The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to decay and death into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:21
Our online dictionary includes this definition for the word “Hebrew”:
ORIGIN: from Old French Ebreu, via Latin from late Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ‛i b ray, based on Hebrew ‛i b rî — understood to mean ‘one from the other side (of the river).’
Abraham’s descendants’ escaping from Egypt and, with divine Providence, rushing across the “parted” Red Sea certainly do come to mind. Hebrew = one from the other side — or, as this is sometimes expressed, “one who crossed over.” The Red Sea is a long, narrow, land-locked sea; in some ways it is more like a river. Further, Joshua would much later lead the Israelis into the Land by crossing the Jordan River near Jericho.
When we visited Israel a couple of years back, we learned that “Bethlehem” means in Hebrew “house of bread.” He who has been referred to as “Panis Angelicus,” Bread of Angels, the ultimate “manna,” the one who illustrated His “body, broken for you” with bread — was born in the House of Bread!
Yeshua’s kind of “bread” differs from the ordinary kind, however. When we eat ordinary bread, it becomes us, so to speak. But when we appropriate Christ, we become increasingly like Him through the new birth.
Jesus spoke of the importance of being “born again” to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and had come to Him at night in the hope of not being seen by his own colleagues. When we think about the definition of “Hebrew” meaning essentially “one who crossed over,” the word itself seems to speak of this new birth — in addition to Israel’s exodus. Consider Abraham, Rahab, and Ruth. They left their very different former lives to become Israelis — to “cross over” to a new and unknown life; they somehow summoned the faith to move toward this new life in preference to what was familiar. They sensed something better; they crossed over.
In Isaiah we find the stirring words, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; can you not perceive it?” We find a paraphrase of the first part of this statement in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.”
Astrophysicists tell us that more than 200 finely-tuned characteristics of Earth reveal that the universal stage was set in advance for us — for billions of years. And that Earth is in a unique place and time parameter that enables us to observe these exquisite elements of design. A personal Creator had you and me in mind.
Scientists who have also studied Scripture recognize in it a setting forth in several texts — not only in those in Genesis 1 — of the astonishingly-unique process of setting the stage for our world for the very purpose of creating — not suns, but sons.
When He was physically present with us, Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He is described this way in the fiery-furnace story in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament as well. But after the resurrection His description, in the epistles for example, consistently becomes “the Son of God.”
“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this hope will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2,3)
The goal that Jesus put before Nicodemus is the same one He puts before you and me — to become citizens of the newer creation that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard.” The one in which weapons will have been transformed into garden tools that facilitate life. In which there will be no more killing or evil or death. No animal predation. No sickness or sorrow or night. The perfect creation — as God would design it.
“You must be born again,” Jesus told Nicodemus, the apparently wise, older man.
“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
God’s love and mercy are freely extended to all. He waits as long as He can. His desire is that as many as possible will enter the Kingdom of all things new.
Lutheran leaders have approved a statement that has been described as being a move “toward a more welcoming view of homosexuality.” According to the AP:
Delegates of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, meeting in Minneapolis, approved a “social statement on human sexuality” that acknowledges differing views on homosexuality. It says the ELCA is strong enough to accommodate such differences.
The session discussing this statement was set to commence at 2pm on August 19th. Just at this time, a tornado touched down in Minneapolis and hit the convention center and church at which the ELCA was meeting. According to Fox9:
The Minneapolis Convention Center has sustained approximately 1,800 square feet of roof damage and has some water damage. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was holding its national convention at the center at the time of the storm. About 2,200 people were registered for the convention. People inside the Convention Center were taken to a safe location, and there were no reports of injury.
Pastor John Piper, who lives in Minneapolis, shared some controversial thoughts concerning the tornado in his blog entry from August 20th. He starts by setting the stage for the meeting of these two seemingly unrelated entities (the tornado and the convention):
A friend who drove down to see the damage wrote,
On a day when no severe weather was predicted or expected…a tornado forms, baffling the weather experts—most saying they’ve never seen anything like it. It happens right in the city. The city: Minneapolis.
The tornado happens on a Wednesday…during the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s national convention in the Minneapolis Convention Center. The convention is using Central Lutheran across the street as its church. The church has set up tents around it’s building for this purpose.
According to the ELCA’s printed convention schedule, at 2 PM on Wednesday, August 19, the 5th session of the convention was to begin. The main item of the session: “Consideration: Proposed Social Statement on Human Sexuality.” The issue is whether practicing homosexuality is a behavior that should disqualify a person from the pastoral ministry.
The eyewitness of the damage continues:
This curious tornado touches down just south of downtown and follows 35W straight towards the city center. It crosses I94. It is now downtown.
The time: 2PM.
The first buildings on the downtown side of I94 are the Minneapolis Convention Center and Central Lutheran. The tornado severely damages the convention center roof, shreds the tents, breaks off the steeple of Central Lutheran, splits what’s left of the steeple in two…and then lifts.
After then laying out the scriptural case for the importance of the issue the convention was discussing and God’s sovereignty over nature and seemingly random events, he concludes:
The tornado in Minneapolis was a gentle but firm warning to the ELCA and all of us: Turn from the approval of sin. Turn from the promotion of behaviors that lead to destruction. Reaffirm the great Lutheran heritage of allegiance to the truth and authority of Scripture. Turn back from distorting the grace of God into sensuality. Rejoice in the pardon of the cross of Christ and its power to transform left and right wing sinners.
How remarkable! John Piper, one of the preeminent voices in Evangelicalism today, soberly pronounces a natural event to be a warning from God concerning the goings-on at the convention! Could this be true?
A speaker at the convention joked concerning the tornado’s timing, “we trust that the weather is not a commentary on our work.” Rather than joking about it, perhaps time should be spent in prayer to the God who actually listens and actually (in reality) acts in our current time and space, seeking His divine will and voice.
The larger question here is worth pondering. While the scriptures clearly portray God as sovereign over His creation, speaking through natural means, modern day thought both in and out of the church has relegated God to the sidelines. Reggie Kelly said it well when he stated concerning the Tsunami Disaster from a few years ago:
The ready explanations of modern geological science seem more plausible than the biblical view of nature as an agent of moral judgment under an unlimited divine sovereignty. After all, it is well known that seismic activity of this kind is a commonplace in the greater history of the planet, and is especially predictable in the area around the Pacific Rim known as ‘the ring of fire’. So is the recent tsunami disaster of the Indian Ocean simply another instance of blind brute nature ‘acting up’ according to well known natural laws? Such naturalistic explanation may appear to exonerate God from implication in the seemingly undistinguishing carnage of ‘nature’s fury’; but it would be a loss far greater than the tsunami disaster if the world-view of ‘scientific naturalism’ should prevail to rob the modern world, and particularly the church, of the significance and impact of such a costly judgment and prophetic statement of greater judgments to come.
What does God have to say about these and other issues? Have we as a church “graduated” from seeking His counsel and expecting Him to speak through some means, to going our own way, confident in our own understanding? Have things so substantially changed in the last three thousand years, that God no longer controls the weather, nor does He speak through it?
Whether or not the sovereign Lord was speaking through this particular natural occurrence, let’s hope Mr. Piper’s words serve as a gut-check to all of us that God is in fact in charge even of the wind and the sea, and his message to all is (as it always has been) … repent.
Guardian – 50% of Britons do not believe in evolutionism while only a quarter say it’s definitely true. Ironically, the results of the ‘Rescuing Darwin’ survey also reveal that 25% believe evolution is only ‘probably’ true.
The survey was conducted by ComRes (http://www.comres.co.uk/) whose clients include several of the biggest British banks, the BBC and the General Medical Council.
10% of British people felt that Young Earth Creationism was the best theory and a further 12% chose the idea of Intelligent Design. However, one critical voice from the academic world, James Williams (Sussex University) responded to the results, “Creationists ask if people believe in evolution. Evolution is a theory and a fact. You accept it because of the evidence. What the creationists have done is put a cloak of pseudo-science to wrap up their religious belief.”
The launch of BioLogos from Francis Collins resulted in fierce criticism from David Klinghoffer of the Discovery Institute (Dr. Brown’s review of Klinghoffer’s book “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus” can be found here). He wrote the following concerning theistic evolution on May 28th for Evolution News & Views:
Collins and Giberson are sincere Evangelical Christians — as far as I, a Jew, can tell — and undoubtedly innocent of all guile, but they represent an insidious trend in religious and intellectual life. This genuine opiate of the masses works as a stupor-inducing fog, enveloping the debate about intelligent design versus Darwinism. The fog lulls you with the thought that between the idea of design in nature, and that of no design in nature, there is actually no need to make a choice.
As the battle over human origins continues, I thought it would be worthwhile to look through Collins’ book “The Language of God” and present some of his ideas for thought and dicussion over the next few weeks as I read through it.
The book’s introduction includes a wonderful section concerning the presentation of Dr. Collins’ most well known work, the Human Genome Project, to the world:
But the part of his speech that most attracted public attention jumped from the scientific perspective to the spiritual. “Today,” [Clinton] said, “we are learning the language in which God created life. We are gaining ever more awe for the complexity, the beauty, and the wonder of God’s most divine and sacred gift.”
Was I, a rigorously trained scientist, taken aback at such a blatantly religious reference by the leader of the free world at a moment such as this? Was I tempted to scowl or look at the floor in embarrassment? No, not at all. In fact I had worked closely with the president’s speechwriter in the frantic days just prior to this announcement, and had strongly endorsed the inclusion of this paragraph. When it came time for me to add a few words of my own, I echoed this sentiment: “It’s a happy day for the world. It is humbling for me, and awe-inspiring, to realize that we have caught the first glimpse of our own instruction book, previously known only to God.”
What was going on here? Why would a president and a scientist, charged with announcing a milestone in biology and medicine, feel compelled to invoke a connection with God? Aren’t the scientific and spiritual worldviews antithetical, or shouldn’t they at lest avoid appearing in the East Room together? What were the reasons for invoking God in those two speeches? Was this poetry? Hypocrisy? A cynical attempt to curry favor from believers, or to disarm those who might criticize this study of the human genome as reducing humankind to machinery? No. Not for me. Quite the contrary, for me the experience of sequencing the human genome, and uncovering this most remarkable of all texts, was both a stunning scientific achievement and an occasion of worship.
Reading this made my heart leap. Yes! This is what true scientific discovery and the pursuit of truth is about. Peering deeper into the wondrous design of the Universe and the design of man is cause for worshiping He that is the author of life. For “in Him we live and move and have our being.”
Below is a video of Collins on CNN discussing his journey into faith: [Link to Video]
In the wake of news concerning the “missing link” fossil, an internet poll was recently released by OneNewsNow asking the question “Do you believe you evolved from an ape-like creature?”. With the site geared toward a predominantly conservative Christian audience, the results were overwhelmingly negative. PZ Myers, a biology professor frustrated with the poll, posted the following article on ScienceBlogs.com, entitled OneNewsNow.com makes the most truly stupid polls:
Would you believe what kind of inane question they’re asking now?
Do you believe you evolved from an ape-like creature?
Yes – 7.10%
No – 91.07%
Unsure – 1.83%
Gaaaah. I am an ape-like creature. My mother and father are ape-like creatures, as are my brothers and sisters and grandparents and distant relatives and ancient ancestors, going back tens of millions of years. And I’m proud of them all, every one of them, except for the lackwitted atavisms who squat in squalid ignorance at Christian news sites, congratulating each other on how their ancestry is only 6,000 years old…and every one of their parents was a similarly mindless blob with no connection to the deep history of life on earth.
Following the article’s posting, ScienceBlogs.com readers started going to the OnewNewsNow poll to change the results. One commenter said: “… we rock. Just sat there and clicked refresh on the poll for a couple of minutes. Watching yes creep up and no creep down.” followed by “Awesome, the poll is currently crashing at a rate of 2%/min…”, “almost 50/50 now…”, and ” “Boy, that handy ‘refresh’ thing they have under the poll is great. You can watch the numbers change practically in real time. Right now, it looks like it’s moving at about .01% toward ‘Yes’ every second. Wheee!” By the end of the day, the poll had swung from over 90% “no,” to over 80% “yes.”
Internet polls are notoriously unreliable, and quite prone to yielding skewed results like these (click here to find out how a 21-year-old college dropout named Christopher Poole was voted the most influential person in the world on a Time Magazine poll), thus it comes as no shock that the poll was affected in this way. It does however serve as a snapshot of the larger conflict going on with regard to human origins.
Yesterday, I picked up a newspaper and looked at the damage in Costa Rica (only about an hour from where I am) and wept at the devastation. There is so much pain, and the ground is still shaking every 20 minutes as the rain falls down and the people look for shelter in the dampness and the cold. The animals are dying from lack of attention, and people are waiting on food as rescue workers do the best they can to provide continued relief. One mother died with her two small children in her arms only two yards from the front door and safety. Another pair of sisters died holding hands beside their homemade candy stand on the corner from their house, and their father was left to grieve them both.
As I watch, and know that they will rebuild (although the Sarapiqui will take years to restore, and some small, rural villages may never be inhabited again), I can’t help but think about Romans 8: all of creation groaning for the sons of God to be revealed. The very earth is crying out for something real…for an intervention. Those of us who claim to know Jesus and walk in the light of His freedom and all He has done to restore our lives from the devastation this world can bring, how are we sharing His love and truth with those around us? Do our very lives breathe with the hope He offers…the trust He’s placed inside of us in knowing that He is our stability? In knowing that we are His, and He will care for us? When we have the chance, do we bless those around us, or do we become afraid of becoming small, or lost, or forgotten…do we live as sons who know His love that cannot be lost, or do we live as orphans afraid of what can be taken away in a moment? I can’t help but think about these things as I see people rushing in to help those affected by the earthquake at the same time that others are looting the homes that were hastily abandoned in the tragedy. Which are we? Some churches who claim to follow Christ…some who claim to be Christians…use religion as an excuse to scare or control or steal even more from those who are already scared and dying. But the Lord is raising up His Church…His people…His remnant who will rush into the devastation and bring hope to a lost and dying world regardless of the cost to themselves. The ground is shaking, Lord. Be our stability, and may we find in you the strength to rescue those who are crying out for stability and hope.