Sunday, December 27, 2009

Who Wrote Genesis?

Jesus said that Moses wrote Genesis.

But how did Moses get the information? By revelation?

It seems that much of the information may have been available to Moses in written form.

Mention is made in Genesis 5:1 of "the book of the generations of Adam". This document included genealogies and perhaps some pertinent accompanying narrative.

Mention is also made in the book of Genesis of "the generations of the heavens and the earth". It was the story of creation and subsequent events.

These documents might have been available to Moses, handed-down through Jacob, Issac, Abraham, Noah and Enoch. The name Enoch means 'scribe' in some languages.

Some of the information might also have been handed-down orally. And this information would have been entirely reliable, when you consider that Adam lived long enough to make it possible that Enoch could have known Adam personally. In fact, all of Adam's descendants before Enoch outlived Enoch, for Enoch was taken. So Enoch may have met them all!

Noah was Enoch's grandson, and Noah could have known all of Adam's descendants in that family line - because they all lived so long.

Then after the flood, Noah was still alive up until the time when Abraham reached the age of 60. In fact, Noah's son Shem outlived Abraham! So Abraham could have met Noah or at least Shem. Even if he didn't meet them, the fact they were still alive meant that they could have denied it if the stories being told about them were not true.

Then Abraham begat Isaac, and Isaac Jacob, and Jacob Levi, and Levi's great-grandson was Moses.

So you can see how few hands and mouths the written and oral information had to pass through before reaching from Adam to Moses. Not too many at all!

Moses' role, therefore, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was simply to compile the written documents and oral information into a single book, the book of Genesis.

Much of the information which Moses put into the book of Genesis would have been information which was already widely known by all Israelites and not just Israelites but by many of the inhabitants of the whole world.

Balanced View of Prosperity

I read an article against prosperity.

The Son of Man truly had nowhere to lay His head, as the article said.

But does that mean it was Jesus' will that everyone become homeless?

Imagine: at first the Israelites had nice houses to live in. Then Jesus comes, teaching. Next thing, the whole nation of Jews is living outside in the rain and elements, leaving their suitable homes empty.

The Romans would be thinking, "What idiots!"

Even their goats would have had enough sense to come in out of the rain!

But that's precisely what should have happened - if it was God's will for everyone to become homeless just because Jesus was.

And what about Ministries?

Someone once criticized Billy Graham for his ministry's big budget.

"Jesus rode a donkey," they said.

Billy Graham replied, "If you find a donkey that can fly me across the oceans of the world, I'll be happy to ride it."

It costs money to print Bibles, to broadcast via satellite into closed countries, to travel and to preach the Gospel. If every believer is penniless like the preacher, no-one would be able to pay for it.

I like the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."

Often when trying to correct an extreme view, we can err to an opposite extreme, if we're not careful.

In my view, it would be an extreme view of prosperity if we taught that all believers everywhere will always prosper if only they have enough faith - because believers in some countries are experiencing imprisonment and martyrdom as a result of their faith.

But on the other hand, I think it's also extreme - and a bit blind - if a Christian in a free, democratic, Western country criticizes prosperity completely - when they wouldn't even be alive today to worship the Lord as a Christian, if it wasn't for the prosperity under their own two feet. I’ll explain.

It is mainly countries like UK, USA, Canada, Australia & NZ that saved the world during World Wars I & II. The Allied countries were able to win the Wars partly due to their prosperity.

And where did their prosperity come from? It came as a result of being free societies. And the freedom in their society only came as a result of generations of Gospel effort.

In other words, the freedom that we enjoy today to live as Christians (in Western countries) came about because somewhere back along the line, the Gospel produced prosperity.

And yet some prosperity-loathing person opens his mouth, standing on the very free soil which a previous generation sacrificed for, and blabs out some tirade about the Gospel having nothing to do with prosperity. That's either ingratitude or ignorance - or both.

If someone's prosperity message claims that persecuted believers in some countries didn't have enough faith - that's extreme. But it's also extreme if we refuse to see that God is delighted when a country becomes so infiltrated with the Gospel that its citizens start to experience freedom, prosperity, peace, health and longevity as a direct consequence.

"He taketh pleasure in the prosperity of His servants".

Take Uganda as an example. During Idi Amin's regime in the late 70s, a true believer, through no fault of his own, may have suffered confiscation of his goods or imprisonment. But today believers in Uganda have the opportunity for a normal, prosperous life. The President's wife was among those who attended Benny Hinn's Uganda Crusade this year.

Ask any believer in Uganda, "Has the Gospel improved Uganda's prosperity?" and hardly a person would deny it. It is the Gospel that improved Uganda's conditions, nothing else.

For a Christian in America or Australia who enjoys peace, to deny that prosperity has any place in the Gospel, is like a finger or an eye saying, "I don't believe the rest of the body exists" even though it's attached; or like the tip of an ice-berg saying, "I don't believe any other part of the ice-berg exists" even though the tip somehow sits suspended outside the water; or like the peak of Mt Everest saying, "I don't believe the Himalayan mountain system exists" although that very system of mountains is what is forcing the peak to rise so high; or like a sceptic looking for the Loch Ness monster saying, "I don't believe in it! Where is she?" while he and his boat are being lifted out of the water on top of the monster's head.

The best place to drive a car is on the road – not off in a drain to the left or right. Rather than holding an extreme view to the left or right, it's better to have a balanced view of prosperity's place in the Gospel.

The same could be said regarding any Christian doctrine: stay in the middle of our lane, not off in a drain on either side.

The Book of Enoch

I love thinking about Enoch! The depth of wisdom that God gave him is fascinating. I suppose the depth of revelation in his subject matter should be no surprise to us – seeing he walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

And to think – that same level of intimacy with God is available to you and I – if we choose to walk with God, like Enoch did.

Enoch was a great prophet, yet Jesus said, “There has never been a greater prophet than John. Nevertheless, he who is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” That means you and I are greater than Enoch as well.

Greater in what sense? I suppose John was the greatest of the prophets at least in the sense that he had a greater, or more direct role, or a more closely-linked role, to the subject matter of prophesy than the other prophets, which was the Son Himself.

All the other prophets knew about the Son only in visions or by revelation. But John did more than know about Him or talk about Him – he actually physically introduced Him.

John was the friend of the bridegroom.

The other prophets talked about the Son. John said, "This is He".

Being Jesus' first cousin after the flesh, and because of his election, and due to the time in which he lived, John was privileged to go one step further than the preceding prophets by saying to Israel, "I've told you about Him, but now I will actually introduce Him to you - here He is. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I told you..."

Nevertheless he who is least in the Kingdom has even a greater role – even a more privileged relationship to the Son (the subject of all prophecy) than to have physically introduced Him to Israel.

We are every bit as privileged as John or Enoch – so far as wisdom, revelation, righteousness and redemption goes - because of Christ.

I love it that God likes to reveal Himself like that to anyone who chooses to draw close to Him.

Jeremiah said, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”

Sometimes I’ve said to God, “Tell me something great and mighty – about anything – something which I don’t know”. It could be something about politics, or the future, or about nations, or something personal and intimate, or about some plan that God has, or about Christ, or it may be some spiritual truth. But I just like it that God likes to talk to us.

God said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do, seeing he also shall become a great nation?”

In fact, in the prophets it says, “God does nothing unless He first reveals it to His servants the prophets”.

God referred to, "Abraham my friend”.

Jesus said, “From now on I don’t call you servants but friends – because I have told you everything.”

Perhaps a good definition of “friend” would be: someone to whom you tell things. To a servant, you only give commands. To a friend, you tell your plans – not just give orders.

Yet even the servants (the prophets) get told everything God is going to do – so how much more now that He calls us friends, more than servants!

He invited Jeremiah to ask Him concerning things.

With God’s most intimate friends, He talks about things beyond their own generation, because God dwells in eternity.

God names us not just according to our destiny in this life, but in accordance with the full extent of our fruitfulness in history and in eternity. For example, God named Abram “father of many nations” and until this day, many sons in every nation are still being born to Abraham in Christ Jesus – and the counting hasn’t finished yet - it's still going!

So the dream God gave you concerning your destiny was placed in your spirit by God, speaking from the viewpoint of future history and eternity. When He speaks of our destiny, He isn't merely speaking of what we will see with our eyes during our lifetime.

People say, “Don’t die with the music in you”. In other words, don’t die with unfulfilled dreams in your heart. But I say, “Don’t die without unfulfilled dreams”. How limited if we haven't dreamt beyond what we can accomplish only in our own lifetime!

When you think about Abraham’s accomplishments during the term of his natural life, it doesn’t seem very much in comparison with Moses, Joshua or David. All he did was roam around in tents and have one son of promise. When he fought the kings he wouldn't take any spoil. All Abraham really did was that he believed God. And yet because of that, God has given him a great name.

It's not about achieving. It's about believing.

Activity that hasn't come from faith isn't valuable. It is faith that counts for something.

All God is asking us to do is to believe Him – and to act on our faith.

Faith is an act. It expresses itself through love. Hallelujah!

I feel an anointing on some parts of the book of Enoch. I also feel a caution about some parts. Nevertheless I find the book of Enoch one of the most fascinating documents in the world.

Years ago I asked the Lord whether it should be included in our canon of Scripture. Immediately, I sensed that God had already seen to it to preserve in our bibles the portions of the book of Enoch that are valuable to us.

For example:

* The book of Genesis retells some of the same incidences as the book of Enoch, preserving all the details we need to know and leaving out the details we don’t need to know

* The Epistle of Jude quotes from it

* The Epistles of Peter use some of the same language and themes

Therefore we don’t miss out, even though it is not in our Bibles!

I like it that Enoch is referred to as a “scribe of righteousness”. I like it that “scribe” is seen as a calling. To write things down is an important role of many prophets, even for prophets today.

When I was a new Christian, before I learned about the book of Enoch, I used to wonder how Jude knew what Enoch prophesied about, since it isn't recorded in our Bible.

I also used to wonder where Moses got the information from in the book of Genesis – was it oral tradition, or by revelation? So I was fascinated when I realized that the book of Genesis is actually a compilation of several books, and that each of subsection has its own subtitle. For example, the book of Genesis mentions “the book of the generations of Adam” as one subheading. Then “The generations of the heavens and the earth” is mentioned. And another sections begins, “The book of the generations of Cain” etc. It seems genealogies were written down, along with salient commentary about individuals and events, and then handed down the family line.

So all Moses had to do was link these documents with a minimal amount of narrative.

But how accurate would the writings have been by the time Moses compiled the Pentateuch?

Well according to some quick calculations I did once (which could be wrong, because Maths wasn’t my best subject!) even though Jude says Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam, I think that Adam would still have been alive during the first 200 to 300 years of Enoch’s life. So they may have met personally.

Not only could Enoch have personally met Adam, but Enoch would have had the opportunity to meet all of his fathers – Seth, Enosh, Cainan, Mahalaleel and Jared – because it seems Enoch was the next to go after Adam – it seems he preceded all his fathers in returning to God besides Adam only. So Enoch could have known them all personally. And Enoch would have told his son Methuselah, who told Noah.

Noah was Enoch’s grandson. And I think Noah was still alive until Abraham was already about 60 years old. And Jacob, Abraham's grandson, would have been already about 15 years old before Abraham died. Jacob arrived to sojourn in Egypt, where Moses was later brought-up by Pharaoh.

So this means that by the time Israel came to sojourn in Egypt, they were still only about three or four personal links removed beyond the generation which could have personally known Adam!

That being the case, even a mere oral record would have been reliable enough! How much more the written record. Apparently, the patriarchs were scribes.

I don’t recall any Jewish Scriptures using the word “scribe” until the return from Captivity. So the use of the word “scribe” in the book of Enoch could be an indication of later manipulation of the text.

The book of Enoch mentions Noah by name. Years ago I wrote a note in the margin of my copy of the Book of Enoch next to where it mentions "Noah" that:

“Enoch was taken 69 years before Noah was born”.

If my calculation at the time was correct, this means either that Enoch received his future grandson’s name by revelation; or that his name was already decided before he was born; or that the text was manipulated in a later period after Noah.

Is the Book of Genesis Parable or Literal?

My rule of literary interpretation is that in the context of prose, language of prose is to be taken as prose unless otherwise stated.

In poetic literature, poetry wouldn’t necessarily be suddenly taken as prose in the context of poetry.

Every parable that I can think of in the Bible, the context itself states that it is a parable or a song. But nothing in Genesis suggests that the creation story isn’t prose. None of the other Scriptures take the creation story as being parabolic either. In the absence of literary evidence, the onus of proof that the story is not to be taken literally is with those who claim so.

Genesis and Fables

Some have suggested that the book of Genesis was corrupted by being mingled with a collection of fables, during the Babylonian Captivity.

My initial thoughts on that hypothesis are that it is almost impossible that such a significant corruption of Scriptures could have occurred during the Babylonian captivity.

The Captivity lasted only 70 years. In fact, when the temple began to be rebuilt, some of the old men still remembered the old temple. The Law was read daily to the people who returned to Jerusalem in the first wave of returnees. Daniel also had access to the Scriptures in Babylon. So we know that multiple copies of the original Scriptures were available during that time period, both in Jerusalem and in Babylon.

The Scriptures were to the Jews the most valued national treasure. The sense of value that they placed upon their Jewish Scriptures and genealogies would have been heightened even more during their years in foreign captivity – especially since the temple was robbed of its material treasures.

So this doesn’t leave very much time or opportunity for the most sacred document of the nation to become corrupted beyond recognition and without dispute and without trace.

Even if some individual at the time wrote a corrupted version of the Scriptures in Babylon, he would not have been able to destroy all the copies of the true Scriptures in such a short time because multiple copies of the true Scriptures already existed both in Jerusalem and in Babylon at the time.

Jewish people didn’t stop reading the Scriptures during the Captivity. Daniel is an example of that.

When the first wave of Jews returned (under Cyrus’ orders) to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, the Law was read aloud to all the people daily.

Since many of the old men still remembered the original temple, these men would also have been on high alert if they noticed that the Scriptures being read to them had suddenly been changed from what they remembered. They wept when they saw that the new temple wasn’t as grand as the old one – they also would have surely reacted if they noticed that Babylonian fantasies were now intermingled with the pure story that was passed down to them by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

If such a major corruption occurred so quickly and so thoroughly, one would think there would be a historical record of conflict arising over which version ought to have been accepted as legitimate. But to my knowledge there is no historical record that any controversy existed at the time regarding the canonicity of the Scriptures.

If a new version suddenly appeared during the Captivity, how is it that the original version suddenly became lost, never to be discovered – and that the new version was never disputed by the Jews?

It might have been possible if the Captivity endured for a millennium - but it lasted only 70 years. It might have been possible if only one copy of the Scripture existed and if it was in the hands of the elite - but many copies existed and all the people were familiar with their content. It might have been possible if only few people remembered the days before the Captivity – but many still lived to remember.

Therefore it seems to me that the version of the Scriptures that survived the Captivity is more than likely the same version that existed in Israel before the Captivity.

So if the Captivity didn’t afford enough opportunity for the creation story to be turned into fable, when else could such a corruption have occurred?

Not before the Captivity either.

Not during the Patriarchal period. It can be derived by studying the genealogies, that there were as few as only three to four personal links from Adam all the way up to the time when Israel came to sojourn in Egypt. So the story would have been reliable even if it was only passed-on orally, let alone in writing.

Not during the sojourn in Egypt. During the 430 years in Egypt, it is clear that the Jews continued the patriarchal practice of recording genealogies. So they would have guarded the writings of their forbears too.

In fact, when I looked at the genealogies today, I was staggered to notice how few generations existed between the time when Israel came to sojourn in Egypt and the emergence of Moses. Hardly any!

Once again, the generations involved are so close that the record would have been reliable even if it was only transmitted orally, let alone in writing – especially considering how closely-knit the Israeli identity became during their years in virtual solitary confinement in an Egyptian suburb! All the sons of Jacob and their descendants lived together in such close proximity and their national identity and heritage was forged.

The opportunity for some individual Jewish person to add Egyptian folklore into their treasured genealogical records hardly existed. The surge of family ancestral knowledge and heritage would have snuffed out his weak ideas real quick!

And then came the mighty signs and wonders against Egypt; the Red Sea parted; the mighty Egyptian army was destroyed; Israel was delivered; all the surrounding nations feared the God of Israel; Mount Horeb smoked and shook and the Pentateuch was written.

Not during the period of the Judges. A very short time afterwards came Samuel and all the prophets, who also wrote. Scriptures were preserved by prophets, priests, kings and by the hearts of the people.

This leaves the 400-year inter-testament period as the only other time period in which the creation story may have been turned into fable. But once again, as I will show, I can’t see how it was reasonably possible then either.

After the return from Captivity when Ezra taught the people the Law, we saw the emergence of the synagogue in which teaching priests read the Law every Sabbath all across the land.

Anna the prophetess was already “of great age” when Christ was born. She would have learned to read many years before this, let’s say 60BC. By the time she was reading, the alleged changes must have already been made and accepted beyond controversy and all original manuscripts lost. That’s a small window of opportunity for such a sweeping change to have already been accepted and become entrenched in Jewish thought and literature. Even if the Dead Sea scrolls hadn’t been discovered, that would still be unlikely.

The book of Genesis was found 24 times amongst the Dead Sea scrolls. No major changes there. Written about 150BC (if you accept current dating methods), that narrows down the window of opportunity even less for a corruption to have occurred after Ezra.

It narrows it down to – what, about 250 years? This means that at the time when the oldest Dead Sea scrolls were written, there would still have been people alive all over Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, who still personally knew people who personally had met priests who had been taught by Ezra’s disciples. And yet we would be saying that the corrupted version had already become canon in that short period. Not only is it unlikely – it’s impossible.

Even if all the original Scriptures were destroyed, the oral and family traditions would have been so strong that a new version of the Scriptures could not have been accepted so quickly, so thoroughly, without controversy, without trace.

By this time synagogues were everywhere. Copies of the Scriptures were everywhere, even in Greek. Jewish patriotism was at a peak. Everyone was looking for the Kingdom of God to come. Never were the Scriptures so prolific.

In the absence of literary, archaeological and historical evidence; in the absence of likelihood; in the absence of motive, weapon or opportunity – the onus of proof that the creation story was corrupted and mingled with fable sometime during any of these periods is with those who claim that it was.

As for me, with my current (limited) knowledge, I don’t see a better-informed option than to take the creation story literally.

I believe in the inerrancy of the Scriptures in their original language.

My faith is based not on my intellectual ability to explain the Scripture, but on the power of God.

If there is some rule of common sense by which the creation story can’t be taken literally, or by which it can be proved that the story has been corrupted at some later stage, then the integrity of the patriarchs and the whole of Scripture would, by the same rule, also be suspect.

Our faith would be in vain. And we would yet be in our sins – without hope and without God in the world. We would be suffering needlessly. We Christians would be the most unfortunate people in the world.

But even so, my faith is not based on any of the above logic alone – but on the power of God.

More on Noah's Flood

Noah's flood must have been BIG - no matter whether it was regional or global.

Some argue that there isn't enough water on earth for it to be possible.

However, 70% of the earth's surface is already covered by ocean, to an average depth of nearly 4km.

And who knows how much water exists beneath the earth's crust. There could be a lot of water down there. 80% of what comes out of volcanos is water vapor. Scientists also have reason to believe that earth's outer core is liquid.

But could there be enough subterranean water to submerge Mt Everest by 15 cubits? Well keep in mind that if this amount of subterranean water exists, it would occupy a mere 0.0029044% of the earth's volume. So, relatively speaking, we are still not talking about an impossible volume of water. And since the deepest that mankind has drilled beneath the sea-bed so far is only 2,111m, I guess it can't be ruled-out.

But in all likelihood, the earth's mountains were not as high before the flood. Instead, we could say that the aftermath of the flood may have caused mountains such as Mt Ararat and the Himalayas to become as high as they are today.

According to a NASA website (NB:- this was a NASA website, not a Creation-Science website!) there are lots of marine fossils on top of Mt Everest and the terrain was once a seabed. And the Rocky's is the world's largest site for fossils. Apparently these marine animals were covered in sediment and then the seabed was forced upwards to form the Himalayas and the Rockys. What better explanation for this than the flood and its tectonic aftermath?

Notice the Bible says that the earth was divided in the fifth generation after Noah - possibly as a result of continental drift or rising sea levels. Apparently there were a lot of major changes that occurred on earth's surface for quite some time after the flood! These changes could have included shifting tectonic plates, continental drift, earthquakes, volcanos, rising mountain peaks and rising sea levels, and the cutting-off of land masses that were once connected.

So it's quite possible that before the flood, the mountains may have been much lower (Mt Everest and the Rocky's may not have even existed before the flood - they may have been seabeds!). And it's also possible that the world had only one large, connected land mass, one connected continent, before the earth was divided after the flood. The world's oceans contain enough water to completely submerge the earth to a depth of 2.7km if all the land was flat. If we allow for lower mountains and shallower oceans before the flood, we wouldn't have to find too much subterranean water at all, and all the world including all its mountains could have easily been submerged to a depth of 15 cubits.

Noah's Flood

Was Noah's flood regional or worldwide?

If the flood was local rather than world-wide, the flood must nevertheless have covered an enormous area – otherwise the ark would not have been necessary.

For the ark to have been necessary, the destruction caused by the flood waters must have been so widespread that it must have been deemed well-nigh impossible for animals to readily migrate into the area afterwards and repopulate it again.

It must have flooded such an enormous area that it must have been impossible for Noah and his family to survive by instead migrating away from the area. His small family’s only hope of survival was for Noah to exert all the effort of building such a huge ark.

The flood waters were so great that we are told they “increased greatly upon the earth…and ALL the high hills, that were under the WHOLE HEAVEN, were covered…” The waters prevailed 15 cubits above the highest mountain. A whole year and ten days expired before the waters were abated enough for Noah and his family to safely exit the ark.

If this was local rather than world-wide, it would be necessary to find the geographical area to be surrounded by a ring of higher mountains which would form a catchment for this enormous volume of flood waters.

I don’t know if there is evidence that such a wide, high and unbroken ring of mountains ever existed in the Middle East – or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. It would be interesting to know.

So the flood was probably worldwide.

But I've been wondering whether enough water exists on the planet to cover the whole surface of the earth.

I was taught in Physics at school that mass is constant. So if there was enough water to cover the earth in Noah's day, I was thinking that all that water must still be on the planet somewhere.

I wasn't sure whether I would be able to find an answer to the question of the total mass of H2O on earth on the internet, so I asked the Lord about it.

Immediately, the first thing that came to mind was that the creation story begins with the whole earth covered with water:

"And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters".

And another Scripture kept ringing in the ears of my spirit:

“…the earth standing out of the water and in the water…”

Therefore, whatever happened from Day 1 of creation onwards, there must always have remained enough water on earth to be able to cover the whole surface with water once again.

On Day 2, God created a firmament which separated the waters below and above it. This firmament was called, "Heaven". It is the place where birds would later fly. So I guess this "firmament" is talking about earth's atmosphere. Then it says a volume of water was separated and placed above this firmament. I don't know what this refers to. But whatever it is, the point I’m observing is that the total mass of water still remained constant before and after this event.

So it doesn’t matter to me (for the purposes of this question) what is meant by the waters above the firmament – because the volume of water under the firmament was still enough to cover the entire surface of the earth even after some of the water had been separated above the firmament.

Then on Day 3, after the firmament made a separation between the waters, God caused the waters below the firmament (which still completely covered earth’s surface) to be gathered into separate places called “seas,” allowing dry land to appear for the first time. So this means that even with part of the original mass of water separated by the firmament, there was still enough water below the firmament to cover the entire surface of the earth.

I don’t know what God did to cause all the water to gather together into places called "seas". I guess He either raised the land in places, or dug trenches for oceans in other places, or even caused a lot of the water to go underground. But either way, the volume of water to cover the earth was still there – below the firmament.

So what happened to cause the flood?

"All the fountains of the great deep were broken up."

The use of the word "broken up" implies quite a cataclysmic, violent action, quite an upheaval. Peter compares the scope of the flood with the final judgment. It was fierce. The language allows room for something entirely disruptive to the world. I imagine even the whole terrain of earth could have been changed. Flood waters could have thrown sediment all over the planet. Genesis talks about something deep in the earth being “broken up”. It wasn’t only the surface that was affected.

If all the water that was under the firmament was brought to the surface and spread out all over the land again, it would have been enough to cover the entire surface of the earth to a certain depth, given the right conditions. But not only did water come from the deep - from under the firmament - but also "the windows of heaven were opened". So by utilizing water from both these sources, the earth could have been well and truly covered with water.

But to what depth? For example, could Mt Everest have been under water? I think it is possible that the flood could have caused Mt Everest to become that high. Or it may not have even existed prior to the flood. I discovered on a NASA website (NB not a Creation Science website) that marine fossils exist on top of Mt Everest and the sediment was once a seabed.

To me, the language of Genesis and Peter allows room for the possibility that the upheaval caused by the dissipating flood waters may have been great enough to force seabeds to the surface and push Himalayan peaks up in a short space of time. This flood is described in apocalyptic terms. It was powerful. Peter called it a different world back then.

So it’s possible that the world’s mountains were not quite so high, pre-flood. I did some calculations and I think I am fairly sure that there is enough water in our oceans to cover the earth to a depth of about 2.7km if the land was flat. But Noah’s flood was caused by more than just ocean water – the fountains of the great deep were broken open, and the windows of heaven were opened.

So where did all that water go, after the flood?

God sent a wind and much of it was “assuaged”.

The rest ran into the seas or could have returned underground.

It took a year and ten days before Noah could safely leave the Ark with enough dry land for eight people and a boat load of animals. So it could have taken 40 years for all the water to run off – who knows?

About 100 years after the flood, a guy was born and they named him Peleg, "because in his days the earth was divided". I always assumed this division referred to the Babel dispersion. Maybe it does. Certainly the earth was divided in a social sense after the tower of Babel.

But then I wondered whether the Bible may have used the word earth more deliberately than that – because it says it was the earth, not the people, that was divided.

If the earth was divided geologically during Peleg’s lifetime, what could have caused it?

Notice this didn’t happen immediately after the flood. Neither did it occur in one day. It was nearly 100 years after the flood before the whole process was completed. If the division was geological, perhaps continental shift or rising sea-levels may have caused it.

I thought the meaning of the name Peleg could reveal a clue. I looked it up, and discovered that Peleg פָּלֶג means division, as if by an earthquake. So the idea of geographic activity is definitely intrinsic to his name.

Perhaps that is a clue that the earth’s terrain experienced major changes within a generation or two of the flood.

I searched further, and found that his name is related to a word that refers to water. Lots of English words are phonetically related to it.

For example, the English word archipelago means a chain of islands, that is, a strip of land separated in places by the sea; and pelagic means: of or relating to the sea.

So the idea is there that during Peleg's day, water levels may have risen, cutting land-masses off from each other.

But why would this have happened 100 years after the flood?

Perhaps it was God's timing because of the Babel thing.

Or perhaps the flood was so impacting on terra firma that changes took that long to settle. This flood affected more than just the surface of the earth. The terrain of the earth, the heights of the mountains, the depths of the oceans – all these things could have become suddenly very different as a result of the flood and its aftermath.

So from a Biblical point of view I’m satisfied there was enough water to cover the earth, as it looked like before the flood. But how about from a scientific point of view?

71% of the earth’s surface is covered by ocean. The average depth of the oceans is 3,711 meters. (That’s how I calculated that if the whole earth were flat, the water could cover the earth to a depth of more than 2½ km.)

So for the highest mountain of the pre-flood world to be covered by mere cubits may not have required much more water than what exists in our oceans, if the mountains were lower in those days.

But what if Mount Ararat was the same height before the flood as it is today (5,137m)? Could that much water possibly be somewhere beneath the earth’s surface?

The volume of the earth’s oceans is 1.386 × 109 km³.

The earth’s total volume is 1.083 207 3×1012 km³.

The oceans represent only 0.0012795336% of the earth’s total volume.

The amount of water required to submerge Mt Ararat by 15 cubits would be approximately 1.9 times the amount of water in our current oceans, or a mere 0.0024343% of the earth’s volume.

That’s still such a small proportion of the earth’s total volume. If you drew it in cross-section diagram of the earth you’d hardly even see it.

So I think this volume of water could quite easily have been held captive underground, before the fountains of the great deep were broken up.

A lot of this water could have remained above ground after the flood as higher ocean levels, or it could have returned underground.

But the most likely explanation is that the terrain of the earth was so different before the flood – perhaps shallower oceans and lower mountain peaks – that the amount of water currently in our oceans was enough to flood it all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

村人全員の回心 ーミンダナオ島での出来事



我々の村の態度が非常に良くなり、政府に対し、山岳部族の中では我々が最も問題が少ない部族、という評判を得ました。それほど良くなったので、私の名前は、Datu Malinaw (平和をもたらす村長、という意味)に変わりました。


最初、私は村長さんの受洗に対する反応を残念に思いました。私は、村長さんの神への従順が完全なものであったなら、 私達が新会堂の建設を手伝うことに同意するか否かに関係なく、受洗をすることに喜んで従うべきであると思いました。 しかし、主は私の心を和らげ、心に次のような印象を与えてくださっているように感じました。
「この部族は、何世代にも渡って住んできた土地の法的所有権を持っていないのです。彼らは、低地に住む人々に比べ、正式な教育を受けておらず、富もないと感じています。村長は、村人の受洗の許可を、村人を訪問者との契約関係に置こうと思っているのです。彼がしていることは、あなた方が誠実かどうかという証拠を探るためだけなのです。もし、村人が不当に扱われる危険にさらされ、土地から追い出されることがないと確信すれば、彼は喜んで洗礼を許可するでしょう。」 そのように、主が私に語っておられるように思いました。
チームメンバーに、私が感じたことを言いました。すると、チームの一人がさっと、100ペソ(たった5ドルぐらい)を村長さんに渡しました。するとすぐに、村長さんは、村人達の洗礼の許可を出しました。 それだけしかかからなかったのです。誠実さという、名ばかりの5ドルで。驚きました!

村長さんは、彼の言葉を守り、一日のうちに、彼と彼の村全員が、川で洗礼を受けました。最初の礼拝には1300人が出席しました。それ以来、数人の村の若者達は聖書学校を卒業し、4つの近隣の村々に福音の矢を放ちました。しかし、数多くの村々に住む特定の部族には、福音がまだまだ伝えられておらず、 全人口約25,000人がこの特定の言語グループにいます。
今、私達は、神様が私達の前に開いてくださった扉を通って歩んでいく時だと思います。 遅過ぎてしまう前に。
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Your Heavenly Father's Mind is Like a Chocolate Factory

My friend Jolon was thinking about how all of us often face problems in life sometimes due to our own mistakes or the mistakes of others - and my friend asked God what He thinks about it.

It was as if my friend was enabled to see into the mind of the Father. He said it was like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It was like Christmas.

The mind of the Father is always delighted. He is always working all things together for good for those that love God.

That's what our heavenly Father thinks about our problems.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Benevolent Slavery

If I said I believe in slavery, you might be shocked.

But did you ever notice in the Law which God gave to Israel through Moses, that slavery was not criminalized?

Slavery itself was not outlawed. What mattered was how they did it. Moses wrote certain Laws regarding slavery which were ground-breaking for his times. Moses' slavery Laws ensured that slavery was profitable and compassionate for both the slaver-owner and the slave: it was a win-win situation.

That's different to the slavery laws that existed at various times outside of Israel. For example, we've often heard of situations in which a slave belonged permanently to his master - but under Moses' Law there was a definite time limit placed on the arrangement - seven years - unless the slave of his own free will chose to continue the arrangement permanently.

We've also heard of cruelty being inflicted on slaves by their owners - but in Moses' Law there were Laws covering the humane treatment of slaves including punishments against owners if they mistreated slaves.

We've also heard of slaves being exploited for the sole benefit of their owners - but under Moses' Law, certain provisions were put in place which ensured that the slave profited from the arrangement as well as the owner. And the owners were required to set their slaves up for the future.

Unlike our modern welfare systems which redistribute wealth from its rightful owners to the poor with no advantage to the owners, Moses' slavery Laws provided a way for the poor to get themselves out of financial trouble, and get set up for the future - at no cost to any segment of society. Rather, the arrangement benefited the wealthy also.

It's the word slavery which turns us off. So let's call it indentured service; or a workplace agreement.

I think it is consistent with the Biblical ideals of private property and compassion, to allow employers and employees to come into a mutually satisfying and profitable agreement of service.

As long as it's not against anyone's will. As long as it doesn't disadvantage any party financially. As long as the profit is mutual. As long as no-one gets mistreated. And as long as the employee or trainee is given the opportunity to be set up for the future and to be free to take a different path in future.

That's all Moses was really talking about. He called it slavery. We can call it something else if we want.

But the bottom line is that Moses gave the poor a chance to get ahead without it costing anyone else anything. They benefited from the arrangement too. That's God's way.

We can apply these principles to modern social security. A huge percentage of our GNP is spent on social welfare. Hard-earned funds are redistributed from their rightful owners to others, with no benefit to the rightful owners. A welfare-mentality is bred into the recipients, and the cycle goes downward.

Imagine if instead of a dole system, we allowed the poor to make agreements with employers which benefited both parties.

For example, I know some people who, for whatever reason, cannot settle into employment. They've lived on welfare for years. But I know that the same young people would cope much better if they were able to go to a family, and make themselves available to serve around the home or in the family business, and in return be paid not the award wage, but accommodation, clothing, food, training for the future, some sort of an allowance - and a sense of belonging and companionship.

Such an arrangemnent would be a win-win situation for all concerned. The family would benefit financially from his services. And he would benefit by feeling that he was employed instead of being the recipient of welfare.

Of course it would hopefully be only a temporary arrangement. The Prophets foresaw a day when through the Gospel slavery would be abolished. It is still God's wish that no-one need resort to slavery. But in the meantime, "the poor you have always with you" Jesus said - so thankfully there is provision for the poor in a way that doesn't inflict an injustice on the wealthy nor on the poor themselves.