“Bestsellers in psychology are books such as Man Against Himself, The Neurotic Personality of Our Times, and Modern Man in Search of a Soul. Bestsellers in religion are such books as Peace of Mind and Peace of Soul. The popular clergyman preaches soothing sermons on “How to Be Happy” and “How to Relax.” Some have been tempted to revise Jesus’ command to read, “Go ye into all the world, keep your blood pressure down, and, lo, I will make you a well-adjusted personality.” All of this is indicative that it is midnight within the inner lives of men and women.” – Martin Luther King Jr., Sermon – “A Knock At Midnight”
As I mentioned in a recent post, my goal this year is to pay closer attention to the stories of the Old Testament and their theological implications. I recently listened to a David Pawson’s sermon and two things that I’ve never noticed or heard before stood out. I’ve definitely heard people preach on, and witnessed for myself the parallels between Isaac and Christ, Abraham and God the Father. For example, Abraham sacrificing Isaac as a burnt offering (Genesis 22). Here we find Abraham as a type or parallel with God the father. Isaac, being his his “only son” (according to God’s will), as a type of Christ dying on the alter as a sacrifice for sin.
This is where it got interesting. What Pawson brought to light was as the story unfolds (chapters 24-25) we get an even broader view, and the Holy Spirit is introduced. Through Abraham’s senior servant, Eliezer, we see a type of the Holy Spirit. Abraham’s servant, a helper, is sent out to find a bride for the son, Isaac. I was blown away by this! Wow! This is heavy stuff.
Pawson, then went on to explain how these texts (Genesis 22-25) therefore can serve as a beautiful handbook on effective evangelism led by the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 24:17, we find Eliezer stopping to pray –
“Lord, God of my master Abraham, make me successful today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I am standing beside this spring, and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water. 14 May it be that when I say to a young woman, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’—let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
15 Before he had finished praying, Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder. She was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milkah, who was the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor. 16 The woman was very beautiful, a virgin; no man had ever slept with her. She went down to the spring, filled her jar and came up again.
17 The servant hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.”
18 “Drink, my lord,” she said, and quickly lowered the jar to her hands and gave him a drink.
19 After she had given him a drink, she said, “I’ll draw water for your camels too, until they have had enough to drink.” 20 So she quickly emptied her jar into the trough, ran back to the well to draw more water, and drew enough for all his camels. 21 Without saying a word, the man watched her closely to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful.
22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose ring weighing a beka[c] and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels.[d] 23 Then he asked, “Whose daughter are you? Please tell me, is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
24 She answered him, “I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son that Milkah bore to Nahor.” 25 And she added, “We have plenty of straw and fodder, as well as room for you to spend the night.”
26 Then the man bowed down and worshiped the Lord, 27 saying, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not abandoned his kindness and faithfulness to my master. As for me, the Lord has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”
There’s some beautiful imagery here that deserves some serious thought. Here we find Eliezer stopping to pray for guidance before seeking out the bride. But, he’s not just praying for the Lord to send him the right person, he prays for a sign, asking the Lord to lead him to the right person(s). His seeking did not initiate through an abrupt/uninvited evangelistic outreach. I.E. – “Do you know the Lord, or have you ever considered giving your life to Christ……?”. Not at all to say that more aggressive street evangelism has no place, but this lends credibility to the need for “relational evangelism” as well. Especially since it’s taken such a brutal beating from those who find it repulsively weak-minded. However, I love the parallel found between the text here and the filling of the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts (in several instances Acts 4, Acts 10). Before Eliezer can even finish his prayer, God is busy answering – “Rebekah came out with her jar on her shoulder.” God, as usual, was way ahead of the game 😉 Yet that’s not the end. Notice how Eliezer does his part in obedience to his own prayer request: When the servant sees Rebekah he “hurried to meet her and said, “Please give me a little water from your jar.” That’s real faith! It’s more than a prayer, it’s obedience to see it through, to believe that God will move according to his promise (albeit according to his timing and purposes). This text can and will now serve as my handbook on Holy Spirit-led evangelism.
1) Pray and don’t be scared to be specific
2) Look and believe in faith for God to move
3) Go, and act on what you believe in faith
What do Peter and Albert Einstein have in common? Well, for starters both were Jewish by ethnicity. Peter, was a firsthand witness to the miracles and power of God through Jesus Christ.
Einstein, a scientist who struggled from childhood with his faith. He considered himself agnostic, and a skeptic of religion in general. In his book (1949) he wrote:
“A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms—it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man.” – Albert Einstein (The World As I See It) 
Yet and still, I believe that God can and does reveal himself to men in many ways. Psalm 19 (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+19) tells us that God reveals himself to all men through nature (in addition to…).
While Einstein may have never committed to a belief in Christ, which is tragic, I still believe that unbelievers often find glimpses of God in different ways. Einstein, I believe was blessed from birth with a gift of imagination far beyond the capabilities of average joe’s like myself. God gives a natural measure of different gifts and talents to all men. Although, only one of Einstein’s many scientific theories, The Special Theory of Relativity still stands as one of the most broadly known an awe-inspiring. The first part of the Special theory determined that the speed of light was constant regardless of the reference frame it’s observed from. It never changes, moving at the clip of 670,616,629 miles per hour. That’s fast!
Side note: Want to have your mind blown before I explain the second half of Einstein’s theory? Consider that the sun is 92 million miles from the earth. Now, do the math based on the speed of light (186, 282 miles per second) and you’ll realize that it takes almost 8 and a half minutes for a ray of light from the sun to reach the earth. That means that any time you’ve looked up at the Sun you’re seeing it in it’s former state – nearly 8 and a half minutes ago. Strange and hard to fathom right? How could you be viewing an object in it’s former state? Especially 8 minutes ago?
The second postulate in Einstein’s theory was that there is no absolute in space and time. All observations (as objects approach the speed of light) are relative to their frame of reference. In other words, depending on the frame of reference that someone views an event from they could literally witness it happening differently in time. Consider the following thought experiment explaining this idea using a train. One observer witnesses an event from the platform while standing still, the other as the passenger on that train:
Did it make sense? Crazy right?! The experiment is only significant if/when the train or vehicle is moving near the speed of light, however both observers are actually correct in their observation. Einstein supposedly loved challenging himself with thought experiments like the one above. Okay, enough of the science. Let me get to my point.
In the last few posts I’ve highlighted or skimmed the surface regarding the tension between Evangelicals and the science world. I’m hoping to write a number of blogs this year on different issues. Why all the tension? You name it. In a nutshell both sides feel as if one is attempting to chip away at the credibility and worldview of the other. From and Evangelical viewpoint, science is out to discredit the validity of religion. From the science world, they’re less consumed with religion stripping away their worldview and more concerned with religion presenting a hindrance to progress (worldly). Often times both sides are right in their suspicions. At other times, if not most often, the tension is overblown and unnecessary.
Peter and Albert’s Theory of Special Relativity: God’s perspective of Time vs. Man’s
2 Peter 3
New International Version (NIV)
“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.“
New International Version (NIV)
“4 A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.“
Peter, Moses (author of Psalm 90), and Einstein all understood that a period of time can appear longer or shorter depending on who the observer is. To a human being a thousand years feels and sounds incredibly long. To God it’s as if a literal/figurative day has passed.
On the spectrum between the literal and figurative where can we rest our hat in these scriptures? I’m not sure anyone can honestly answer that question, but God himself. What we can conclude is that our feeble-minded view of time can’t compare to God’s. Our finite understanding of time and space can’t compare to a God who 1st Timothy tells us dwells in unapproachable light (what in the world is that???), and existed before the earth was even formed???
Bridging the gap between a Christian earth that’s 6000 years old and a scientific earth that’s 4.5 billion years old:
It’s plausible that when the Holy Spirit revealed the creation story to Moses it was revealed to Moses from God’s frame of reference. In other words, what literally took God days to create from his perspective, is the equivalent of 4.5 billion years in human time scales. And yet and still in His infinite wisdom it’s plausible that he told the creation story from his perspective, because he knew that days, evenings, and nights, make much more sense to us then thousands of millions of years. It’s difficult for human beings to fathom numbers that stretch beyond hundreds of thousands. I’ve been to a football stadium that can hold close to one hundred thousand people. I’ve participated in political marches that hosted hundreds of thousands, but I’ve never encountered figures that reach into the millions that my mind was truly capable of processing. I’ve been to to the beach or to a lake and witnessed countless, maybe millions of grains of sand, but at best all I can do is acknowledge the reality of it. Otherwise, it remains an abstract concept in my mind. Heck, most of us struggle with the “How many marbles are in this jar” question. Large numbers just don’t register well, and when those numbers reach toward the unfathomable, infinity, all bets are off.
On that note, the way in which some Christians cling to a six-thousand year old earth with such fervency often approaches irrationality. The fundamentalist argument is that if we give an inch on the creation story, then we’re well on our way down a slippery slope. Next, we’ll be denying the trinity, the divinity of Christ, and so on. Yet, none of that is necessarily true, or biblically mandated in order to recognize the final authority of scripture. In the same way, the charges of “antiquated” or “out-dated” often given to those who believe in a young earth (6000 years old) is equally wrong-spirited.
I say that while holding firm that being unshakable in the essentials is non-negotiable. Start questioning the identity and character of Christ, the existence of the Devil and Hell, and the necessity of Jesus for salvation and I won’t budge an inch 🙂 Other “non-scriptural litmus tests” in my mind nothing are more than fabrications of men. They’re false obstacles erected by unofficial gatekeepers who look to alienate those that don’t belong in the “club”. Protestants have a long and sordid history of this behavior.
God is fully aware of our limitations. As David Pawson says (paraphrasing), God may have made the creation story so short (7 days, and two short chapters out of eleven-hundred and eighty-nine, less than 1% of the bible), because he wanted the emphasis and majority of time spent on the relationship between God and men “now”. In other words, the focus of the story was meant for Christ, and his relentless pursuit of saving men in the here and now. And much less contemplation on the means by which we all got here.
I feel that I certainly know one thing. The enemy would love nothing more than to have us argue more over how the earth was formed then the very one who created it.
10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
One of my goals this year is to pay EXTRA attention to the stories of the Old Testament. I have to admit, even though I’ve read through the complete bible more than 10+ times now, I feel I’m weakest in knowledge of Old testament stories and characters. While this is probably true of many Christians, relative to the New Testament I’m hoping to reverse my own poor thinking which leads to lack of attention to detail. Because the stories often contain so many seemingly unnecessary details it’s often hard to maintain concentration from start to finish. As a result, stories, characters, and names tend to slip my mind while reading. From what I’ve been able to gather from scholars, theologians, and pastors it often requires diligent mining and attention to detail when reading the O.T. to fully dissect the meaning of stories and their theological implications.
As I commenced on the start of yet another year of faithful reading through the whole bible, I pondered the following things which I plan to research more in the coming days…. BTW, want to follow an annual reading plan? Start here: https://psalmfiftyone.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/annual-bible-reading-schedule/
1) The creation account, primarily laid out in Genesis 1 is more of an overview followed by a more in depth description of the “sixth day” starting in Genesis 2:4. For me, it clears up a bit of the confusion as to why Genesis 1 and 2 seem to contain separate accounts of creation that could be seen as conflicting. For instance, how could all of the plants and animals have already been created and ‘brought forth’, yet Genesis 2 states that nothing had grown on the earth ( i.e. Genesis 1:11 – “Herb that yields seed) until around the time Adam was formed from the ground. Although everything was “created” it didn’t grow until God sent a mist(rain) to water the earth (Genesis 2:5-6)? Some say this time period only relates to crops that were farmed and edible for men. Who really knows though?
In addition, it also shows a potential gap in time/history (Genesis 1-2:3 and Genesis 2:4 – 3) which could or could not explain the tension between those who believe the world was literally created in six days and those who see it more or less as a figurative retelling of the creation story. Don’t get angry if you see things one way or the other. It’s really not worth it 😉 If you’re interested in reading more about numerous theories on creation, you can get an overview by checking out my creation series here:
If I can get my resources together fast enough, my next blog post will be about Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and how it could figuratively/literally explain the gap between men’s understanding of time and God’s. Two perspectives that appear different, but are both “right” by observation. Don’t worry, just pray that I won’t get too New Agish with it. Hee Hee, Stay Tuned!
2) God gave Adam(exclusively) the command to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Eve had not been created [by God] yet). At least chronologically it reads that way. I assume that Adam told Eve. That controversy alone conjures up some pretty comedic images of Adam and Eve (husband and wife) arguing over the man not talking enough or sharing adequate details with his wife. A comedy skit about that would be pretty funny.
3) If you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, God did not kick Adam and Eve out of the garden solely because they were disobedient. They were obviously guilty as charged and the penalties were real and just, painful child birth, toilsome farming labor, and so on. Again, I’m trying to explore DETAILS this year. I’m primarily speaking of our collective assumption that they were given the boot only due to their original sin. While that very well may have been the overwhelming reason they had to leave the Garden there is only one explicitly stated reason that I find in the creation story:
New Living Translation (NLT)
“22 Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings[e] have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” 23 So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. 24 After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”
He kicked them out because of the knowledge obtained through their disobedience. As a result of their fallen state, they knew just enough to be a danger to themselves. Enough to go and eat from the tree of life and grant themselves access to eternal life. The heart is deceitful above all (Jeremiah 17:9). Ain’t it?! Yet, God had another plan to redeem men from themselves and sin. In the process they/we’d find eternal life in doing so. It was so important that He blocked access by placing an Angel in the garden to guard it, and you best believe that nobody was getting passed him! And perhaps it’s a good thing that He did. Who wants the blessing/curse of eternal life on a planet that has limited resources????? Talk about population overcrowding, war, lack of food and water, the multiplication of evil, endless sickness, pain and suffering?!?!?! That puts a new spin on Paul’s words about longing and “earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven” – 2 Corinthians 5. Eternal life trapped on a doomed planet with finite resources would have been an absolute disaster!
Ha Ha! I love the bible and am looking forward to going through it yet again.
Grace to you……