Wednesday, September 18, 2013

In The Beginning, Chapter Six - Day Four

Genesis 1:14-19 "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth'; and it was so. Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also. God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the fourth day."

On day four, God filled the canvas of empty space with lights. Not only were these lights amazing works of art, but they were created on a scale so large that it's almost unthinkable!

Lights That Fill The Sky

The Two Great Lights

Genesis 1:16 "Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night."

We know these two lights as the sun and moon, respectively. But it's worth noting that God never names them. Why? Because in ancient cultures the names for the sun and the moon were also names for the false deities that were associated with them. God's reason for calling them "lights" was to emphasize the Creator - not the creation.

It’s also interesting that God calls them both “great lights” - although He goes on to say that one was the greater of the great lights and one was the lesser. Think about this; the sun is exactly 400 times wider than the moon. It is also exactly 400 times further away. What does this mean? This means that from where we are on earth, the sun and the moon appear to be the same size! That’s a nice touch!

Not only was the sun and moon personally created by God, the ingenious way that the moon reflects the sun's light is an idea straight from His mind!

"He Made The Stars Also."

Every extraterrestrial light in the sky is included in this one sentence. This includes the stars, their planets, their planet’s moons, the nebulae, the globular clusters - every object in the expanse of the natural heaven! Also included is our own solar system's planets and their moons. Essentially everything that gives or reflects light in space came from this single sentence, “Let there be lights…”!

This couldn’t be any more different from the secular theory of the origin of stars! Evolutionary astronomers have been guessing for years at how stars could form. What is the biggest problem they have? Simply this: while we’ve seen hundreds of stars burn out or explode, we’ve never seen a single star form! There are literally hundreds of billions of stars that we can observe from earth, this is the reason that we’ve seen so many die out. And yet, for all of this, no astronomer has witnessed the formation of a single new star!

The current evolutionary theory is that when several stars turn supernova near each other - that would produce enough energy to form a new star. But any amount of reasonable thought would destroy this theory completely. First of all...these older stars had to come from somewhere! Secondly, how could the universe still be filled with hundreds of trillions of stars when several older stars are lost to make a single new one? Not only are evolutionary astronomers faced with this problem - they still have no answer for why a star birth has never been observed.

When an atheist looks at the nighttime sky, he sees a puzzle - an enigma. How did the stars form? Where did the planets come from? What are the moons made of? Sadly, The more questions they ask, the more problems they find. For believers, it’s simple...we believe that each and every star was created by God Himself! They were all made at the same time, on the fourth day of creation!

Just How Big Is This Thing?

From his lecture called “Creation Astronomy”, Dr. Jason Lisle brings the size of the universe to an understandable scale.

In his lecture, Lisle spoke about an imaginary road traveling from the earth to the sun. If someone was to travel down that road at 60 miles per hour, it would take them over 150 years to reach the edge of the sun! This distance (93 million miles) is known as one Astronomical Unit (AU). This same distance is traveled by sunlight in about eight minutes!

Now, Lisle goes on to say, if you were to extend this road in the opposite direction, away from the sun - how long would you need to travel at 60 miles per hour to reach the edge of the solar system? It turns out that Adam might almost be there by now! It would take about 6,000 years to reach the orbit of our outer planets when traveling at that speed!

As massive as that is, it's only the solar system that orbits a single star - our sun. The universe is so much bigger! Let's pretend that the entire solar system can fit in your hand, with the sun at the center. Using this scale (the sun would be smaller than a period on this page), the nearest star in our galaxy would still be over a quarter-mile away! In fact, using this same scale, our Milky Way galaxy would be much, much larger than the United States! Only a few years ago, the Milky Way was estimated to contain up to one hundred billion stars. Today, however, that number has quadrupled! It is now estimated to contain well over four hundred billion stars. This is just an educated one can even come close to having an accurate number.

Let me give you another illustration of the sheer size of the Milky Way galaxy:
There have been five different Star Trek series - with a total of 31 seasons, 12 full-length movies, and 703 episodes. Since I’m not a Trekkie, I’ll assume that each episode contained a different planet orbiting a different star….meaning all thirty years of Star Trek episodes could have been set around 700 stars.

At the same time, there are around 460 planets named or mentioned in the six Star Wars films. Assuming, once again, that each planet orbited it’s own star - the entire Star Wars story could have been set around less than 500 stars.
As you’ve already read before, according to current estimates, the Milky Way Galaxy contains up to 400 billion stars. This means both fictional storylines (Star Wars and Star Trek) could have occurred within the Milky Way Galaxy…and still have left 399 billion, 999 million, 998 thousand, 840 stars untouched!

But this is just our galaxy. Scientist estimate that there are up to 100 billion other galaxies in the universe, each of them containing 100 billion to 1 trillion stars. This means that every person that has ever lived on Earth could personally own trillions of stars for themselves, with plenty left over!

Still, in spite of the incredible size of this universe, God's power keeps in all in balance and under His control. Indeed, the same God that is intimately acquainted with each and every cell of our body also maintains and upholds every star in every galaxy! The creation of every celestial object in space - including every star, planet, moon, nebula, and galaxy - is summed up in Genesis 1:16, "and He made the stars also."

God has always been in complete control of the natural Heaven. Despite there being millions upon billions of stars in the sky, Psalm 147 shows us God's sovereignty over them - "He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name." We don't even have a million words in our language, and yet God gave a unique name to each of the hundreds of trillions of stars! Incredible!

Why Did God Make All Of This?

In light of the sheer size and extravagance of the universe we see, many people have asked the question, "Why?" Why did God create stars that will never be seen, planets that will never be walked on, galaxies that will always be unknown? The apparent lack of answers has had some people (yes, even believers) speculating about extraterrestrial life and alien races. But don't allow yourself to get caught up in the hype! There are no Biblical arguments for life on other planets! Actually, I believe that the Bible presents a very strong case against their existence.

But let's get back to the real question; why did God create such a massive universe? I believe that there are four main reasons for such an amazing creation.

The first reasons are found in Genesis 1:14 and 15 - "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth." The most obvious purpose of these lights in the sky is to light up the earth. Anyone who's ever been outside on a clear night can appreciate the light that the moon and the stars give.

We can also see a second purpose in these verses - to keep track of time! The earth's rotation gives us our days. The moon's dark and light phases help us keep track of months. The earth's revolution around the sun gives us our years, as well as our four seasons. The stars are also constantly changing throughout the year - to help us track the seasons better.

I believe that God also made the stars to navigate by. There are certain stars (such as the North Star) that guide us on our journeys. The different constellations in the nighttime sky can still be used by the informed person to determine their exact location on earth.

But the most important reason for God's creation of the universe can be read in Psalm 19:1. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork." I believe God created the universe to showcase His glory in the natural world. Reasonable minds everywhere have always concluded that the glory of the stars had to be created by Someone with even more glory! Millenia of study and the deepest views into space have only increased this sense of wonder. I believe that the incredible size and beauty of the universe is simply God showing off!

All For Us!

The arguments and debates that rage on about where the earth is in the universe is a moot point. What’s important to understand is this: Out of all the stars in the universe, out of all the potential planets out there, ours is the center of God’s attention! God spent two days on the natural heaven - first forming it, then filling it. But for six days, God was developing and fine-tuning one little ball of Even the creation of the stars in space was for our benefit! It’s clear where God’s heart lies, here on our planet - with us.

Is There A Problem With Distant Starlight?

This is one common objection to what has been named young-earth creation: “If the universe is only 6,000 years old, how can we see light from stars that are millions of light years away? Doesn’t that mean that the light we’re seeing is millions of years old?”

Some Christians, not knowing what else to say, have responded by saying “God just made it that way.” They explain that trees, animals, and mankind were all made with an appearance of age from the beginning - why not starlight? Saying “the appearance of age” is a little bit of a misnomer, though. God made Adam mature, but with none of the wear and tear that you would expect to see with age. Adam wasn’t scarred, wrinkled, or wore down like normal thirty-year-olds. He may have been mature, but he didn’t look like he had lived for any length of time!

This isn’t what we see in the stars though. We definitely see signs of age out there. Galaxies colliding, stars dying out, massive explosions - we are seeing the effects of the curse, even in the stars! How is it possible that we’re seeing these events that are millions of lightyears away if the earth is only six thousand years old?

Before we answer this question, it’s important to understand something. A lightyear is not a measurement of time! It is a measurement of distance. A lightyear is the distance that light travels in a year when it is moving at 186,000 miles per second - the speed we know it travels today. If light ever traveled slower, a lightyear would not be any longer. If light traveled faster, a lightyear wouldn’t be any shorter. It is simply a measure of distance, similar to a foot or a mile.

There many well-thought-out answers to the distant starlight problem. Some of them are extremely technical (such as the concept that time passes slower or faster, relative to gravity), others are easier to understand (such as “God just made it that way.”)

What I believe may be a possible answer to the problem of distant starlight is very simple. It is possible that God sped up the speed of  light during the fourth day. Think about this, on the day before - on day 3 - God sped up the process of nature. He brought the trees up out of the ground into maturity in a matter of moments! Could He not have done the same thing with the speed of light on day 4? I believe that God “planted” the stars in their distant places and then “grew” the light from them to the earth in mere moments. Since then, we’ve been seeing what’s going on out there in real-time! This is most likely why the stars were immediately visible from earth.

So, by the end of day 4 things were coming into shape. Earth had a single, large sea and a large area of dry land. Land was covered in beautiful vegetation, all hand-planted by God Himself. And now, the expanse of the sky - indeed, the entire universe - was filled with brilliant and beautiful stars! Everything was ready for God’s next step.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

In The Beginning, Chapter Five - Day Three

Genesis 1:9-13 "Then God said, 'Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear'; and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
"Then God said,'Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth'; and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. So the evening and the morning were the third day."

Day three was all about the earth. It was divided into two parts, bringing out the land from the water and then filling both with an amazing array of plants.

The Dry Land And The Seas

Genesis 1:9 "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let dry land appear."

God's first act on day three was to confine the water that covered the earth and bring out the dry land. Psalm 95:5 says that this one creative act is what gives God ownership of the oceans. "The sea is His, for He made it; and His hands formed the dry land." Proverbs 8:29 also describes this incredible event, "I [wisdom] was there when He set the limits of the seas, so they would not spread beyond their boundaries."

In His amazing power, God drew back the water into one place and brought up the dry land. Psalm 33:7 appears to make reference to this, "He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap..." Did you know that there are heaps of water, literally hills and valleys, on the surface of  the oceans? Did you know that there are places where the sea itself is above sea level? Today these "heaps" of water are held up and moved about by the gravity of the moon. But just like God produced light without the sun for the first three days, it also appears that He personally drew and held up these hills of water until He created the moon on day four. This shouldn’t be surprising, after all, Isaiah 40:12 tells us that He “measures the oceans in the hollow of His hand.

So God gathered the waters together into one place. This strongly suggests that earth had a single ocean on the sunset of the third day. If there was one ocean, with the water gathered into one spot - then it's logical to assume that all of the dry land was also in one spot. The idea of a single supercontinent (now called Pangea) is not original with old-earth evolution. Here we can see a reference to this concept in the very first chapter of God's Word!

So what happened to this single continent? Why is the dry land separated into seven continents today? We'll find out later why the world broke up, but here's a clue: At some point in earth's 6,000 year history, there was a global disaster that changed everything! We're no longer living in the original world; our world today is scarred by death and disaster. Still, remnants of its original beauty remain. If a corrupted and death-riddled world still retains enough beauty to point to the Creator, what an amazing place the world must have been before sin!

From Barrenness To Beauty

Genesis 1:11 "Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth..."

Maybe God doesn’t like the sight of bare rock...because after God brought up the dry land, He began to fill it with plants of every kind. This marks the end of one phase of creation and the beginning of another. Up until now, God had been creating empty canvases. The earth, the expanse of space, the oceans, the dry land - all of these were just empty spaces on the afternoon of the third day. Now, God began His work of filling these spaces with beautiful and incredible creations.

Plants of all shapes, sizes, smells, and colors were created by God and filled every acre of dry land - and much of the seas too! Grasses, flowers, and trees covered the ground. Other plant life such as fungi, algae and phytoplankton were also created with specific purposes (such as the production of oxygen, a food source for myriads of animals yet to be created, and the production of fresh soil). Plants were God's first biologic creation and they filled the earth with life!

Many of these plants have since gone extinct and are only known to us by fossils. We can only guess at what tastes, smells, and colors these other plants added to the world, but we do know that each of them were personally designed by God Himself! What an amazing sight this new, flowering world must've been!

Even the seas had an abundance of plant life! Kelp, sea grasses, and various algaes grew up from the ocean floor and filled the otherwise barren water. There's even evidence that suggests the existence of giant floating forests. These were island-sized masses of lightweight trees whose roots intertwined to hold them together. These giant masses of vegetation even had their own soil (made from their own leaves). We see a similar phenomenon today called "quaking bogs" - but these floating islands dwarfed anything that exists now and must have been an amazing sight to see!

Some of the most beautiful plants that can be seen today exist in gardens, where gardeners personally control the nutrients and water that the plants get. Good gardeners put time and effort to produce the most beautiful plants and the most delicious fruit. This is a reflection of God's own creative nature - but what must the world have been like when God Himself was the Gardener? We see the descendants of the plants that He created today - but this was the only time in history that each and every plant was put in place by God's own hand! Not a single blade of grass escaped the Creator's notice!

Day Three

Genesis 1:13 "So the evening and the morning were the third day."

Once again, for the third time, we see the formula - evening+morning+a number. Once again, God emphasized that this was still an actual day.

Think about this; God still hadn't created the sun yet...and yet the earth was full of plant life! The third day couldn't have been thousands or millions of years (like the day-age theorists state) - plants need sunlight to survive!

Not only do plants need sunlight, they also need insects to pollinate them. When you view these days of creation as ordinary days, the lack of insects doesn't matter - they're only lacking for two more days. But if you believe that the days of creation were long ages of time, you have to explain how plants pollinated without insects to help!

At the close of the third day, the newly-created earth was already drastically different. The water was contained and dry land appeared for the first time. Beautiful vegetation filled both the land and the sea. Now, on the morning of the fourth day, God was going to turn His attention to heaven once again...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In The Beginning, Chapter Four - Day Two

Day 2
Genesis 1:6-8 "Then God said, 'Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.' Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which which were above the firmament; and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day."

The second and third heavens were created at the very beginning - on day one. But day two saw the creation of the first heaven, the natural heaven. At first it was simply called the firmament, or expanse. But after its creation, God renamed it "Heaven."

Dividing Waters From Waters

We're told that the firmament was created between two bodies of water. One was called the waters under the firmament, the other was called the waters above the firmament. The waters under the firmament are the oceans - this is made clear in Genesis 1:9-10. In those verses, God gathered "the waters under the heavens" into one place and called them "sea". The waters above the firmament are still a mystery though. There are a couple of theories that try to explain the waters above the firmament of Heaven.

The first theory (we'll call it the cloud theory) says that the firmament is simply what we call the sky. When the Bible talks about the waters above firmament, it is only a reference to the water in the clouds. So this theory suggests that God established the water cycle on the second day.

The second theory is that the firmament is the earth's atmosphere. The waters above the firmament are explained as a layer of water or ice that surrounded the outside atmosphere of earth. Known as the "canopy theory" - this idea is said to explain the larger plant and animal life that existed at the beginning. This bubble of water or ice is said to have functioned like a greenhouse - increasing sunlight, warming the earth and producing much higher oxygen levels. This canopy is then said to have collapsed during Noah's flood.

While it is true that the earth had an amazing climate for the first 1,500 years of its history, inventing a canopy of water to explain this climate produces a problem. This canopy would amplify the sun's rays like a magnifying glass, producing much more heat. At the same time, the water would function as a barricade - holding in the heat that normally escapes into space. This would make the temperature of earth unbearably hot!

Another problem with the canopy theory is found in Psalm 148:4 - "Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens!" While the canopy theory claims that the waters above the firmament collapsed in Noah's flood, this verse is telling us that the waters above the heavens still exist today!

Actually, both explanations of the waters above the firmament (the canopy theory and the cloud theory) have a major biblical problem, and it's found in Genesis 1:14. "Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven...'" God placed the sun, moon and stars inside the firmament! This means that the waters above the firmament are out beyond the farthest stars - and not at the edge of our atmosphere. So these waters couldn't be clouds (which are inside our atmosphere) or a canopy.

So what are the waters above the firmament? When read straightforward, it appears that there is water somewhere beyond the stars! What this means exactly, though, we can't be sure. Someday, we'll be able to ask the Creator Himself!

An Enormous Creation

When you think of the firmament as only the earth's atmosphere, you get the feeling that day two was an "off day" for God. Seriously....God took a whole day to create air? It doesn't seem like much, does it? But when you realize what the firmament really is - you can see the magnitude of what God did on the second day!

Yes, it's true that the earth's atmosphere was formed on the second day. This means that each of earth's four atmosphere levels were created and positioned to protect us. It also means that God mixed the perfect blend of gases in the air that we would be breathing. But there's so much more to God's creative act on the second day!

The firmament of the first heaven begins at ground level and extends to the edge of the universe. We're talking about distances so vast that you couldn't travel across them within a million lifetimes - even if you were traveling at the speed of light! All of this space was included in the creation of the firmament!

Although this empty space was going to be filled with incredible sights and breathtaking artistry; at the close of day two, it was still empty. It was a blank canvas, ready for the Master's touch!

Touching the Heavens

In Genesis 1:14 we read, “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens...’” - so the expanse of the heavens appears to be connected to the other heavens. Now let’s look in verse 20, “...let birds fly above the earth across the face of the heavens.” In the same way that earth has a “face” - i.e. the surface - the spirit world and Heaven itself have a face. The firmament apparently touches all three faces.

We see that the expanse of the natural heaven is the face of the other two! In other words, the expanse of the firmament not only touches the face of the earth, but it also touches the face of the spirit realm and even the face of Heaven itself! They are connected to each other!

The Second Day

Genesis 1:8 "So the evening and the morning were the second day."

For a second time, we see the biblical rule of interpreting the Hebrew word "yom". Whenever there is a time of day used in the same sentence as "yom" - then this word always means a 24-hour period of time. Also, if you ever see a number attached to "yom", it is always a literal day. Here in verse 8 we have both. Two times of day ("evening and morning") and a number ("the second day") clearly indicate, even insist, that day two was an actual day.

Think about this, in the same amount of time that we call a day, our Creator prepared the atmosphere of the earth, spread out the entire expanse of space, and then networked this natural expanse together with His Heavenly home and the spiritual climate of this world!