"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" The Betrayal Of Jesus (26:47-50) INTRODUCTION 1. Certainly one of the saddest moments in the life of Jesus was His betrayal by Judas... a. One of Jesus' closest disciples, even one of His twelve apostles - Mt 26:47-50 b. Who had been privileged to a part of Jesus' ministry here on earth - Ac 1:17 2. What led Judas to betray his Lord and Savior? How could one who had been with Jesus... a. Seen His miracles b. Heard His teachings ...betray Him with a kiss? 3. What about us, who claim to be Jesus' disciples today? a. Could we be guilty of betraying Jesus in some way? b. Are there things that misled Judas that could have a similar effect on us? [What might we learn from "The Betrayal Of Jesus"? Lest we follow the same path of Judas, let's reflect for a few moments on what we can glean from the Scriptures...] I. JESUS WAS BETRAYED BY A CLOSE FRIEND A. JUDAS WAS NO STRANGER TO JESUS... 1. As already mentioned, he was one of the apostles - Mt 10:2-4 2. He was among those whom Jesus loved - Jn 13:1 3. Yet as prophesied, Jesus was betrayed by "a familiar friend" - Ps 41:9 B. BEING CLOSE TO JESUS IS NO GUARANTEE... 1. Just being His disciples is no assurance we could not betray Him 2. Like several of the churches in Asia Minor, we could... a. Leave our first love - Re 2:4-5 b. Begin to tolerate false doctrine - Re 2:14-16 c. Permit false teachers to spread their doctrines - Re 2:20 d. Fail to perfect our works, and not be watchful - Re 3:1-3 e. Become lukewarm - Re 3:15-16 3. Yes, we can betray Jesus by denying Him who bought us - 2 Pe 2:1 [Therefore we need to heed Jesus' admonition to be "faithful unto death" (Re 2:10), and not assume that close proximity to Jesus in the past guarantees faithfulness in the future.] II. JESUS WAS BETRAYED BY A LOVER OF MONEY A. MONEY WAS A PROBLEM FOR JUDAS... 1. He often pilfered from the money box - Jn 12:4-6 2. The opportunity to make money led him to betray Jesus - Mt 26: 14-16 B. MONEY CAN BE A PROBLEM FOR US... 1. The deceitfulness of riches can render us unfruitful - Mt 13: 22 2. The desire for riches and the love of money can lead us to stray from the faith and drown in destruction and perdition - 1Ti 6:9-10 3. The Laodiceans' preoccupation with wealth made them lukewarm - Re 3:16-17 [Could we be guilty of betraying Jesus by our desire for riches, letting such things take precedent over our service to God and His church?] III. JESUS WAS BETRAYED BY A SHOW OF AFFECTION A. JUDAS BETRAYED JESUS WITH A KISS... 1. He could have simply pointed...perhaps by kissing he sought to soften the blow of betrayal - Mt 26:48-49 2. Jesus noted the obvious contradiction - Lk 22:47-48 B. DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION DON'T ENSURE FAITHFULNESS... 1. Many people are very emotional in their religion a. As displayed in their worship b. Believing it to be evidence of being "Spirit-filled" 2. Yet emotions alone are not a reliable guide a. They can easily mislead us - cf. Pr 16:25; Jer 10:23; 17:9 b. They are often present in the unstable believer - Mt 13: 20-21 3. This is not to discount the place and value of emotions a. We are to love God with all our heart and with all our mind - Mt 22:37-38 b. The Spirit does produce fruit in our lives that affects our emotions - Ga 5:22-23 b. But we must keep them in the proper order: 1) Our emotions must come from faith, not faith coming from emotions 2) Otherwise we are led by emotionalism, not faith -- And true faith comes from the Word of God - Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31 [If we believe that displays of affection in our religion can make up for our failure to heed God's Word, we deceive ourselves and betray Jesus in the process!] IV. JESUS WAS BETRAYED BY A MISTAKEN DISCIPLE A. JUDAS MISTOOK THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS ACTION... 1. He evidently didn't think Jesus would be condemned - Mt 27:3-4 2. This has prompted some to think that Judas was motivated by more than money a. That perhaps his betrayal would force Jesus to act, show His true power b. That in such a way it would demonstrate who Jesus truly was B. WE CAN BE GUILTY OF MISTAKEN SERVICE... 1. Thinking our service is acceptable, when it is not - Mt 7: 21-23 2. Thinking we can improve on God's way, when we can't know what He wants unless He reveals it - Isa 55:8-9 3. We need to head the Preacher's advice - cf. Ec 5:1-2 a. Come to hear and do what He says b. Not presume to know what pleases God and offer what we think is best [In our zeal, we may be guilty of acting on mistaken knowledge (cf. Ro 10:1-3). Dare we possibly betray Jesus by presuming we know what is according to His will and plan?] V. JESUS WAS BETRAYED BY AN OVERWROUGHT FOLLOWER A. JUDAS REACTED TO HIS SIN THE WRONG WAY... 1. He was overcome with grief - Mt 27:3 2. He took the wrong course of action and hung himself - Mt 27:5 B. WE CAN REACT TO OUR SINS THE SAME WAY... 1. There are two kinds of sorrow - 2Co 7:10 a. Sorrow of the world that produces death b. Godly sorrow that produces repentance -- The first is sorrow where one is preoccupied with self; the other is sorrow due to sinning against God 2. It is natural to be sorrowful for our sins a. But we should not wallow in our grief b. But repent, as did Peter who denied Christ 3. Paul provides another example of one who did not let his sins of the past hinder his service in the present a. He focused on God's grace which gave him another chance - 1Co 15:9-10 b. He directed his attention on striving for the upward call of God - Php 3:12-14 CONCLUSION 1. While Jesus was betrayed by all these things, let's not forget the influence of Satan... a. Satan used Judas to betray Jesus - Lk 22:3-4 b. Satan put it in Judas' heart to betray Jesus - Jn 13:2 -- For this reason Jesus referred to Judas as "a devil" - Jn 6:70-71 2. Yet how did Satan influence Judas? By some of the very things we've noticed... a. Through his love of money b. Through his emotionalism c. Through his mistaken ideas d. Through his preoccupation with self -- Even Peter was influenced by Satan through some of these things (cf. Mt 16:23) And so while we may decry the treachery of Judas, we should humbly learn from his mistakes, taking to heart the words of Peter: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." - 1Pe 5:9-10
"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" The Garden Of Gethsemane (26:36-46) INTRODUCTION 1. The last supper of Jesus with His disciples was finished... a. He predicted the betrayal by Judas - Mt 26:21-25 b. He observed the Passover, instituting the Lord's Supper - Mt 26: 26-30 b. He then foretold Peter's denial of Him, as they made their way to the Mount of Olives - Mt 26:31-35 2. Jesus and His disciples then came to a place called Gethsemane... a. A garden outside the city, across the Kidron brook and on the Mount of Olives b. It's name means "olive press", and was possibly a remote walled garden c. A place where Jesus often went with His disciples - Jn 18:1-2 3. Note the contrast between the Garden of Eden, and the Garden of Gethsemane... a. In the first garden, the first man fell by yielding to temptation b. In the second garden, the Second Man (cf. 1Co 15:47) conquered by yielding to the will of God [Yes, "The Garden Of Gethsemane" was a place of victory for Jesus (and consequently for us as well). But the victory did not come easy, as we notice first of all that...] I. THE GARDEN WAS A PLACE OF SUFFERING A. WHERE JESUS EXPERIENCED GREAT DISTRESS... 1. He went to pray, accompanied only by Peter, James, and John - Mt 26:36-37 2. Before He began praying, He was "deeply distressed" - Mt 26:37 3. Mark records that He was "troubled and deeply distressed"
- Mk 14:33 4. Later, Luke records that He was "in agony", and His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground - Lk 22:44 5. He was likely troubled for He knew that His hour had come - cf. Jn 12:27 a. He knew what was imminent, for He had told His disciples three times - Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19 b. There was not only physical pain to endure, but also the burden of our sins and separation from His Father as He bore our sins on the cross! - cf. Isa 53:6; Mt 27:46 B. WHERE JESUS ENDURED INTENSE SORROW... 1. He described Himself as "exceedingly sorrowful, even to death" - Mt 26:38 2. The writer of Hebrews refers to His "vehement cries and tears" - He 5:7 3. Again, His grief and sorrow was partly due to the fact that He was taking upon Himself our own griefs and sorrows!
- cf. Isa 53:4-5 C. WHERE JESUS ENCOUNTERED SOLEMN LONELINESS... 1. He wanted His closest disciples to watch with Him - Mt 26: 37-38 a. Those who had been with Him from the beginning - Mt 4:18-22 b. Those who were privy to one of His greatest miracles
- Mk 5:37-43 c. Those who saw Him transfigured on the mountain - Mt 17:1-2 d. Including the disciple "whom He loved" - Jn 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7,20,24 2. Yet after each episode of praying, He found them sleeping
- Mt 26:40-41,43,45 a. When He desired fellowship for comfort, there was none to be found b. The Psalmist foretold this would happen - cf. Ps 69:20 [Alone in His distress and sorrow, our Lord found "The Garden Of Gethsemane" to be a place of great suffering for Him. Then something happened. Before He left to face the mob led by Judas to arrest Him, Jesus found that...] II. THE GARDEN WAS A PLACE OF STRENGTH A. WHEN JESUS EXPRESSED AGONIZING PRAYER... 1. The agony in His prayer is: a. Seen by His posture: "He...fell on His face" - Mt 26:39 b. Heard in His words: "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" - Mt 26:39,42,44 2. It was "godly fear" Jesus expressed, and for such His prayer was heard - He 5:7 a. Not that the cup (of suffering) was removed b. But that He would be able to drink it B. WHEN JESUS EXTENDED ENTIRE RESIGNATION... 1. As evidenced by His words: a. "Not as I will, but as You will." - Mt 26:39 b. "if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done." - Mt 26:42 2. When man first said "My will, not Thine be done..." a. It opened the flood gate of sin b. It turned man out of the Paradise of God 3. But when Jesus said "Not as I will, but as You will..." a. Victory over sin and access to the Tree of Life became possible b. For it prepared Jesus to go to the cross to make it possible C. WHEN JESUS ENJOYED SPECIAL COMFORT... 1. Jesus received an answer to His prayer - cf. Lk 22:43 a. Not the answer He requested (let this cup pass from Me) b. But strength from an angel! 2. Like the apostle Paul would pray later - cf. 2Co 12:7-10 a. Asking the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh b. Receiving an answer different than requested, but more than sufficient to meet the need! D. WHEN JESUS EVINCED RENEWED RESOLVE... 1. Strengthened, Jesus was ready to face the hour at hand - Mt 26:45 2. He was ready to meet His betrayer and those with him - Mt 26: 46-47 CONCLUSION 1. So "The Garden Of Gethsemane" was a place of both suffering and strength... a. Jesus entered the garden suffering b. He left the garden strengthened in His resolve 2. Notice what turned the place of suffering into a place of strength: prayer! a. Prayer that is fervent and persistent b. Prayer in which one submits to the will of God c. Prayer in which one is strengthened d. Prayer that enables one to face the cup of life given them 3. There will be times when we must enter our "Garden of Gethsemane"... a. Times of distress, sorrow, loneliness b. But such times can also be a time of comfort and strength -- Provided we spend them in prayer, and be willing to accept the Father's will Jesus found prayer to be the key for turning a garden of suffering into a garden of strength. As Christians we have a similar blessing in prayer: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." - Php 4:6-7 May we never neglect to utilize this wonderful gift, especially since we now have Jesus Himself to intercede on our behalf! "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." - He 4:14-16 "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." - He 7:25
Megiddo: Lesson from "A Thousand Towns"
|by||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.|
For many hundreds of years, the balance of power in the Ancient Near East pivoted on a few square miles of the rugged Carmel Range. Practically speaking, anyone traveling from Egypt in the south, to Anatolia, Assyria and Babylonia in the north and northeast, had to skirt Mount Carmel or negotiate one of the three passes through the range. Of these, the most direct route went through the narrow middle valley, which opened at its northeastern end on the town of Megiddo and the fertile Jezreel Valley.
Megiddo’s exceptional location made it a site of conflict for the major and minor powers of the region. While Canaanite culture dominated Megiddo from the twentieth through twelfth centuries B.C., Egyptians, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians and others had their turn at occupation. About sixteen historical battles were fought in or near the city over a period of 2,500 years before Christ. A hill rose from the plain as new cities built on the remains of the old. It is no wonder that the book of Revelation uses the hill of Megiddo (harmagedon, incorrectly transliterated “Armageddon” in some versions) to symbolize the spiritual war between forces of good and evil.
MAJOR EVENTS AT MEGIDDO
The first biblical reference to Megiddo comes around seventy years later. Joshua 12:21 lists the city’s king among those whom “Joshua and the children of Israel smote on this side Jordan on the west” (12:7). Yet the victory was incomplete. A few chapters later we read that the tribe of Manasseh, whose allotment included Megiddo, “could not drive out the inhabitants of those cities” (17:12). When the Israelites held the advantage, however, they exacted tribute from their beleaguered neighbors (17:13; see also Judges 1:27-28). Another two hundred years passed before Israel, led by Barak and Deborah, scored a definitive military victory in the Megiddo area (Judges 5:19). By the middle of the ninth century B.C., Megiddo had become an important administrative center in Solomon’s kingdom (e.g., I Kings 4:12; 9:15).
Israel’s glory soon dissipated with the dividing of his kingdom. Around 925 B.C.—barely five years after Solomon’s death—Pharaoh Shishak I reestablished Egyptian rule over Palestine. He looted the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 14:25-26) and then, according to an inscription at Karnak, turned north to conquer several cities, including Megiddo. This renewed a great tug of war between the superpowers. Assyria annexed Megiddo and the surrounding areas in the late eighth century, and deported many of its people to distant lands (2 Kings 17:1-6). But Assyrian power gradually declined, and in 609 B.C. Pharaoh Necho II marched northward to aid them against the rising Babylonians. Despite a warning from God, via Necho, to stay out of the fray (2 Chronicles 35:22), King Josiah of Judah attacked the Egyptians near Megiddo. The ill-advised attempt ended in failure and Josiah’s death (2 Chronicles 25:23-24). Sadly, this brought an end to his religious reforms, and the beginning of the end for Judah.
RECONCILING STONES AND SCRIPTURES
Other questions are more serious. For example, in speaking of a mysterious destruction level in the late thirteenth century, Finkelstein and Ussishkin dismiss the idea that this had anything to do with the Israelites (1994, 20:40). “Incidentally,” they add, “the Bible gives no indication that Megiddo was conquered by the Israelites at this early period.” What they have in mind, of course, is the now-popular idea that the events of Joshua occurred much later than 1406 B.C. (contrary to the view of most conservative scholars). Hence, because the Bible admits that the Israelites failed to occupy Megiddo, and because the city experienced a major conflict in the late thirteenth century, then the invading Israelites cannot be responsible. However, if we begin with an earlier date for the conquest, then this destruction layer falls around the time of Barak and Deborah’s campaign. Although Scripture says nothing about their razing of the city, archaeological evidence is not inconsistent with conservative chronology.
What is interesting in this analysis is that seemingly trustworthy extrabiblical records also challenge the conclusions of archaeology. For example, Finkelstein and Ussishkin state that the Karnak account of Thutmose III’s campaign possesses “a dramatic reality” (20:31). However, Megiddo shows no signs of destruction in 1469 B.C., and no signs of a city wall to resist the pharaoh’s seven-month siege. Similarly, the signs of destruction are minimal or nonexistent around 925 B.C. when, according to another Karnak inscription, Shishak should have conquered Megiddo. In this case, however, archaeologists have found a stele at Megiddo honoring Shishak, which prompts Finkelstein and Ussishkin to suggest that the pharaoh conquered the city without destroying it (20:43).
Davies, Graham I. (1994), “King Solomon’s Stables,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 20:44-49, January/February.
Finkelstein, Israel, and David Ussishkin (1994), “Megiddo,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 20:26-33,36-43, January/February.
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
Some people picture God as akin to a miserly dictator Who is eager to find a cause to crush the vile human race He created. Is that the way the Bible portrays God? Romans 2:4 reads: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 15:5 emphasizes God’s patience: “Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be likeminded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus.” Peter wrote: “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation” (2 Peter 3:15).
God is patient because He does not want anyone to be eternally lost. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). One meaning of “patience,” according to the Illustrated Oxford Dictionary, is “the capacity for calm, self-possessed waiting.” God has promised that there will be a day when sinners will receive their final condemnation (2 Peter 2:9; 3:7), but God is waiting in order that more sinners might accept and obey the Gospel. Wayne Jackson noted biblical examples of this patience:
The Lord’s wrath is not inflicted impulsively. Rather, history repeatedly has demonstrated that God exercises “much long-suffering” toward those deserving of punishment (Romans 9:22). His patience was demonstrated to the generation of Noah’s day (Genesis 6:3). He longed to spare corrupt Sodom (Genesis 18:26ff). Jehovah revealed himself to Moses as a God who is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6; cf. Psalms 103:8). The Lord was even long-suffering with a wretch as vile as Ahab (1 Kings 21:29). For centuries He was tolerant with the arrogant and stiff-necked nation of Israel (Nehemiah 9:17) .We desperately need God’s patience, just as the apostle Paul did. Paul was given the opportunity to be saved, despite the fact that he was “the chief ” of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15-16; see Nicks, 1981, p. 190). Potential for salvation rests in God’s patience. Rather than instantly destroying people when they sin, He providentially gives people opportunities and encouragement that should lead to repentance (Titus 2:11). God expects us to request His continued patience as we make mistakes (1 John 1:9; Luke 11:4), and He shows His patience by continually forgiving us of our sins when we do (based on the sacrifice of Christ’s blood and our sincere obedience to His will; see 1 John 1:7).
We should emulate the patience of God. Romans 2:6-7 emphasizes the necessity of patience in the lives of Christians: “[God] will render to each one according to his deeds: eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (emp. added). Paul instructed Christians to be patient: “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14, emp. added; cf. Christ’s parable of the impatient servant in Matthew 18:23-35). People cannot be saved unless they have patience, because without patience, the Christian’s work is impossible (see Ecclesiastes 7:8; Ephesians 4:2; 2 Timothy 2:24; James 1:4). Patience also is necessary because other essential Christian virtues, including faith, hope, and joy, are dependent on it (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3; 15:4; Colossians 1:11; see Nicks, 1981, pp. 191-192). William Barclay observed:
If God had been a man, He would have taken His hand and wiped out this world long ago; but God has that patience which bears with all our sinning and which will not cast us off. In our lives, in our attitude to and dealings with our fellow men, we must reproduce this loving, forbearing, forgiving, patient attitude of God toward ourselves (1958, p. 56).God’s patience is balanced by His perfect justice. Unforgiven sin will be punished, but God’s patience allows time for repentance (Matthew 25:41; 2 Peter 2:9; see Colley, 2004). Isaiah 30:18 makes it clear: “Therefore the Lord will wait, that He may be gracious to you; and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is God of justice; blessed are those who wait for Him.” God’s generous patience should motivate us to obey Him.
REFERENCESBarclay, William (1958), The Daily Study Bible: Letters to Galatians and Ephesians (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Colley, Caleb (2004), “God’s Mercy and Justice,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/1860.
Illustrated Oxford Dictionary (2003), (New York: Oxford), revised edition.
Jackson, Wayne (2000), “The Righteousness of God Revealed,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/feature/february2000.htm.
Nicks, Bill (1981), “Patience,” Continuing in the Doctrine, ed. Bill Nicks, M.H. Tucker, John Waddey (Knoxville, TN: East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions).
Faithfully Teaching the Faith
|by||Bert Thompson, Ph.D.|
On certain occasions, when matters of a spiritual nature are under discussion, it is not uncommon to hear someone suggest that they adhere to, or someone they know adheres to, a religion that is “better felt than told.” The thrust of such a statement, of course, is that it is not the teaching within the person’s religion that is of ultimate importance, but instead the individual’s personal feelings and emotional commitment.
While this sentiment may represent a correct assessment of the religion of some, it never has been true in regard to the biblical view of faith. This is not to imply, of course, that those who trust and obey God exhibit a faith that is void of emotion, or that somehow they are less committed to their belief system than adherents of other religions. Certainly, faith in the God of the Bible always has involved both personal feelings and emotional commitment (Matthew 22:37). To suggest otherwise would be to rob man of his free moral agency, his innate right to accept or reject heaven’s gracious offer of salvation, and his ability to delight in having made the correct choice.
What sets biblical faith apart from the beliefs of some other religions, however, is that instead of being rooted solely in an appeal to the emotions, it is rooted in an appeal to both the emotions and the intellect. In other words, biblical faith addresses both the heart and the mind; it is not just felt, but learned as well. This always has been the case. From the moment of man’s creation, God sought to teach him how to make correct choices that would keep him in, or return him to, a covenant relationship with his Creator. Thus, as soon as man was placed in the lovely Garden of Eden, God gave the instructions necessary for man’s temporal and spiritual well-being (Genesis 1:28; 2:16-17). From that moment forward, God actively taught man how to build, and maintain, a proper relationship with his heavenly Father. This is evident within the pages of both the Old and New Testaments.
The Old Testament, for example, is filled with numerous instances of God’s providing people with the instructions that would prompt them to serve Him with their hearts as well as with their intellects. During the Patriarchal Age, God spoke directly to the renowned men of old, and conveyed to them the commandments intended to regulate their daily lives, as well as their worship of Him. The apostle Paul, alluding to the Gentiles, spoke of those who had the law “written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts accusing or else excusing them” (Romans 2:15).
Later, during the Mosaical Age, God’s instructions were given to the Hebrews in written form so that as they grew numerically, they also would possess the ability to grow spiritually. Jewish parents were instructed to teach God’s Word to their children on a continuing basis (see Deuteronomy 4:10; 6:7-9; 11:18-25). Eventually, when national and spiritual reform was needed, God provided numerous kings and prophets to perform this important task (see 2 Kings 23:1-3; 2 Chronicles 7:7-9). It is said of the Old Testament prophet Ezra that he “had set his heart to seek the law of Jehovah, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances” (Ezra 7:10, emp. added). Nehemiah 8:7-8 records that Ezra “caused the people to understand the law: and the people stood in their place, and they read in the book, in the law of God, distinctly; and they gave the sense, so that they understood the reading” (emp. added).
It is clear from such passages that during Old Testament times God placed a premium on knowing, understanding, obeying, and teaching His commandments. The golden thread that runs from Genesis through Malachi—the urgent message that the Savior was coming—could not be expressed through emotion alone; the intellect had to be involved as well. It was not enough for God’s people merely to “feel” the message; it had to be taught so they could understand it, realize its importance to their ultimate salvation, and preserve it for generations yet unborn, to whom it also would be taught.
Similarly, the New Testament stresses the critical nature of teaching. In the first century A.D., the message no longer was “the Savior is coming”; rather, the message was “the Savior has come.” Once Jesus began His public ministry, teaching His disciples (and others whom He encountered on almost a daily basis) became His primary task. While it is true that today we look upon Him as a miracle-worker, prophet, and preacher, He was foremost a teacher. Throughout Galilee, Samaria and Judea, Jesus taught in synagogues, boats, temples, streets, marketplaces, and gardens. He taught on plains, trails, and mountainsides—wherever people were. And He taught as One possessing authority. After hearing His discourses, the only thing the people who heard Him could say was, “Never man so spake” (John 7:46).
The teaching did not stop when Christ returned to heaven. He had trained others—apostles and disciples—to continue the task He had begun. They were sent to the uttermost parts of the Earth with the mandate to proclaim the “good news” through preaching and teaching (Matthew 28:18-20). This they did daily (Acts 5:42). The result was additional disciples, who then were rooted and grounded in the fundamentals of God’s Word (Acts 2:42) so they could teach others. In a single day, in a single city, over 3,000 people became Christians as a result of such teaching (Acts 2:41).
In fact, so effective was this kind of instruction that Christianity’s bitterest enemies desperately tried to prohibit any further public teaching (Acts 4:18; 5:28), yet to no avail. Christianity’s message, and the unwavering dedication of those into whose hands it had been placed, were too powerful for even its most formidable foes to abate or defeat. Twenty centuries later, the central theme of the Cross still is vibrant and forceful. But will that continue to be the case if those given the sobering task of teaching the Gospel act irresponsibly and alter its content, or use fraudulent means to present it? The simple fact is—Christianity’s success today, just as in the first century, is dependent on the dedication, and honesty, of those to whom the Truth has been entrusted.
“HANDLING ARIGHT THE WORD OF TRUTH”
But the power is not in the men; rather, it is in the message! This, no doubt, accounts for the instructions Paul sent to Timothy in his second epistle when he urged the young evangelist to “give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, emp. added). In addressing this point, Wayne Jackson has written:
The New Testament makes it abundantly clear that Christians are to proclaim the gospel of God in a loving and positive way. We are to expose every rational creature to the good news regarding the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. We should assume that each person we encounter is an honest soul until he or she demonstrates that such is not the case. Like the Lord, our mission is to seek those who are lost.... In our defense of the faith, however, we must maintain the highest level of integrity. Our argumentation must be honest and it must be sound. Any person who knowingly employs a fallacious argument in defense of some biblical truth is unworthy of the name of Christ. Truth does not need the support of misapplied scripture and invalid reasoning. It can stand on its own. There are occasions, though, when sincere people, who are honestly attempting to defend a biblical truth, unknowingly employ unsound argumentation in the process. Perhaps many of us have discovered, in retrospect, that we have made these sorts of mistakes. When such is the case, we will resolve to never repeat them—no matter how flashy or impressive the argument appears to be. Virtue demands that we attempt to prove our position correctly (1990, 26:1).Considering the fact that we, as God’s “earthen vessels,” have been made the instruments through which God offers to a lost and dying world reconciliation through His Son (John 3:16), the apostle’s admonition is well taken. Surely it behooves us to “handle aright” so precious a commodity as the Word of God. The salvation of our own souls, and the souls of those we instruct, depends on the accuracy of the message.
The Unintentional Teaching of ErrorTwo kinds of erroneous teaching are under discussion in the above assessment. Error can result when a person inadvertently teaches something that is incorrect. The mistake is accidental and unintentional; the teacher means well, and is sincere, but is wrong. The New Testament itself records just such an incident.
In Acts 18, the story is related about Apollos, a Jew who was “fervent in spirit” and who “spake and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus” (Acts 18:25). However, when Apollos traveled to Ephesus, and began speaking “boldly in the synagogue,” Aquila and Priscilla heard him and realized that he still was advocating the baptism of John the Baptist as it looked forward to the coming of Christ (see Acts 18:25-26). That baptism, of course, no longer was valid, having been supplanted by the baptism commemorating Christ’s death and burial. Certainly, Apollos was sincere, but he was wrong. Aquila and Priscilla “took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26).
When his error was pointed out, he corrected it and subsequently continued with his preaching and teaching about Christ—apparently with much success, since, upon his arrival in Achaia, “the brethren encouraged him; and wrote to the disciples to receive him, and when he was come, he helped them much..., for he powerfully confuted the Jews, and that publicly, showing by the scriptures that Jesus was the Christ” (Acts 18:27-28). Apollos was a good teacher. Nevertheless, he taught error. When he was shown his mistake, however, he possessed an attitude of humility, and a love for the Truth, that caused him to make the necessary correction. In so doing, he set a wonderful example for all who would be teachers of God’s Word.
Many of us who teach have found ourselves in a situation akin to that of Apollos. In our earnest attempt to spread the Gospel, enlarge the borders of the kingdom, or defend the faith, we inadvertently made a mistake, and taught error. When our mistake was made known to us, we corrected it, learned from it, and determined not to repeat it—consistent with the example set by Apollos. Does the fact that we erred necessarily, then, make us a false teacher? In addressing the question, “Is everyone who makes mistakes a false teacher?,” Steve Gibson has suggested:
No, a person receives a label when a certain behavior becomes characteristic of him. A preacher, for example, is one who preaches; a teacher is one who teaches; a criminal is one who commits crime. But not everyone who has ever delivered a sermon deserves to be called a preacher; not everyone who has ever violated a traffic law deserves to be called a criminal. Regardless of its content, a label should be reserved for those distinguished by the corresponding behavior (1990, 10[11/12]:18).The discussion here is not intended to center on dedicated teachers who, on occasion, make (and correct) an inadvertent error as they attempt to instruct someone regarding the Gospel. Rather, it has to do with those who teach error purposely.
The Intentional Teaching of ErrorError can also result when a person intentionally teaches something he knows to be wrong. The Old Testament provides an intriguing example of this very thing. In 1 Kings 13, the story is told of an unnamed young prophet whom God sent to deliver a message to king Jeroboam. God commanded the prophet: “Thou shalt eat no bread, nor drink water, neither return by the same way that thou camest” (13:9). Yet an older, lying prophet met the younger prophet and said: “I also am a prophet as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of Jehovah, saying, ‘Bring him back with thee into thy house that he may eat bread and drink water’ ” (13:18). The young prophet accepted at face value the older prophet’s instruction—false though it was—and on his return trip home was slain by a lion in punishment for his disobedience (13:24). The young prophet fell victim to teaching that had been presented to him intentionally by one who knew it was false. The result was the wrath of God and the loss of the young prophet’s life.
Wayne Jackson, in the quotation above, suggested that “we should assume that each person we encounter is an honest soul until he or she demonstrates that such is not the case.” That is good advice, and is in keeping with the apostle Paul’s discussion of the concept of Christian charity that “beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). As difficult as it is for most of us to believe, however, the sad truth of the matter is that some people simply are not completely honest in their dealings. On occasion, this manifests itself even among those who profess to be Christians, and who claim that their intention is to convert the lost. The justification usually offered for the deliberate misrepresentation of the Truth (even if it is not actually verbalized) is the idea that the end justifies the means. Some apparently feel that employing just the truth of the matter will not impress people sufficiently to make them want to obey God’s Word. Thus, the teaching is altered, and falsehood results.
While it may make the task of reaching the lost easier, and may swell the church roll temporarily, what good ultimately results from the teaching of such falsehood? Can we (legitimately) convert the lost through the intentional teaching of error? Can one be taught wrongly and obey correctly? The intentional teaching of error may comfort where truth offends. The person living in an adulterous marriage can be told that the marriage is acceptable to God. The person who believes that God created the Universe and populated the Earth via the process of organic evolution can be told that such a view is correct. And so on.
In the end, however, three things have occurred. First, as a result of having been taught error, the sinner may not be truly converted. Second, the church has been filled with adulterers, theistic evolutionists, and others who hold to false views. Since “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9), the church will be weakened, and others may be lured into the same error through association with those who believe it to be true. Third, the person who knowingly perpetrated the error has placed his soul, and the souls of those he taught, in jeopardy, because he knowingly taught error.
Error That Condemns, and Error That Does NotSomeone might suggest that it is possible to be taught, and believe, error without endangering one’s soul, since some error condemns while some does not. Such an observation is correct. As Bobby Duncan noted:
There are two kinds of error: (1) error which does not deter one from a course of action in harmony with the will of God, and (2) error which leads to a course of action out of harmony with the will of God....
Some in Paul’s day obviously held erroneous views regarding the eating of certain meats (Rom. 14; I Cor. 8). But these views did not cause them to follow a course of action out of harmony with the will of God, and those who knew the truth were exhorted to receive them (Rom. 14:1).... One’s belief of error will not damn his soul unless his erroneous views lead him into a course of action out of harmony with the will of God....
But there are other errors which, if believed, will directly affect one’s life and religious practice so as to turn him aside from the will of God.... If one’s belief of error caused him to worship according to the doctrines and commandments of men, his worship would be vain (Matt. 15:8-9).... If his belief of error led him to teach a perverted gospel, the curse of God would rest upon him (Gal. 1:6-9)... (1983, 19:2).Not all error, if believed, will condemn one’s soul. Suppose, in the example of the two prophets (1 Kings 13), that the older prophet convinced the younger that God wanted him to rush home, carrying his staff in his left hand all the way. Would this have been a lie? Yes, but the consequences would not have been the same, for, believing and acting upon this lie, the younger prophet would not have been following a course of action out of harmony with the instructions God had given him.
To suggest, however, that the intentional teaching of error does not always produce negative effects, and thus is acceptable, ignores three important points. First, error is error, regardless of the effects produced. Christians are not called to teach error, but truth (John 14:6). Surely, the question should be asked: What faithful Christian would want to teach, or believe, any error? God always has measured men by their attitude toward the truth. Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). But the truth can free us only if we know it, accept it, and act upon it. Error never frees; it only enslaves.
Second, it is a simple fact that not all error is neutral in its effects upon a person’s soul. As Bobby Duncan went on to state: “For one to be in error on some point that does not affect the faithful performance of his duty to God is one thing. But it is another for one to hold to error that would keep him from faithful obedience to God” (19:2). It is possible to believe error, thinking all the while that it is true, only to discover all too late that it was not. The young prophet who lost his life because he believed a lie is a fine case in point.
Third, while it may be correct to assert that not all error condemns, such an assertion does not tell the whole story. What about the danger to the soul of the person responsible for the intentional false teaching? It will not do simply to suggest that the truth was misrepresented purposely so as to save a sinner from the error of his ways. The end does not always justify the means. Situation ethics has no place in the teaching, or life, of a faithful Christian. In both the Old Testament (e.g., Exodus 20:16) and New Testament (e.g., Revelation 21:8), God forbade the willful distortion of truth, and condemned those who engaged in such a practice. While positive benefits initially may seem to result from the intentional teaching of error, such benefits will be temporary at best. Ultimately the truth will win out, and those who have believed and taught error will suffer in one way or another. When those who have been taught error discover that they have believed a lie, they may become disillusioned and abandon their faith. When those who have taught the lie(s) appear before God in judgment, they will stand condemned.
In the end, who has benefited from the intentional teaching of error? The person who believed the error did not benefit, for his faith was not built upon truth, and thus his “conversion” may be called into question. The church did not benefit, but was weakened because although its numbers increased, its spirituality did not. Spiritual benefits cannot result from the intentional teaching of error. The person who taught the error did not benefit. He lied, and in so doing, incurred heaven’s condemnation. Should he fail to repent, he will be delivered to “the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
In commenting on the sinful nature of the Pharisees, Christ said, “ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but inwardly ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity” (Matthew 23:28). The people described by Paul who exhibited “a form of godliness,” but who had “denied the power thereof,” possessed the same hypocritical, sinful nature as the Pharisees, which is why Paul commanded Timothy, “from these also turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5). Concerning the ill effects of this artificial “form of godliness,” Raymond Hagood has stated:
Is it not easy to see how destructive this “form of godliness” can be? It works evil under the guise of good. It wounds the sensitive consciences of babes in Christ. It corrupts the values, honesty, and integrity of our young people and it presents to the world a dim view of the church (1976, 12:1).While the end results of erroneous teaching eventually may not be difficult to recognize, the false teacher is not always easy to identify. There are, however, certain criteria that signal a departure from the Truth (see Miller, 1987). First, the person who intentionally teaches error generally is bold to advance his ideas in certain settings, but is strangely silent or evasive in others. When among those sympathetic to his erroneous views, he will not hesitate to advocate them, but when in the presence of those he knows are well versed in the Scriptures, and who therefore could recognize and refute such views, often he will keep them to himself, or even go so far as to deny believing them.
Second, whereas the false teacher once was understood easily, and known for the clarity with which he taught, now he has begun to speak or write in vague terms that employ a “new vocabulary” of his own making. When questioned, he claims that he has been “misrepresented,” “misunderstood,” or “quoted out of context.” He has become a chameleon-like character, able to vacillate back and forth at will between truth and error.
Third, as the real nature of the false teacher becomes increasingly evident, and the documentation of his error irrefutable, he becomes more overt in his teachings. Soon he associates himself with those who, in the past, he would have had no association. Others who are known to teach error suddenly consider him an ally, and actively promote him and his teachings.
Fourth, in time, as more and more faithful Christians rise up to challenge the false teacher, he depicts them as troublemakers who are unreliable barometers of the real spiritual atmosphere. He charges them as being paranoid, narrow-minded, unloving, tradition-bound, stagnant, witch-hunting pseudo-Christians who possess no real love for the Lord or His Word. He urges them to dispense with their Pharisaic legalism, and to cloak themselves with an “irenic” spirit that allows Christians the right to “agree to disagree” about fundamental Bible doctrines, resulting in the misnamed concept of “unity in diversity.”
The damage inflicted by one who teaches error can be almost inestimable. That damage can be minimized, however, if faithful Christians follow the procedures set forth in Scripture for dealing with false teachers (e.g., Romans 16:17; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:14-15; 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Titus 3:10-11; James 5:19-20; 2 Peter 2:1-2; 1 John 4:1; 2 John 9-11). As Paul commanded Titus, “there are many unruly men, vain talkers and deceivers...whose mouths must be stopped; men who overthrow whole houses, teaching things which they ought not,.... For this cause reprove them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:10-11,13).
When James penned his New Testament epistle, he warned: “Be not many of you teachers, my brethren, knowing that we shall receive heavier judgment” (James 3:1). It is a sobering thought indeed to know that those of us who teach God’s Word one day shall be held accountable for how, and what, we have taught. Our teaching, therefore, should be designed to do at least three things.
First, it should present the sinner with the pure, unadulterated Gospel, in the hope that he will hear it, believe it, and obey it, thereby being saved from his lost state (Luke 13:3; Romans 3:23; 6:23). The ultimate goal of our efforts is not merely to inform, but rather to motivate the hearer to proper action.
Second, the things we teach, publicly or privately, should equip Christians for greater maturity in the faith so that they, too, can become teachers (Hebrews 5:12). The success of Christianity in the world is dependent upon those who advocate it being able to teach it to others.
Third, our teaching should edify the entire church so that should the time come when certain saints “will not endure the sound doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:3-4), there will be those well-grounded in the truth who can combat error and “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3).
Certainly, those of us who teach bear a weighty responsibility (Ezekiel 33:7-9). But if we do our jobs properly, we will receive from the Lord a “crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Equally important is the fact that if those whom we teach accept and obey God’s Word, they, too, will enjoy a home in heaven, and we will have saved a soul from death (Ezekiel 33:14-16). The responsibility may be weighty, but the reward is commensurate to the task.
Gibson, Steve (1990), “Some Common Questions About False Teachers,” The Restorer, 10[11/12]:17-20, November/December.
Hagood, Raymond A. (1976), “Perilous Times,” Words of Truth, 12:1, September 17.
Jackson, Wayne (1990), “Defending the Faith with a Broken Sword,” Christian Courier, 26:1-2, May.
Miller, David L. (1987), “Anatomy of a False Teacher,” The Restorer, 7:2-3, February.
Creation and the Age of the Earth
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
For thousands of years Genesis chapter one has been understood as the original creation of the Universe that took place in six normal, but majestic, days. Within the last two centuries, many have been conned into believing that the billions of years required for evolution must fit somewhere within the first chapter of the Bible. For numerous “Bible believers,” flawed evolutionary dating methods have become the tyrant of biblical interpretation. Therefore, we are told that God spent, not six literal days, but billions of years creating the Universe and everything in it. We frequently hear such statements as: “God is not bound by time;” “God could have taken as much time as He wanted while creating the Universe and everything in it;” and “Billions of years could have elapsed within Genesis 1.” To say that Creation did not last billions of years, supposedly, is to limit Almighty God.
Every Christian readily admits that God is not bound by time. He is the infinite, eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator. He is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). The point, however, is not whether God is outside of time; the crux of the matter is: what has the all-authoritative, eternal Creator revealed to us about His Creation in His all-authoritative Word? God could have created the Universe in any way He so desired, in whatever order He wanted, and in whatever time frame He chose. He could have created the world and everything in it in six hours, six seconds, or in one millisecond—He is, after all, God Almighty (Genesis 17:1). But the pertinent question is not what God could have done; it is what He said He did. And He said that He created everything in six days (Genesis 1). Furthermore, when God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments, He stated:
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it (Exodus 20:8-11, emp. added).This Sabbath command can be understood properly only when the days of the week are interpreted as normal days.
The Creation of Man and the Age of the EarthAccording to the theory of evolution, man is a newcomer to planet Earth, far removed from the origin of the Universe. If the Universe was born 14 billion years ago, as many evolutionists, theistic evolutionists, and progressive creationists believe, man did not “come along” until about 13.996 billion years later. If such time were represented by one 24-hour day, and the alleged Big Bang occurred at 12:00 a.m., then man did not arrive on the scene until 23:59:58 p.m. Man’s allotted time during one 24-hour day would represent a measly two seconds.
If the Bible taught, either explicitly or implicitly, that man was so far removed from the origin of the Universe, Bible-believing Christians would have no reservations accepting the above-mentioned timeline. Just as a Christian believes that God parted the Red Sea (Exodus 14), made an iron ax head float on water (2 Kings 6:5), and raised Jesus from the dead (Matthew 28:1-8), he would accept that humans appeared on Earth billions of years after the beginning of Creation—if that was what the Bible taught. The problem for theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists is that God’s Word never hints at such a timeline. In fact, it does the very opposite.
The Bible makes a clear distinction between things that took place before “the foundation of the world” and events that occurred after the “foundation of the world.” Jesus prayed to the Father on the night of His arrest and betrayal, saying: “You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24, emp. added). Peter revealed in his first epistle how Jesus “was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20, emp. added). Paul informed the Christians in Ephesus how God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (Ephesians 1:4, emp. added). Before “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), He was alive and well.
If theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists are correct, then man arrived on the scene, not before the foundation of the world (obviously), nor soon after the foundation of the world, but eons later—13.996 billion years later to be “precise.” This theory, however, blatantly contradicts Scripture.
Jesus taught that “the blood of all the prophets…was shed from (“since”—NASB) the foundation of the world…, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple” (Luke 11:50-51, emp. added; cf. Luke 1:70). Not only did Jesus’ first-century enemies murder the prophets, but their forefathers had slain them as well, ever since the days of Abel. Observe that Jesus connected the time of one of the sons of Adam and Eve to the “foundation of the world.” This time is contrasted with the time of a prophet named Zechariah, whom, Jesus told His enemies, “you murdered between the temple and the altar” (Matthew 23:35). Zechariah was separated from the days of Abel by thousands of years. His blood was not shed near the foundation of the world; Abel’s was. Certain early martyrs, including Abel, lived close enough to Creation for Jesus to say that their blood had been shed “from the foundation of the world.” If man arrived on the scene billions of years after the Earth was formed, and hundreds of millions of years after various living organisms such as fish, amphibians, and reptiles came into existence (as the evolutionary timeline affirms), how could Jesus’ statement make sense? Truly, man was not created eons after the beginning of the world. Rather, he has been here “from the foundation” of it.
On another occasion when Jesus’ antagonists approached Him, they questioned Him about the lawfulness of divorce. Jesus responded by saying, “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female” (Mark 10:6, emp. added). According to Genesis 1 and 2, God made Adam and Eve on the sixth day of Creation (1:26-31; 2:7,21-25). Jesus referred to this very occasion and indicated that God made them “from the beginning of the creation.” Similar to the association of Abel’s day with “the foundation of the world,” the forming of Adam and Eve on day six of the Creation can be considered “from the beginning of the creation.”
[NOTE: Jesus is not suggesting that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning of day one of the creation week. The word “creation” (ktiseos) in Mark 10:6 is not used in the specific sense of the week of creation. (If that were the case, then Jesus would have said that the original couple were made “at the end of the creation” week.) Respected Greek lexicographers Danker, Arndt, and Gingrich noted that Jesus is referring to “the sum total of everything created;” the “world” (2000, p. 573). In other words, Adam and Eve were so far removed from the first century A.D. and the time that Jesus made this statement, that one could truly say that the first human beings were made “from the beginning of the creation/world/universe” (cf. 2 Peter 3:4).]
If the 14-billion-year timeline of evolution were true, Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:6 would be erroneous; Adam and Eve would have been nowhere close to the beginning of the Universe, but would have arrived “at the end”—13.996 billion years after it began. Simply put, the theory of evolution and Jesus’ statement in Mark 10:6 cannot both be true.
In the epistle to the Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul also alluded to how long man has been on the Earth. He wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). Who on Earth can recognize the eternal power and divine nature of God? Man. [NOTE: Although some might suggest that angels can understand God’s invisible attributes, the context of Romans 1:18-32 clearly refers to humans, not angels.] How long has man been aware of God and His invisible attributes? “Since the creation of the world.” How, then, could man logically have been “perceiving” or “understanding” God “since the creation of the world,” if he is separated from the creation of “the heavens and the earth, the sea,” and so many of the animals (like trilobites, dinosaurs, and “early mammals”) by millions or billions of years? Such a scenario completely contradicts Scripture. Yet, as David Riegle once observed, people (even “Christians”) will “accept long, complicated, imaginative theories and reject the truth given to Moses by the Creator Himself” (1962, p. 24).
The simple fact is, one cannot logically believe in both evolution and the Bible. A choice must be made between the two. One can choose the ever-changing, man-made, unscientific theory of evolution (cf. Miller, 2013), or he can decide to believe the “the word of the Lord” that neither withers nor falls away, but “endures forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).
God’s Chronology of Creation vs. Evolutionary TheoryIn addition to the theory of evolution contradicting the timeline of Creation, it further contradicts the precise chronology of Creation as revealed in Genesis 1. The omnipotent Creator could have created everything at the same moment. He could have created everything in the precise order that evolutionists theorize the Universe developed—over 14 billion years of time. There are an infinite number of ways that God could have brought everything into existence. However, there is only one way that God’s authoritative Word said He brought the Universe into existence, and that one way contradicts evolutionary theory. Consider some of the discrepancies between the chronology of evolution and Genesis 1.
Which Came First—the Earth or Sun?Evolution alleges that the Sun and other heavenly bodies evolved millions of years before the Earth. However, according to Genesis 1, God created the water-covered Earth on day one (Genesis 1:1-5), while He brought the Sun, Moon, and stars into existence on day four (Genesis 1:14-19). So which is it? Was the Earth created three days before the Sun, or did it evolve millions of years after the Sun? One cannot logically embrace both accounts.
[NOTE: Some Christians contend that God must have created the Sun, Moon, and stars in Genesis 1:1 and then “set” them (Genesis 1:16; Hebrew nathan) in their precise locations in the heavens on the fourth day of Creation (see Thurman, 2006, p. 3). However, it was on day four of Creation that God not only “set” the heavenly bodies in place, but He literally “made” (Hebrew asah) them (1:16). Similar to how God initially made the land and seas void of animal life (which later was created on days five and six of Creation), the “heavens” were made “in the beginning,” but the hosts of heaven (which now inhabit them) were created “in the firmament of the heavens” on day four. What’s more, similar to how God spoke light into existence on day one of Creation, saying, “Let there be light” (1:3), on the fourth day God declared, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens…and it was so” (1:14-15). As Gary Workman noted:
“Let there be lights” (v. 14) is identical in grammatical construction with other statements of “let there be…” in the chapter. Therefore the command can only mean that God spoke the luminaries into existence on the fourth day just as he had created the initial light on day one and the firmament on day two” (1989, p. 3).Keep in mind that “the Father of lights” (James 1:17), Who is “light” (1 John 1:5; John 14:6), could create light easily without first having to create the Sun, Moon, and stars. Just as God could produce a fruit-bearing tree on day three without a seed, He could produce light supernaturally on day one without the “usual” light bearers, which subsequently were created on day four (see Miller, 2014 for more information on this subject).]
Early Earth—Dry or Water-Covered?Evolution alleges that billions of years following the Big Bang, Earth evolved out of a massive cloud of dust that was billions of miles wide. What’s more, there was no water on the surface of the early Earth, as bodies of water did not form (allegedly) for millions of years.
Does this scenario sound anything like the Creation account? Certainly not. God spoke a water-covered Earth into existence on the first day of Creation (Genesis 1:1-5). On day two He divided the waters (1:6-8). It was not until the third day that God made the dry land to appear (1:9-13). Once again, God’s chronology of Creation and evolutionary theory stand at odds with one another.
Fruit-Bearing Trees—Before or After Fish and Fleas?Consider another frequently disregarded discrepancy between evolutionary theory and the Bible. Allegedly, “[p]lants first colonised land in the Ordovician period, around 465 million years ago” (O’Donoghue, 2007, 196:38). “It wasn’t until the evolution of trees 80 million years later that vegetation could spread around the globe” (p. 40, emp. added). What’s more, trees with roots, seeds, and leaves supposedly evolved nearly 100 million years after the first land plants (p. 40). There were fish in the seas (see Evolution…, 1994, p. 30) and “tiny creatures such as insects” on land (O’Donoghue, p. 38), but according to evolution, seed-producing, fruit-bearing trees bloomed millions of years later.
According to Scripture, the omnipotent God Who created everything with “the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6), said: “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth” (Genesis 1:11). The Bible then reveals, “and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:11-13).
It is really very simple. God made grass, herb, and tree, seed, spore, and fruit on the same day of Creation. There were no epoch-long, time-laden processes that turned plants into shrubs and shrubs into trees over many millions of years. God said He did it in one day, “and it was so.” Furthermore, He did it prior to His creation of any animal life. Although evolution says that fish and insects were around before fruit bearing trees, the Bible teaches otherwise (Genesis 1:20-25).
In truth, the chronology of Creation as revealed in Genesis 1 completely contradicts evolutionary theory. A true Bible believer cannot reasonably hold to a theory that claims certain animals were around millions of years before trees, or that the early Earth had no water on its surface. The sooner evolutionary-sympathizing Christians acknowledge the clear contradictions between evolution and God’s Creation account, the better. If evolutionary theory is true, the Bible is wrong. If the Bible is true, evolutionary theory is a lie. “How long will you falter between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21).
The Day-Age TheoryChristians who embrace the long ages of evolutionary geology must find some way to fit billions of years into the biblical record. One of the most popular theories concocted to add eons of time to the age of the Earth is known as the Day-Age Theory. This theory suggests that the days of Genesis 1 were not literal, 24-hour days, but lengthy periods of time (millions or billions of years). Is such a theory to be welcomed with open arms, or is there good reason to reject it? In truth, the available evidence reveals several reasons why we can know that the days mentioned in Genesis 1 were the same kind of days we experience in the present age, and were not eons of time.
Interpreting the Word “Day” is Not Rocket ScienceThe singular and plural forms of the Hebrew word for day (yom and yamim) appear in the Old Testament over 2,300 times, making it the fifth most common noun in the Old Testament (Saebo, 1990, 6:13-14). The term is used in three basic ways. The first two ways are defined and limited: “Day” (yom) can refer to a 24-hour period (e.g., Genesis 50:3), and it can refer to the part of the 24-hour period that is “light” (in contrast to the darkness/night; Genesis 1:3-5). Day is also used in an extended way to refer to longer, less-defined periods of time in the past, present, or future (e.g., “the day of the Lord,” Zechariah 14:1).
Even today, we use the term “day” in different ways, but rarely do people have a difficult time understanding each others’ use of the term, since the context and the way in which the word is used virtually always defines the word rather easily. Think about it: How often do you have to interrupt and question someone because you misunderstand how they are using the word “day”? Such questions are seldom, if ever, asked. Consider the following paragraph:
In Abraham’s day, God made a covenant with the righteous patriarch and his descendants, saying, “Every male child among you shall be circumcised…. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised” (Genesis 17:10,12). As long as it was day eight, it may not have mattered if Abraham and his descendants circumcised their young males during the day or night. In Moses’ day, even if day eight fell on the seventh day (the Sabbath day), the Israelites were expected to circumcise their male children on this day, “so that the law of Moses should not be broken” (John 7:23).How is the word “day” used in the above paragraph? It is used twice in reference to the two different general periods of time in which Abraham and Moses lived. It is used once to refer to the opposite of night. It is used six times to refer to literal, 24-hour days.
Most Bible readers can easily and quickly understand how the inspired writers used yom (day) throughout the Bible. Most people clearly comprehend if the word “day” is used in a defined manner (as a part of or an entire 24 hours) or in an undefined manner (e.g., “in the day of the Lord”). After the Flood, the Lord said, “While the earth remains…, winter and summer, day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). “Day” is obviously used here in reference to a defined time period—the part of a 24-hour period that is light (cf. Genesis 7:4; 29:7; Exodus 24:18). During the Flood, “the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days” (Genesis 7:24). Once again, “days” (yamim) is used in a defined sense, though instead of referring to the light period of the day(s), the emphasis is on the total 24-hour period(s)—specifically, 150 24-hour periods. In Deuteronomy 31:17, the Lord foretold how the Israelites would break His covenant, and “in that day” many troubles would come upon them. The emphasis here is on a less defined period of time—in the future, when the Israelites would begin worshiping the idols of the pagan nations around them.
Days and NumbersOne of the easiest ways (though not the only way) to detect when the Bible is using the term “day” in a literal, 24-hour sense is if the term is modified by a number. Obviously, day eight (in the aforementioned sample paragraph) refers to the eighth literal day (not week, month, year, decade, etc.) of a child’s life. Day seven refers to the seventh literal day of the week—the Sabbath day. Who would mistake these “days” for anything other than regular days? Interestingly, as Henry Morris once noted, “[W]henever a limiting numeral or ordinal is attached to ‘day’ in the Old Testament (and there are over 200 such instances), the meaning is always that of a literal day” (1974, p. 224, emp. added, parenthetical item in orig.). Indeed, just as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days (and not 3,000 years), and just as the Israelites marched around Jericho once a day for six days (and not six long, vast periods of time), we can know that God created everything in “six days” (Exodus 20:11; 31:17), not six billion years. About each day of Creation, Moses wrote: “So the evening and the morning were the first day…second day…third day…fourth day…fifth day…sixth day” (Genesis 1:5,8,13,19,23,31).
Days with Evenings and MorningsAnother indicator throughout the literal, non-prophetic language of Scripture that yom refers to a limited, defined time of 24 hours or less [i.e., whether it is used to refer to (a) daylight hours of a 24-hour period or (b) the 24-hour period itself], is if the words “morning” and/or “evening” are used to describe the particular day. The words “morning” (boqer) and “evening” (‘ereb) appear 348 times in the Old Testament. (Boqer appears 214 times and ‘ereb 134 times; Konkel, 1997, 1:711,716.) Again and again throughout the Old Testament these words are used in reference to specific, defined portions of regular 24-hour days.
- Noah “waited yet another seven days, and again he sent the dove out from the ark. Then the dove came to him in the evening” (Genesis 8:10-11).
- Moses judged Israel “on the next day…and the people stood before Moses from morning until evening” (Exodus 18:13).
- The Lord instructed Aaron and his sons in the book of Leviticus about the various offerings, including the laws concerning peace offerings. According to Leviticus 7:15, “The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it until morning.”
- During the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness, God caused a cloud to remain over the tabernacle “from evening until morning: when the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they would journey; whether by day or by night” (Numbers 9:21).
So what does this have to do with Creation? Only that each day of the Creation was said to have one evening and one morning.
“So the evening and the morning were the first day” (Genesis 1:5).Just as God spoke of limited, defined periods of days using the terms “evening” and “morning” hundreds of times throughout the Old Testament, He did so six times in the Creation account. If everywhere else in the literal, non-prophetic language of the Old Testament these words are used to refer to regular 24-hour days, why is it that some contend the days of the literal, non-prophetic Genesis account of Creation were undefined, vast periods of evolutionary time? It would seem because their loyalty to the assumption-based, unproven theory of evolution means more to them than a serious, consistent, logical interpretation of the Bible.
“So the evening and the morning were the second day” (Genesis 1:8).
“So the evening and the morning were the third day” (Genesis 1:13).
“So the evening and the morning were the fourth day” (Genesis 1:19).
“So the evening and the morning were the fifth day” (Genesis 1:23).
“So the evening and the morning were the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
Other Questions Day-Agers Should ConsiderIn addition to the powerful testimony against the Day-Age Theory provided by the Bible writers’ use of yom in conjunction with numerical adjectives and the words “evening” and “morning,” other appropriate questions linger for Day-Age theorists.
- If the “days” of Genesis 1:14, were “eons of time,” then what were the “years” mentioned? The word “years” can be understood correctly in this context only if the word “days” refers to normal days.
- If the “days” of Genesis were not days at all, but long evolutionary periods of time, then a problem arises in the field of botany. Vegetation came into existence on the third day (Genesis 1:9-13). If each day of Genesis 1 was a long geological age composed of one period of daylight and one period of darkness (Genesis 1:4-5), how did plant life survive millions of years of total darkness?
- How would the plants that depend on insects for pollination have survived the supposed millions or billions of years between “day” three and “days” five and six (when insects were created)?
- If the Holy Spirit can easily communicate the difference between a regular day and a much longer period of time (e.g., “a thousand years,” 2 Peter 3:8), what logical, biblically sound reason can one give for assuming that the days of Genesis must have been thousands, millions, or billions of years?
ConclusionThose who propose that billions of years of evolutionary time preceded the creation of Adam and Eve need to give serious thought to the many Bible passages that teach otherwise. The Bible is not silent regarding our origins. God Almighty created the Universe (and everything in it) simply by speaking it into existence.
By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth… Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6,8-9).The same God Who turned water into grape juice (oinos) in a moment of time (without dependence on time-laden naturalistic processes like photosynthesis; John 2:1-11), “the God Who does wonders” (Psalm 77:14), spoke the Universe into existence in six days.
Had God chosen to do so, He could have spent six billion years, six million years, or six thousand years creating the world. Had He given any indication in His Word that He used lengthy amounts of time in order for naturalistic processes to take over during Creation, we could understand why Christians would embrace such a belief. However, God has done the very opposite. First, He revealed that the heavens and the Earth are the effects of supernatural causes (thus contradicting the General Theory of Evolution). Second, He gave us the sequence of events that took place, which contradicts evolutionary theory. What’s more, He told us exactly how long He spent creating. The first chapter of Genesis reveals that from the creation of the heavens and the Earth to the creation of man, He spent six days. On two occasions in the very next book of the Bible, He reminds us that the Creation took place not over six eons of time, but over six days (Exodus 20:11; 31:17). He then further impressed on Bible readers that man is not 14 billion years younger than the origin of the Universe by referring to him as being on the Earth (1) “from the beginning of the creation” (Mark 10:6), (2) “since the creation of the world” (Romans 1:20), and (3) “from the foundation of the world” (Luke 11:50).
IfGod did create everything in six literal days, and expected us to believe such, what else would He have needed to say than what He said? How much clearer would He have needed to make it? And, if it does not matter what we think about the subject, why did He reveal to us the sequence of events to begin with?
Truly, just as God has spoken clearly on a number of subjects that various “believers” have distorted (e.g., the worldwide Noahic Flood, the necessity of immersion in water for the remission of sins, the return of Christ, etc.), the Bible plainly teaches that God, by the word of His mouth, spoke the Universe and everything in it into existence in six days. No “rightly divided” Bible passage will lead a person to any other conclusion (2 Timothy 2:15).
REFERENCESDanker, Frederick William, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, (2000), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
DeYoung, Donald (2005), Thousands…Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Evolution: Change Over Time (1994), (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall).
Konkel, A.H. (1997), boqer, New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis, ed. Willem A. VanGemeren (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Miller, Jeff (2013), Science vs. Evolution (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Miller, Jeff (2014), “How Could There Be Light Before the Sun?” Reason &Revelation, 34:94-95, June.
Morris, Henry M. (1974), Scientific Creationism (San Diego, CA: Creation-Life Publishers).
O’Donoghue, James (2007), “A Forest is Born,” New Scientist, 196:38-41, November 24.
Riegle, David (1962), Creation or Evolution? (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
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Thurman, Clem (2006), “How Was Light Before the Sun?” Gospel Minutes, September 8:3.
Workman, Gary (1989), “Questions from Genesis One,” The Restorer, May/June, pp. 3-5.