Snapshots: Day 4

Snapshots of the Bible Story: Day 4

The Snapshot: “In the beginning… God created…”: They purposefully expressed Himself, they purposefully revealed Himself, they purposefully thought of beings to whom He could express love and from whom receive love, in His likeness; purposefully and with great pleasure  they created a world of provision for mankind, of variety, of pleasure for the man He would form; purposefully formed man as a purposeful expression of love, man and woman to complement each other, people who could enjoy Him, enjoy each other and enjoy the world they had made for them. Perfect. Nothing random, no chance, no accident, but pure purpose. Be thankful and worship.

Further Consideration:  Being pedantic about God the Creator is unwise. In Gen 1 we see mention of the Spirit but it is ‘God’ (?the Father) who speaks and the changes happen. Yet in Ecclesiastes there is a beautiful yet tantalizing picture that speaks of wisdom personified working with the Father: “I was there when he set the heavens in place…. Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind,” (Prov 8:27,30,31) that surely must refer to the Son, existing before Creation, now part of the Creation process. What an amazing description, “delighting in mankind”. Wow! Why else would God create mankind if not to delight in him.

To see the other side of that coin we have to turn to the Shorter Westminster Catechism that starts out, “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him for ever.” That was the conclusion the men of God started with, as they drew up that Catechism to be taught to their people. It starts with God. We are to glorify Him AND enjoy Him!  How many of us have that concept tucked away – you can enjoy God????? To appreciate and understand that, we have to ponder on the fact that the world – the earth – we inhabit was made by God for our pleasure No wonder we read, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Gem 1:31)

The whole package – this planet and us on it – was good. His provision on the earth was everything we would ever need. He gave us senses – sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch – and a superabundance of things to give pleasure to each sense. Take some time to think through each of those five senses and then the wonder of the world that makes them good. And when you have done that, ask Him to enlarge your perception of them even more, and help you be thankful even more. Contentment is good. Complacency is bad (Rom 1:21). Now, give thanks, offer praise.

Snapshots: Day 1

Snapshots of the Bible Story: Prologue

May I introduce you to a new approach to Bible meditations. A while back I wanted to introduce a ‘spiritual’ element to an otherwise secular appearing church Facebook page and while praying about this page, I found ideas flowing that I described as ‘micro-thoughts’, short, concentrated truths about our Christian lives, shorter than usual meditations but longer than Twitter messages. A number of people in our church said how they had been helped by these.

After a while, at the beginning of the year, I sensed in my praying – because I only wrote what came out of my prayer times – a new purposeful direction and so, starting at the very beginning of the Bible, I began creating these snapshots of the Bible, snapshots of truth based upon Bible verses. These developed and continued on. By accident I put one on my own Facebook page and got a wave of approval from a number of my ‘friends’.

While these continue today, and I put them on twice a week, I did feel they were good for a quick boost but lacked deeper content and so wondered if it was possible to develop them further. What follows is that development. Whether it works, only you can tell. I have simply taken the original ‘micro-thought’ and called it a ‘Snapshot’ and then added a further explanation to create a meditation of the same length that I use for my ‘Short Meditation’ studies in say John’s Gospel (which I will still continue to return to from time to time).

So it is early days and I have only written as far as the end of Genesis so far and the feeling I have at the moment is, can I take snapshots through the length of the whole Bible? To that end I am calling them “Snapshots of the Bible Story” because, contrary to post-modern thinking, I do believe there is a big story here to be told and it should be seen as a whole. Because it could go on for a while, it is my intention to post them in groups of ten, pausing to continue the other threads that I have been pursuing.

The intention is that they be short and easily read, revealing basic truths that should impact our lives, truths based upon the word of God, bearing in mind that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” (2 Tim 3:16) and should thus be a most significant part of the life of every believer, in whatever forms we can find. I hope this new form works.

Snapshots of the Bible Story: Day 1

The Snapshot:  “In the beginning… God…”: Spirit, power, energy with personality; almighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-wise; here, there, and everywhere; always has been, always is, and always will be; perfect, cannot be improved upon, never wrong, always right, often misunderstood; perfect love, perfect goodness, merciful, full of grace and kindness; utterly patient, persistent, persevering , never in a rush, often misunderstood, never gives up; always reaching out, communicating, creating, making, providing, enabling, equipping, empowering; desiring relationship; unique, deserving worship. Do what should be instinctive, worship.

Further Consideration:  Genesis 1: The beginning of any reflection on the Bible Story has to begin with God. The God of the Bible revealed primarily through Judaism and Christianity. I wonder how many people – apart from theologians and philosophers – think about what the three-letter word, ‘G-o-d’ means? To different peoples and different cultures one thing, but for those who rest in the veracity and integrity of the Bible, it means a Supreme Being, who is infinite, all-powerful (Creator), all-knowing, all-wise, ever-present, good and loving.

And of course He (forgive the masculine because like the law it is used as a shortcut throughout the Bible) is ‘spirit’ (Jesus simply declared, “God is spirit” Jn 4:24) What is ‘spirit’? I’m not sure but my own definition would be “power or energy with personality” but that does not help us much beyond saying that the God revealed in the Bible is powerful, has personality, feels and communicates.

And that is the heart of the matter: this ‘God’, this Supreme Being, we are told in the Bible, created this world from nothing, it’s His world and He designed and created us, and then communicates with us human beings (which we’ll see more of in the days to come). This God doesn’t just ‘exist’ somewhere in the background of existence like some inert gas in the far corners of the universes, He is here, now, in our time-space history and He speaks into and acts into this world, so it is not merely a mechanical universe, and He is not, as someone once described it, “the ghost in the machine”.  (Arthur Koestler & Gilbert Ryle). That is what the Story of the Bible is all about – God, who He is, His character and how He has interacted into history. When we ponder on this, we realize that not only are we not alone, but it is possible to have a real, genuine, living relationship with ‘God’. Worship Him now.

5. Creator of all things

Meditations in Hebrews 1: 5.  Creator of all things

Heb 1:2  in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things,  and through whom he made the universe.

It can only be by pure ignorance that anyone can say that all the religions of the world are the same. It can only be by pure ignorance that anyone can say that Jesus Christ is just another Hebrew prophet or teacher. These opening verses of Hebrews 1 – corroborated by other verses in the New Testament and elsewhere in the Bible – are staggering in their claims and they lift Jesus Christ higher than any other individual or any other claims for greatness than the world has seen before or elsewhere.

and through whom he made the universe.” What? Pardon? Jesus is part of the Creation process? But we’ve always just accepted the Genesis account that says, “In the beginning God….” and now we are saying Jesus created the world?

We suggested recently that probably John’s Gospel hadn’t been written yet which makes this all the more incredible revelation and yet it is obviously a revelation that God had shared, for John is shortly to write in his prologue to his Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father.” (Jn 1:1-3,14) and the apostle Paul had probably already written of Jesus, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Col 1:15,16)

The J.B.Phillips version makes it even more clear; Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation.”  This is amazing this threefold revelation from the writer to the  Hebrews, the apostle John and the apostle Paul who all say the same thing.

Yet it seems that the honour and glory for the Creation still remains with the Father for in the heavenly vision in Revelation 4 & 5 they sing before the Father, You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev 4:11) and when it comes to the Lamb (Jesus) the focus is on his work of redemption, not creation: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.” (Rev 5:9), and yet at the end Father and Son are praised together: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (Rev 5:13)

Scripture, it seems, is careful to give the Supreme honour to the Father who existed from before all else and yet, as the Colossians verses tell us, the Son existed before creation began or, as some other versions confusingly put it, “firstborn over all creation” (the emphasis being on the rights of a firstborn son as seen in Hebrew tradition). As we have already commented in a previous study, the early church fathers struggled with this and used the word ‘begotten’ of Jesus, meaning he came out of or was an expression of the Father but existing before time began.

A delightful picture of the Father and Son together working in Creation is given in Proverbs where Solomon (perhaps unwittingly) personified wisdom: “I was appointed from eternity from the beginning, before the world began….. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.  Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.”  (Prov 8:23,27-31) What a beautiful picture, especially those words in the last verse – delight, rejoicing, rejoicing, delighting. How wonderful.

And yet even that beautiful picture doesn’t seem to convey the full strength of what our three writers convey:  through whom he made the universe (Heb writer), without him nothing was made that has been made (John) and by him all things were created (Paul). There is a mystery here. When the Father, who is spirit, (Jn 4:24) expressed Himself in a separate entity (imagine the mind having a thought and that thought takes on a life of its own from the rest of the thoughts of that mind – a poor illustration but we are scrabbling for understanding aren’t we) called the Son, was the Son a channel through whom spirit could become material being? Unity of oneness, the godhead, who have unity of thinking, unity of purpose and unity of action, and yet exist as two expressions of the one, and it is through the second ‘expression’ that the material world comes. As we said, a mystery. Yet that is at the heart of these incredible claims about Jesus the Christ, that he is and was so one with the Father that he was truly part of the Creation process. Amazing! Worship the Lord for who He and he is.

Perhaps as a concluding aside, it is fascinating to note that Melchizedek was the first human to declare God as Creator: Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand,” (Gen 14:18-20) which was then picked up by Abram who (as Moses writing the account centuries later) identifies with the name that would later be given, “The I AM”: “Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:22) The ‘I AM’ of Old Testament revelation is Creator of all things, and His Son who (as John records) used the ‘I am’ formula so many times of himself, was one with Him in the Godhead who brought the world into being. Hallelujah!

1. Creation

Meditations on “The Big Picture” 1. Creation

Gen 1:1    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Having recently taken a break to slowly meander through the first two psalms, it may appear going from the sublime to the ridiculous to now go to examine the ‘big picture’ of the Bible but as I was watching a preacher and congregation interacting recently it made me realise afresh something that I have seen before, that so often Christians have never been taught the ‘big picture’ of the whole Bible and do not see the logical flow of revelation from Genesis to Revelation. So here goes! Each ‘meditation’ is more of a potted study covering a big issue or big step in the Bible that is important if we are to understand the whole. So we will start at the beginning and work through to the end taking giant steps, and all the way through I will seek to show how the one study fits the whole.

The starting point obviously has to be Creation – the bringing into being of everything that is. It is the greatest challenge to the human mind, that there is an Almighty God and He and He alone is the cause of all that is, however big it is (millions of galaxies) or however small it is (I have lost track of the latest ‘small’ matter scientists discover!). The Bible declares this is the handiwork of God. I have written previously of the conundrum of the ‘Big Bang’ the insolvable mystery of creating something from absolutely nothing (see Meditations on ‘Focusing Faith’ : 4. A Big Bang) so we will not go there again in this study.

Here, I think, we should just focus on the Biblical testimony and you will either believe it or not. Chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis appear to give a double view of the Creation by God. Genesis 1 shows seven ‘days’ of creation. Again whether these mean seven literal periods of twenty four hours that God took to bring it all into being, or He took seven days to reveal it to Moses or ‘days’ refers to long periods, I confess does not bother me. Whether it was guided or godless evolution does concern me because the Bible says God did it and if He guided evolution (which has much fewer problems than survival of the fittest evolution) that doesn’t bother me. God, being God, could have brought everything into being in a split second or He could have spent millions of years doing it; He is capable of either. The issue is whether He did it or it was pure accident. Without Him we are pure accidents and things such as morality, meaning, purpose, beauty etc. all evaporate.  That is the logic of an impersonal beginning.

Genesis 2 focuses on the man and woman God creates and the New Testament has a number of references to Adam and Eve as two people who lived in time-space history. At some point in the whole Creation exercise two people are brought into being who are described as being made in the likeness of God. I take this mean they have some of God’s characteristics that differentiate them from all other living creatures; they communicate with complex language, and have complex thought patterns, they plan, they scheme, they organise, they write, they compose, they invent, they discover, they worship – all of these things lift them higher than the animal kingdom. But Genesis 2 also reveals a relationship between them and God; this perhaps is the greatest thing that differentiates them from every other creature – they are beings who communicate with and interact with God. In Genesis 5 the word ‘created’ appears 3 more times and in Genesis 6 one more time. Moses uses it again in Deut 4:32.

Those other carriers of the inspired word of God, the prophets, also attested to this truth, for example, The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isa 40:26). Seven other times Isaiah declares this truth – God is the Creator of all things.  The Son of God himself declared the same truth: “those will be days of distress unequalled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now–and never to be equalled again.” (Mk 13:19)  The apostle Paul likewise declared it, speaking of “God, who created all things.” (Eph 3:9)  In John’s vision we find the same truth being heralded in heaven: “for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev 4:11)

Back in the Old Testament, Melchizedek … blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:18,19) What an intriguing revelation brought to Abram who had encountered the Lord but presumably had not yet realised His greatness. This truth also appears among the Psalms. In Psa 136 the psalmist exhorts us to give thanks to the Lord, “who by his understanding made the heavens…..who spread out the earth upon the waters, ….who made the great lights….. the sun to govern the day….the moon and stars to govern the night.” (Psa 136:5-9)  What is interesting is that it flows on recounting other historical happenings, and therefore the inspired writer sees it at a clear and distinct historical event, not some made up fairy story.

But how about the bigger picture? Is this all there is to note? No, there is an intriguing passage in Rom 8:19-22 where the apostle Paul uses such words as, “The creation waits in eager expectation … the 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 creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Whatever the broader picture has to do with salvation, Paul is indicating that the world, as it is at the moment, is in an incomplete state; there is more to come. Thus as we get to the end of the Bible we read, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,” (Rev 21:1) The truth is that this present world is not all there is or is to be.  There is an air of mystery about it because it is not completely clear, but there appears a new heaven AND a new earth that will be different from the present ones where the Lord will be in the midst and there will be no more sin or sorrow.

In the faith series we came across the following: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us (Heb 11:39,40) Whatever we experience in this present world, is only a glimmer of what is to come. Praise and thank the Lord by all means for the wonder of this world, it’s beauty and its variety, but be ready to be blown away with a new world to come in eternity that will be just so much more wonderful. Hallelujah! And then a final thought to evoke even more praise: have you ever realised that God uses time-space history for at least two environments (heaven and earth) where He can interact with the human beings He has created. Creation is about a communication environment.

3. In Due Season

Meditations in Titus: 3 :  In Due Season

Titus 1:3   and at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour,

The simple word ‘and’ brings us a continuation but a contrast also, if you like,  from what he has just been saying. He had started out speaking of the way his ministry was expressed, by awakening faith in God’s chosen one (the ones He saw from before the foundation of the world would respond when Hs word came to them), and then of imparking knowledge of the truth to enable the new believers to live godly lives. All of that was based upon the promise of the end product of God’s salvation, eternal life, which God had promised before He even started this material world off, before, in Paul’s words, “the beginning of time.”

So there we have God’s strategy, formulated between the members of the Trinity, outside of time, before time-space history was brought into being by them. Nothing else had happened (to our knowledge at least) but that the strategy had been decided upon. Then they created this world and everything we know of as existence. Time passed by, millions and millions of years if you believe modern scientists (but they might be wrong, time will tell).

Human beings appeared on earth, civilizations formed, a man named Abram found he was being spoken to by an unseen Being. This Being turns out to be the God who created all things. A relationship is formed. Abram has a son called Isaac who has a son called Jacob who is renamed Israel and from his children a nation is formed who find themselves in slavery in Egypt, but are then miraculously delivered by this Creator God. Centuries pass by and this new nation is ruled by judges and then by kings. From the first king, Saul, to the last king, Zedekiah, some five hundred years or so pass during which this Creator God has dealings with kings and princes, priests, prophets and people, and then there are some four hundred years of silence.

Then comes a new prophet called John who baptizes people as a sign of their being washed clean before God and starting a new life. Shortly after John starts his ministry Jesus of Nazareth appears, who claims to be the Son of God and performs signs and wonders to justify his claim. After three of the most wonderful years in human history, he is taken and crucified but on the third day rises from the dead. For a month and a half he remains with his followers, teaching them, and then he ascends in to heaven. A little while later the Holy Spirit is poured out on the believers in Jerusalem and the Church comes into being. A year or so later a zealous young Pharisee named Saul has an encounter with the reigning Lord Jesus from heaven, on the road to Damascus. This young man becomes a major church planter and as he writes to the various churches the fuller understanding of the Gospel is unravelled.

This latter phase is all summarized in our verse above: “at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.” This was the ‘season’ or the time appointed by God for His salvation of mankind through His Son to be fully revealed. At least a dozen times in his other letters the apostle Paul refers to this Gospel being a ‘mystery’ revealed. Yes, it had been there on the heart of God from before the beginning of time and He had been working towards this time throughout history. Now it had come, now the mystery of God’s will was revealed and was no longer a mystery.

To the Romans he spoke of, “my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known.” (Rom 16:25,26). To the Ephesians he spelled it out: “the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 3:2-6) Explaining further aspects of it to the Colossians he said, “God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,” (Col 1:27) and “the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” (Col 2:3)

What does this tell us? It says that God is incredibly patient, that He had this strategy on His heart before He created anything and patiently worked with mankind until it became patently clear that sin was so ingrained in humanity that even with God alongside them, they would still fall to its wiles. Only a radical dealing with the root of it, the guilt and shame of it, and by providing a new ‘in-house’ power source, could change be truly brought.

How he must have yearned for centuries to bring this to light, but had to wait until the circumstances on earth were just right for the plan to be fulfilled. One of those circumstances was that people were so desperate to be delivered from their sin that they were ready to follow the deliverer, Jesus Christ, and when they did, they found themselves face to face with this incredible thing, this mystery, this plan of God to bring about reconciliation, and this is what Paul now preached. Hallelujah!

3. Jesus, Creator God

Short Meditations in John 1:  3. Jesus, Creator God

Jn 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made

The uniqueness of the God-man, Jesus Christ, continues to be expounded by John in short pithy verses that mark this Gospel out, as we said before, as a Gospel full of meaning as distinct from the three other earlier historical-information Gospels. John has declared Jesus (and it will be clarified later in the chapter that it is Jesus) to be God and yet distinct from God, who has existed from the beginning of time, but now he puts him into what we might call an historical time frame – he was there at the beginning and was involved in the very acts of Creation.

We deal with a mystery here for the Bible does not tell us much how Father and Son worked to bring into being all that we know of as material existence. We are given an enigmatic picture in Proverbs as ‘wisdom’ is personified and, we suggest, can only really refer to Jesus: The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was appointed from eternity, from the beginning, before the world began. When there were no oceans, I was given birth, when there were no springs abounding with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth, before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world. I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep, when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep, when he gave the sea its boundary so the waters would not overstep his command, and when he marked out the foundations of the earth.” (Prov 8:22-29) There is that same sense of being in existence, coming forth from God Himself “from the beginning before the world began.”

But then we are given an inkling into his role, the Son alongside the Father: “Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind.” (Prov 8:30,31) What a beautiful picture of purposeful unity, Father and Son working together to bring into being all that we know.

The writer to the Hebrews also catches something of his role, his power: “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Heb 1:3) He not only helped bring it into being, he also ensure it keeps going. This is part of the role of the Son. Hallelujah!

16. God’s Qualities

Meditations in Romans : 16 :  God’s obvious Qualities

Rom  1:18-20 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Often in Scripture one little word provides the clue or makes sense of what is being said. In the previous meditation we considered the wrath (or ‘anger-in-action’) of God but remaining in verse 18 we didn’t see the reason for it. Now we have verse 19 which starts with the simple word, ‘since’. An alternative word might have been ‘because’. God is angry because His character should be able to be seen by people because it is obvious when you look at the world.

The design argument for God was brought into focus by William Paley who, in the latter part of the eighteen century brought forward the idea of the watch and the watchmaker. He simply suggested that if you come across a watch and opened it up and looked inside it you would automatically conclude that there was someone who had made that intricate design. It doesn’t prove God but suggests, along with Paul, that if something is clearly designed then there is clearly a designer. God is such a designer. Now atheists have subsequently sought to punch holes in this theory but the word of God still stands.

As Paul says, God is angry at stupid people who insist on being blind to the obvious. To the simple and straight forward, it should be obvious when you look at the incredible world that we live in, that there is a wonderful Creator behind it because, says Paul, “God has made it plain to them.” It IS obvious to the open-hearted seeker. It doesn’t matter what YOU say, God says it is obvious and if you refuse to see it, that is an act of will and that raises His anger against you!

Even the most famous of the modern crusading atheists uses words like “has an appearance of being designed’ when referring to the world, while at the same time denying God’s existence. To the Corinthians Paul said, The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:4) Satan has whispered into the minds of unbelievers and reinforced their willful blindness. They are blind because it pays them to be blind. If they cannot see then they can deny the One who made all things, but it is a willful blindness.

In more recent year these crusading atheists have realised how dull and sterile they appear to the rest of us and so the strategy has been to wax eloquent on how wonderful this world is – but not made by God of course! We know how the world works, they say, so we don’t need a Maker of it. Of course this is just another form of their blindness. It is like looking at a Ford car, examining it in detail and coming to an understanding of how the engine works and saying, “Ah, now we understand. There is no need to postulate a Maker of this car because we know how it works.” It ignores Henry Ford who designed it originally and as such is just another expression of this willful blindness. Oh the efforts these men go to, to try to deny God’s presence!

Note that Paul doesn’t say it proves God’s presence but simply that it points to His presence and it has done so ever since “the creation of the world”. The modern atheist struggles with his own inconsistencies. On one hand he puts up a scientific theory that says that nothing can come from nothing and then puts forward the ‘Big Bang’ theory and says it was something from nothing but, as Francis Schaeffer used to say, you can’t get something from nothing-nothing. If you can imagine absolutely ‘nothing’, nothing at all, not even a single particle of energy, first of all we can’t imagine that and second our logic says that it is absolutely impossible for something to come from absolutely nothing on its own – unless we are an inconsistent modern atheist of course!

So, says Paul, God’s invisible qualities, His power and divine nature are, and always have been, patently obvious to anyone with an open mind. Everything about this world says it wasn’t an accident, everything says it was designed by an all-powerful, all wise Supreme Being and this is the God who is revealed in the world and in the Bible. So obvious is it, says Paul, that men don’t have an excuse.  You can scream and shout about it as much as you like, but God says you don’t have an excuse and so your willful rebellion raises His righteous indignation and displeasure. As we go on we’ll see how that indignation and displeasure is expressed.