The Things God Hides

Recently I began teaching the Book of Daniel to our Wednesday evening service. The book of Daniel is a wonderful mix of history and eschatology (eschatology is theological study of the final events of history of man and the universe). It is commonly referred to as the study of the “end times.”

The first chapter deals with the capture and enslavement of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. Chapter two contains the first vision and dream by the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. This dream troubled the king so much that he called all of the magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and Chaldean’s to interpret his dream.

The thought struck me that Nebuchadnezzar was so moved that he did not want to retell his dream, almost like just talking about it would make it come to life. You talk about your nightmares! But this is no nightmare, this is the Hand of God moving in the heart of a pagan king whom the LORD rules.

The magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and Chaldean’s were of course clueless, they had no idea what the dream meant or even what the content of the dream was. They said, ““O king, live forever! Tell your servants the dream, and we will show the interpretation.” Not so fast says the king. You tell me the dream and its meaning and I will lavish gifts and honor on you. However, if you lie to me the meaning of the dream you will find destruction in your future (Daniel 2:4-12). The ruse of these so called “wise men” was unraveling. The Chaldean’s have no clue what is going on. Could it have been the LORD God clouding their thoughts and perception in order to bring glory to Daniel who in turn would give God the glory?

They were finally confronted by Nebuchadnezzar and couldn’t give the king the dream and its interpretation. Nebuchadnezzar was furious, commanding that every “wise man” was to be killed.

Interestingly enough, this command also meant that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were on that list to be killed. You may be more familiar with the the Babylonian names of Daniel’s friends: Hananiah is Shadrach, Mishael is Meshach and Azariah is Abednego.

The book of Daniel has a main theme running through it, “salvation” and the “sovereignty of God.” God was using Babylon to judge the children of Israel. God was using Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan unbeliever, to acomplish His work. God was using a remnant (Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah) to show the world the power of the LORD Almighty.

Study notes are available.

Are You a Naomi or Job?

On Sunday nights, our church has been studying the Old Testament book of Ruth. Last night as I was getting ready to leave, a lady in our congregation came up to me and suggested that I compare Ruth 1:21 and Job 1:21. This intrigued me.  After I got home I eagerly looked at both passages.  Wow.

What we see in these two verses are Naomi’s and Job’s response to the events in their lives. In each case, they had experienced great loss, but there is a dramatic difference in how each one perceived those losses.

Naomi lost her husband and two sons, which led to the loss of her living as there was no man to take care of her. She was in a foreign land (Moab) and decided to return to her home of Bethlehem because the famine was now over in Bethlehem.

As she entered her home town, the townsfolk and family happily turned out to meet her. We pick up the narrative in the first chapter.

Ruth 1:20-21 And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi [pleasant], call me Mara [bitter]: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went out full, and the LORD hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the LORD hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me?

As we can see, she is very bitter at her current situation and is convinced that the “Almighty” is against her and brought on all the calamities of life upon her. Naomi is “Naomi centered.” Her view of life is one of hurt, bitterness and depression.

This was fresh on my mind as we just finished the first chapter.  I eagerly turned to the book of Job. In his case we know that God allowed Satan to interfere with Job’s life, up to the point of death. The incidents that took place included 1) his livestock, oxen, sheep, and camels were stolen and those that were watching over them were slain. 2) all of his 10 children died in a horrible accident (Job 1:13-19).

Job 1:20-22 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, 21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.

Job did not blame God. He also was hurt, but his outlook on life was God centered. He was in deep mourning at such a loss, but he fell down and worshipped God. In all this he did not charge “God foolishly.”

If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you do not get a “free pass” of bad things happening to you in this life on earth.

In Jesus’ great teaching called the Sermon on the Mount, He gave the listeners this truth:

Matthew 5:45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Bad situations will happen to us, that is a fact. It is how we respond to them that will show the intent of the heart to those around you. When life crumbles all around you, will you respond like Naomi or Job?

Should we take the six days of creation literally as twenty-four hour days?

There are several theological and scientific views concerning the creation of all things; cosmos, earth, animals and man.  The two foundational stones in each of these theories centers on; (1) the time it took for creation; billions of years to six literal days, and (2) who or what was the force behind creation.

Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam (1512) is ...
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The point of the argument is this; “Does God really mean what He says?”  A “face value” reading of Genesis chapter one, in context and without any preconceived external ideologies, would lead the reader to believe that God created all things, including the first two human beings in six literal days.  Each day is defined with the phrase “and the evening and a morning were the (first, second, etc.) day”.  Moses, the author of Genesis, was writing in the language of his day to be understood, most importantly through the inspiration of God, and concluded that each day of creation was an “evening and morning”.  Six days of creating and then one day of resting.  By accepting the six literal days of creation, the earth then is not billions of years old, but instead just thousands or a young earth compared to an old earth.  There is no need to insert time gaps into the creation model unless it is to force another theory into Genesis chapter one.

The word “day” can have many meanings and uses.  A day can mean “a period of time”, or “daylight hours”, or “a twenty-four hour period”.  It is important to understand how the word is being used in Genesis One, in context, just as it would to be for someone today to understand when they said, “Back in my dad’s day” or “let’s meet one day next week” or “two days from now”.  Each use of the word “day” has a specific meaning that can only be truly understood when used in the context of the sentence.  The Hebrew word for day is “yom” and like the English word “day”, according to a typical concordance, has many different meanings including;   a specific point of time, a period of light as contrasted to darkness (Genesis 1:5; 14-16, 18), a 24-hour period, a chronology, a year or an indefinite period of time (Psalms 90:10.

Considering the different uses of “yom”, the only way to correctly define what God meant when he signified “evening and morning were the (first, second, etc.) day” is to look at the context and structure of the sentence.  In hermeneutics there is a statement that says; “A text without context is pretext.”  In other words if we take the text out of the context in which it is written leads one to have a pretext of the meaning outside of the meaning of the writer.

In each instance of the days of creation (Gen. 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), the phrase “evening and morning” are used with the number of the creation day.  If we look at the other uses of “yom” outside of the creation of Genesis chapter one, there are over three hundred times where a number and “yom” are used that mean a literal twenty-four hour period.  Looking at the phrase “evening and morning” with “yom”, there are over sixty times they are used together and each time is an ordinary day.  Why would the usage of “yom” in Genesis chapter one be different than all these other verses?

Therefore on this one point, in the usage of the words of our language, in the context they were written and their definitions, without having outside influences, the word for “day” as used in Geneses One as used with a number, must mean an ordinary day of about twenty-four hours.

Theistic Evolution and the Day-Age Theory

Evolution and Theistic Evolution requires two crucial elements; long periods of time and life out of no life (materialism).  Atheists and evolutionary theists generally agree on these two elements, but go about it differently.  The atheists do not believe in God, so there is no special creation in six days but taking six billion years for creation.  Theistic evolutionists profess a certain belief in the Scriptures and attempt to harmonize the biblical account of creation in Genesis, while inserting the evolutionary scenario into the mix.  The theistic evolutionist therefore, does not believe in special creation in six days, but that through six periods of time, God moved on matter and the creation took place.  Their definition of the term “day” is allegorical and represents the definition of “day” that is a period of time instead of a single solar day of twenty-four hours.  The theistic evolutionist’s model is the “Day-Age” theory which says that each day of creation was an age (period of time).  In this way they attempt to harmonize “Special Creation” and “Evolution” into one theory.

Theistic evolutionists will give one of their proof texts as 2 Peter 3:8 where Peter, referring to Psalms 90:4, says, “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”  Of course this verse is taken out of context.  Peter was trying to illustrate that in the last days there would be those who would say that since Jesus had not returned yet, He was not coming back at all.  Peter focuses their attention to the flood and to those who scoffed at Noah.  Peter then pens the words of the eighth verse which was never intended to be a mathematical formula, but that God is the creator of everything including the universe and time itself.  Peter’s point was not that a day equals one thousand years as a standard of time for man to use in understanding God’s time, but that God is above time itself.  The LORD defines time, not man (Hebrews 1:2)

There are many problems with this theory.  One is that they take special creation of Genesis One out of the mix.  Instead their premise is that God got everything started then let nature take over.  They also work so hard on proving their point about the definition of “day”, that they totally disregard the use of “evening and morning”.  The “Day Age” theory would be rendered “and ‘thousands/millions/billions’ of evenings and mornings” are the first day.  To prescribe to this theory would be analogous to saying that when Jonah was in the belly of the fish for three days and nights that he was actually in the fish for three thousand years until he was vomited out on dry land.  A greater miracle than the creation of the world in six days would be that Jonah and the fish would live for thousands of years.  The word in Jonah 1:17 for the number of days in the belly of the fish is the same day as used in Genesis 1:5, 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31; “yom”.

There are those that say that a literal twenty-four hour day could not have been until day number four when the sun, moon and stars were created.  Genesis 1:14  says; “And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:” (emphasis mine).  This point is not convincing one way or another.  God could have created in the first three days of creation, by design, twenty four hour days into the solar system.  When the “lights in the firmament of heaven” were made on the fourth day, they could have been in sync with the definition of “time” that God had originally intended.

Those are my thoughts.  What are yours?