12 Jehoram his son,

Ahaziah his son,

Joash his son,

Amaziah his son,

Azariah his son,

Jotham his son,

 

In both of these specific examples I have given, we have someone described as “begetting” someone (to use the King James word) who is not their son, but some generations later.  The Greek word used by Matthew is also used elsewhere in the New Testament to describe non-genetic relationships.  The important point is that the Bible does not intend for a genealogy to be used as a chronology!  (Its purpose is to show someone’s lineage).  Note, in particular, that the Bible itself never adds up the ages and reigns.

 

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So How Long Did It Take?

What is Meant by a “Day”?

 

The Hebrew word for day (Yom) has the same three meanings in the Bible as in English usage: the time when the sun is above the horizon and it is light; a period of 24 hours; and a more general period of time (“in so and so’s day”).  The very first verse in the Bible which uses the word day

Genesis 1:5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

uses two meanings of the word (the first two meanings) and we only have to go as far as

Genesis 2:4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created,when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.

to find the third meaning.  The allowable interpretations of the word “day” do not require a 144 hour creation.  The Hebrew words boger (morning) and oreb (evening) also have a number of meanings.  The fact that the Jews adopted a seven day week is sometimes brought up as an argument for a six 24-hr period creation, but, as Hebrew scholar Gleason Archer puts it, this is no stronger argument for it than that the 8-day celebration of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles is a proof that the wilderness wanderings of Moses occupied only eight days!

 God’s Timescale

tells us that

II Peter 3:8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

Psalm 90:4 A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.

also says that a thousand years is like “a watch in the night” (about 4 hours.)

So How Did It Happen? – The Language Of Genesis I, “Form”, “Make” AND “Create”

“…God created the heavens and the earth.” The three Hebrew words used to describe God’s actions in bringing the universe, the earth, life and mankind to approximately their present state do not rule out the possibility that natural processes were involved once the realm of nature was brought into existence.

The Hebrew word yatsar (translated “formed”) can be shown in numerous usages in the Old Testament to describe actions that were not instantaneous but accomplished by the use of natural processes (e.g., molding).

The Hebrew word asah (translated “make” or “do”) has widely varying subjects in the Old Testament and the action often involves natural processes and materials.

The Hebrew word bara (translated “create”) is a special word in the Bible which only has God as its subject.  The word itself does not imply whether an action is instantaneous or not, but the same action is sometimes also described by the other two words (yatsar and bara).  The three terms bara, asah, and yatsar are used in

Isaiah 43:7 everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

in parallel grammatical constructions where they are seemingly interchangeable.

 

Are all Great Scientists Atheists

Part of the “popular belief” alluded to in my introduction is that great scientists are atheists or at least uninterested in religion.  Let’s see what some of main figures in the development of astronomy had to say for themselves.  If you’re unfamiliar with astronomy, these particular astronomers were all major figures in the development of astronomy.

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Nicholas Copernicus – the person responsible in modern times for the idea that the earth orbits the sun; Copernicus was a prominent churchman:
“[The world] has been built for us by the Best and Most Orderly Workman of all”
He pursued his research (he said) “loving duty to seek the truth in all things, in so far as God has granted that to human reason.” [See Hummel 1986, “The Galileo Connection”]

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Johannes Kepler – the man who discovered the laws of planetary motion.  A devout Lutheran and diligent student of the Bible.  He was the person who discovered that Jesus was not born in 1 AD.
“I believe Divine Providence intervened so that by chance I found what I could never obtain by my own efforts.  I believe this all the more because I have constantly prayed to God that I might succeed if what Copernicus said was true.”
On his deathbed he said: “[my salvation lies] only and alone on the services of Jesus Christ.” [See Hummel 1986].

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Galileo Galilei – the first person to publish astronomical results obtained with a telescope.  Opened up a whole new realm of astronomy.  Many discoveries.  He acquired many scientific enemies who eventually got even by bringing him before the inquisition since they couldn’t win on scientific grounds.  It is important to understand that Galileo’s appearance before the inquisition was not a simple case of “the church against progress in science”.  The Roman Catholic Church was in fact quite divided over the issues in the Galileo case.  Galileo never blamed the Roman Catholic Church for what happened but blamed his fellow university professors instead.  Here are some of his views on science and Christianity:

“The Holy Bible and the phenomena of nature proceed alike from the Divine Word…God is known…by Nature in His works and by doctrine in His revealed word.”
“The Bible teaches how one goes to Heaven, now how the heavens go.” [See Hummel 1986].

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Sir Isaac Newton – Derived the theory of (“Newtonian”) gravity.  Made the first reflecting telescope.  Co-inventor of calculus.  Many other contributions to science.  Newton was a complex and unappealing character and he was unorthodox in his beliefs, but he wrote more on Biblical subjects than on everything else he did all put together.  He published valuable contributions to religious knowledge (esp.  on interpreting Biblical prophecy).
“There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.”
[Biblical prophecy was not intended by God to] “gratify men’s curiosities by enabling them to foretell things” but rather that: “after they are fulfilled, they might be interpreted by events…The events of things predicted many ages before, will then be a convincing argument that the world is governed by Providence.”
One of Newton’s views of his own greatest published work he expressed as follows:
“When I wrote my treatise about our Systeme, I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the beliefe of a deity & nothing can rejoyce me more than to find it usefull for that purpose.” [See Hummel 1986].

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Sir William Herschel – discoverer of the planet Uranus, but more famous among modern astrophysicists as the father of stellar and galactic astronomy.
“All human discoveries seem to be made only for the purpose of confirming more and more strongly the truths in the sacred scriptures.” [Quoted by H.H. Halley 1965, “Halley’s Bible Handbook” 24th ed., p.19].

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Albert Einstein – developer of the theory of relativity.  It should be emphasized that he was not a man of orthodox beliefs, but he believed that science and religion needed each other and that “science without religion is lame”.  He also said:
“Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe–a spirit vastly superior to that of men…” [“Albert Einstein: The Human Side”, Princeton University Press]
“The highest principles for our aspirations and judgments are given to us in the Jewish-Christian religious tradition.”  [Address to Princeton Theological Seminary, May 19, 1939.  Published in “Out of My Later Years” Philosophical Library, 1950]
“What is the meaning of human life, or of organic life altogether?  To answer this question at all implies a religion.  Is there any sense then, you ask, in putting it?  I answer, the man who regards his own life and that of his fellow creatures as meaningless is not merely unfortunate but almost disqualified for life.” [“The World as I See It”, Philosophical Library, 1949]
“Being a lover of freedom, when the [anti-Nazi] revolution came to Germany, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but, no, the universities immediately were silenced.  Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks.  Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth.  I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual truth and moral freedom.  I am forced thus to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.” [Interview in Time magazine, Dec.  23, 1940, p. 38].

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Henry Margenau – former president of the American Association for the Philosophy of Science, a physics professor at Yale University and former editor of Reviews of Modern Physics (Margenau got his start in physics at the University of Nebraska):
“It is often said, and widely believed, that scientists on the whole are anti-religious or, at least, are not interested in religion.  I believed that for a long time too.  But no longer.  …as I perceive it, the fact is, the scientists, the physicists at least, who have been most active, most successful in developing the quantum theory and further innovations in physics, are very interested in religion.  If you consider scientists of the type of high school teachers or grade school teachers or Carl Sagan, you find that, yes, there is a lack of interest.  Quite a few of them are anti-religious.  But, if you take the outstanding physicists, the ones who have done the most to advance modern physics, especially Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Dirac, you will find them all interested in religion.  All these men were intensely interested in religion.” [In “The Intellectuals Speak out about God”, Chpt.  3, ed. R. A. Varghese, 1984, p.  45].

The Pale Blue Dot

13 years after the launch of Voyager now about 4 billion miles away from Earth. Astronomers at NASA ask Voyager to turn around and take one last photo before it left our Solar System.

Now the panoramic composite of 60 images with 640,000 pixels per image, each pixel took 5.5 hours to transmit, each image took months to make it back to Earth and this is what Voyager produced.

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If you cant see it will high light it for you

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Four years after the picture was made public a famous astronomer Dr. Carl Sagan said on October 13, 1994, and this is what he said.

We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity — in all this vastness — there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. It’s been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Encountered Jesus on the Moon

download (1)Apollo 15 astronaut James Irwin had an encounter with God he would never forget. Irwin was the eighth man to walk on the moon and the first to ride in the Lunar Rover. Apollo 15 was a ‘J-Mission,’ which meant he and fellow astronaut David Scott spent an extended period on the lunar surface – almost three days.

Irwin on the Moon

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Irwin and Scott worked for an extended period with little rest prior to their liftoff.

While Irwin did not suffer a heart attack, flight surgeons on earth who monitored the men were alarmed when they saw both astronauts develop irregular heart rhythms.

Irwin’s situation was more severe, with abnormal heartbeats every other beat. Neither man was told about their condition by Mission Control. Flight surgeons reasoned they were already getting 100 percent oxygen, they had continuous monitoring of their vital signs, and they were at zero gravity – conditions that partially replicated or even exceeded an ICU unit back on earth.

NASA also had concerns about wider dissemination of this sensitive health information. “If doctors said something and it was on the loop, who knows who would have leaked that to the press,” Mary notes. “They didn’t need that kind of situation terrifying people.”

As Irwin moved about the lunar surface, apparently unaware of his precarious health situation, he was struck by the size of the earth – about the size of his thumbnail.

“I was just amazed to see the earth,” he said. “It reminded me of a Christmas tree ornament – a very fragile one, hanging majestically in space. It was very touching to see earth from that perspective.”

At one point, Irwin had trouble with a planned experiment. “He was erecting an experiment that wouldn’t erect, due to a cotter pin or something of that nature,” Mary recalls.

Frustrated in his attempts to get the experiment to work, Irwin decided he would pray.

While raised in a Christian home – and a believer and churchgoer since age 10, he was a nominal Christian at this stage of his life. “Maybe he walked away from his walk with the Lord a little,” Mary suggests. “He described himself as a ‘bump on a log Christian.’”

But he really needed wisdom due to this problem and he said, “God I need your help right now.”

Suddenly Irwin experienced the presence of Jesus Christ in a remarkable way, unlike anything he ever felt on earth. “The Lord showed him the solution to the problem and the experiment erected before him like a little altar,” Mary says.

“He was so overwhelmed at seeing and feeling God’s presence so close,” she says. “At one point he turned around and looked over his shoulder as if He was standing there.”

This unusual encounter with Jesus – some 238,000 miles from earth, changed Irwin’s life forever.

After his return from the moon, Irwin rode in a ticker tape parade through the streets of New York. “There were thousands of people lining the street and he was trying to see all their faces,” Mary recalls. “God dropped it in his heart that he had a responsibility to mankind to share Jesus with everyone after that.”

Like other men in church history who have experienced dramatic encounters with God, the result was an increased power to witness for Jesus Christ, a confidence and boldness that fueled his passion to become an emissary for Jesus Christ to the nations.

Within a year of Irwin’s return from space, he resigned from NASA and formed High Flight Foundation, which is on a quest to reach the world as “goodwill ambassadors for the Prince of Peace.”

“God decided that He would send His Son Jesus Christ to the blue planet,” Irwin said, “and it’s through faith in Jesus Christ that we can relate to God. Jesus Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes unto the Father except through me.’

“As I travel around I tell people the answer is Jesus Christ, that Jesus walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon.”

For two decades, Irwin traveled the world and presented small flags he carried from the moon to the leaders of various countries. “These flags were so powerful,” says Bill Dodder, a close friend to Irwin. “He took flags to each country as a means to witness for Jesus Christ.”

Dodder traveled with Irwin on several expeditions to Mt. Ararat in search of Noah’s Ark. “We ran the Great Wall of China together,” Dodder recalls.

Irwin continued to suffer heart problems after he left the space program. On the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 15 mission, he spoke in Aspen, Colorado. The next day he took a long bicycle ride to the Maroon Bells near Aspen. After the ride, he collapsed due to a massive heart attack and went to live forever with the God he loved – the same one he encountered on the surface of the moon.

It is ironic, perhaps, that his heavenly homecoming was within hours of the 20th anniversary of his earthly homecoming from the moon.

Dodder was with Irwin on the day he passed away. “The day before he died he said, ‘All I want to do is be faithful.’”

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How Great is Our God

How great is our God. We have most probably sung it a few times on Sunday or have listerned to it on Ipods or MP3 players, but truely how great is our God.

Take a walk outside on a clear night. Look up, you’ll probably see loads of stars, God created all of them. hs-2011-17-a-web

Psalm 33:6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their hosts.

Someone said they wish they were at the beginning of creation. I don’t think you would, because when God created everything He spoke it into being.

Genesis 1:3 And God said let there be light and the was light.

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Now leaving our Solar System we see the Milkyway. The Milkyway consists of one billion stars, if we started counting every start, 1 star per second it would take 2500 years to count them all.

Isaiah 40: 25-26 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? Says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.

So finally Neil Armstrong was returning to earth on Apollo 11 and he is quoted “It struck me, that tiny pea, pretty and blue was earth. Putting up my thumb and shutting one eye, my thumb blotted out the earth. I didn’t feel like a giant, I felt very, very small. ”

Psalm 8: 3-4 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers the moon and the stars, which you have set in place. What is man that you are mindful of him and the son of man that you care for him.

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So how small are you?
Or are you still a giant?