Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Part 2 Review Lessons
Lesson 33 – Creation, Fall, Flood, Institutions, Why we Suffer
03 Oct 1996
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
Tonight completes the introduction to the course. Read carefully for good observations, Genesis 9-11 for next time, because we’re going to start working with the text and we assume that you’ve read it. It doesn’t matter what translation you have. This Bible series is not a verse by verse exposition so much as it is to get the grand sweep of things, to put the grand sweep of things into perspective, so that as we come into contact with the world system and the world system comes in contact with us we are perceptive, we recognize where the world is coming from, where the Word of God is coming from, and where the two collide. This is why you’ll see a theme throughout all of this that’s very antithetical, very antagonistic. First we have the Word, then we have the world’s denial of the Word; we want to study the collision between the Word and the world.
There’s a basic principle I follow, an axiom that over the years in working with the Word of God and just in my daily Christian life of living in the world system and thinking about its impact on me: finally in the last analysis you will either let the world interpret the Word of God for you, or you must take the Word of God to interpret the world around you. One or the other principle will ultimately arise and become supreme in your heart. Either the Word of God will be used to interpret the world around you, or in a passive mode you will find yourself reading the Word of God through the eyes of the world system. It can’t be both ways, it’s got to be one way or the other way. In one way you are spiritually active, you are obedient to the Lord and you’re in conflict. I don’t think anyone really likes and enjoys perpetual conflict. But unfortunately we live in an abnormal universe, it’s fallen, and we are in perpetual conflict. The only area where we aren’t in perpetual conflict is in our hearts when we submit to the Lord Jesus Christ and we have the assurance of the Holy Spirit, then we have peace. But that’s the only real peace we have today. But what happens is because we really don’t like conflict, we try to avoid it, and we try to make peace prematurely, so we compromise, we find ourselves compromising and we find out in the long run that doesn’t give us peace anyway.
So we might as well take our lumps and that’s what this course is all about, is to encourage you that you can stand there and take it, and that the world system is really a lot of hot air. When you come right down to it, a lot of these assaults on the Word of God, a lot of the doubts that are created in our minds, a lot of the unbelief around us, it sounds so erudite when you hear it, it turns out upon really careful analysis to be a bunch of baloney. So that’s what we’re looking at, we’re going to look at some of the hot air and bologna.
I want to review, basically we’ll do six months review in the next fifty minutes. You can’t get enough review; review won’t hurt. The first event we dealt with was creation. I want to go back to the same diagram and look at the first two events of the Bible. Those are fundamental events. Those are real events. We’re not talking mythological history. That’s the way you will be taught to read the Word of God in the classroom. In academia you’ll have courses, the Bible as Literature, and this is the Hebrew idea of the creation of the universe, isn’t that neat, and then we go to the American Indians and we see their idea of the creation of the universe, we’ve got to be fair to everybody, we go to the Oriental and hear about their idea of the universe, and put it all in a little pot, it’s a cafeteria of cosmologies and we can take our pick. That’s the way we’re taught in the society at large, because it’s arrogant to assume that one and only one people have the truth, we’re a democracy here, we believe everybody has the truth, the global village, so how dare a Christian get up and say that only one subset of the human race has been given the truth. It turns out that is literally not what the Bible is saying but that’s the caricature. When we look at creation and the fall we are creating these as historical events that were observed by God and observed by men, and reported as historic events in Scripture. These are not speculations; they are not projections of the Hebrew imagination in the Ancient Near East. These are historical events that actually occurred.
Because they did occur, it turns out that we have certain implications. When we look at the two options on creation, we have one major difference, one big partition. If you can lump all of the other cosmologies in the world basically they go on this side, with the exceptions where you have these little strange tribal phenomena that occur on practically every continent where missionaries will go in where no missionaries have gone before, and they will find little remnants and pieces of the truth of Genesis. It’s very surprising and the secular anthropologist really doesn’t have too much of an answer for this one, because believing in evolution as he does and believing the Bible was just sort of created in the imagination of a few Jews in the Ancient Near East, he can’t figure out why these other tribes in other continents of other races have these pieces. There has been all kinds of explanations that it’s somehow deep depth psychology or something. But we know the answer, the answer is very simple, all the tribes have come from Noah and Noah’s sons, so they all had the truth at one time, it’s just dropped out through the sinful mind, the carnal mind, which is at enmity with God, can’t be submissive to God, therefore it works subliminally to distort and pervert the truth. So you have perversions of the truth all over the human race.
We have these two things and the partition that divides these belief systems is belief or disbelief in the ex nihilo Creator, the Creator that creates from nothing. God is not a part of a process. In the ancient myths this belief side, usually the gods and goddesses propagated the universe out of their bodies. Their bodies were the universe, so there is a continuum between God, man, angels, semi-gods, to rocks. It’s all part of one continuum. That began in the ancient world, it continues in Eastern religion, it is part of Western philosophy, it’s in modern theology and in modern historical science. It’s not true that Darwin started it; it goes far, far more back than that. The key to remember is this is the ultimate environment, if you keep pushing back to the basics and beyond the basics, what’s behind the basics, finally here’s what you arrive at: you’ve got an infinite universe that is impersonal, there’s not a being out there, there may be gods and goddesses, but they’re just greater versions than man, so Dr. God and Mr. Man, but there are just degrees of difference. There’s not a qualitative difference between God and man, just a quantitative, just a size difference, so there’s nobody that’s ultimately in charge on this side of the house.
Then we come over to the Bible side and we find that this has certain implications. The big one is that we have an infinite God, but the ultimate environment, we talk about environmentalism, the ultimate environment is God the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, they are the ultimate environment, not nature, not a gas cloud, not a cosmic universe, but behind that is the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit of Scripture. That’s what we’ve got to learn, because everything else in life follows. The temptation, when we get frustrated over a problem, what we’re getting solicited to by the world system, we’re getting this solicitation, this temptation, to think that it’s stupid to trust in the God of the Bible, because He really doesn’t count, that ultimately behind Him there’s this, and if you analyze it, you’ll see that every day the pressures, temptations, the choices, the beliefs and the doubts, the struggles, hinge on one of these two principles. This is going on all the time in our souls, the debate, who is ultimately in charge, what is my ultimate environment. We said that those are the key differences.
Then we said there’s the fall of man, and the fall is also very, very significant because this has all kinds of implications, which I want to spell out by way of review. There are only two ways of handling evil. If I were a non-Christian and I wanted to attack the biblical faith, that’s where I would strike. I would strike not at evolution, but I would strike at evil. Why can you Christians argue that God is in charge, He’s good, and He allows all this evil to go on. It’s a very common argument, but let’s look at that argument a little more carefully in terms of the great ideas. I’ve diagramed this so there’s one view and another view, there are only two views, not three, not six, not one hundred and eight, there’s only two views, and they start where the creation left us, namely if we start with a biblical view we have a personal infinite Creator as the ultimate cause of all things. In other words, if He’s really the infinite personal Creator, He is also in control of evil. If He wasn’t in control of evil, then He wouldn’t be the infinite personal Creator. So He is the ultimate environment, even behind evil. That’s the Scripture position. The non-Christian has to believe that out there there’s nothing but mystery and impersonal processes, laws of physics, that’s the ultimate environment, and evil, whatever it is, must be seen against that background.
We start with those two things again, not three, just two things; let’s see what happens. Here is a radical thing, and this has very classical implications. I want to take time to spell it out in practical terms of everyday life. I’m going to start with just the general diagram, and I didn’t put this in the notes, but draw this diagram out it will help later because we’re going to start dealing with little subsets of it. If this is correct, that the Bible’s assertion that the ultimate environment is a personal infinite Creator, the Trinity, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and if the Bible is correct in saying that this God is absolutely good, ABSOLUTELY good, meaning by absolutely good that He defines what good is, His character is the ideal good, then He is always good. He always has been good, He always will be good, there never has been a lapse at any point in time of His goodness. That’s the ultimate environment. If that’s the case, remember here’s the difference, and I want you to see this, you want to notice that on the biblical basis there are two levels of existence … TWO levels of existence, the Creator level and the creature level. On the non-Christian basis there is only one level of existence, all things, the universe, man, rocks, molecules, bugs, all things, there’s just one level of existence, everything else are categories. But in the Bible there are two levels of existence. This is a finite existence; it began at a point, the creation, in contrast to the Creator that never began. The creation began and when it left God’s fingertips in Genesis 2:3, which was the end of the creation narrative there, God says He looked at His handiwork and His conclusion of evaluating His quality of His work was “very good,” His own qualification.
I remind you, particularly for guys out in the business world doing labor, it’s comforting to know that the first picture you have of God is He is a blue collar laborer working with His hands. Talk about a doctrine of labor, here you have God visualizing what it is He wants to build, then He builds it, and then He backs off, looks at it and says that’s very good. It’s the picture of God as a workman. The very first picture that God gives to us of Himself is that He is a laborer, He is working, He is productive, and He enjoys it. By the way, He’s doing that before the fall. Most people think that the work started with the fall, because it’s so toilsome, but that’s not true, labor began before the fall. Labor is not a curse, labor has been cursed by virtue of the fall, but labor preexisted the fall of man.
So we have the creation here, it is very good, so the creature at this secondary level, the creation existed in a good state. That means that we as Christians can envision a material universe sinless, we can envision men and women sinless, we can view nature sinless, without natural evil, without moral evil. That’s a corollary to Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:3; it’s a corollary, if you don’t like it, well, that’s the text; sorry, I didn’t write that, that’s the text. All we’re showing here is what the text says. At this point we have the introduction of evil, whether it’s Satan falling or whether it’s Adam falling, the point is they both fell after they were created, sometime after they were created. Then we have the introduction of evil. Starting at this point, existence becomes abnormal, all existence becomes abnormal. We do not live in a normal existence. We have never existed in a normal environment since the fall. Think about the implications of this. We haven’t got time but if you think a little bit about statistics and surveys can immediately see a little problem. If I do a survey of how 8,000 people act, or how 10,000 people think, what am I surveying? Am I surveying something and getting my bell-shaped curve and thereby defining a norm? No, not biblically, because what I am surveying is a fallen set of human beings. So what I am surveying is a barren, depraved, perverted behavior. And what I get with my bell-shaped curve as the center of my mean is a wonderful average of perversion. This is what was wrong with the so-called Kinsey report, went around asking people about their sex habits, and he came out and said the normal person does this. No, it’s not the normal person does this; this is the average pervert that does this. It affects your statistics.
Then we have the third point in the second line of existence and that is God eventually will separate the good from the evil. People don’t like to hear this; this is heaven and hell talk, ooh, how offensive! No-no, it isn’t offensive, this is the solution to the problem. There comes a point in time when this abnormal universe, God looks at it and says that’s it, game is over! Period! And at that point we have this eternal separation. It has to be eternal, because we don’t go this cycle of history again and again and again, and again, by reincarnation of some sort, some cyclic view. The idea of an eternal separation of good and evil is the ultimate answer to the whole question. So to compromise on the heaven-hell talk is to blow away the whole picture, that’s essential, an eternal heaven and eternal hell, because that’s what keeps this thing structured. That’s why we have an answer to good and evil.
Suppose we say that’s just a lot of Jewish tradition. Let’s look at what the option is. Don’t like that, see what else we have in our cafeteria today. We have good and evil existing forever, and we define that as normal. How do you like that for size? That’s the option to biblical faith. I said the world is full of hot air and bologna; I’m pointing to a big slab of it right there, a bunch of hot air and bologna. What they’ve got is an eternal existence of good and evil and the perceptive non-Christian has seen this for centuries and that’s precisely why in the East you have people going into Buddhism, they want to go to nirvana. Do you understand why they want to go to nirvana? Anybody wants to go to nirvana to get out this mess. What’s nirvana? Nonexistence. It’s the only solution; you can’t even kill yourself because you don’t know if maybe after you kill yourself your soul keeps on existing, what do you do then. So the Eastern people have thought this through much more carefully than the West, and they say suicide’s not the answer, because you might come back and be your cat, or you could come back on the cycle of reincarnation and be a bug, so the point is that they want to go to non-existence, and they have to choose that because it’s the only way to get out of this thing. There is no solution. There are the options, you might not like the biblical position, but if that’s so then be prepared to live with the other side of the coin.
This is an example of the background, the theory behind good and evil. Now we want to discuss it in a little more practical terms. What is the key idea behind this chart? How can we summarize the biblical position? There are two ideas that hinge on the biblical view of evil. One idea I’ve introduced, i.e. that evil biblically is bounded. I use that word because I want to take another step. We’re saying that evil has boundaries. On the non-biblical view evil has no boundaries, because it goes on forever. In the Christian position its starts at the fall, it did not begin before that, it starts at the fall and is separated, and confined; it’s confined in the Lake of Fire ultimately, the garbage dump of history. And it doesn’t get out of there, it stays there. So evil is bounded vs. being unbound.
But there’s a second corollary to this that’s not on the diagram. Take this idea down because we have to deal with it too, it becomes very essential in dealing with the Christian way of life and salvation. The cause of evil is man sinning, it’s rebelliousness on the part of man that has caused this, or in the case of the angels, rebelliousness by the angels, in other words, creature rebellion causes evil. Creature rebellion means guilt before an infinite holy God. So, evil is associated… and this is what the world does not like to hear, the world would love to explain evil away as sort of a neuron disturbance inside the skull, but what the Christian position says is that you might have neuron disturbances inside your skill but that’s not what caused the ultimate fall. What caused the ultimate fall is I know what God’s will is and oouumpht to You; that’s what causes the problem.
In the biblical position the cause involves guilt over creature rebellion. On the non-Christian position, isn’t this convenient, on the non-Christian, non-biblical position, the cause of evil isn’t there, there isn’t any ultimate cause on our part, we’re victims. For the non-Christian ultimately we’re all victims of this mystery. In one sense you have biblical guilt and responsibility, on the other hand you have irresponsibility and victimization. You know, poor me, I was born with a [blank], or poor me, my mother dropped me on my head, poor me, someone said nasty things to me when I was five years old, poor me, etc. It’s always poor me, I don’t take responsibility for anything; it’s always my environment that causes the problem, victimization. You can’t get saved by blaming your environment, and you can’t live the Christian by blaming your environment.
Somewhere you have to take responsibility, some place. You cannot believe in Jesus Christ without taking responsibility for your personal sin. This is why all this victimization stuff is going on in the hot air and bologna talk, it’s undermining our evangelism. It’s becoming extremely difficult to win people to Jesus Christ, we can get them into a religious service and go through a lot of hoopla and nothing comes out of it. You wonder what’s going on. Because half the world now thinks they’re victims, so before you even get to the gospel you have to somehow say you-who, wake up, you’re guilty, and to do that they have to have an idea of a God who’s the Creator of the universe, to whom they’re guilty. This is very difficult to communicate. Sometimes it has to be communicated by a wordless way by your life. This is why living the Christian life is important, because sometimes people are immune to what you say, it’s got to hit them in the face about what you do. They’ve got to see something.
The battleground is over these basic ideas. We said we have certain, what we called coping tactics. These we listed eleven reasons why there’s suffering in the world, there’s probably an infinite number but we isolated eleven from the Scripture and said some of it is direct suffering, and suffering can also be indirect. The Bible gives us certain categories of suffering. This doesn’t make it hurt less, but here’s what it will do, if you’re in suffering situation in your personal life, or working with a suffering situation, if you remember that in the Christian position since we have evil bounded, the whole problem of suffering and evil in our lives is why does He allow the boundary here, and He doesn’t move it over there. The way the Christian copes with suffering and evil, we cope with the discussion, what is the boundary, what’s the latitude of evil that I’m experiencing. It’s all under His control, why has He done this. Anybody that’s got half smarts has a solution, and the solution is anesthetize yourself; take drugs, do alcohol, do something else. All these things act as a pain killer.
That’s why we’ve got Kevorkian running around he wasn’t the first guy to figure out how to reduce pain. The drunk in the bar figured that one out centuries before he came along. All of it is a grand scheme of anesthesia, you pick yours, somebody picks drink, somebody picks drugs, somebody picks sex, somebody picks something else, but basically it’s an anesthetization attempt to get rid of the pain. So just saying no to drugs doesn’t solve the problem, it’s hard to do. I can’t say no, any more than I can say no to a pain killer when I’m hurting. The problem is deeper than just saying no, the problem is what’s the big picture going on here in my life. We said that these coping tactics vary.
We said the Bible gives certain reasons for direct suffering, one of the reasons for direct physical death in the world is because Adam sinned, so we have a direct thing right there, all physical suffering, all DNA disturbances, all really hinge from that bad decision in the Garden of Eden. If we take the Bible seriously, the fall is a direct source of physical disturbance in our bodies that we call death. We covered other causes, we said that Galatians 6:7, “Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap,” the principle is we add to our suffering, call it self-induced misery, probably 90% of the suffering in our lives we brought on ourselves by our stupidity, and rebellion. This is why God calls us sheep, because we’re so stupid, so you say yea, I’m a dumb sheep, look what I did.
I used to live near where they raised sheep, and they took us over there to show us all the stupid things the sheep do. And it was amazing how you’d get one of them out and all the rest would go follow him, they had some pans of stuff they led a sheep through, he went thrashing around in this place, had water in buckets, and they got one of them to do it and all of the rest of them kept doing it, everyone was in hysterics watching this process go on, but I’ve never forgotten it. That’s a picture of Christians, and it’s not a compliment to be called a sheep, really it’s kind of a semi-insult, a good sense of humor for God. I brought in other things, for example hell, in Matthew 25 it says that God created the Lake of Fire not for man but the devil and the angels. If He created it for the devil and angels what are men doing there? Men get there because they reject the Savior. God in His grace provides every answer to every problem, and men choose to rebel, sorry about that but that’s direct cause.
Then we had more indirect, more subtle things why suffering occurs, and the Bible recognizes that suffering in your life doesn’t always come about because of something you did, sometimes suffering comes about because God is intervening. In Acts 9 Paul suffered on the road to Damascus. What caused that? God called to him, an evangelistic wakeup call. So when God has a wakeup call, sometimes it hurts because it’s the only way He can get our attention. Then we have suffering that’s induced because God wants us to grow. Jesus Christ Himself, it says in Hebrews that Jesus Christ suffered like we did; He learned obedience by the things which He suffered, which is an amazing statement in Scripture.
One of the things that we covered was strange causes of suffering, and that’s reported in the book of Job, that’s the case where God introduces suffering in our live because of external observers, it has nothing to do with what you’re doing, but external people are watching, either unbelievers, believers or even angels. Every once in a while there are these little tantalizing passage in the Scripture, almost like we are living in a fish bowl and God wants us to be there for other beings in the universe other than ourselves, and in some strange way they, watching us, are learning things—maybe how not to do it. But they are learning valuable lessons from God through us in these suffering situations.
We had eleven things we isolated about reasons why suffering happens, and you ultimately have to go back because God does not always tell us the details of why did He put the boundary of evil in your life over here, and somebody else’s boundary is over there, and sometimes you get kind of bent out of shape by this thing. At that point you have no option, other than to trust Him and His goodness, and that’s the last part of the message of Job, because when God speaks to Job it’s very interesting. Job has question after question, for 37 chapters, and when God comes in, He gives him a little drill of about seventy questions, you want Me to answer your questions, you answer My questions first, and by the time God gets through, Job forgets his questions, and he has such a vision of God and who He is that it just melts this other stuff away. He doesn’t fight evil by fighting evil. We’re going to see that again and again this year. The conflict with evil is not won by fighting evil as such. The conflict is won by submitting to God and then He takes care of the evil. It’s an indirect approach that’s used throughout Scripture. Those are the two events that formed the first part of our time last year.
Now we want to see some of the details of what that means as far as God and me. We’ll draw a little chart. We’ll take some of God’s attributes, we said that God had various attributes and man had an analogous set because man is made in God’s image. Let’s go through just four of them. God is sovereign, He controls all things, He works all things after the counsel of His will, there’s not a committee that runs the universe, there’s a God in heaven that runs the universe and He doesn’t take a vote when He makes a decision, that’s sovereignty. God is holy, meaning that God is in His character perfectly good and righteous. God is love, a love that is unfathomable, it’s an amazing thing. God is omniscient, He knows all things. We just took four attributes to show that when the Bible says that man is made in God’s image, it means that man has analogous traits to these. The counterpart to sovereignty in man’s existence is choice. This is why we have a choice in salvation. This is why God the Holy Spirit comes and says “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” and He that believeth not is not saved, but is condemned. So there is the choice, man is responsible. Here is responsibility if you want to put it this way. We don’t use the word “free will” because that has all kinds of philosophic baggage to it.
This choice is something under attack today because one of the ways that data is being interpreted, particularly in neurostudies, psychoneuro studies, neurological studies, is that the brain is simply a stimulus response machine, and that you have just chemical disturbances, so if that is really the case, then nobody is responsible. In other words, you could go murder somebody and defend yourself in trial by saying I just had a synapse problem in one of my neurons, stimulus response. So the alternative to choice is some sort of SR, some sort of stimulus response mechanism. That’s why as Christians we cannot compromise at this point. If we offend the neuroscientists, then we offend them. But the price is too high to go along with some stimulus response model of man.
The corresponding thing to God’s holiness is our conscience, we are born with a conscience, every child has a conscience, every person has a conscience, it’s just that as adults we have higher level skills how to subdue the conscience, we get better and sneakier at ways of getting around the conscience, so we have conscience suppression skills that we get as we grow older, but basically we still have a sense of right and the wrong, and the reason that we know we do this is because in one 24-hour period, somewhere in our vocabulary we use the word “ought.” This ought not to be, that is wrong, we’re making moral judgments all the time. Why? Because our conscience won’t let us do anything else. So man has choice which corresponds to God’s sovereignty, he has conscience which reminds him that a holy God exists over him to which he is responsible. Men experience various degrees of love.
Let me go through the opposites. The opposite of choice in the world of bologna people, they want to go with some sort of stimulus response replacement for genuine choice. In conscience what we usually try to do is say that’s society, or it’s in my genes, or some other source is responsible or causing this. But God says no, the conscience is inside every soul, and it’s that conscience that we will be judged upon. It’s like a tape recorder tape recording everything there, you made a choice here at Tues. afternoon at such and such a time, it was your choice, your choice, your choice, choice, choice, choice and you knew, knew, knew. No ignorance here, all choice. So this is conscience, and it’s not anchored in society. If it was anchored in society what would Robinson Caruso do, go live on a desert island then you’d get rid of your conscience? That doesn’t work.
The opposite of love is not hate, what love needs is security, and you can’t have love without some sort of security, so what happens here, a distortion of this is self-security, a person seeks self-security because you can’t get water out of the top of the glass if the glass isn’t full, and the glass isn’t going to be full if I’m insecure, if I sense that I’ve got to defend myself, I’ve got to defend myself, got to defend myself. As long as I’m in a defensive mode I am not going to be giving to much of anybody in my environment. So what cuts away and destroys love in the human race is high senses of insecurity, everybody is out for themselves, why are they out for themselves? To protect themselves. But that’s why it gets back to my security has to be in the Lord, it can’t be in man, it can’t be in society, etc. Then we have the other correspondence to omniscience, that’s where I showed you the chart, is that we know things, and we know we know things, we have a knowledge of the universe and that knowledge is a situation where we say this is true, for all time, all places, absolute truth. Those are the analogies.
We said that because man is made in God’s image, that leads to other things. That leads to the fact that we have certain social institutions, and these become critical and by way of introduction to Genesis 9, we want to review these. These we call the divine institutions. We call them divine institutions vs. arbitrary social conventions, because that’s the battle today in the world. Is human responsible labor, for example, marriage, family, is the shape of those things a permanent feature of human existence, rooted into human existence by God’s divine institutions or are these things arbitrary social conventions. Let me talk about each of those three words, arbitrary social conventions. Arbitrary means they could just as well be another way, there’s no reason they have to be this way rather than that way, they’re plastic, they’re rubber, they can be stretched, turned, moved, if 51% of the people now vote that they’re going to redo marriage and redefine marriage, it can be redefined because it’s plastic, it’s not a permanent structure. That’s the debate today. Every area of doctrine, every area of truth in God’s Scripture, you’ll see when you look at it, is under attack, and we’re wondering why we’re having such a hard time winning people to Christ, why is it that we have a hard time in our personal lives, why is it we’re having all these difficulties? We’re having all these difficulties because every frontier of knowledge and truth is under assault today.
So marriage and responsible labor, we hardly in our country have a doctrine of labor, it’s amazing, we have really lost the sense of the work ethic, in all areas of society, white collar, blue collar, wherever you go. And the idea that a craftsman could enjoy his labor, and produce something that he loved, it was part of him, it was his life, is gone… where’s my paycheck, it isn’t big enough, all this stuff. That’s important stuff, because it’s an evaluation of the worth of your labor. But the point is that our work ethic has gone away because labor itself becomes an arbitrary social convention. Isn’t that what the Marxist economist has called us?
Now let’s go to marriage, obviously you don’t have to go too far to see that one. Not only do we have the homosexual lobby trying to lobby in and redefine marriage this way, we’ve had people living with each other all over the place and apparently acceptable, so we make the world safe for fornication. Then we have the family, and this has been torn apart by divorce upon divorce upon divorce, or by brutality in the family, etc. So this is under attack. After you attack all these things, there isn’t too much left. And where you have a country where all these things are under attack, you’re going to have a lot more suffering, because the whole thing is going to come unseamed. You cannot continue to attack these institutions and have a society worth the name left, it isn’t going to happen, you’re just going to have a mob, a mess, but you’re not going to have a society or a civilization left as these things enter it. Why? Because God instituted these. Genesis 3 is where all three of these are instituted. And God didn’t institute them as an experiment.
The last part of what we did last year, we said God, after the creation of the fall, He intervenes, and we have the next two events, the global flood of Noah and the covenant that came after Noah. It’s at this point with this first set of notes that we pick up the narrative in Genesis 9. So I want to go over and remind you of these truths of Noah’s flood, and the covenant; this forms the linkage and the continuity with what we’ll get into in more detail. The whole issue of the flood was an issue of whether or not God can intervene. The flood was a cataclysm, the flood was an example of salvation, judgment/salvation. So the flood, as it’s used in the New Testament, becomes a type of all of God’s judgments, with particular attention to the second advent of Jesus Christ. Jesus said as in the days of Noah, so shall it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man. Why did He, of all things, pick up the event of the flood as a prototype of His second return? Because it was global, because it was an intervention that was catastrophic in nature, it affected the geophysical universe; it wasn’t just somebody’s bathtub running over. This was a worldwide global flood, implications of which are profound geophysically. So we have the judgment of God, and we see a picture of God’s judgment.
With God’s judgment, what do we notice? We notice it has certain elements. The same elements happen with the gospel, the same elements happen with Exodus, and the same elements happen with Noah’s flood. Here they are: you always have grace before judgment, God never judges without warning, and for 120 years He told people, He told people, and He told people, and He told people, this is going to come to an end folks, check your calendar because I’m counting down—grace before judgment. When God does judge, He always has perfect discrimination between believers and unbelievers. It’s not between the rich and poor, it’s not between black and white, it’s not between smart people and stupid people, it’s between those who have trusted in the Lord and those who have rejected Him. We always have in God’s judgments one way and ONLY one way of salvation. There weren’t two arks, there was one. And it was designed exactly the way God wanted it to be, and no one was saved who was outside of the ark, period. They may have been brilliant people, they may have been rich people, they may have been members of particular races, it didn’t make any difference, they had not trusted in the Lord so therefore they were excluded. There was one and only one way of salvation.
Another feature of God’s judgments is it affects nature as well as man. When Noah’s flood came it affected nature in a drastic way, and we’ll study some of those ways in Genesis 9-11. Some of the features of our physical universe today that are utterly different than anything that people between Adam and Noah ever saw. We live in a new universe, created as a result of that fall. In the future there’s going to be a new heavens and a new earth. This is why I’m making this point, there’s a sub point to this point, and that is: by saying this we avoid something, by saying that God judges nature as well as man we prevent a subtle reinterpretation of the Christian faith that makes it psychological, subjective, well, Christianity is a matter of the heart, Christianity is an internal religion, Christianity doesn’t say anything about the trees, the moon, the stars, the physical universe. Oh yes it does … Oh YES IT DOES! The Bible says something about everything because God created it, and therefore when He judges, He judges everything.
Finally, a fifth feature of God’s judgment which is common to Noah’s flood, common to the Exodus, common to the gospel, is that people are saved by faith. They are not saved on the basis of their works, how many good deeds they have done, by how proud they are, how clean they are, what their record is, they are saved because they trust in whatever the provision is. The provision in the flood was the ark. The provision in the Exodus was blood on the door. The provision in Jesus Christ’s gospel is trusting His work on the cross. So these features are always there.
So we studied that as a model and the flood becomes a great model and a grand model of judgment/salvation. Notice too that these two words go together. If the world is evil, then you can’t have salvation without judgment, can you? Because if the world is abnormal and evil God has to reach down and disturb it. That’s why if you look on the notes the title of this course, Part III, is “Disruptive Truths of God’s Kingdom”. Last year the theme, and I never put out a title page but the title page was “Buried Truths of Origins”, because the early part of the history has been buried, buried in human tradition, buried psychologically, etc. But now we’re talking about things that can’t be buried so easily, and they disrupt our lives. Salvation is an interruption. When God reaches down, I’m sure everyone here who’s a believer can give a testimony of the fact that when the Holy Spirit worked in your life it was an interruption. There were disturbances, He disturbed the pattern and the pathway that you were in and changed it. That’s why God’s kingdom is disruptive. So that’s what we mean here with judgment and salvation, these two words go together.
Finally we came to the covenant, the covenant that was made with Noah and all life. Notice the covenant, it was made not just with Noah, but it was made with all life. And in this grand covenant we have a picture of the future when God ends human history. Think about the analogies. After the flood God promises Noah something. What does He promise? I will never send a flood to destroy all men. Think about that for a minute. Do you know what that does? Let’s try a little experiment, let’s suppose that you go home and turn on the TV news, and astronomers have reported that an asteroid is set on a collision course with planet earth. We have no way of escape from the planet. It means in 36 hours the earth will be destroyed and all humanity. Do you know why we can say buzz off, if we believe in the Noahic Covenant? God is not going to destroy the human race. The human race will be saved until He takes care of it with the return of Christ. So the human race is not going away, it may be decimated as it is in the book of Revelation, in the Tribulation, but it is not going away. The human race is guaranteed an existence that will move on to eternity. Included in that guarantee is that before the throne of God in the book of Revelation members of every race, every tongue, every culture will survive and be represented there. Genocides will not prevent the survival of a remnant from every single race that’s going to be defined in Genesis 9-10, all seventy subsets of the human race that’s listed there.
We have this grand contract with Noah that is controlling our existence. The Word of God, in other words, is not just controlling our religious life; it’s controlling the orbits around the sun of the asteroids. The Word of God is controlling the trajectory of earth through space. The Word of God is controlling the physics of the universe. The Word of God is controlling every area that His Word will prevail, He works all things after His counsel, and He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think. So every fact, every law, every molecule is under His control. That’s the corollary to the Noahic Covenant. He can’t keep the Noahic Covenant if we have loose molecules running around, because they get out of control and overwhelmed, chaos overwhelms the system. So God can’t make any promise unless He controls every aspect, every molecule, everywhere and all through time.
We said in conclusion that when this covenant was introduced, God re-instituted, this time four divine institutions instead of three, divine institution #1, divine institution #2, divine institution #3, and divine institution #4. God re-instituted labor, God said that there’s responsible labor, that man is to have dominion over the earth, but He changed it, there was one little addition to this institution, and this institution was modified after the flood, such that man would now eat animal flesh. It doesn’t mean that man in his rebellion didn’t eat animals before; it just means that after the flood it was authorized, a meat diet was authorized. You say why? I thought vegetarianism was healthy. Apparently not. It’s remarkable that the one place in the Bible that deals with prohibition of food links it to the doctrine of demons, and it’s 1 Timothy 3. It’s a remarkable verse, and it says that where you have someone telling you that you can’t eat this, you can’t eat that, you can’t eat something else, and celibacy, of all things, the doctrine of demons, 1 Tim. 3. It’s interesting that Paul did that. This first divine institution that we survive by eating animals that we originally were supposed to care for, why is there this reversal with the first divine institution?
I suggested the reason for this is because God in our civilization is preparing the way for the gospel by making us have to, every 24 hours, eat flesh and destroy life. Our existence depends on death. So all of civilization is defined in terms of death. What does that speak of? What is that pointing to? Who was it that said “eat My flesh and drink My blood” and you will have life? Isn’t that pointing to the gospel? And so the civilization after the flood, and I seriously think there’s a lot of psychology involved in this and this is why you have this strange resurrection of vegetarianism, it’s not just a health kick, yes, vegetarians can be healthy, I’m not saying you can’t exist that way. I’m saying, however, to decree that as a universal truth for everyone is wrong. The Genesis 1 text is repeated and then he adds this little phrase in Genesis 9.
Divine institution #2 was modified in one sense, not really modified, but marriage became the source of the divisions in the human race, we have four women who, if their races preexisted Noah, then it was the women that brought the diverse genes in, because the three sons of Noah shared genetic structures with their dad, so they married these women and it was the women who largely brought this in, and it’s remarkable that in the mythology of the world, certain myths speak of the four matriarchs, the red matriarch, the white matriarch, the yellow matriarch and the black matriarch. That’s a pagan tradition, but I find it fascination that there are only four, and there were only four women that survived the flood. Remarkable! We know from what we know of biology that they had to have been the ones that introduced heterogeneous genetic material. So that’s #2. #3, out of divine institution #3 will come seventy nations, and that’s our study next time as we go into the diversification of the human race. That one family, the original family of our civilization, started what we call all the different cultures of the world.
And finally, God added the 4th divine institution, and that really torques a lot of people, and it’s another, so to speak, reminder of our sin. The 4th divine institution is civil authority defined by the right to take life. We don’t like that, that is not nice talk, and today unfortunately, capital punishment has become very unpopular because of the way it’s done, the poor people that can’t afford a lawyer are the ones that are being capitally punished, the rich guys get off. But that’s a distortion of an institution that was godly. God defined government authority in terms of taking life, He didn’t define it in terms of tax, we’ll see later that taxation in the Mosaic Law comes from capital punishment, it comes out of the ability, the government can take your life, it can take the products of life. That’s the justification for taxes in Romans 13. Read the sequence, which comes first, taxes or the sword? People say the sword in Romans 13 is just symbolic. Dr. Gordon Clark, a Christian philosopher, once was in a debate with a person and he came up with the greatest response I’ve ever head: oh I’m so glad to hear that sword in Romans 13 is just symbolic because you know what, it’s in the same passage as taxes.
The point is, you can’t have one without the other they’re both there. And it’s a struggle, yes, but the 4th divine institution gives into the hands of man the sword of judgment. It doesn’t mean the sword is going to be wielded, in a just way, necessarily, because who was it that had the most unfair trial in all of history? The Son of the Father who introduced capital punishment. Think about it, did God, in His omniscience, know His own Son would die by an improper application of capital punishment. He sure did, and He even made it the way of salvation.
So we have the introduction of capital punishment and this was a changeover because before Genesis 9 the only other time sword is mentioned is in Genesis 3. There’s only one time prior to the institution of government where sword is mentioned, the sword of judgment, and it’s held by a creature. It was the cherubs guarding the gate to Eden, and it apparently means that had any human being tried to invade God’s domain they would have been capitally punished by an angel. In that strange era prior to the flood, angels had the right of capital punishment. Whether that was how God ruled, we don’t know, because the Bible doesn’t give us details, but we do know that after the flood He gave this into the hands of man. Our study will deal with the environment immediately after the flood, and we’re going to deal with the diversification, a fascinating story of how the human population went out into the continents, and the loss of truth and why you have tribes that sometimes remember Noah and sometimes forget him, etc. That’s all leading up to our study of why did God call Abraham, why did God call the nation of Israel into existence; it all has to do with this.