Rest, Revival, and Creation
Genesis negates evolutionary compromise
Published: 28 July 2020 (GMT+10)
Many Christians desire spiritual revival (2 Chronicles 7:14). They pray for God’s righteousness to rain down on the Church, acknowledging that “it is time to seek the LORD”; the “fallow ground” in our lives and our churches desperately needs to be broken up (Hosea 10:12). I share this conviction. However, I believe that God will not bring revival to the Church until she repents of her godless commitment to gradualistic and materialistic beliefs about origins (i.e. the process of evolution) and returns to the revealed truths about a finished, cursed, and yet-to-be-renewed creation. There are two fundamental questions:
- Has God definitively spoken?
- If so, are the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments a record of that definitive revelation—as the historic Christian faith has always affirmed?
To both these questions, of course, the Bible writers give an unequivocal ‘Yes’.
Historical overview of science, the Bible and origins
Five hundred years ago Martin Luther brought the Gospel of justification by faith back to the Church. Why did he need to do that? Because the Roman church had transmuted the simple Gospel of faith in Jesus and his finished work on the cross into a works-based religion, with the power of absolution from sin vested in the hands of the priesthood. Martin Luther lived one and a half millennia after Jesus Christ. So where did he get his message from? From the Bible! Why did he attribute greater authority to the Bible than to a thousand years and more of Church tradition? Because the Bible is God’s definitive and final word, written down. But why had the Church departed from the truth in the first place? The Garden of Eden gives us the answer: Satanic deception and human pride! Analogous modern deception manifests itself in false claims and beliefs about science. Science is a method—just a method. But it has been manipulated into a godless philosophy.
The Reformation birthed modern science. The ancients had remarkable technology—the pyramids, classical architecture, intricate metal-working (the Antikythera ‘computer’, ancient British enamel). But they had no ‘science’ in the modern sense of the word. Modern science grew out of the conviction that the world around us is rational, and can therefore be rationally studied, considered, and subjected to experiment. The ancient Greeks, with all their philosophy, never thought of the world as rational. Some even affirmed that the world of nature was the work of a lesser god—the Demiurge. The rediscovery at the Reformation of the God of the Bible (the true God) encouraged the view that, if God is the Supreme Mind, the Supreme Reasoner, then he must have created a rational world. Mankind is made in God’s image, and therefore has the capacity to study the natural world around him and apply that knowledge, albeit his mind is now imperfect.1 Of itself, there was nothing original about this, The Bible affirms that God created all things by his Wisdom—indeed, through his Son, who is the Logos. It further asserts that God put the world under the authority and subjection of man, What the Reformation did was take up these truths and make use of them as never before.
England in the first half of the seventeenth century—despite its political and ecclesiastical turmoil—was favoured by a race of preachers (Puritans) without parallel in the history of the Church. From them came the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) with its succinct summary of Biblical creation:
“It pleased the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, for the manifestation of the glory of his eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, in the beginning, to create, or make of nothing, the world and all things therein whether visible or invisible, in the space of six days, and all very good.”
With the Great Ejection that followed England’s Act of Uniformity in 1662, however, two thousand of these ministers were ejected from their parishes—a policy initiated by Archbishop Laud, and from which the Anglican Church has never recovered. Their places were filled by an assortment of Latitudinarian (‘liberal’), Deist, and Socinian (‘unitarian’) ministers. Nineteenth century Bishop J C Ryle said that during the eighty years that followed 1662, it seemed as though the Gospel might be lost in England for ever.
The Evangelical Awakening significantly restored the Gospel, but the biblical doctrine of creation, which is the only true and proper context for the Gospel, was left to languish, rather than be pro-actively affirmed. This was the time when the Industrial Revolution was beginning to transform the nation. Necessary excavation and quarrying of building materials led to the exposure and discovery of vast numbers of fossils. This in turn gave rise to the so-called ‘science’ of historical geology.
Science deals with what is provable and repeatable, and the Church, with the Holy Scriptures as her authority and under the leading of the Holy Spirit, had, and continues to have, a twofold responsibility:
(a) to define rigorously what science is and what it is not, and
(b) to reaffirm unequivocally the biblical doctrines of creation, ruin, and future renewal.
Creation was through the Son of God, the Eternal Logos, who became man. It was by God’s spoken fiat (‘fia t’, Latin for ‘let it be’: “God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light”; Genesis 1:3). It was ex nihilo, not from pre-existent matter. Matthew Henry, whose father Philip had been one of the ‘Westminster Divines’, took an unequivocal stand here. He wrote that:
“Nothing is more injurious to the honour of the Eternal Mind, than the supposition of eternal matter.”
Death was introduced by God into a perfect world as a penalty for Adam’s sin and as a part of the curse (Romans 5). The universal character of the curse, the subjection of the whole universe to mataiotēs, ‘futility’, along with its future restoration, described as “the freedom of the glory of the children of God”, is unambiguously affirmed by the apostle Paul (Romans 8:21). And the universal character of the Flood, which destroyed the whole World, is made unmistakably plain in Genesis (all the high mountains were covered to depth of fifteen cubits) and by Peter (“the world that then existed was deluged with water”, 2 Peter 3:6).
The incarnation of the Son of God as Adam #2, to undo the work of Adam #1, is inextricably bound up with all of this. It is, indeed, the reconciliation of the whole universe through the cross which is the ultimate goal of redemption (Colossians 1:20).
This is what should have been affirmed as the new ‘geology’ emerged, and, as we saw with Matthew Henry, to some extent it was. But for the most part, in that era commonly known as the Enlightenment, it was Deist, rationalistic, and atheistic interpretations of the ‘fossil record’ that gained ascendancy. Rejecting the true God of the Bible, with his awesome power of ‘fiat’ creation, they developed models of earth history of their own—models very similar to those of pagan antiquity. And, as with the Epicurean model set out by Lucretius (Paul spoke with some Epicureans in Acts 17), all of these demanded vast aeons of time—not the several thousand years recorded in the Bible.
For some who wished somehow to retain the oversight and involvement of ‘God’, the idea of ‘progressive creation’ gained currency. According to this, God created, and subsequently destroyed by water, a succession of progressively more complex creatures, leading up to man. George McCready Price (1870–1963), the early 20th century creationist, tersely described this idea as “creation on the instalment plan”!
Others adopted the ruin-restoration model, popularised by Thomas Chalmers in the early nineteenth century, and commonly known as the Gap Theory. This affirms that there is a space of thousands (subsequently, millions and then billions) of years in Genesis 1:2. The earth became formless and void, as a result to Satan’s rebellion and a whole proto-world of fossils and pre-Adamite man was destroyed. God then reconstituted his world in six days, and the rest of the Bible narrative takes over from there. It seems that even Charles Haddon Spurgeon, an arch-opponent of evolution, accepted this idea, and it was de rigueur for very many evangelical Christians right up to the 1950s. Even the Evolution Protest Movement—the ‘first creationist organisation in the world’—was Gap-creationist. In its present form as the Creation Science Movement this is no longer the case; it has a firm biblical creation position.
Even before Darwin, therefore, many Christians had tried to hold on to a belief in God as Creator, but had capitulated to a belief in long earth ages. There is no way that they could then hold the line. Along comes Charles Darwin with his Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. You don’t need God he says (though he mentions him as original creator in the early editions of his work). All you need is natural variation, lots and lots of time (the ‘geologists’ had given him that) and the obvious notion that organisms most fitted to survive will survive.
Creation and the philosophy of science
Now, none of this has to do with verifiable science. Science works by a process of induction, deduction, experimentation and (where required) application. Induction means looking at the world of nature and identifying possible common features, and then working ‘upwards’ to form an hypothesis—a likely explanation for these common features. (Some philosophers of science reject induction, in favour of ‘hunches’). Deduction is reasoning ‘downwards’, drawing out the implications of the hypothesis. Experimentation means testing your deductions in as many ways as practically possible. If your tests fail, forget it and start again. If they are successful, then you are on to something! You might even start manufacturing and making a profit! Scientific experiments must be measurable, repeatable and (potentially) refutable. If you cannot set up an experiment which could, potentially at least, refute your deduction, then, whatever you are doing, it is not science. Successively, the realms of heat and thermodynamics, electromagnetism, nuclear physics, and genetics have been explored and the discoveries put to (generally) good effect.
Now, it is obvious from this that science is a method of investigating things as they are, not how they came to be. To investigate experimentally how something came to be, you would first have to make it absolutely non-existent, and then equally absolutely make it exist. And then do this repeatedly. The First Law of Thermodynamics affirms that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed. This does not mean that intrinsically the creation and destruction of matter/energy is impossible (God created ex nihilo by his Word); rather it means that this cannot be demonstrated by science—which deals with things as they are, not how they came to be. Darwinian evolution is a philosophy devoid of scientific basis. For it to take place would require the spontaneous generation of new genetic information and the equally spontaneous generation of intelligent receptors of the information in already existing organisms. This has not only never been observed or demonstrated, there is no way that this could happen. All information, including genetic information, is meaning-in-a-code. Meaning comes first, and meaning is—to coin a word—synetic (from synesis, meaning ‘understanding’): Meaning presupposes a mind.2
There is no such thing as a ‘scientific view of origins’, but it is possible to invoke the idea of scientific concordance. The materialist model which is so widely held is scientifically discordant. It claims that everything can be explained scientifically. But it cannot account for the origin of matter (energy), nor of order, nor of life, nor of genetic information. The ‘big bang’ is claimed to explain how the universe came into being, but there are many problems. For instance, ‘explanations’ for the origin of stars depend on hypothetical and improbable entities such as dark matter and there is not even agreement about the origin of the moon—the only bit of the universe (apart from the earth) that man has ever visited! Professor Harold Urey, pioneer of the analysis of rocks from the Apollo missions to the moon said,
“It is easier to pretend the moon is not in the sky than to explain how it came to be there.”3
The concept of geological ‘deep time’ (as it became known) was developed to discount the catastrophist beliefs held by most of the early nineteenth century geologists. From then on, the vast depths and layers of the ‘fossil record’ were interpreted as contrary to the Mosaic account.4 Slow, upward evolution was then invoked to account for the fossils and the ‘stratigraphic evidence’. But evolution has never been scientifically observed to occur. Even Thomas Huxley, the arch promoter of Darwin’s ideas, was aware of this.
Cosmological deep time (the ‘14 billion years of the universe’s history’) is a blend of extrapolation backwards from ‘geological time’ and of mathematical calculation, based on the assumed big bang origin of the universe. But none of it is remotely testable. And, if it is not testable, it is not science.
The origin of life and genetic information are two massive problems for the materialist. The materialist model declares that life and genetic information originate spontaneously. Our children are taught that in school. But, it is untrue. Back in the 1940s, Norbert Weiner, a pioneer of information theory, observed that information is neither matter nor energy, and any science which ignored that was irrelevant. Furthermore, all materialist philosophy is reductionist; it assumes that everything must have a materialistic explanation.
The evolutionist and materialist holds to a kind of grand-old-Duke-of-York cosmogony: Contrary to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, you have to get your universe energised and then your biological evolution to the top of the hill. Logically, this upward and onward evolutionary process will continue unhindered. Logically, therefore, deforestation, animal extinction, plastic environmental invasion, should all be seen as part of this upward march, part of the “struggle for life” (Charles Darwin). But, no! Reality kicks in. We are marching down the hill! We have to do something about it!
No such self-contradiction is found in the biblical model, which is wholly science-concordant. Hebrews 11:3 affirms that the only knowledge of the origin of matter and of the universe we can have is by faith (“what is seen was not made out of things that are visible”; the italicised words, in Greek are to phainomenōn = stuff already in existence). This presupposes revelation. The materialist rejects revelation, but he nonetheless holds his view of cosmogony by faith. However, unlike the creationist, he would rarely admit it.
By his wisdom God created life—only He can do that (Romans 4:17). Operating through his Son, the Logos, He wrote all the genetic information for all the creatures, distinguishing them into ‘kinds’. The heavens, which declare God’s glory are vast, because he “stretched them out” (see Isaiah 42:5 and other parallel references). All the laws of the universe reflect his ordering and power. And He created man in his image, with reason, and with moral, aesthetic, and creative senses, and with an ability to relate to Him. And with the power of speech! All attempts to explain human language in terms of evolution have failed miserably.
When the man He had made rebelled against Him, God put a curse on creation, to curb the growth of evil, and in hope of a yet more glorious world, yet to be. And He did all of this through the power of his Spirit (his “right hand”) and through the instrumentality of his Son, in whom the reality of the age to come has already been manifested: He has risen from the dead in a spiritual and glorious body! One day He will raise and transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body. He will do it,
by the power which enables him to subject all things to himself (Philippians 3:21)
But for now, we live in a universe that has been created and energised (creation is finished) and ordered—but subsequently is cursed and running down, wearing out like a garment, heading towards entropy. (The Lord will renew it long before it gets there; i.e. completely run down, maximum entropy). That is the world that is open for scientific discovery and application. Biblical creation offers us the only scientifically-concordant model of the world and the universe.
Creeping unbelief and frustrated expectations of revival
During the so-called Down-Grade Controversy in the Baptist Union in the 1880s, Robert Schindler, a friend of C H Spurgeon, gave a remarkable observation about Charles Darwin:
If anyone wishes to know where the tadpole of Darwinism was hatched, we could point him to the pew of the old chapel in High Street, Shrewsbury, where Mr Darwin, his father, and we believe his father’s father, received their religious training. The chapel was built for Mr Talents, an ejected minister [that is, ejected from the Church of England in 1662]; but for very many years full-blown Socinianism [i.e. Unitarianism—denying the Trinity, therefore denying Jesus as Creator God] has been taught there, as also in the old chapel at Chester, where Matthew Henry used to minister, and where a copy of his Commentary, of the original edition, is kept for public use, the only witness, we fear, to the truths he taught there.
Schindler is showing that ‘science’ was adversely conditioned by theology (bad theology!)—not the other way round, as is commonly supposed.
In 1947–48 the BBC broadcast a series of lectures on the ‘The Ideas and Beliefs of the Victorians’, which were published in The Listener. One of these was by Frank Sherwood Taylor, Curator of The Museum of the History of Science at Oxford, and soon to become Director of the Science Museum in London. His subject was ‘Geology Changes the Outlook’, and during his talk he said:
“I myself have little doubt that in England it was geology and the theory of evolution that changed us from a Christian to a pagan nation.”
At the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign (1837), the Bible’s account of creation, the global flood, and the time-frame in which they are set were still widely accepted by the public, even if many intellectuals no longer believed them. By the end of the nineteenth century all three had been almost universally abandoned. The man on the Clapham omnibus5 had chosen to believe he was made in the image of an ape-like creature, rather than in the image of God. He could then discard the Bible—with its God, its law and its Gospel—and effectively become a pagan. Sherwood Taylor used the discovery of Petra in 1812 to illustrate the extraordinary change of thinking that had taken place. Tourists soon began to visit this inaccessible wonder, described as, “the rose-red city, half as old as time.” That phrase still persists in travel brochures; but when it was coined, it was meant literally. In popular belief, time was measured in thousands, not millions, of years.
Five years later after Sherwood Taylor’s broadcast (in 1953), a meeting of members of the Evangelical Alliance took place in London. They were concerned about the spiritual state of the nation, and the increasing detachment of the nation from the Church, following WW2. There were some encouraging signs. There had been a conspicuous movement of the Holy Spirit in the Isle of Lewis (Outer Hebrides), under the ministry of Duncan Campbell. There were groups and organisations emphasising personal holiness, intercession, and personal and national revival. The Evangelical Alliance fixed on a bold plan. They would invite the young evangelist Billy Graham to conduct an evangelistic crusade in London. And they decided, against all ‘wise’ advice, to book the Harringay Arena for twelve weeks.6
No-one knew what the response would be. Two of Billy Graham’s distinguished American guests invited on the first night thought it would be a flop, and decided to accept an invitation to have dinner with the Foreign Secretary instead. How wrong they were! Every night for three months—and twice on Saturdays—Graham preached to overflowing crowds. Many thousands made a response to Jesus Christ. The atmosphere at the meetings was truly amazing. You can get a flavour of it by viewing the film A Mighty Fortress on YouTube. My parents took me there one night. I recall the ‘atmosphere’ and the immense crowd. People were singing on the tube trains. Many thought revival was coming.
But it did not come.
Among those greatly impressed by Billy Graham’s ministry was David Frost. In 1997 Frost published a book entitled Billy Graham: Personal Thoughts of a Public Man. The book is a record of thirty years of personal discussions between Graham and Frost. Here is an extract from it:
“One of the first times we met, I wanted to know how Billy Graham interpreted the Bible.
Frost: Are you a Bible literalist? And what about evolution versus creationism? … I mean, what do you view—do you view, for instance, the creation of the world as it’s shown in the Bible as a parable and, at the same time, accept scientific suggestions about the age of the world?
Graham: Oh, I don’t think that there’s any conflict at all between science today and the Scriptures … . The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of redemption, and of course, I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe he created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and a certain point he took this person or this being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man.
Frost: But the fact remains, doesn’t it, Mr Graham, that what you’re saying you are, in fact in one way or another modifying the Bible a bit and looking at it through your own understanding? …
Graham: I didn’t modify because I didn’t finish. I personally believe that it’s just as easy to accept the fact that God took some dust and blew on it and out came a man as it is to accept the fact that God breathed upon man and he became a living soul and it started with some protoplasm and went right up through the evolutionary process …”
Billy Graham, whose preaching was so renowned for the phrase, “The Bible says …” took another approach, a ‘modified’ one, when it came to creation! Fifty years later, in 2005, the Evangelical Alliance, who invited Billy Graham to Harringay, moved very significantly away from the historic Christian faith. It no longer affirmed the sufficiency of Scripture, as stated in the original basis of faith in 1846 (in fact, this had already been taken out in 1970),7 and it removed the doctrines of the Fall, original sin, and total depravity.
Over three thousand churches belong to the UK’s Evangelical Alliance. Its current basis of faith is open to the charge of Pelagianism;8 see also BioLogos, theistic evolution and the Pelagian heresy. Indeed in the very issue of the IDEA magazine (May–June 2005) in which the EA published its new Basis of Faith, theistic evolutionist Denis Alexander wrote:
“All who disobey and trust in their own wisdom in place of God’s law reiterate the historical fall in their own being.”
However, we cannot “reiterate the historic fall”. It is precisely this notion which Thomas Cranmer, in the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, described as “vain”. He stated:
“Original sin standeth not in the following of Adam, (as the Pelagians do vainly talk)” (Article 9).
How do we account for such changes? They undoubtedly reflect a rejection of biblical cosmogony and history, in favour of a belief in ‘deep time’ and theistic evolution.
But Frank Sherwood Taylor’s perspective on this is still unassailable:
“I myself have little doubt that in England it was geology and the theory of evolution that changed us from a Christian to a pagan nation.”
Faith inherits God’s Rest
It is so often said that six-day creation is a peripheral issue, a red herring. ‘Let’s just get on with preaching the gospel,’ they say. Hebrews 3 and 4 gives a complete answer to that, showing as it does that the whole of divine activity and of salvation is bound up with creation completed in six days, at the beginning. The author has been writing about the supremacy of Jesus Christ over Moses. And then he turns to the lessons to be learned from the actions and experiences of the Israelites in the wilderness. He starts by quoting Psalm 95:
Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, I was provoked with that generation, … I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” (Hebrews 3:7–11)
By the mighty hand of God Israel had been delivered from Egypt and was heading for the Land of Promise, to enjoy what God describes as, “My Rest”.
They could have arrived in Canaan in under two years. But they rebelled against God. They sent twelve spies to view the land. It was a great land! A fertile land! But the inhabitants were fearsome and the cities well-fortified. Caleb and Joshua encouraged the people to go on up, trusting in the Lord. The other ten spies said it was too dangerous. Their counsel prevailed. Listening to them, the Israelites were sentenced to wander in the wilderness for another thirty-eight years. By end of that time, all who had come out of Egypt had died, and it was their children who entered the land. But there were two exceptions, Caleb and Joshua, the spies who believed.
But God’s Rest did not end there. It has a far wider application. It is there for us today:
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news [the Gospel] came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened [Caleb & Joshua]. For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,“As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest’”,
although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works” (Hebrews 4:1–4).
Again, in this passage he says, “They shall not enter my rest” (v. 5), continuing:
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his (Hebrews 4:8–9).
Here are seven amazing truths arising from and related to all of this:
First. There is a fundamental and radical distinction between God’s creative activity and what happened afterwards—his Rest. At a stroke, this precludes any notion of evolution, which would be a continuing process, continuing still. The fundamental change itself is set forth in of Hebrews 1:2–3: The world was created through the Son of God, and, with that work completed, He now upholds the universe by the word of his power. In terms of historic Christian theology, this is the radical distinction between Creation and Providence. Creation is finished, and the finished creation is upheld by the power of the same Word which brought it into being.
Second. Hebrews 4 affirms that the creative activity of God took six days. The fundamental change from creation to providence took place on the seventh day, and continues on from that. This is, of course, a reaffirmation of Genesis 1–2:3. None of this is an evolutionary process, but a series of creative events. Nor can the days be ages, for Providence takes over after all of creation is finished, not between two and more creation events. The radical distinction between finished creation and subsequent providence rules out all the major reinterpretations of Genesis 1: Progressive creationism, theistic evolution, the Gap, the framework hypothesis. None of these can be reconciled with Creation finished, followed by Providence in immediate succession. All have Creation/Evolution operating at the same time as Providence.
Third. All of this is “from the foundation of the world”. No evolution, no progressive creation, no ruin-restoration/Gap Theory. Everything was up and running from the very beginning of the universe—at the end of the six days of creation!
All pagan and philosophical cosmogonies affirm that the universe arose from pre-existent matter.9 From this everything eventually emerged over long periods of time. As Renford Bamburgh noted, “There is not a trace of ex nihilo creation in the whole of Greek philosophy” (quoted from memory). God’s revelation recorded in Scripture, shows that everything was created, fully functional, right from the beginning, and out of nothing—by the mere word of God. This includes all life, including human life.
Fourth. God’s Rest. After completing his creation, God began the work of Providence, the work of upholding his creation. But that time, the time which continues from that day to this, and until the time of the new heaven and earth, is described as “God’s Rest”. Verses 3 & 4 say:
“His works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all as his works.’”
“Somewhere”, of course, is speaking of Genesis 2:1–3:
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
That brings us to both the fact of God’s Rest and its character. The fact of the Rest is not only recorded in Genesis 2, but specifically also in Exodus 20 and 31:
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God … For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (Exodus 20:8–11)
“Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.” (Exodus 31:16–17)
Fifth. Don’t miss the intriguing phrase at the end of Exodus 31:17: On the seventh day he rested and was refreshed. The verb used here (naphas) is from the same root as nephesh, often translated as ‘soul’. But it has reference to the breath of life. In Genesis 2:7, we read:
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”
In spite of the incredible amount of work required for Creation, God’s energy was not sapped—Omnipotence doesn’t tire! Yet, the Lord God ‘took a breather’ on the seventh day that man would have a pattern for a working week (six days of labour, one of rest).
Sixth. As for the character of the Rest. Philo of Alexandria (De Cherubim, XXVI) emphasises that God’s Rest is not inactivity. Rest is a different kind of activity. Exodus 20 and 31 make it clear that the week consisting of six days of labour followed by one of rest was God’s design for his chosen people Israel. It was therefore integral to the Ten Commandments. There are restrictions in the Pentateuch about what the people of Israel could do on the Sabbath. The Pharisaic tradition had multiplied the restrictions. Jesus challenged them, and often healed on the Sabbath. “The Sabbath was made for man,” he said, “not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27); and in John chapter 5, when he was challenged about healing on the Sabbath, Jesus says,
“My Father is working until now, and I am working” (verse 17).
Here was an allusion to his being God and Creator! Most remarkably of all, therefore, Jesus described himself as “LORD of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). Moses was not Lord of the Sabbath, neither is the archangel Gabriel. Only God is Lord of the Sabbath! Again, don’t miss the point. Healing is a ‘Rest’ activity that pre-supposes a finished creation! If you surrender to evolution (a concept which is inherently on-going and never ‘finished’), you lose this distinction, and you lose the truth!
Seventh. Access to the Rest is through Jesus Christ, and—as Lord of the Sabbath—it always has been!
“Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
Notice, again, that God’s Rest, Sabbath Rest, is not inactivity: “Take my yoke upon you [like two oxen ploughing] … and you will find rest for your souls.” The Rabbis spoke of ‘the yoke of the law’—“heavy burdens” (Matthew 23:4; compare Acts 14:10). And that yoke brings death (2 Corinthians 3:6). But being yoked to Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit brings life!
Interestingly, while Psalm 95 (in the Greek), Hebrews 3 and 4, and Matthew 11 use compounds of pauō (Gk word meaning ‘rest’) to describe the Divine Rest, Hebrews 4:9 also uses the word sabbatismos, to emphasise the unity of the ‘Rest’ promise, from creation to final redemption. Most likely the writer himself coined the word (a related verb is found in Exodus).
God’s Rest commenced on the seventh day of the first week, AM1 (Anno Mundi—the year of the world—#1). The privilege of sharing this Rest with God has been on offer since then. Adam and Eve entered it in their original and unfallen state, and they were happy. But they broke faith and lost it, hiding themselves from the Lord, the Second Person of the Trinity, who walked in the Garden in the cool of the day. But the offer of Rest was immediately restored through the Gospel—the proto-evangelium of Genesis 3:15. The Israelites, like ourselves, and those who lived in the days of King David, had the Gospel preached to them, and with it, the offer of entering God’s Rest—by faith.
Historic Christian theology recognises two works of God: Creation and Redemption (there is also his ‘strange work’, his wrath; Isaiah 28:21.) And both are finished works! Martin Luther was called to reaffirm the finished work of Redemption. We are being called to reaffirm the finished work of Creation!
“[God’s] works were finished from the foundation of the world” (Hebrews 4:3).
How many millions, in our own lands, remain uninformed of the Rest offered to them by the Lord, who initiated that Rest in the very first week of the history of the world?
As I stated at the start, I believe that the Holy Spirit will not bring revival to the Church, until she repents of her godless commitment to gradualistic and materialistic beliefs about origins, and returns to the revealed truths about a finished, cursed, and yet-to-be-renewed creation (see Truth decay—Will revival come in a compromised church?). As His Church, the Lord has called us and enabled us to take a stand in these matters.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
“Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground,for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you” (Hosea 10:12).
References and notes
- Another important Reformation principle was the fallenness of human intellect, and therefore the need to test thoughts/ideas/hypotheses with experiments that others can repeat. Entirely pure thought (a Greek idea) was not possible. Return to text.
- Nothing to do with the word ‘synthetic’, formed by combining ‘synthesis’ and ‘kinetic’. Return to text.
- Quoted in Jastrow, R., Mysteries of the Solar System, Insight, pp. 84–85 (undated). Return to text.
- Leading twentieth century evolutionist Ernst Mayr conceded: “The reason why catastrophism was adopted by virtually all of the truly productive leading geologists in the first half of the 19th century is that the facts seemed to support it.” Mayr, E., The nature of the Darwinian Revolution, Science, 2 June 1972, p. 985. Return to text.
- ‘The man on the Clapham omnibus’ typifies the ‘average’ ordinary person, reasonably well educated. A similar phrase with much the same meaning is ‘the man on the street’. Return to text.
- The Harringay Stadium, north London was a major venue for greyhound racing and motorcycle races from 1927 until its closure in 1987. Return to text.
- The 2005 Basis speaks of “The divine inspiration and supreme authority of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, which are the written Word of God”, but then further defines this as “fullytrustworthy for faith and conduct” (cosmogony and history, it seems, are not included). Return to text.
- Among other problems, Pelagius (AD 350–425) taught that all people are born morally neutral. Pelagianism denies that original sin tainted man’s rational and moral faculties, or that sin is ever a matter of man’s nature. Return to text.
- Of course, these beliefs are in stark contrast to the contemporary Big Bang cosmology which purports that everything arose from a spontaneous (unplanned, unguided) explosion of nothing. Return to text.