© 2018, Charles A. Clough
Our Relationship with God in 2018: Estranged or Intimate?
A Study of the Character of God as He has Revealed Himself
vs. the Substitute Idols of our Neo-Pagan Culture
God Alone is OMNIPOTENT; God Alone is OMNIPRESENT
2018 North Stonington Bible Church Labor Day Conference
Charles Clough Lesson #06
September 3, 2018
[Note: The slide numbers referenced throughout refer to the
number in the lower right corner of the slides]
Well good morning, I hope everybody had a restful evening; a restful sleep. This morning, if you follow in the handout, we’re going to deal with God’s omnipotence. So to start there I want to again show you the method that we’re using, because the method we’re using to go through each of these attributes, we all need that method, regardless of what the subject material is. Remember what our first our step in each attribute is: Where do we learn this within the realm of special revelation?
It goes back to the fact that we said again and again that this [the Bible] is not a book; this is a library of books, a library of letters. When you think of the Bible, instead of thinking of it as a book, if you think of it as a library written over two millennia, in three languages, by 40 different people from all walks of life and every life situation, it enlarges your concept of what we’re talking about with special revelation and it incentivizes you to accord authority to this.
There’s no other book, there’s no other library in world history like this; not with 40 different people, writing over 2,000 years and having a perfectly coherent message; that’s the Bible. It’s a supernatural phenomenon, a supernatural object in history that is open to our study. Just think of the Bible as a library of God’s special revelation. And starting with that point, then we have gone into each attribute; we’ve gone through how we, made in God’s image, have a finite, creature version of these attributes.
The reason for going through step two is because it makes clear why a personal relationship with God is irreplaceable in personal living. There’s nothing else that can satisfy at the depths of our very being as God has created us. We are created for, not just a fellowship with God in time, but fellowship with God for all time, for all eternity. There is a correspondence between His attributes and our imagehood, and so this is why it connects.
This is important because many of us have folks in our family, folks in our class, folks in our company where we work, who are unbelievers, and you get so discouraged sometimes as a Christian, thinking that you’re bringing an alien message to these people, a strange message that they won’t understand. But if you think in a different way; if you think of this particular person that you’re concerned for that they too are made in God’s image, and you start your thinking with special revelation, in other words, you view this person as the Word of God views the person, and the Word of God views the person as someone made in God’s image, and if they are made in God’s image they have certain deep needs and they can’t fill those deep needs any other way than by a relationship with God. So that’s encouraging.
Now it’s true that they’re uneasy to bring up anything religious because that reminds them of their own relationship with God in the sense that it’s alien, in the sense that it’s uncomfortable to talk about that, and we grant them that because Adam and Eve in the garden were very uncomfortable. They were so uncomfortable with God’s presence they fled. So that’s the nature
But the point is that often are our unbelieving friends, like Adam and Eve, cloak themselves with fig leaves, and these can be very intellectual fig leaves, and the more educated they are, the more intellectual fig leaves they’ll attach to themselves, and various philosophies, and so forth. But you have to see behind the fig leaves. These are fig leaves
I use the illustration that we’ve talked about several times during the conference of that movie God’s Not Dead—Part 1 with that scene toward the end of the movie where the college student is in the empty lecture hall with the faculty member who’s attacked him and attacked him and attacked him—apparently an atheist—and the student turns to him and says, “Dr. So and So, why is it that you hate God?” You see what he’s doing? He’s bypassing the fig leaf. He’s not debating cosmology, he’s not debating evolution, he’s going around the fig leaf to the man’s heart. “Why are you so angry at God?” And then of course the guy says, “Because God didn’t answer my prayer when my mother was dying of cancer.”
Now we’ve connected. See as long as you engage the fig leaf, which sometimes you have to do, you’re not really getting to the heart of the person. So that movie gives you kind of an illustration of why, in our approach here in the conference, we start with special revelation. But we also remind ourselves that we’re not talking about some subject that is absolutely, utterly out of this world, because deep down in our hearts we know very well what’s going on.
Then the third step in all of these discussions is: I try to point out the fig leaves; the substitutes that unbelief has tried to create to relieve the sense of nakedness; to relieve that sense of uneasiness over the gospel.
Finally, we talk about the blessings that we have. I have also repeatedly spoken about the fact that the first step, going to special revelation, is something that the principalities and powers of the dark side don’t want us to do. And so Satan has always, from Genesis 3 on through the 21st century, he’s had these two strategies; he did it with Adam and Eve and he does it with us today.
The first strategy is to get us to disbelieve that God ever spoke in history—in other words, attacking the existence of special revelation. He knows that if he can disconnect you from this library of special revelation, that once he succeeds in disconnecting you in your thinking from special revelation he’s nailed you, and it’s downhill from there.
Then the second thing, if that’s a negative, the next thing is a charade that he sold the human race on—that we can be our own moral authorities, we can exercise dominion ourselves on our terms. That’s nothing but Babel all over again and we’ll see some more evidence of that in our discussions today.
But I thought it would be interesting if we started with this slide, and we did some of this last night, but I wanted to add to each attribute that we want to think about the blessings that a personal relationship with God gives to us. The first is: assurance that Someone is in charge of reality. The reason that need is there is because God has made us, made you, made me, for a relationship. If we don’t think about that relationship, then reality is chaotic. There’s no pattern to it. Our hearts crave for the fact that there’s got to be a meaning in life, and if we are devoid of the idea that there is meaning in life, that Someone is in charge, that all the events that happen in history have a purpose, they somehow fit together, we don’t know all the details, but the fact that we know that ultimately if we knew more it would all fit together.
We’ve got to have that assurance, and that comes with the attribute of God’s sovereignty. We are daily making choices; that’s our little creature version of sovereignty. But the creature choices that we have are certain options that are available, and they’re limited to those options. And, of course, there’s room for prayer, to ask the Lord for wisdom, “Open my eyes that I see may all the possibilities here when I face this decision; maybe I’m overlooking something.” So that’s good to be able to ask the Lord to open our eyes to something that maybe is available to us but we don’t know yet. That’s our creature version, but at the bottom, God’s sovereignty is important because we’ve got to have that gut assurance that Somebody is in charge of this whole thing.
Then we mentioned that we all have a need of a transcendental standard of right and wrong, and that the word, the adjective “transcendental” means “over and above.” It means above individual human beings. This is not a matter of the latest Gallup poll. This is something deeper than that. After all, the criminal element, to cite an example of this, say a drug dealer, is going to get angry if the check bounces. Well, now why? If God doesn’t exist, then there’s no such thing as justice, and by his very profession of drug dealing, he’s basically saying, “We can violate justice,” right? “We can violate our conscience because that’s my business; my business is violating conscience.”
But then all of a sudden when I don’t get cash, or the check bounces, now I’m somehow invoking right and wrong, aren’t I? See you can’t escape this; no unbeliever can escape this; ultimately everybody has to acknowledge that there is a right and wrong that pertains, not just to me, but to you and our relationship. So that’s why we go back to God’s righteousness. God’s standard, His attribute of righteousness, provides a basis for this need that we have for a transcendental standard.
Then we have what we talked about next: God’s justice. That answers to a need in our heart. When we see injustice out in the world we get angry because we know intuitively that when we see wrongdoing we view that as something that shouldn’t be. In fact that verb, there’s a way to detect this kind of thinking both with number two and number three, whenever you hear “should”, s-h-o-u-l-d, or you think of “ought”, whenever you hear those two words in a conversation you are listening to this, it may not be on the surface of the conversation but anytime you here: “That should not be,” or, “We ought to do this,” that’s an appeal for a righteous standard, and everybody does that.
The problem is, unless you’re a believer and you’re thinking in terms of divine viewpoint of the Word of God you haven’t got a basis for saying that. All you’re saying is: “It’s what pleases me.” Well, you mean more than that when you think of what is good. When you think of something that’s “good” you’re not saying it’s good just because it pleases you. You’re thinking, “It’s really good for everybody,” and that idea of universalizing it comes out of our heart need as creatures made in God’s image.
Then we have the next one: confidence that it’s possible to know real enduring truths. Where this particular need is violated today is in our secular education system. One of the upsetting feelings you get in higher levels of education is that everything’s changing, everything’s in flux, there’s no enduring truth. Enduring truth means truth is really there, and that’s a need. Why should I study, along with all the hard work it takes to study, only to find out after all my studying, all my education, all the books I read, all the thinking I do, that there’s no such thing as real enduring truths? Why is it worthwhile?
See people aren’t asking the basic question here, but it’s there in the back of our minds. And this is why so many kids drop out of college; it just doesn’t make sense to them, and until it does make sense they probably shouldn’t be in college because college is, at least it used to be, about educating real truth.
Well, now another need that we have is: we need the assurance that things are stable. When we wake up in the morning we don’t expect the world to be totally different than the way it was when we went to bed. We have to have an idea of stability, not only in nature, but in our personal relationships. It’s thwarting to live in chaos. We want stability. Our heart cries out for stability, but we can’t find a source of stability if we don’t go back to special revelation and the fact that God is the same yesterday, today, and for ever (Hebrews 13:8). God doesn’t change. So that attribute of the immutability is critical because we have the heart need as made in His image. We’re made for stability. We’re made to know that He’s there and we can rely on Him tomorrow, the next day, and so on.
What we covered last night was the attribute of love, and deep down all of us have a need that somebody love us. It’s lonely living if you don’t have that sense. The danger we face is investing some particular person as the one who’s going to fulfill all my love needs. That’s not going to happen. We have wonderful loving relationships, and I’m not disparaging a loving relationship, what I am saying though is the best loving relationship is vulnerable to death.
Think about this, you’ve been married for 40, 50, 60 years; that relationship someday is going to go away through death. So now what are you going to do? You see, resting on another creature in a way that we should be resting only on God sets us up for disappointments and heartache. So that’s why these attributes are so important to think about.
Now today were going to move on to God’s omnipotence. We’re going to look at some verses because, again, think of our method, we’re not starting with speculation, we’re not starting with somebody’s idea. We are starting by going back to our library; the library of special revelation. Within the library of special revelation what do we find spoken there in the library about God?
Well, we have verses like this, these are just one of dozens, if not hundreds of verses, I’m just picking some out so that we can look quickly at just a few verses. “You alone are the Lord;” This is Nehemiah 9:6. By the way, Nehemiah, those of you who study the Bible, you know the history of what’s going on here. Nehemiah has been dispatched from Iran to come to Israel to set up things. He’s been involved in the government. There have been some political negotiations here. So he goes, whatever it is, a thousand miles or so, to come back to start planning the rebuilding of Israel, and he has been living where? He’s been living in a Gentile culture, hasn’t he?
He’s like many of the exilic Jews. He has had to reconcile his Jewishness; the fact that he was brought up to believe the Torah. He has to reconcile that with the fact that he’s living 24/7 in a culture that totally kisses it off, totally ignores it. So here’s Nehemiah, and he’s had to think this through. He’s been successful at thinking it through, but when you see a verse like this it puts it in the historical context. He is a man who has been involved in pagan government for years and he’s been favorably impressing his peers—the pagans respect him. See Christians can be respected.
In fact I know many Christian men and women who are in business and because of their integrity, ironically, those around them dump more and more work on them because when you have a team of people and you’ve got three or four Christians that have integrity, that get the job done, what do you think the bosses do when they want a job done? Give it to him, give it to him, and he can burn out Christians in certain places where you just have to graciously say, “Hey.” Sometimes you have to turn around and say, as I did with my boss and say, “What’s the priority here? I’ve got five different things and I can only do four so something’s got to drop. What do you want? What’s most important to you?” And you have to kind of negotiate that.
But here’s Nehemiah and his mentality is this, and he’s talking to God, and he’s learned to talk to God this way because he’s had years of experience in an alien culture. He’s had to, in his mind, keep focused on the God of the Jews. This is my heavenly father; I’ve got to think about that. I don’t want the idols, I don’t want the paganism, I’ve got to focus on my God. So that’s how he starts: “You alone are the Lord.” That’s Yahweh; that’s the proper name of God in the Old Testament.
“You have made.” Notice how he starts. In your handout one of the diagrams I left with you is that one we’ve shown several times—the two views. Remember the diagram? It’s on the back of the sheet and we go over that—the next to the last sheet. It’s called “Shall I bow my knee to my Creator?” And you remember that when I go over that what do I always say is the fundamental difference between the Bible, this special revelation in history, what’s the difference at heart between this library and the world at large, and there are only 22 answers to the question?
Either there are two levels of existence, the eternal level of God and God as Creator and the temporal level of a creation brought into existence by His Word, or, you don’t believe that. And if you don’t believe that you’re left with nature alone.
So those are the two views. So when Nehemiah says this: “You alone are the Lord,” there’s a reason. Yahweh isn’t Lord because there are 20 other gods. Yahweh is Lord because He’s created everything outside of Himself. So, “You are Lord; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens.”
By the way, there’s the spiritual realm. So He’s made angels too, “with all their host.” See, there’s the multiplicity. “The earth and everything in it”—everything in it, not just man—everything in it, “the seas, and all that is in them, and You preserve them all.” Not only is he talking about God as Creator, there’s the verb “You have made,” but he also adds another verb, “You preserve them.” He’s talking about God’s providence in history.
Those are fundamental ideas. “The host of heaven worship you,” and that’s sort of a slam because he’s saying the “host of heaven worship You and we idiots down here don’t.” The emphasis of Nehemiah right here is he needs enablement; he’s got a big, big job ahead of him. He’s going to get enormous peer pressure to stop this building program. He’s got to start out mentally with the idea that from the human point of view, this job is impossible—to reestablish Jerusalem, to reestablish this land—that 70 years has gone by; this nation was totally destroyed. He’s got to single-handedly lead these people into a reconstruction program which is unprecedented in history.
He realizes that he’s weak; just like we recognize something that comes up. We’re weak, we just don’t have it. So he’s focused now on God and God’s omnipotence. God is omnipotent because: “You have made the heavens,” and not only are You the Creator but You’re the Preserver. You are the One that works history. With that mentality he can move forward.
Here’s another verse: this goes back to Genesis 9 and Noah. Now I want to take this covenant and I want to add a step up in your thinking, how we think about this contract. But start with this: “I establish,” God says, “My covenant.” (Genesis 9:9) Remember I told you that the noun “covenant” is a “contract,” and a contract has specifics to it.
It doesn’t mean you metaphorically interpret a contract, you literally interpret it. Try metaphorically interpreting your mortgage agreement and see how far that gets you. See, we know intuitively that if you have a contract, you’re not interpreting it allegorically, you’re interpreting it literally. You have to. That’s how we communicate with each other.
“I establish My contract with you.” Now look at it. When a contract is established there are parties to the contract, so one of the first things to think about besides the terms of the contract are the parties to the contract. Let’s look at who the parties are. “I establish My contract with you and your descendants.” That’s the whole human race. “… after you and with every living creature that is with you. All that go out of the ark.”
The fishes didn’t go out of the ark, right? But air-breathing animals did, so this is a contract with air-breathing animals, and he goes back to the Noahic narrative that is precisely written. When you read about Noah building the ark there’s a little phrase in there, and the phrase says: “The animals came to the ark.” (Genesis 7:8–9) It does not say, “Noah picked out the animals for the ark.”
Let’s think why. By omitting the fact that Noah is the subject of the verb “brought” animals it would make Noah the one who selected the “male and female from every kind.” The problem is Noah doesn’t know enough about the future environment, that the male and female gene is going to have to populate. He hasn’t got a clue. The Bible very precisely tells us that Noah wasn’t the one who picked out the male and female representatives of every kind. God picked them out.
How did He do it? I have no idea, but somehow the male and the female came to the ark. It’s just like these weird stories you read about how somebody loses their pet and then it shows up two years later 500 miles away and you think, “Holy mackerel, how did the dog negotiate from there to here, and for two years?” It may not come in good shape, the paws may be all worn down, but how does the dog know?
We haven’t got a clue. We don’t know how birds navigate. My son’s father-in-law works with birds and he’s learning about banding these birds. There’s a place in our town where they catch these birds and they band them every year. And they have one bird called the “Moonbird” and he’s been banded for nine or ten years. He comes there every year; every year they check: “Oh, there’s the band.” They’ve got a date on the band so they know what they’re talking about here. This bird has come back to Bel Air (Maryland) for 10 years, and they’ve tracked the bird because they know the habitat and the flight pattern of these kind of birds. The bird, if you multiply the number of miles flown times 10, that bird’s flown 250,000 miles in order to come back, which is the distance from the earth to the moon. So that’s why they’ve nicknamed this particular bird the “Moonbird.”
Well now how does this bird navigate? How do these birds—they grow up, their fledglings, they grow up, they migrate—they come back, and they come back to the same area. What, do they have GPS? What’s going on in their brains? We don’t know what’s going on in their brains. That’s one of these wonderful things about God’s creation that we have yet to discover. You can’t be bored living in God’s creation!
There’s a big tree that the guys are working on over here by the house and they’re trying to deal with preventing it from falling over, and when you look at the height of that tree have you ever asked yourself, how does water get from the roots all the way up to the highest leaf? There’s no pump in the tree. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could figure out how to get water up 100–200 feet without a pump? Capillary action, but it’s so designed that gallons of water are moving up that trunk.
These are the wonders of God’s handiwork, and this is what is so abusive about a secular education, because kids learn about this stuff and they don’t see the glory in it. This should be wonderment. Think of the bird. We talk facetiously about “bird brains,” and it’s our term for an idiot. They’re not idiots. Anybody that can navigate—you can’t navigate 25,000 miles without a GPS or map—these guys do it without any of it. So enough to say about what God’s picked out.
God picked out a male and a female representative from every kind so that, now we at least know something, the genomes, the DNA of that male and that female, have enough adaptability potential that they can adapt like bears from the ice—the polar bear—to the more temperate climate. God alone knew what the earth would look like after the Flood and picked the male and the female that could survive and adapt.
Modern creationists have pointed out that we better be careful of the word “natural selection”. That is wrong. Nature is not doing the selecting. What we call natural selection is due to an engineered adaptation system so that these creatures can go into different environments and adapt.
If you don’t see the stunning ability of an engineered adaptive system, think of dogs. They all come from one kind: from Chihuahuas to Great Danes. You see the difference? You see that adaptability? That was all built in the male and the female, probably the wolf kind, that came aboard the ark. Now how did God engineer this, so we could breed these animals with all this kind of stuff going on, these specialties? So that’s the parties to the contract.
Contracts have to be signed. So God says, “This is the sign of the contract that is with you for perpetual generations: My rainbow in the cloud.” (Genesis 9:12–13). To get a rainbow you have to have droplet sizes of a certain diameter; a mist isn’t going to create a rainbow. You have to have a specific raindrop size to get the optics in the individual drop splayed out like that. But what God is doing is, if you look up B-O-W in a concordance, you’ll notice it occurs in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:28; Ezekiel 39:3) and when Ezekiel sees the bow, he’s looking at the throne of God and he sees a bow around the throne—a complete bow.
The only way you can see a complete bow on earth is to get high up in an airplane sometime and you can just about see a complete bow. We only see half of it because of the angle we’re looking at, but when we see that bow you’re looking at a physical structure of light with droplets of a certain size. Always look for the bow with the sun at your back. You have to look away from the sun to look if there’ going to be a bow. Obviously, you have to have rain somewhere; a shower or something. So the bow is there and what we are seeing physically is what in eternity we will see around the throne of God (Revelation 4:3). We’re going to sit there in eternity and say, “Gee, I was seeing that before in life,” and it’ll connect with us. But He’s signing it. The funny thing is that at the ark in Kentucky Ken Ham, who runs the whole operation there, had a display when the ark was first built and they had all the colors of the rainbow. There were some LGBQ people driving by and one of them said, “Look at that, they’ve got our colors.” So the point is that these details in Scripture are worth it.
Then finally another example of God’s omnipotence. He’s going to redo the universe; just a minor little point here; He’s going to remake the heavens and the earth. (Revelation 21) In order to, and I’ll just throw this thought question out, in order to perpetuate this, He’s got to control the atmosphere, doesn’t He? But to control the atmosphere He’s got to control physical forces on the atmosphere which include the sun and extraterrestrial forces. But to ensure that the sun behaves itself, He’s got to ensure the whole galaxy behaves itself. So just to pull off this contract God has to control the whole geophysical universe otherwise this contract can’t be held together.
You could have an asteroid hit the earth, you could have all kinds of things, problems, the sun could have an explosion like some of the stars explode. Our sun is a very stable star, but some stars are not stable. So suppose our sun blows up. There goes the contract. So this contract, even though it’s just talking about the earth, just talking about the air-breathing animals, it implies totality, it implies an omnipotent control.
What do we have as a finite thing? Work and labor; we know what it is to get tired. God doesn’t get tired. That’s another way of thinking of omnipotence. We get exhausted doing heavy work or mental work; it still is tiring to us. We have a family; both parents get tired raising kids; it’s hard, and we all know; we have that experience of being exhausted. God doesn’t know exhaustion because He is omnipotent.
What are some aberrations in nature in this whole idea of omnipotence? Remember I said from your diagram there, the Creator/creature distinction. You go to the right side of the chart and you see continuity of being, only one level of existence, and that’s nature.
Let’s look at this: here are college students on the streets of New York City worshiping a nature deity. This is what $40,000 in college tuition can do for you. This is the environmental movement and they’re serious about this. I’ll show you a quote that they grasp. Not all the college students are doing this thing, but the people behind the movement know very well what they’re doing. In terms of the diagram I’ve shown you, they want the right side of that diagram—the continuity of being, and they’re threatened by the left side of the chart.
Look at the words this man has—Andrew Cohen, leader of the Enlightenment Next, one of the more radical environmentalists. Look what he says: “Why is it important that there is only one, not two?” He’s using the word “oneism” and “twoism.” Oneism is the right side of that chart [continuity of being—all is one]; twoism is the left side of the chart [Creator/creature distinction]. He knows very well our view. Now watch what he does with it. “All problems stem from the ignorance arising from twoism. The discovery that there is only one, not two, is the solution to all our problems. This is the fundamental nature of reality. This is the absolute profound mystical shift. This has to come first.”
So now you see you’ve got somebody that’s thought through this thing and they very clearly understand. It’s sad that many Christians don’t understand this. They [the oneism proponents] do understand and it’s a war to remove the Creator/creature distinction because if they can do that, they can worship nature.
Let’s think about the Bible. Let’s think about going back to 1 Kings. The reason why I’m saying go back to the Old Testament is because in the Old Testament you had pagan worship of nature. One of the pagan nature deities was Baal; B-A-A-L, and you read about that. When you look in a concordance many times you see that word. Here is Leah Bronner, a woman scholar who did her PhD work and published a book, The Stories of Elijah and Elisha as Polemics Against Baal Worship, where she studied that section of the Old Testament. She brings remarkable significance to many of the passages. She says, by the way, that is a piece of archaeology and that’s a depiction of what they thought Baal looked like. Usually when you see Baal he has a sword in his right hand and in his left hand he has lightning bolt because he’s the god of weather and he’s the god of fertility.
What does she say? “These creation beliefs …” they’re really not creation beliefs they’re nature worship beliefs, “… in Scripture were from early times,” well, yes, the first part, yes, there’s creation in Scripture, “were from early times challenged by Canaanite mythology, mainly known to us in the Ugaritic sources, the religion of Canaan deified natural forces and attributed to various gods the power to control these forces in nature.” That’s why they worshiped Baal. They were agricultural, right? The whole economy was an agricultural economy.
So what do you think rested on their economic minds for their businesses? Rain. Does that click with you about a story in the Old Testament involving Elijah? Remember the drought? God brought a severe drought on the land because it was part of the cursings of the Mosaic Law. There was that a great scene on Mount Carmel where there was no rain. They all got together, the prophets of Baal screamed and yelled day after day to Baal, “Baal, Baal, give us rain, give us rain.” No rain.
Then Elijah says, “Okay now watch, I’m going to talk to the God of Israel, Yahweh. You watch what happens.” (1 Kings 18) And so he did. He offered the sacrifice and they got rain. What is that story about? That story is about correcting this stupid belief in the deity of nature and it was fought out in the days of Elijah and Elisha.
Another example of what she does in this is, remember the story of Elijah going up into Lebanon to Sidon and he met a widow? (1 Kings 17) And this poor lady, her husband apparently had died, she had one son left and she was preparing the death meal because she knew they were going to starve to death. That was the condition of this poor woman. Elijah sees her and he’s up in Sidon now. The significance is the location. Sidon—in Lebanon. Tyre and Sidon were the centers of Baal worship. Baal worship came out of Lebanon down into Israel.
So here in the heart of Baalism Elijah’s going to pull this thing off. Well, not Elijah. Elijah’s God is going to pull off a miracle. He tells the lady to give him some of the food. Well she’s saying, “Excuse me, but this food is the last I got, and you know, I’m preparing it so that my son at least can have food before we starve to death.” And Elisha said, “Just do what I say.” So here’s this pagan woman. She trusts this prophet, and he provides for her because she goes back in the kitchen and the food keeps multiplying. It’s like the food in Jesus’s day with the fishes and the loaves. But the significance of those Elijah stories is that he’s attacking belief in this nitwit [Andrew Cohen]. Actually, he’s probably an angelic demon that inspired the pagan mind.
The other thing is the worship of nature on a grand scale today. I’m aware of this because I’ve worked last 10 years in climate. Here is one of the leading scientists in the climate movement [Mike Hulme]. In fact, it’s interesting, you notice here, this is the University of East Anglia in Europe and that’s the center where the global data is kept. This is also the site of the scandal of “Climategate” where one of the scientists let loose what was going on to alert everybody else to the corruption going on here. But notice his title. It’s not Professor of Climate. What is he a professor of? Climate change. See the subtlety?
So there’s the attraction. Now look what he says, this guy’s a Marxist: “The function of climate change … really is not about stopping climate chaos. Instead, we need to see how we can use the idea of climate change … to rethink how we take forward our political, social, economic, and personal projects over the decades to come. …” This is the guy that’s the father of the whole climate change movement. Look at what he’s admitting.
One of the associates in the United Nations, Ottmar Edenhofer said, listen to this quote; he was on the UN IPCC, the big committee that does it all: “One must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is really environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy.”
Now those are quotes from guys at the center of the movement. So next time you hear this, just be a little skeptical. What is the conclusion for us? We know that God is powerful and He can enable us in our life. We are not dependent on natural forces, and that means were not attracted to some world redemption program.
Here’s a passage we don’t have time to go through but write it down: Ephesians 1:17–23. That’s where the apostle Paul uses God’s omnipotence to help us think about our sanctification. That’s one of those great devotional passages talking about God’s power.
Our second attribute that we’ll go through rather quickly is God’s omnipresence. Where in Scripture do we get a sense of God’s omnipresence? Now be careful here. We talked previously about sacred spaces, and I said there are special locations where God wants to meet with man. But His omnipresence means this: it means that He’s fully present everywhere; fully present everywhere. It’s not a little bit of God here and a little bit of God there. Omnipresent doesn’t mean that. Omnipresent means He’s wholly present at every point. How can He be that? Because He is infinite in size.
Here are some verses: David’s famous Psalm 139: “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into Heaven, You are there: if I make my bed in hell,” this is Sheol, “behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand guide me. If I say, surely the darkness shall fall on me, and the light shall be night about me …” See how he’s making use of God’s omnipresence? God is personally present in our location. We are totally open to that.
The only thing we have that’s close to omnipresence is if you have a loved one or a family a thousand miles away, you can imagine in your mind’s eye being with them, can’t you? Or, you can have memories of them. So in our mind we can kind of project ourselves in to the location but that’s about as close as we ever come to God’s omnipresence.
What’s the pagan perversion of omnipresence? Well, paganism believed that the gods were local. Remember we showed you Baal? The Baalists believe that Baal was active in where Lebanon is today and a little bit down into Israel. That was his domain.
What happened to break the idea of local deities? What did God do to the nation in 586 B.C.? Remember? In 586 the Jews were exiled to where? They were exiled over to Babylon, a thousand miles away. That meant that the Jews had the experience of praying to God in another location and having to rely on the fact that He’s just as present in Babylon as He was back in Jerusalem. That was a national breakthrough of experience and that led Jews to realize, “Our God, Yahweh, is present everywhere, even among the Gentile nations.” This is why the Book of Daniel has this discussion between Nebuchadnezzar and Daniel. “I make a decree that any people …” (Daniel 3:29)
This is Nebuchadnezzar after he realizes that the God of Daniel is different than the Babylonian gods. Babylonian gods were just local. But here Nebuchadnezzar says, “Holy mackerel, look at this guy, this little Jewish boy.” And later on they have the fiery furnace experience.
So here they are, a thousand mile from the local place where Yahweh ruled, supposedly. Now here’s his decree: “Therefore I make a decree, that every people, nation, and language, which speak anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill; because there is no other god that is able to deliver after this sort.” Notice he says “language” and “nation;” this is a universal claim. As a result of that fiery furnace episode here’s a pagan ruler realizing, “Hey, the God of the Jews is different from our gods; the God of the Jews is present everywhere.”
That’s the background and it shows you the tension that ancient Jews had. They were the only people that believed in an omnipresent God. We take it for granted. So modern man, here’s what happens in the pagan mind today: by eliminating belief in the Creator/creature distinction, we have no omnipresent deity. If you have no omnipresent deity, how do you look at the universe?
Years ago Francis Schaeffer said that Charlie Chaplin, who was a comedian but he was also a thinker, when he was asked, “Mr. Chaplin, since God doesn’t exist how do you feel?” And he said, “I feel lonely.” He wasn’t just being funny. It was a statement of the existence of human beings in a universe that’s impersonal without God.
What is the tendency that we see over and over viewing the universe? We have to see if there are other inhabitants. Why is there this zeal to find life elsewhere in the universe? A part of it is scientific curiosity, I agree, but there’s something more driving in this. There’s a yearning that we can’t be the only people in the universe. There’s got to be some people out there. See, that’s it. That’s the pagan mind, having wiped out God’s omnipresence. Now we’re lonely; we’re cosmically lonely.
It’s awesome if you want an idea of how large the universe is, if you go to the Creation Museum they have a room when you sit back in the chair and they project your visit out to all kinds of places in the universe. You get an idea that this universe is one big thing, and here’s little planet Earth here, a little speck. So it does create the question, “What’s the rest of the universe all about?” Well, we don’t know all the exact things about everything else in the universe, but we know this: that God is present everywhere. When those guys landed on the moon there was a Christian there [Buzz Aldrin] and he was the one that viewed Earth rising in the morning like the moon rises on earth. Those astronauts knew God existed and God was just as present on the moon as He was anywhere else.
So conclusion here: belief in God’s omnipresence incentivizes confidence that He is in the midst of details of me right here, right now, where I am located; we can’t get away from that. And so that incentivizes a sense of the fact that we are still personally naked before Him because He’s right beside us in our location; that’s God’s omnipresence.
I want to conclude with a little incident from the life of Corrie Ten Boom (1892–1983) that shows this. Corrie Ten Boom, as you know, was the Dutch woman who was instrumental in saving Jewish lives and she was betrayed by some of her fellow Dutch people and she wound up in a Nazi concentration camp. She lost her sister there in the camp. These women were treated terribly—lice covered, the guards would rape them—this was the life of these women in this concentration camp—terrible. And Corey Ten Boom pled with the Lord: “I’ve got to know You; I’ve got to focus upon You.” As she prayed, God did an amazing little thing. He brought a bird that would sit outside of her window in that prison and would sing every morning at 7 o’clock. Now how did this little bird know to do it? Just like the birds that fed Elijah; (1 Kings 17:6) I don’t know how God works with that, but when you see things like Corrie Ten Boom with that little bird; of all the hundreds of people in the prison that little bird comes outside of her prison window and sings every day at the same time.
Now when you see a blessing like that … I call it surgical blessings—surgically precise blessings—they’re not overwhelming things. They don’t knock you over. But learn to spot this in your life. It’s so encouraging to see that a certain thing happens and only God could’ve arranged that. How the heck did the little bird know where Corrie Ten Boom was? We have no idea, but she knew. That was what kept her mentally going in a concentration camp—because she recognized that her God was so precise, was so involved with her personally, that He would send that little bird to encourage her every day.
“Father, we thank You for the fact that You are omnipotent. We thank You for Your omniscience. We thank You for Your omnipresence. We thank You for who You are: that You are our Creator, You are our Savior; You are our Judge.
“And so Father as we come toward the end of this conference and we think about all that we’ve looked at from Your Word—from Your library of special revelation given in history, and we get to know You and understand our identity; that we are made for You, we are made for a relationship with You forever. We thank You now for the Lord Jesus that made this possible by dying for us on the Cross without a thought about how we would respond. He died for us. He took the initiative because You love us. In His name, Amen.”