Thursday, October 15, 2015
From Chaos to Christ, Part III
Let's review. We are exploring how God imposed order on the cosmos. He hovered over formlessness and darkness. He spoke into existence order and design and saw that it was good. The forces of nature were contained in His hand; they were not out of control or the manifestations of other gods. The universe was subject to law--God's order--and we were to be part of that reign.
Then, out of the trees, came a hissing voice that said, "Did God really say..." God's very words came into doubt. Doubt led to disbelief. Disbelief led to sinful action.
The fall of human beings reintroduce chaos into creation. In fact, Paul says that "the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now" (Rom. 8:21-2).
Death, disease, decay: These were not part of God's original design.
Man then, in reversal of God creating man in His image, then creates God in his image. Romans 1 outlines the downward spiral of when man ignores the order and design of creation:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom. 1:18-32)
Wow. The spiral into chaos has been played out in every generation, and continues even now. God reveals His divine qualities through His creation; people don't revere Him and become futile in their thinking; they then recreate Him, not as the One but as many; not invisible but as idols. Lust replaces love, and sexual practice violates divine order. This violation leads to an even deeper depravity: man ignores his conscience and does willingly what he knows violates God's order.
Let's now focus on the ultimate idol-worshiping people to the Hebrews: the Egyptians. Egyptian society was visually epic, with its pyramids, statues and endless hieroglyphic walls extolling the virtues of the gods and the pharoah. A false “order” was achieved, for these gods did not exist. Thus, this impressive foundation was built upon nothing.
So, through God's mighty power, Moses came to show the superiority of God over the Egyptian concept of order, with its god-king, building projects, and gods for every natural force. The Ten Plagues were a reversal of creation, a reversal of Genesis, proving that Egypt was founded on a false order. The worst fears of ancient people were realized: Chaos returned.
God overturned the Egyptians’ concept of order. Keep Genesis in mind as you read what happened: The river Nile and all the rivers turn to blood. Water is now dark and will not sustain life. The waters, once teeming with life, now have a disgusting abundance of frogs. The skies, once teeming with life, now have a disgusting abundance of gnats and flies.
(Isn't interesting that Goshen, where the children of Israel reside, is not affected? It's a little Garden of Eden...)
God made wild animals and livestock. The livestock, instead of supporting human life, is now plagued. What God gave humans as a gift is removed by disease and death. (Goshen is equally not affected. There, the wild animals and livestock still run free...)
Now, the human body, instead of mirroring the beauty and skill of God's creative hand, registers chaos: boils. An epidemic sweeps across the human population. (The children of Israel have a Edenic immunity, as it were.)
The rain that falls from the skies is now frozen. Instead of the water imparting life, the hail destroys the crops of flax and barley. (Goshen remains safe.) Yet, even amid the chaos, the wheat and the spelt are not destroyed. God's merciful hand is still evident.
The life that crawls on the ground--the locusts--now explodes in horrifying numbers, and “nothing green remained” (Gen. 10:15).
God spoke light into existence and separated the light from the darkness; now, even the light at night is swallowed up in a terrible darkness that could be “felt.” (Israel still resides in the light.)
For the last plague, the fall of man's most terrible legacy will be visited upon all the first born, Hebrews included. This plague reverses the "Be fruitful and multiply" directive of Genesis. Reproduction, continuation and generation will all cease under the wings of the Angel of Death. The firstborn will bear the brunt of God's judgment.
But doesn't that echo what God said in the Garden? He said that order, in effect, will be restored by the crushing of the Serpent’s head by God's Anointed. His Firstborn will bear the brunt of judgement for all humankind.
So, did the gods of Egypt really provide order? No: see how quickly disorder came! God reasserts His order and says, "that I might show My Power and that My Name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Gen. 9:16).
God’s covenants throughout history are reimposing His order onto creation. The Covenant of Noah reestablished control over the destructive force of water. The Covenant of Moses reasserted control over all natural forces and the supposed gods therein. The Covenant of David reasserted God's involvement over human affairs, by establishing a monarchy that will set up a royal lineage, leading someday to the Messiah, the “Son of David.” This Firstborn Son will come for all people, Jew and Gentile alike, and of His kingdom, there will be no end.
Next time: God's Final Assault on Disorder: The Ministry of Jesus Christ