The Ends of the World

Let me begin this by saying that I believe that God created the universe and He still presides over it. I disagree with my fellow Christians who argue that the earth (and universe) is only 6,000 years old. The scientific evidence is that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and exists in a universe that has seen at least 14.5 billion years.

I have no doubt that God could have created all we see in the blink of an eye, in fact, from His perspective, that is how it happened, as he exists outside of time. The Big Bang Theory is the result of mathematical calculations well beyond the ability of 99.9% of us to understand. But it is a theory, not a fact.

What is fact is millions of bits of information about the earth’s geology and life forms. We can rest assured that millions of plant and animal species have lived and been exterminated over the past 500 million years. That does not include the 2.5 billion years when the earth was covered in slime mold. It does not count the 1.5 billion years before that when the planet suffered millions of asteroid strikes and volcanoes were so numerous that life could not possibly exist.

Peter Brannen begins his story a mere half a billion years ago when life beyond single cells began to appear. Did God give the earth that spark of life? I believe so but can’t prove it. The record shows that it did happen. The record also shows that over the next millions of years new species appeared and some old ones died out. Looking at those creatures, it is hard to recognize them as having any connection with life as we know it.

Then, a mere 65 million years later, life on earth became tougher. Scientists have pieced together many factors that contributed to what we now call the End-Ordovician Mass Extinction. It was not sudden. It moved in fits and starts over hundreds of thousands of years, but in the end, most species were gone forever.

Altogether, there have been five mass extinctions with the most recent being 66 million years ago. (The dinosaurs disappeared just over 200 million years ago, and not in a flash. The meteor impact killed many, but at the same time, there was a volcanic eruption covering what is now India in as much as 200 feet of lava. That led to a series of other nasty stuff that finished off most of life.)

In fact, mass extinctions are slow-moving events taking as long as 2 million years to complete.

Many argue that humans are in the process of creating the sixth extinction, but Brannen gives us some hope that it will not happen in this century. Beyond that, we could cause millions of plant and animal species to die off (including several hundred thousand already gone). In every mass extinction, heat has been deadly (150 degrees for weeks on end), all ice has melted, and the seas have risen some 400 feet. If we do nothing to change our ways in the next hundred years, we may have reached the point of no return.

The five mass extinctions are real and their causes are at least partially known. There is yet much to be learned before we can say for sure that we know enough details to understand our history, but it is important that we learn.

I recommend this book. It is a tough read for anyone lacking is scientific training, but Brannen has written it for laymen.

Mike Lawrence

Is Not This Jesus, the Son of Joseph?

 

2 Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33

Psalm 130

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

John 6:35, 41-51

 

Jesus was not content to lay claim to the title of Bread of Life; he had to add (v 38), I have come down from heavenNIV While John recorded this event several decades after it happened, I imagine he and the others were greatly troubled by the comment at the time. In the Jewish list of those who resided in Heaven, there was God, angels, and people such as Abraham, Moses, and Elijah. The common belief of the time, as today, was that Elijah would return in the final days.

No one ever heard Jesus claim to be Elijah or any other prophet. Nor did he claim to be an angel. That left God. There was only one punishment for a man claiming to be God: death.

Remember that this discussion took place the day after the Feeding of the Five Thousand. A couple of hundred of those whom Jesus fed followed him and asked for the bread of life. Jesus responded. I am the bread of lifeNIV God provided the manna from Heaven, but Jesus claims to be the manna. Notice: he does not claim to be God, he claims to be from God.

The full text of verse 38 is: For I have come down from heaven to do not my own will but the will of the One who sent meCJB Jesus told them he was sent to earth by God. If we reread the first eighteen verses of chapter 1, we see that John first calls Jesus the Word of God, then in verse 14, he adds: So the word of God became a human being and lived among us. We saw his splendour (the splendour as of a father’s only son), full of grace and truthPhillips

There is a key word in verse 14, monogenous, which has the meaning: of an only one. The Phillips translation comes closest to the Greek meaning. I searched a couple of dozen Bibles on BibleGateway that I don’t generally use before finding this version from the Tree of Life Bible: And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth. The Tree is a Messianic Bible.

The interlinear New Testament from the United Bible Societies’ Fourth Revised Edition reads: And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we gazed the glory of him, glory as of an only one from Father, full of grace and truth.

Even though most English translations include Son, John did not. The word monogenous would suggest son, but it is not there. God sent the Word, and the Word became flesh. Because Christians in the Fourth Century formally declared Jesus to be the Son of God, nearly all modern translations of this passage include son. But I repeat: John did not.

This is not a minor point. Jesus claims to be from God, but not God. He does claim to have the power of God. He claims to be doing the work of God using God’s power. He calls God Father, yet he encourages us to do the same.

The most famous statement by Jesus is in John 3:16—For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. NIV

Mostly, Jesus called himself the Son of Man, but he did call himself the Son of God, so what does that mean in the First Century? In the Old Testament, God uses the term (in variations) of angels, Adam, Israel, etc. Jesus even used the term to describe those who believe in him. If Jesus is the Son of God and we join him, we are adopted sons of God.

Son of God is of God, but different from God. I think it is important that we maintain that separation between God and Son. It is equally important to maintain the distinction between the one and only Son of God and we the adopted sons of God.

Every human on earth is a son of God, but not everyone accepts that reality. Too many squander our inheritance and end up feeding pigs. The true sons long to be with the Father and Jesus has made it possible even for those of us still mired in the muck.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence