“NEW LIFE” BULLETIN – VOL. 25, NO. 22&23 – AN UNCHANGING GOD IN A CHANGING WORLD II
When I wrote the last article on this subject, I did not intend to write another. However, because I had less space last week, I ended the article rather quickly. One person who responded from reading the article on our website asked about that. So with that and an unusual amount of response to the article, I will add a few more thoughts to what I said.
The premise was that human beings understand and “hear” God within the historical context and current thinking in which they live. For example, the human body has not basically changed, but our understanding of it has dramatically over the centuries. The same is true of the natural world. For example, in Psalm 121:6, in a psalm about the protection of God, it says, “ . . . the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.” The belief was that these objects in the sky could do harm, therefore, the psalmist assures his readers that God will protect them from the sun and moon’s harm. While God was seen as the one who “hung” the moon and the sun, and most of the psalms are poetry, God was still understood by their perception of what they believed about the sun and moon.
The earth was understood to be flat, therefore the idea that human beings could build a tower to go and visit God was seen as possible, even though most of the Jewish rabbi’s saw it as a metaphor about man’s arrogance. If the tower was built, as the story goes, God would somehow be invaded, so the different languages came about to about this attempt. There are still people who believe if the world spoke one language, it would be a danger to God.
There was also the belief in a multiplicity of gods in the “heavens.” The commandment not to “have any other gods before me,” implies the belief in other gods. And, one might ask why God did not say, “There is just one God, I am. There are no others, no matter what you may think.”
Did the commandment not to have, or put, any other god before the God of Israel mean the God of Israel had to be considered superior to the others they believed existed? There are still people who believe there are “rulers” in the heavenly places who compete with God.
The belief was, that up there above the “bright blue” was the place where God lived. Over time a better understanding of the universe caused humans to replace the idea of a city above the clouds, with other, more, shall I say, “universal” ideas of the afterlife. But in ancient times in dreams and “visions” angels (messengers) from God would naturally come down, even on a staircase, as in Jacob’s case. From where else could they come? Not from below. That was considered dark and evil. It was where the dead went. We still bury people in the ground, but few believe there is a place (hades or hell) somewhere in the earth.
God was seen as the one who caused all natural events. So strong is this idea that natural disasters are called “Acts of God” by insurance companies. Go to the internet and almost every article says God controls the weather. And, there is an abundance of Old Testament scripture and Jesus quieting the storm to infer that.
I know this is a tough subject, and I certainly leave room for the mystery that is God. But when I read those passages in Deuteronomy and other places that say if the people do what God wants they will have good weather, and if they don’t they will have bad, I have a real problem with that, knowing what we have learned about what causes weather conditions. I think the good people of Oklahoma would like to know what they did to offend God so that death and destruction came upon them in the recent tornados. What do we do with the knowledge we have from the meteorological fields of science? Is warning people of God’s weather-wrath a sin? What if the ones God was after escape because they were warned? Off course, if you believe God was after them with a tornado, you would also believe that God would make traffic or a tree block their way and finally get them.
One entry said God had to be in control of the weather, because God was in control of everything. My immediate response was that God seems to have no control over those “rebellious angels, the “satan,” and sinners in general. It seems the moment God gave humans free will the idea of control went out the window. I think we would also say that God wanted it that way, and once free will was set in motion it was not about to be changed. Could that not also be true about the laws of creation? God is said to have hung the sun and the moon, which is not literally true. But, having been “hung” they will hang until some cosmic event might cause otherwise. Likewise, the atmospheric conditions which surround the earth, varied as they may be, are set in place.
The weather, was understood and explained with the understanding of God at the time of the Bible, To tell them the earth was round, spinning in space, not resting on anything, would have been completely beyond any imaginable understanding in that period of their human development.
But, we still have “The Lord said.” What do we do with that? Question: Would God tell a person something the person had no way of understanding? “No way” being the key words. Does God not speak in ways that can be related to the need and understanding at the time? You see, it is one thing to say “God said” and to say “God spoke through the prophets.” Which is what it says in Luke 1:70, Matt. 13:35, Acts 3:21 and Hebrews 1:1, among others. It can be seen that when God speaks through a person, the words that come out are always framed by the understanding of God at that time. Why? Because anything else would be beyond comprehension. For that reason, the Messianic prophesies have in them promises
that only have meaning to an agrarian society, such as is found in Isaiah 11:6-9 & Micah 4:1-5.
To me this means we will continue to see and understand the wonder of God better each moment we live.
CONCERNS: It’s good to see Rich Crites able to get out and becoming stronger each day as he recovers from surgery. Jim Hunter is having a rough time with pain in his back. AC Branch will be in Costa Rica doing mission work for about five weeks. Susan Jordan’s father had successful heart by-pass surgery and is doing well. Judy McWhorter’s brother-in-law is being treated for prostate cancer. Leena’s brother, Nick is once again receiving cancer treatments. Wayne Phlegar is dealing with pain. Those also receiving treatments or recovering from cancer are Deana McRoy, Philip Pierce’s mother, Connie Crites’ brother, Ruby Stahl, Stephanie Ridney, Marge Greenwood, Joni Beach’s mother, the ten year old boy, Regan, who had surgery for brain cancer, and a friend of Garrett Lee Williams who has leukemia. Remember as well, Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder, Alma Martin, and Ron Matney
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 17-22
Monday: Daniel 5:17-28
Tuesday: Matthew 13:44-52
Wednesday: I Samuel 17:41-54
Thursday: Psalm 70:1-5
Friday: Matthew 7:13-29
Saturday: Psalm 1:1-15
OUR DAILY BREAD: JUNE 24-29
Monday: John 4:27-42
Tuesday: Ecclesiastes 11:1-10
Wednesday: Psalm 86:1-17
Thursday: Genesis 3:8-21
Friday: II Timothy 3:1-17
Saturday: Psalm 84:1-12
Congratulations to our seniors who have graduated from area high schools. They are (in alphabetical order) Nick Bolin, Rem Fisher, Brice Reid and Jay Thompson. Nick will be going to Virginia Tech and the others will be going to Virginia Western.
On Saturday, June 8, Nick Bolin received the Eagle Scout Award in a ceremony here at the building. This is scouting’s highest honor. Congratulations Nick!
THE NEW SOUND SYSTEM
At long last the new sound system is underway, as you can see by the holes above the doors up front. Not only are we looking forward to better and clearer sound, but it may let us keep more fans running, therefore, cooling the building better. The new mikes will pick up from farther away, so prayers and announcements will be heard clearly.
Some of the “knitters” have already started on the scarves which will be given to the school children in the more needy area schools. If you’re a knitter, everything you need is on the pew in the cry room.
This coming Saturday, June 22, we will have a clean-up day here at the building. This will mostly be trimming and cutting down a small dead tree in the annex yard, as well as cutting the privet hedge sprouts down at wall in the handicapped parking area. We also need to do some cutting of some locust sprouts that have grown up on the bank behind the annex. So bring pruners, a saw to cut a small tree, weed cutters etc. If it rains the next Saturday, June 29 will be the rain date.
The time is running out for anyone interested in going to High Rock Bible Camp near Abington, VA. Information is on the downstairs bulletin board, or you can go to highrockbiblecamp.org.
Remember to save all aluminum pulls tabs for the Ronald McDonald House. Collection boxes are downstairs.