A remarkable witness to creation—Satan
Matthew’s Gospel (4:1–4) has the following account of the temptation of Christ by Satan: ‘Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ” ’
This is surely the most unusual testimony to the truth of Genesis Creation that we will find anywhere in the Bible or for that matter in the whole wide world—that of Satan himself. What Satan said in effect was: ‘If you are God, create …! Create the required organic molecules, organize them into the needed complex carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre, etc. with appropriate nutritional content, and impart the necessary chemical changes normally caused by cooking. Do all this instantaneously, and do it by a word of command.’
Why instantaneously? Well, suppose Christ had found a few grains of wheat somewhere, planted them in the ground and watered them while they grew. Then, several months later, He had harvested them, crushed the harvest into flour, mixed the flour with water, and baked it in an oven. This would hardly have complied with Satan’s request for a miracle. It certainly would not have been the immediate alleviation of Jesus’s hunger that was the motivation for the temptation.
Why by a word of command? And how would creating bread (whether from stones or ex nihilo) prove that Christ was God?
Answer: One of the attributes of God is His omnipotence, i.e., He is able to do whatever He wills (consistent with His own holiness).1 During Creation Week, the Creator God willed that certain events should occur by the power of His spoken word. For example, on Day 1, He commanded that light appear. On Day 2, He commanded that there be an expanse. On Day 3, He commanded the land to appear and to produce vegetation. On Day 4, He commanded the sun, moon and stars to be. On Day 5, He commanded that birds and sea creatures exist. On Day 6, He commanded that land animals be, and He created the first man and the first woman.
All of these miracles had two things in common. They happened in response to God’s will expressed through a spoken command, and they happened immediately. They did not happen via any ‘natural’ processes over millions of years.
In the temptation, Satan was challenging Christ to duplicate in miniature form the instantaneous and fiat creation that happened during Creation Week. And of course, for the temptation to have had any meaning at all, Christ must have had the ability to do it. Why? Because it would have been no temptation at all for you and me! So, truly, this is a remarkable testimony by Satan, not only to the truth of Genesis 1, but also to the fact that Christ was the Creator Son of God.2
In the event, Christ did not accede to Satan’s challenge to use miraculous means to satisfy His own physical needs.3 Instead he quoted Deuteronomy 8:3: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’
At the right time, and for the right reasons, Jesus did create.4 The Apostle John describes seven miracles by Christ which he calls ‘signs’, and in his Gospel he shows which way these signs point. He writes: ‘These are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name’ (John 20:31).5 The seven signs recorded in John’s Gospel are:
- Turning water into wine (2:1–11);
- Healing a nobleman’s son (4:46–54);
- Curing a paralytic (5:1–15);
- Feeding 5,000 people (6:1–15);
- Walking on water (6:16–21);
- Giving sight to the blind (9:1–41);
- Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1–44).
These all show Christ’s sovereignty over creation. They all have two aspects in common. They all happened in response to Christ’s command (whether spoken or just willed); and they all happened immediately. Did any of these miracles occur by chance random processes over long periods of time? No, not according to the eye-witness records. Christ, the creator of time, was not bound by time.
Jesus described Satan as ‘a liar and the father of lies’ (John 8:44). One of the lies he propagates in the world today is that the straightforward history recorded in Genesis is not factual. Nevertheless, Satan and his evil angels are well aware of the truth of Scripture. Concerning God, ‘the demons believe—and tremble’ (James 2:19). And the temptation account suggests that Satan knows that the Genesis record of creation is true—or at least, that he knew it would be no problem at all for Christ to instantly and supernaturally create complex organic materials.
Satan’s doom is revealed in Revelation 20:10, and so he is not a candidate for salvation. However, people (for whom Christ died) should realize that belief in creation (or Intelligent Design) alone is not enough to save anyone.6 The Gospel tells us how people can have a right relationship with God, and be saved, through repentance and faith in Christ.
References and notes
- God cannot do things that are contrary to His nature as God. E.g. He cannot look with favour on iniquity (Habakkuk 1:13); He cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:13); He cannot lie (Titus 1:2). Return to text.
- As the New Testament writers later affirm, e.g. John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:3. Return to text.
- In this case, directly attributable to the Spirit of God (Matthew 4:1), who had led Him into this situation of being hungry in the wilderness. Return to text.
- See Grigg, R., Is Jesus Christ the Creator God?, Creation 13(3):43–45, 1991. Return to text.
- There were other miracles, described by the other Gospel writers. John selects these seven. Return to text.
- See Grigg, R., A brief history of design, Creation 22(2):50–53, 2000. Return to text.
Carl,have you ever thought that the translation is erroneous and that
the word create means out of nothing
and form is to shape .
and we are conflicting when it comes to the days it took ,for most important is that the very first word acknowledge that there was nothing,for in the beginning mean just that.
Eryk, this has been suggested/attempted repeatedly over the generations, trying to make something out of the distinction between the words barah (often translated 'create') vs asa (often translated 'make', or 'shape' or 'form'). However, they have an overlapping semantic (meaning) range in Hebrew, which is confirmed by the fact that on at least one instance in Genesis, they are used interchangeably, as follows. Where Genesis 1:26 says, “And God said, Let us make man in our image”, the very next verse confirms that this happened, saying “So God created man in his own image”. Since this obviously refers to the same thing, the fact that in the first instance it is ‘asah’, and the next one is ‘barah’, it is clear that the two are capable of being used interchangeably (and are here so used). The arguments from the Hebrew overall re the days, etc. are so powerful that when defending it, one feels a bit like one is shooting fish in a barrel. See this statement by an Oxford Hebrew professor who has no axe to grind, as he does not believe that Genesis is actually true. But note how all the Hebrew professors at other worldclass universities he knows of agree--and it matches what every ten-year-old tells you the text means. And also what Jesus and the NT writers clearly understood - see Jesus and the age of the earth.
"T. I., Australia, 23 May 2012
What a fatuous statement against science."
The article is pointing out that hidden in the temptation challenge is an assumption over Jesus' ability, displaying fair and honest analytical skill, taking the Bible as a given. I dare say the same skills are a prerequisite for honest science
Your rash conclusion, devoid of arguments and missing the crucial point altogether ends up ironically "against science" and shall we say, "fatuous".
It is a given that fair and honest analysis is not everyone's strength but the defence of truth is not served by trivial analysis, as is not appreciating the difference between statements made by science as opposed to statements made by men wishing to defend it. History is full of the latter at odds with the former.
Interesting point, however, there's one small flaw in your argument:
You say "Satan was challenging Christ to duplicate in miniature form the instantaneous and fiat creation that happened during Creation Week"
Actually no. That would be if he challenged Jesus to create bread from nothing.
Changing rocks into bread is transmutation, not creation.
The perception of a 'flaw' (which I gently dispute) may arise because of an assumption implicit in your comments, namely that ‘instantaneous and fiat’ creation is the same as ex nihilo creation. It is not. Instantaneous and fiat creation can involve ex nihilo creation, but often does not. For example, just as Adam's body was formed with pre-existent materials (dust of the ground, in which is found every basic element in the human body), the same seems to be the case for living creatures, for example Genesis 1:24 where God says 'let the Earth bring forth' the land creatures. So the formation of biological complexity from raw materials, quickly and at His command, is the issue.
Theistic evolution denies that He was able to (and did) generate biological complexity at His command ((fiat) and without requiring long time periods (instantaneous). So the issue is not the raw materials being brought into existence ex nihilo.
I suggest that the word ‘transmutation’ risks confusing the issue. Ancient notions of that involved something like the medieval notion of alchemy, e.g. transforming iron into gold. We now know that that would involve not just taking elements and putting them into different combinations (such as dust to Adam, or earth to land animals, or stone to bread) but would necessitate altering the atomic structure so as to change (transmute) one element into another.
What is often forgotten in all this is that as a created angel, Satan in his prefallen state, created at the beginning of Creation Week (Exodus 20:11) would have witnessed the laying of the foundations of the earth (Job 38:7) and likely the events of Creation Week that followed. Thus he would have been in no doubt about Jesus’ ability to create biological complexity at His command (even baked, ground-up wheat contains complex organic molecules) and instantaneously (the more intelligence applied to a task, the less time, thus infinite intelligence means zero time needed, albeit spaced out over 6 days). So it seems more than reasonable to point out that Satan’s obvious confidence in that ability is an inadvertent testimony to it. (Not the same as suggesting that Satan would have given an honest answer if being questioned on it, by the way).
Hi i enjoyed reading this article, dispite being an atiest, as the theorys are flawed and evidence distant, it does fasion for a fasinating, yet fictional, read on the creationist community and how it validtes its theorys and beliefs although its methods are inconsistant and flawed as are its theorys, creationism does try its best to shove it down the worlds throat even though it has no evidence or scientifc merit, its humourous to me
I respectfully suggest that it is Dr. Weiland’s reply that actually “falls apart in a number of areas.” As I pointed out, simply asking Jesus to do an act of transmutation is not a witness to Genesis 1, inadvertent or otherwise, since transmutation was a standard ability for gods of the ancient world and so could have been asked for as a proof of deity even by those who’d never so much as heard of the Genesis account of creation. To read a knowledge of Genesis 1 into this request, then, is blatant eisegesis. And, yes, it is “fairly obvious, that Grigg was not referring to the bringing of matter into existence so much as he was the ordering of that matter into biological...complexity,” but that is exactly why, as I pointed out, it cannot be seen as a “duplicate in miniature... [of] the instantaneous and fiat creation that happened during Creation Week,” which was not simply ordering pre-existing matter into other forms but involved ex nihilo creation. Furthermore, it was Grigg himself who elsewhere defined creation as “bringing into being immediately and instantaneously matter which did not previously exist, without the use of pre-existing materials,” so I do not understand why you find it problematic that I pointed out the “fairly obvious” fact that the transmutation asked for in Matthew 4 does not fit Grigg’s own definition of creation so, again, it is difficult to see how it could be a “duplicate in miniature... [of] the instantaneous and fiat creation that happened during Creation Week.” Dr. Weiland, then, has not only not refuted any of my arguments, he has not even engaged them.
John, it might be wise to draw our discussion to an end, as we seem to be talking past each other, without getting anywhere. However, I did respond to some similar points from GP of South Africa which appears below (I did so before answering you, even though yours appears before his because yours was sent sooner.) Perhaps those observations will be seen as more adequately engaging with yours, or at least helpful in understanding where we are coming from.
BTW I resisted pointing it out previously, but my name has the 'i' before the 'e'. :-)
While the belief in Creation does not directly affect your salvation status, I think it should be noted that indirectly, believing in some sort of "theistic evolution" (which I consider identical to "atheistic" evolution) can lead you away from salvation by eroding your faith.
The whole concept of using Satan as a witness to the truth of Genesis 1 (or of anything else, for that matter) is a non-starter. Inasmuch as “there is no truth in [Satan]...he is a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44b), as you acknowledge, his words cannot be trusted on anything – you cannot trust an inveterate liar - and therefore he cannot be accepted as a witness for anything. The very idea is risible.
Apropos to this, even if it were the case that Satan did affirm the Genesis account of creation (and he does not), not only would it be useless for us, but the skeptic would have the better case to make: “Satan says the Genesis account of creation is true, but there is no truth in him and he is a liar, so he must be lying about this and therefore the Genesis account must be false.” Furthermore, it is not true that we can see Satan affirming the Genesis 1 account of creation here; Grigg fails signally to make that case. He writes that when Satan said to Jesus, “’If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread,’...[w]hat Satan said in effect was: ‘If you are God, create …!” Griggs then goes on to indicate that it doesn’t matter “whether [Jesus created the bread] from stones or ex nihilo”, yet in Grigg’s own earlier article, “Is Jesus Christ the Creator God?” which he references in footnote 4, he writes, “Some of the essential and distinctive elements of creation, as revealed in Genesis chapter l, as well as elsewhere in the Bible, are...Creation involved the act of God in bringing into being immediately and instantaneously matter which did not previously exist, without the use of pre-existing materials or secondary causes.”) So turning stones to bread would not, by Grigg’s own definition, be an act of creation, but rather an act of transmutation or transubstantiation, in which the subatomic particles that make up matter are simply rearranged.
This fact, then, refutes Grigg’s claim that “Satan was challenging Christ to duplicate in miniature form the instantaneous and fiat creation that happened during Creation Week.” This latter certainly involved more than transmutation; it involved ex nihilo creation, or, as Grigg put it, “bringing into being immediately and instantaneously matter which did not previously exist, without the use of pre-existing materials or secondary causes,” of which turning stones to bread would not be a “duplicate in miniature form.” On the contrary, transmutation was a standard power of ancient gods and so asking for a demonstration of such as a proof of deity would have been an obvious request and would in no way have been linked to Genesis 1 or indicated a belief in the literal truth of Genesis 1. To argue, then, that “truly, this is a remarkable testimony by Satan...to the truth of Genesis 1” is completely unsustainable.
I suggest that this argument falls apart in a number of areas, firstly because the notion of Satan as a witness to the truth was clearly in the sense of being both a hostile witness (in the jargon of courts today) and more importantly, an inadvertent witness. (It is not as if Satan was consciously stating "Genesis is true!", the article deduces it logically from his anticipation that Jesus was capable of that act, otherwise the challenge/demand would make no sense). Also undermining this argument is another thing I would have also thought to be fairly obvious, that Grigg was not referring to the bringing of matter into existence so much as he was the ordering of that matter into biological (or in the case of bread post-biological) complexity.
I've read this event countless times, but never from this perspective. Absolutely brilliant!
A good point raised by this article, in that it is important to remember that there should not be limitations on God. To stretch creation to an evolution is to go way beyond the scripture no matter what the Theistic Evolutionists say and is to take the glory away from God by effectively asking the question; "Did God create?" It is a little bit like the question, "Did God say?" and we all know who asked that question.
More and more I believe that evolution is the false conclusion men have been led into, they have created the hole, and now God has let them fall into it because it all started with doubt in God, the very thing Satan propagated from the beginning.
It is the height of foolishness to accept evolution which is worldly wisdom when Godly wisdom obliterates it. It is to accept something that comes fundamentally from doubt, and anything that comes of doubt is sin. Those of weak faith are also tempted to accept evolution as Jesus was tempted, and unfortunately they accept this worldly-bread, because they are fooled into believing that men know better than God. A lie.
This article makes a very good argument. Thank you very much. I have never seen it like this.
Thanks for a well written and exciting article! Jesus would by no means obey the ridiculous proposals from a fallen angel. Although he could have made bread out of stones, that was most certainly not his way of doing things. To the leaders in Jerusalem, he explained: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." (John 5,19) As the article points out, the Lord God created trees, plants etc. and made them grow in specific ways. So from then on, vines grew, drew water from the ground and turned it into grapes. When Jesus performed his first miracle and made water into wine, he did exactly the same he had seen his Father do, and still does all the time, he just speeded up / accelerated the process, as in a "time-lapse". And when he multiplied some small bread into lots of bread and fed a multitude, he did exactly the same as his Father does: Making corn grow and multiply. He simply made it faster that day just to feed the hungry and show his might just as he said. And he "kept it in the family", so to speak: As the Father, so the Son! Oh, that's so typically him! And remember what he said: "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" (Matt. 7,9)No, that's certainly not HIS way of doing & giving, that is an evil way, typical for the fallen angel. (Has anyone EVER received any good from him?) Let's give praise and honour to our heavenly Father and his beloved Son, our redeemer, saviour and Lord!!
Just one small point brought to mind by this encouraging comment; when Jesus turned water into wine, some have said it was 'speeding up the process'. But there are no carbon atoms in water, as there are in wine, so it would have required a miracle of creation. Equally, when He fed the 5,000, the generation of greater quantities of bread and fishes than before required miracles of creation. And we do not see any hint that these fish went rapidly through their egg phases, etc. but rather would have appeared as adult (dead and already cooked) fish. In short, He was showing the same sort of intelligence and power required to create living organisms in the first place (Even a dead fish is very complex requiring a great deal of specified information, much more so than a star, for instance).
Really enjoyed the article and no criticism,an addition to the wonder.
It appears that the word CREATE is not the same as MAKE.
And does reordering qualify as create or rather make.
Gen 1.1 It appears was the molecular forms created from nothing except *GODS* power contained in variation.Without form
Now we have something to SPEAK TOO AND MAKE WITH.
So as *GOD* is not so great a controller as an omniscient organiser.
As LOVE does not control nessacarilly but certainly responds ahead when it can with alluring LOVE.
*HE* certainly has WON MY HEART.!
Why this interjection,because we can have a miracle of creation and or reformation,even formation,for example:
Gen 2:7-8-19 Deut 32:18
2 Kings 19:25 Job 26:13 Rom 9:20
Make and form may be the same,maybe not but suggest intricacy of soul part or life as against plant make for the perfectness of grammer needed.
Thankful blessings to all for time and devotion it takes.Inasmuch as you did to the least of these my brethren - - -.
Thanks, but one needs to be careful not to push the distinction between create (bara) and make (asah) too far. The Bible makes it plain that they can both mean the same thing, which is why Asah and bara are often used interchangeably. An example is in Genesis 2:4: ‘These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created [bara] in the day that the Lord God made [asah] the earth and the heavens.’ See also the word used for the making/creating of people in Genesis 1:26 (asah) cf 1:27 (bara). In English, make and create can be used to mean the same thing, i.e. they have an overlapping semantic range. Same for asa and barah.
If the desire to keep the Bible not to oppose the scientific community who assert, without experimental evidences, the science of molecules to moral men evolution (thought experiment story aside), there is no suggestion in the Bible that God used the evolution method of mutations and selections and death and sufferings to make the first Adam.
It is only the desire of not causing offence to the evolution-scientific community which tortures the text of the Bible to invent billions of year creation in the Bible text.
What a fatuous statement against science.
One of the key factors that separates Christianity from every other religion, is the fulfilment of prophecy. Satan could not have known that the evolutionary paradigm would be a major piece of his armament in his attack on his arch nemesis. Jesus on the other hand had no such blind spot! Go God!
Hi. Your article says "4.Feeding 5,000 people (6:1–15);", but the Bible says 5000 males or husbands ἀνήρ. A cross reference can be found in Matthew.
Matt 14:21 (ESV)
21) And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.