Tuesday, January 8, 2013

"Creation: Forming the World"

Sabbath School Today
With the 1888 Message Dynamic
Lesson 2: "Creation: Forming the World"

The latter rain of the Holy Spirit has long been anticipated by the church to provide the efficiency necessary to proclaim the Third Angel's Message to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people (Rev. 14:6). This "rain" is absolutely essential in order to ripen the grain so that Jesus can reap the harvest at His return (vss. 15, 16).
Presently the world is as it was in the days of Noah and before the six days of creation. The people of the world are in deep darkness and moral corruption because of a misunderstanding of the character of God. The time is long overdue for the "rays of light" from the Holy Spirit to be released upon a decaying and dying world as in the beginning light shone out of darkness. The 1888 message addresses this last-days' creative act of God.
The originative phase of creation was instantaneous when "God created the heavens and the earth" "for He spake, and it was done" (Gen. 1:1; Psalm 33:9). This mass was "without form, and void" (Gen. 1:2). It was total darkness, liquid, gases, matter, energy, lifeless, and tenantless. "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made" without any pre-existing matter (Psalm 33:6).
"The Spirit of God" initiated the formative phase of creation as He "moved upon" "the waters" (Gen. 1:2). The Holy Spirit's action is portrayed as the tremulous flutter of a loving mother eagle over its young (Deut. 32:11). As a result of this operation of the Spirit, the whole unformed mass of the earth becomes inherently teeming with energy in the six words of the creation week.
"And God said, Let there be light: and there was light" (Gen. 1:3). There was light created on the first day, but it was cosmic light (vs. 3), not solar light (vs. 14). The first day's work included the creation of the darkness. "I form the light, and create darkness" (Isa. 45:7). Darkness was created before the light, and the light out of the darkness. "God ... commanded the light to shine out of darkness" (2 Cor. 4:6). The darkness of the formative stage of creation was different from the total blackout darkness of the originative stage of creation. "God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day" (Gen. 1:5). Thus the sequence of the 24-hour day from the beginning is first nighttime and then daytime.
"And God saw the light, that it was good" (Gen. 1:4). There is no expression like this in the rest of the chapter. The very first creature of the creation week is light! This is the one creature among all creatures which God chose to be a fit symbol of the Creator who is Himself Light, and in whom is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5), "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:9).
"And God said, Let there be a firmament [an expanse]" (Gen. 1:6). Of this we read in Job 37:18, "Can you as He does beat out the vault of the skies, hard as a mirror of cast metal?" (REB). The firmament is the expanse which extends outward from the earth some 250 miles or more, including the spherical envelope of our atmosphere and beyond to the astral heavens. God made the firmament to intervene, to divide the waters on the earth from the waters [the clouds and atmosphere] above the earth. This is "His handiwork" "the work of His fingers" (Psalm 19:1). We might freely translate Psalm 19:1b thus: "and the firmament showeth His fancy work," for that is the kind of work we do with the fingers, such as knitting, crocheting, etching. God "crocheted" the firmament, and spread it out in space as an evidence of His power and glory.
"And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together in one place, ... And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called He Seas" (Gen. 1:9-10). The land was brought forth out of the water by Divine command. One may understand the words "gathered together in one place," and the land, not lands, is made to appear; the idea being that originally there was but one continent and one sea on the earth. The formations of the seas and continents as we now know them, were made at the time of the flood.
"For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the Word of God theheavens were of old, and the earth (land) standing out of the water and in the water; ..." (2 Peter 3:5-6). There were mockers willingly ignorant of the fact that by the Word of God there were heavens of old, and an earth existing "out of the water and in the water." Peter is referring back to Genesis 1:9, 10. He is stating that the earth rose out of the water, and existed between the water, i.e., between the water above the firmament and the water below, in the fountains of the deep. The world that then was, was literally surrounded by water, both by the deep, and in and by the expanse (see also Psalm 104:6-9).
The Creator has not abandoned the earth to its own devices as Deism posits. The condition of the world now is in the deepest darkness as it was in the days of Noah before the flood (Matt. 24:37-39). Not only has this been brought about because of the increasing wickedness of man manifested in crimes and unrestrained passions, but also because of a lack of moral leadership on the part of politicians and preachers. "The rapidly increasing darkness" is due to "the multitudinous errors, heresies, and delusions of these last days. Not only is Satan leading the world captive, but his deceptions are leavening the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ. The great apostasy will develop into darkness deep as midnight, impenetrable as sackcloth of hair. To God's people it will be a night of trial, a night of weeping, a night of persecution for the truth's sake. But out of that night of darkness God's light will shine." [1]
What is the cause of this world's darkness? "It is the darkness of misapprehension of God that is enshrouding the world. Men are losing their knowledge of His character. It has been misunderstood and misinterpreted. At this time a message from God is to be proclaimed, a message illuminating in its influence and saving in its power." "The last rays of merciful light, the last message of mercy to be given to the world, is a revelation of His character of love." [2]
Love as agape is not a namby-pamby, mushy sentimentalism. The same God who is agape is also "a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). That fire is death to selfishness, sensuality, love of the world, pride and arrogance. It is death to lukewarmness as well. Strange as it may sound to legalistic ears, it is impossible for a church to be weak and sickly if that love is understood and appreciated.
When it does impregnate the church as fire permeates the coal, the church will be what Christ would be to that community were He there in the flesh. Cleansed by the fire of sin-consuming agape, the church will become an extension of Christ's power to redeem lost people.
Then the Holy Spirit will at last do His final work in human hearts. This is because members of the body will receive the "mind of Christ." [3]
What could those "rays of light" be except the love of God seen in His people? Imagine the joy that will flow like a river when the Lord's pure Good News goes forth in glory and power! How many human hearts now in darkness will meet Christ and find in Him their soul's longing.
--Paul E. Penno
[1] Ellen G. White, Christ's Object Lessons, pp. 414, 415.
[2] Ibid., p. 415.
[3] "Miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and signs and wonders will follow the believers. ... The rays of light penetrate everywhere, the truth is seen in its clearness, and the honest children of God sever the bands which have held them. ... A large number take their stand upon the Lord's side" (The Great Controversy, p. 612).

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