The Eternal Creator is Good!

close up portrait of lion

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In C.S. Lewis’ timeless tale, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a conversation ensues between Susan and a native of Narnia,

Mr. Beaver: “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.”

Susan: “Ooh. I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

Mr Beaver: “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”

God is good. Here are 29 times in the old testament that say this exact phrase:

  • I Chronicles 16:34
  • II Chronicles 5:13
  • II Chronicles 7:3
  • II Chronicles 30:18
  • Ezra 8:18
  • Nehemiah 2:8
  • Nehemiah 9:20
  • Psalms 23:6
  • Psalms 25:8
  • Psalms 34:8
  • Psalms 52:9
  • Psalms 54:6
  • Psalms 73:1
  • Psalms 84:11
  • Psalms 85:12
  • Psalms 86:5
  • Psalms 100:5
  • Psalms 106:1
  • Psalms 107:1
  • Psalms 118:1
  • Psalms 118:29
  • Psalms 119:68
  • Psalms 135:3
  • Psalms 136:1
  • Psalms 143:10
  • Psalms 145:9
  • Jeremiah 24:2
  • Jeremiah 26:14
  • Jeremiah 33:11

I’ve mentioned BlueLetterBible.org before, and it’s one of my favorite Bible study tools. Let’s look at the Hebrew word for “good” and see if we can make some connections in other parts of scripture:

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This Hebrew word ‘towb’ is used many times in the old testament, and it is translated as good, better, best, pleasant, excellent, prosperous. Now let’s look at places that pair ‘towb’ with its opposite: “ra” and “ra’a”, which is usually translated as evil, harm, destruction.

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Some examples would be Genesis 31:29

“I (Laban) have the power to harm (ra’) you; but last night the God of your fathers said to me, ‘Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good (towb) or bad (ra).'”

I Samuel 24:17

“You (David) are more righteous than I (Saul). You have treated me with goodness (towb), but I have repaid you with evil (ra).”

My purpose in writing this post is twofold:

  1. Remind everyone that the Almighty Creator is the opposite of evil. He is good!
  2. To highlight the contradictions of old earth paradigms in God’s Word.

Without exception all old earth paradigms require that death, disease, suffering, harm, and predation existed prior to the rebellion of Adam and Eve. But as disciples of Jesus, we want to be in agreement with ALL of his eternal Word, so let’s look at the historical narrative in Genesis to see how a proper understanding of  “towb” and “ra” can help us eliminate contradictions.

Seven times in the creation story of Genesis 1, God looked at what He had made and declared, “it was good” (towb – H2896). On the seventh time, when the Creator viewed all that He had made, He declared “it was very good.” The number 7 has symbolic meaning in God’s Word, as it seems to be used for emphasis. So, the fact that God declares his creation good and the 7th time “very good” should accentuate that God wants us to tune in to his super-repetition.

Genesis 1:29-30 God clearly says that He intends his creatures to eat fruits, seeds, and greens rather than engage in predatory behavior, and when we see Isaiah 11:6 and Isaiah 65:25 there is clear evidence that the restoration of the new creation does not include harm, destruction, or predatory behavior.

“Towb” is used to describe the character of God, and God uses “towb” to describe his creation before sin entered it. “Ra” is the opposite of “towb”, and “ra” means harm, evil, and destruction. For old earthers to assume harm, evil, and destruction were part of the “very good” creation prior to sin is not just a contradiction, it actually speaks to the character of the Almighty. Can “towb” include evil, predatory behavior, and destruction?

The Bible says no, and we can trust God’s eternal Word. Old earth paradigms cannot be an acceptable part of Christian thinking because of the contradictions that are raised when one believes harm, destruction, and death were a part of God’s “very good” creation prior to sin…along with many other reasons.

Since we can trust God’s revelation about the past, we can trust Him with our future! Our good God is worthy of praise!!!

 

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Culture of Irrationality

Recently a young man took his firearms into a local high school and killed 17 students and teachers. This horrible act of atrocity has raised many questions and debates. Some of the debate has centered on whether this should be a culture that should be allowed to have firearms at all. Perhaps restricting ownership of firearms only to the government would prevent such terrible tragedies. Another view is that having teachers/police officers in the school carry firearms to be a deterrent against mass shootings would keep the cowardly criminals at bay. There are good and bad arguments on both sides.

Let me take this in a different direction that requires a little back story first.

Last night my teenage son and I sat down to watch a movie called Assassin’s Creed. I knew the movie was based on a video game, but I had no idea of the etymology of the story. What was revealed in the first 5 minutes of the movie horrified me. I’m so glad I was able to watch this movie with my son rather than him watching it with his friends. What horrified me was not just the killing (although that in itself is terrible enough), but the doctrine by which this coven of assassins lived. The speaking was in Spanish, but the sub-titles revealed the complete irrationality of their mantra. There are three main mantras that the coven of assassins repeated that I will cover.

Nothing is true

As Frank Turek likes to point out when someone makes a claim; turn it back on itself, to see if it is self-refuting. “Nothing is true.” Is it true that nothing is true? Self-Refuting. But in this wildly popular video game and Hollywood movie, young people blindly accept this claim. The “conclusion” (if such a terrible premise can lead to a conclusion) that a young person can get from this mantra is that there is not a moral truth by which one must abide. Moral relativity. Absurdity.

Everything is permitted

If everything is permitted, why shouldn’t people gun down their peers for fun or a political view or a religious view? This preaching by the movie, video game, and book series give full license for young people to behave however they want to please themselves. Why should our culture expect anything else than for young people to act selfishly? It is again this idea that there is no Creator, who gave moral standards, so do whatever you want.

For those who recognize this phrase from the Bible, did Paul say that everything is permissible too? I’ll not get into the purpose of Paul’s commands to the Corinthian church here, but I do implore you to apply the proper hermeneutic of contextual analysis. Paul clearly lists behaviors that are not permissible just prior and subsequent to this phrase.

We work in the dark to serve the light.

Another example of cognitive dissonance that is preached to the young people of our culture. These fictional assassins repeat these mantras in order to justify their behavior of killing Catholics and others who would attempt to live by God’s revealed standards.

After seeing these three mantras play out on the screen for 30 minutes or so, my son and I talked about the irrationality of those dogmas and turned off the movie. It had lost all appeal because of its absurdity. But that is what is being preached to the young people of today in movies, video games, and other media.

So, how do we combat people using guns against their neighbors?

  1. Men must be involved in the lives of their children. No longer can men selfishly impregnate women and move on to the next conquest. Single-parent households are fertile grounds for lawlessness, poverty, and spiritual illness. When men take the selfish path by fulfilling their own needs without first taking the responsibility of a lifelong commitment to one woman and then raising their children with discipline and love, the culture degrades into barbarism. Men must disciple their children and love their wife.
  2. Stop glorifying absurdity in video games and movies. Every movie and video game has some sort of agenda. Learn to recognize the agenda by comparing it to the revealed truth of God’s Word.
  3. Teach people how to think. Use presuppositional apologetics to analyze claims. Don’t accept someone’s worldview just because they strongly believe it.
  4. Teach your children the value of human lives comes from being made in God’s image.

 

Ultimately, the source of mass shootings is a sin problem. Jesus fulfilled the scriptures and came to free mankind from the curse of sin. If the problem is sin, the solution is God’s grace through faith.

Goodness Gracious!

God is good. We can see this from several texts in the Psalms and in the gospel of Mark.

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Psalm 119:68 You are good and do good

Psalm 135:3 Praise the LORD, for He is good

Mark 10:17-18 A man ran up and asked him, ‘Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’

While this list is not comprehensive, we get a picture that one of the characteristics of God and the way that he acts is his Goodness. The English word from these passages that has been translated to be “good” is the Hebrew transliteration: towb.

This same word is used in Genesis 1 as God describes his new creation. After the first, third, the fourth, and the fifth days, God describes his creation as ‘towb’ or good. Genesis 1:29-31 says, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground-everything that has the breath of life in it- I give every green plant for food. And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day.” In fact, since God called his creation “good” twice on days 3 and 6, there is a total of seven “good” descriptors of his creation. As seven is seen throughout scripture as the perfect number, God is bringing extra emphasis on the goodness of his creation. Creation wasn’t just “good” in a trivial sense, it was made to reflect God’s goodness and glory (Psalm 19:1).

We know that later on in chapter 3 of Genesis, it describes Adam and Eve’s rebellion against God’s one command. Sin caused pain, thorns, and death to pervert God’s “very good” creation. Romans 8 confirms this when it says, “creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

Sin perverted God’s “very good” creation. And God revealed that the curse of sin included death, pain, thorns, and creation being in bondage to decay.

When archaeologists dig down into the layers of earth, what do they find? Fossils of billions of dead things. Fossils of dinosaurs and other animals that had terrible diseases like cancer are found. Some fossils show teeth marks of predators in layers that evolutionists date as having been buried millions and millions of years before mankind walked the earth. Even fossilized thorns have been found in layers that evolutionists date as being 400 million years old.

sharp_thorns

But there are Christian teachers out there, who are trying to harmonize clear teaching of scripture with billions of years of bloodshed, suffering, and death. Is this what the Psalmist would relay as a character quality of the Almighty? But that’s exactly what Hugh Ross,  the Rossians, and John Walton would have us believe. To make this work, they have to re-define the Hebrew word “towb” to mean potential or ordered.

It is no small thing to attribute billions of years of cancer, bloodshed, pain, and death with the perfect character of the Almighty. Yet, when Walton and Ross redefine the same word “towb”, which is used to describe God’s character, as inclusive of death, one has to question their understanding of scripture.

Lastly, Isaiah 11:6-9 describes a time when God will restore his perfect creation. God revealed to Isaiah that there will come a time when predatory behavior, harm, and destruction will be a thing of the past. But Ross and Walton would say that predatory behavior, harmfulness, and destruction was a part of creation prior to Adam’s sin. Their interpretation of scripture has serious problems that affect the gospel. If death and destruction and harm were part of God’s very good creation, then why did Jesus have to die a horrific physical death on the cross? Romans 8:21 “Creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay.”

Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

We can trust the Good God Almighty about what he has revealed about the past, and we can trust him about the good He plans for the future. Praise Him!!!

Disney Deception

How many watched and liked Frozen? I’ll admit, I liked it too…and there’s still probably some good stuff to be gleaned from the themes – selfless love, redemption…

But I recently read the lyrics to its most famous song, “Let it Go”.

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen.
A kingdom of isolation,
and it looks like I’m the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in;
Heaven knows I’ve tried
Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I’m free!
Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on
My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back, the past is in the past
Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway!
The bold font is my addition to highlight the little deception that lies at the heart of the song. So, while the “Let it go” lyric is beautiful and catchy, do you think after seeing the rotten core of the song that “letting it go” might be pushing the boundaries for something else? It sounds to me like this witch with power has found freedom in coming out from behind societal boundaries to be “who she is”. Regardless of consequences or morals, she’s going to be herself. It’s the deceptive little sermons that get buried in the plain sight that are sometimes the most evil.
If instead of a disney princess witch singing these words, do you think the song would have caught on with all the little girls if this guy had been singing it in the movie? NOTE: Make sure your speakers aren’t turned up too loudly. 🙂

Thankfully, there is redemption from sin through Jesus. His grace is bigger than rebellion against Him.

It’s a Curse

Hypocrisy is difficult to deal with. When I observe it, it tends to make me mad. When my wife observes it, she can hardly contain herself with righteous indignation. When I think of hypocrisy, I most often think of it as being applied to Christians, who have claimed to have a moral stand against something “wicked” but have then proceeded to be involved in exactly that. As a Christian, I’ve been a hypocrite…not intentionally, but usually with my kids, I’ll find that I’ve failed on a moral level. It usually comes in the form of me yelling at my son, “You should not react with anger when you don’t like something!!!!” Um…unless you’re a parent…no that’s not right either. Ok. So Christians are hypocrites…forgiven and (hopefully) letting God’s Spirit guide our actions in accordance with His will.

What about Jesus? Jesus was not a hypocrite. Going way back in time, before Twitter, before Y2K, before Walmart, before Prohibition, before the Battle of the Alamo, before Columbus’ famous voyage, before Guttenburg…well, you get the idea…back at the very beginning, there was freedom in the Garden of Eden. The only guideline was to avoid eating from a single tree. There were no other boundaries. Adam and Eve had a chance to show the Creator that they trusted him completely by obeying this single guideline and enjoying fellowship with Him. But when they thought they knew better than Almighty God…with a little deceit and doubt thrown in there by the serpent (“Did God REALLY say…?”), the repercussions were catastrophic. To quote from Genesis 3 when God had to enter his newly tarnished creation after the prideful sin of Adam and Eve,

Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it’, Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.

So death, that terrible enemy, made itself prevalent within creation. Why are thorns and thistles mentioned in the curse? In the same sentence that describes Adam’s inevitable death, God declares that mankind will face the problem of thorns. Odd.

Looking ahead to the fulfillment of God’s promise to crush the head of the serpent through the offspring of the woman, Jesus lived a perfect life, but faced the final enemy (I Cor 15:26) with purpose and resolve. About the events just prior to Jesus’ death, Mark records this:

They put a purple robe on him, then  twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him.

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The curse of sin was explicitly stated in the garden as thorns and death. Jesus took both of these upon himself and decisively defeated them both with his resurrection. Thankfully, the perfect Messiah, who did not come to restore Israel’s political dominance in worldly affairs, took the curse of sins upon himself so that we could be restored to life.