Honest To God
Commentary by Jack Kelley
For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. (Exodus 20:11)
By definition Evangelical Christians are born again, have a personal relationship with the Lord, believe the Bible is God's word (as opposed to just containing it) and place a strong emphasis on teaching and evangelism. While Evangelical Christianity was "born" in England and was quickly exported to the USA, its growth today is in the third world; China, South Korea, India, Africa, Latin America, etc.
In 1960, there were an estimated 50 million evangelicals in the West, and 25 million in the rest of the world; today, there are an estimated 75 million in the West, and 325 million in the rest of the world (representing about 20 percent of the two billion Christians worldwide), according to Robert Kilgore, chairman of the board of the missionary organization Christar. Todd M. Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, writes that currently "Africans, Asians and Latin Americans are more typical representatives of evangelicalism than Americans or Europeans."Where You Going On Your Mission?
And guess what? These Third World Evangelicals are starting to send missionaries to the US and Europe. It seems a number of Evangelicals in the West have lost one of the foundational points of Evangelical Christianity and these new Christians want us to re-discover it. It has to do with the accuracy of the Bible.
Many mainline denominations rejected the literal method of interpreting Scripture over a generation ago resulting in a major migration of churchgoers away from denominational Christianity. Now we see the same thing happening in parts of the Evangelical movement.
It's not surprising that there are differences of opinion regarding how events of the Last Days will unfold. The language is often vague or symbolic, and some details have been purposely omitted. As a result there are opinions concerning the Rapture of the Church, for instance, that range all the way from no Rapture at all to placing its occurrence just before the 2nd Coming. And even though I'm fully persuaded from my 22 years of study on the subject that the most literal interpretation of Scripture requires the disappearance of the Church before Daniel's 70th week begins, sincere, honest scholars will passionately disagree. Some even use the same passages to support their position that I use to support mine.A Horse Of A Different Color
But when we disagree about the Creation account it's a different matter altogether, and a much more serious one, because it calls God's honesty into question. This isn't just some benign debate over an insignificant piece of doctrine. At issue is whether God was totally forthright in explaining how He did it.
As far as I've been able to determine there is only one word in the entire creation account that's legitimately subject to interpretation, and its meaning isn't critical to our basic understanding. I'm referring to the Hebrew word "hayah," translated "was" in Genesis 1:2. Now the earth was (hayah) formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (The second "was" in the English translation is implied from the context. It doesn't appear in the Hebrew.)
In my opinion, a very good circumstantial case can be made for translating "hayah" as "became," the active form of the word. Then verse 2 would read "Now the earth became formless and empty …" Using "became" seems more consistent with other places in the Bible where the act of creation is explained. For example, in Isaiah 45:18 God declares that He did not create the world in vain, implying that something happened to make it that way. (The Hebrew word translated "vain" in Isaiah is the very same one translated "formless" in Genesis 1:2.) It all boils down to a question of whether the verb is active or passive, and I've been told that the active is more accurate.
But regardless of which side of that discussion you land on, you won't be disputing the Creation account, which actually begins in verse 3. Those of us who prefer "became" over "was" are merely allowing for an undetermined period of time to lapse between verse 2 and verse 3 to account for the fact that the Earth appears to be much older than the civilization that dwells upon it. Allowing this period of time also helps in speculating on the timing of Satan's rebellion and judgment (the idea being that God created the Earth complete and perfect and it was a judgment that caused it to become formless and empty, as Jeremiah 4:23 implies) and his abrupt appearance in the garden in Genesis 3. For a more detailed explanation of all this, read "In the Beginning" referenced at the end of this article.
So back to the main point. Our Lord was the only one present for the creation event. No one from the field of science, which requires observation to precede conclusion, was there to observe. (Even Adam didn't come on the scene till Day 6, when all the work was done.) He created the Earth by Himself and for Himself (Colossians 1:16) and He expects us to take His word for it.Call Your First Witness
And what's the point of disputing it anyway? No one can prove Him right or wrong. I guess I can understand why non-believers question the Creation account. They're trying to deny the existence of God altogether. That's why some of them like the "Intelligent Design" compromise in place of their failed evolution hypothesis. At least they can go on pretending it wasn't really God who did it.
But when it comes to born again Bible believing Christians, I simply don't get it. I mean do you really think that the One who did the work of creation, and incidentally the One you say you trust for your eternal salvation, didn't tell the truth in explaining how He did it? If that's what you think, how can you believe He's telling the truth about your salvation?
The Creation account is God's very first word to man. Are you implying that He began his extensive communication to us with a lie? Or do you think that flawed sinful man has a come up with a more accurate description of how things began than the omniscient One who began them? Give me a break.A Spirit Of Compromise
Some try to reconcile the Biblical creation account with evolution by saying that each day of creation actually represents an age. They use a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word "yom" (day) to support this. Although this word appears 2244 times in the Bible and over 88% (1977) of them clearly describe a 24 hour day, they claim that in Genesis 1 the word is first used to describe an age of indeterminate length.
When I was a church-going unbeliever, I actually thought that this view had merit. I saw it as a legitimate effort at compromise, and felt good about myself for bringing an attitude of reconciliation into a heated emotional battle. I could see God using the process of evolution to accomplish the act of creation. Maybe both sides are right, I thought.
But think about that for a moment. The Bible says "and there was evening and there was morning – the first day."(Genesis 1:5) And in describing each day the wording is the same. "There was evening and there was morning - day …" So each of these age-days began with a sunset followed by a sun rise, a period of darkness and then a period of light. Are we to assume that each age was really one super long day? The Bible doesn't say many evenings and many mornings, but one evening and one morning for each day.
If that's the case, then all the plants and animals would have had to withstand a long period of darkness (thousands of years?) followed by a long period of light. No problem, the Lord could have made them that way. But then He would have had to give all of them a major overhaul so they could exist in our 24 hour dark \ light cycles. So not only is this compromise a violation of the Principle of First Mention, it would also require God to re-create everything to accommodate the new vastly shortened cycle. Seems like a huge waste of time and energy, something God doesn't normally do.
It's obvious that the Lord has the power and ability to have created the Earth just like he said He did, so why can't we just accept Him at His word, and leave it at that? And if the planet happens to be older than the earliest civilization, so what? I guess I just don't see the point of arguing. If I'm wrong to interpret the creation account literally, what's the harm? At least when I stand before God at the End of the Age I can say, "I took your word for it." But if I'm right, what are you who don't take it literally going to say to Him? This isn't just a rhetorical question. If we're reading the signs right our days on Earth could be coming to an abrupt end, and we may be standing before Him very soon. And that means it's high time we stop trying so hard to accommodate the world with compromise positions and start lining up solidly behind the only one whose opinion counts. There is simply no justifiable reason for people who've bet their eternal destiny on His promise of redemption to dispute His account of the Creation. Honest to God. Selah 03-05-06