by, Jan 23rd 2012 at 08:02 PM (291 Views)
"God's Ultimate Concern"
In looking at creation, I have always seen the hand of God working to make something that He can love and receive love from at the same time. The whole history laid out in the bible, if we take it as a true revelation, seems to point to that one idea. If Jesus is the summation of what was started in Genesis one, than John 3:16 is more than just a banner at a sporting event, and shows us more than the eyes of Tim Tebow. (He has the verse reference painted in white in the black grease paint under his eyes, as do several football players.) Every time I think of Jesus talking to Nicodemus on that roof during a dark Jerusalem night, I hear the Creator Himself telling Nicodemus why all 'this' happened, what it all is leading up to for us. Genesis truly echoes in John's Gospel; and we hear the whisper if we just truly listen.
If we step back and look at Genesis one as a whole, the idea of 'structure' comes across loud and clear. God took time to create everything 'in its own time' on a 'day by day' basis. This is not a genie show with 'alakazam' and it's all there; this is God carefully planning and putting in to place all that He wants to be able to do what He will do. For instance, take the phrase:
'...and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.' (HCB)
'...And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.' (KJV)
This verse is significant for the context, and for the parallels it has in the rest of the Old Testament writings. The parallels come across depending on how you translate the word 'Spirit', which is also translated as 'breath' in other contexts in the Old Testament. In Deuteronomy 32:
" 11 Like an eagle that rouses her chicks
and hovers over her young,
so he spread his wings to take them up
and carried them safely on his pinions. "
The context of this has some parallels to Genesis. Moses, in this chapter, is recounting the past and future history of Israel as the people of God's choice. In chapter thirty-one, God told Moses that the people of Israel would abandon Him (God) for false Gods after they had lived in the land of Israel. Moses is now teaching the children of Israel what will happen in their future if they abandon God. This 'song' stood with the writing of the law as a sign to the people, and a warning. In a sense, God is hovering of the history of Israel just as He did at creation. Moses makes the point:
"8 When the Most High assigned lands to the nations,
when he divided up the human race,
he established the boundaries of the peoples
according to the number in his heavenly court."
Here, God is pictured dividing the boundaries of the nations so that each will have it's appointed place, and this includes the nation of Israel. God considered time and history along one line, so Paul told the Athenians in Acts 17:
"26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. 27 His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him..." Paul has earlier tied this to the fact that God created all things. God's creative acts did not stop with the sixth day of creation, He also set boundaries that would allow all to find their way to Him. It was the boundaries of Israel, as His chosen inheritance from among all the nations He had set up, who would receive His special attention.
So, Moses is teaching that God chose the nation of Israel with love and care to feed them and carry them where He wanted them to be. This idea is that as God wanted all men to find Him, His love is seen in choosing and caring for Israel. The fact that Israel would fall away and chase after other gods just makes it all the worse for them. But, Moses is, in verse 11, describing God's choice of Israel to be his own possession; it is a tender description of a mother eagle caring for her young.
The picture is further enhanced when we consider Isaiah 31:
"5 The LORD of Heaven’s Armies will hover over Jerusalem
and protect it like a bird protecting its nest.
He will defend and save the city;
he will pass over it and rescue it.”
The context of this pictures God working in history in a direct way for His chosen people. In Deuteronomy 32, God is shown choosing His inheritance, now He will come to it's defense. For me, there is a chain of thought that runs from God ordering creation, to His ordering history, to choosing an inheritance from that ordering of history, to His rising to the defense of that chosen inheritance. It is all encapsulated in the picture of the Spirit of God hovering over the world, over Israel, and over Jerusalem. It is this chain of thought that intrigues me; it all involves God working to bring about His will and display His power. In doing this, we discover, show, prove (however you want to put it) that God is consistent in all He does; which brings us back to Jesus teaching to Nicodemus on a dark night in Jerusalem, the same place that God was now protecting. It all seems to run in a circle with God in the middle, and that is as it should be.
The relevant story line is found in 2 Kings 18 and 19, 2 Chronicles 32:1-23, and Isaiah chapters 36 and 37. Hezekiah started out as one who sought to follow God, and to put away the foreign gods, abolishing the filthy practices involved in their worship ceremonies. In his sixth year, the Assyrians came and destroyed Samaria and the Norther tribes of Israel. Hezekiah had earlier refused to pay tribute to Assyria, so now Assyrian wrath came up Jerusalem. Hezekiah prepared his defenses, and ensured an adequate water supply for the people, then had to watch as the Assyrians destroyed much of what was left of Judah and surrounded Jerusalem.
In response, Hezekiah sought God in prayer, and God answered by destroying the Assyrian army besieging Jerusalem. During one night, an angel of the Lord came and killed 185, 000 Assyrian soldiers. The remainder of the army fled back to Assyria. God had answered Hezekiah's prayer, fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 31, and protected Jerusalem form the roaring lions that threatened it. God's love finds expression here. The time line moves from creation to Moses on a hilltop to Jerusalem during a brutal way to Jesus on a housetop in the same Jerusalem. The love of God is not constrained by time but moves through it.
There is also what I call a loop-back through to creation, and that is in Jesus Christ as John called Him, the Word who creates and fellowships with God. The Jesus on the housetop who spoke John 3:16 is the same one who spoke creation. He was there, hovering thoughtfully over the roaring waters of the dark deep. He put order into His plan, and sent love along as an expression of His power to fellowship with His creation. This was not a Pantheism, God contained in creation, but 'Theism' entering into creation from a point outside of what He created. The difference is illustrated on a cross planted in a hill outside Jerusalem.The empty tomb was the true doorway into the arms of a loving, patient Creator.