Biblical Creativity 3b (cont.): A Closer Look at Seeds

What is a seed?

A seed is a stored program.  A program is a set of instructions for doing something.  A seed stores a set of instructions for making a plant of some sort.  An acorn contains a set of instructions for making an oak, a hazelnut for making a hazel tree, etc.  So God’s idea was to enable plants to reproduce themselves by storing the instructions for making a new one in a secure capsule called a seed.seeds

The seed is perfectly designed to keep the information safe.  Keeping information safe in the event of an apocalypse is one of the things that mankind is concerned about.   The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is part of a global effort to preserve information and secure food supplies in the event of a nuclear winter or something equally as catastrophic. We can argue about how pointless that might be another time.

Seeds can last for millennia without decay and still work when planted in the right conditions.  They contain humidity, gravity and light sensors which constantly monitor external conditions.  When the right conditions occur the stored program is started and a plant begins to be born out of the death of the seed itself.

One of the reasons I think that God created seeds and plants first before He even made the Sun, Moon and stars is because a seed is such a fundamental idea:

  • We speak of something being seminal in the sense that it is the seed of an idea that gives birth to a whole series of consequences.  God’s idea of making seeds is, of course, the most fundamental of those ideas.
  • Jesus describes seeds as like the words of God.  If seeds fall into the right type of soil then they produce multiplicative fruit, seeds upon seeds.  Similarly if God’s word falls on the right type of soil in our hearts it also will produce fruit.  (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8 -see also my previous blog on this subject).
  • The idea of a stored program is fundamental to all creation.  It is only in the last few decades that we have discovered just how fundamental it is.  Every person has a unique identity contained in our genes, stored in the DNA in every cell of our body more efficiently than any storage method man has yet devised. If you were to take any cell in your body and put it under a microscope it could be identified as yours.  The same applies to every single person in the world (except identical twins – but even they are unique because of other genetic factors).

Unfortunately I haven’t studied enough genetics to really explore this fascinating aspect of creation in more depth.  But there is more than enough in what I do know to cause me to gasp in wonder at God’s creativity.

Surely with such creativity in our Maker it is surprising we are not far more creative ourselves?  I believe that creativity is released in us as we connect more closely with the creator, think His thoughts after Him and seek to implement them into the fabric of our everyday lives.

Can I encourage you to go and seek the creative Face of God?

He has – perhaps surprising and unexpected – creative answers to your daily dilemmas.

 

Biblical Creativity: Day 3a Motion

On Day 3 God introduces us to flow or motion for the first time.  This has the very significant effect of enabling the materials that were in suspension in the water from the beginning to separate out and so the dry land appears.

I’m loving this.  The elegance, comprehensiveness and beauty of the creation account is staggering:

In the beginning God creates all the materials (elements) that He wants to work with.  They exist in an amorphous watery mess suspended on nothing in darkness.  The Spirit is pregnant with ideas and the Word then is spoken.

On Day 1 the framework of time and space is spoken into being and light is the measuring tool that constrains and simultaneously illuminates everything.

On Day 2 space is created and so now objects can be made.  The first distinguishable objects are the heavens and the earth.

On the first part of Day 3 God introduces the idea of motion.  The earth (and everything else) spins and (just like in a centrifuge) dry land appears.

Now God has the base on which He can start making beautiful things.

Biblical Creativity: Day 2 Space

The concept of space is so fundamental we can easily miss its significance.  If there was no space there could be no objects.  You, I, trees, rocks and any of the myriad objects that exist can only exist in the context of their being a thing called space between them.

So the second day’s creation of this simple thing called space is as fundamental as the concept of light to all creation.  Without light we can neither see nor understand anything.  Without space we cannot even be defined.

The first thing God defines using space is the difference between the heavens and the earth.  These are the two fundamental objects of God’s project of creation.

In the world of programming where I work, man has also understood the fundamental importance of objects.  Object oriented programming is a way of understanding how to create anything in software and is based on this concept of defined entities with space between them.  The creation of space enables the creation of objects.

So you’ve taken space for granted but what an astonishing idea!

What are the fundamental objects of your project?

Biblical Creativity: GOD said

In my last post on this subject I looked at the raw materials God had to work with when creating everything.  Quite surprisingly the only raw material is water which somehow seems to have been there without God having yet said or done anything.

Peter says this about how it all happened:

They deliberately forget that God made the heavens long ago by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

2 Peter 3: 5-7

In the beginning God made the heavens and the earth and somehow there is water there from which the earth was brought out.  Before the flood a lot of that water circulated the earth.  The flood brought it down and now it is buried beneath the surface and the oceans cover 80% of the earth’s surface.  But that is a study for another time.

Back in Genesis 1:3 we see the creation proper starting with “And God said: Let there be light.”  We know from John’s gospel that the Word that was spoken with all that creative power is actually Jesus (John 1).  When God speaks He manifests His image and in a sense – from our point of view at least – begets His Son.  Of course Jesus was always there but He is not manifested to us until God speaks.  And the first thing God speaks is “Let there be light.”

Light is also a synonym for understanding – without Jesus we would have no understanding of God so that is the first gift God gives us all.

It should be noted that this light has nothing to do with the sun which isn’t created until the fourth day.  This seems counter intuitive – everyone knows that the day starts when the light from the sun appears above the horizon.  Be that as it may we also know that light fundamentally frames everything we do.  Space and time are constrained by the speed of light.  Nothing can go faster than it.  As you approach the speed of light it always looks to you like it is travelling at the same speed.  Eventually time stops when you go that fast.  I mentioned all this in my last blog. So it is fitting that light frames the first idea of time, that of the day (with no sun involved).

So this first day light is more fundamental than the sun or any other source of light.

A practical application when you are creating anything is to start with making it clear what you are doing.  Communication is everything.  Unless there is first understanding (light) between all the parties involved nothing else can happen.

God said and so must we if we are to create anything.

Biblical Creativity

There can’t be a better way of being creative than the way God is creative.

So let’s look at His creative ways.  And no better place to start than with the Creation.

In the beginning God

So in the beginning means at the start of something which by definition introduces space -time for the first time in space.  All the theories and observations to date indicate that space and time are related by a constant called “c” which is the speed of light.  Nothing can go faster than the speed of light.  The closer you get to the speed of light the slower time goes until it eventually stops (which is why you can’t go any faster).  My favourite experiment that shows this is in this video.

So that was the first thing God put in place – a frame of measurement and constraints.

Likewise, when we are creating anything the first things we need to consider are where we are going to do it and when.  And we also need to take into account the fact that we are constrained – we don’t have infinite time or space available to us.  We need to know how much of each we have and the relationship between the two.  How much space do I have to do this in and how much time.

The heavens and the earth

God then made the base context of all the future creativity, the heavens and the earth.  Heavens and earth are the fundamental context in which He was going to do everything else.

Likewise when we are being creative we need to start with the fundamentals of what we are working with.   The heavens represent abstract things which we are not able to put our hands on, ideas mainly.  The earth represents the material things we have to work with.  Abstract ideas and material things are the context in which we all work.

The earth was formless and empty

Raw materials are always this way at the beginning of any creation.

And darkness covered the deep waters

No matter where we have been in the universe to date we have discovered water.  NASA even says that the universe is awash with water which keeps turning up in surprising places.  It seems that the formless and empty universe was a ball of water initially.  I imagine God with a ball of water in His hands in the beginning.

God didn’t need to see it (he knows his creation without light) but He somehow conceived that His creation would need to “see” it.  So the concept of darkness is introduced, i.e. the absence of something. Something is missing, e.g. understanding, light.

Likewise at the beginning of a creative project we have raw materials and some ideas but we need to understand better what we are going to create – we need to be able to see it.

And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters

And to see something creatively we need inspiration, a spark of creative genius.  Call it what you will, none of us can create without the inspiration of a spirit.  We see this all around us.  People talk about man’s spirit, devils, angels and the Holy Spirit inspiring all sorts of things.  Ultimately nothing happens without the consideration, the brooding of a spirit on the ideas and the materials.  Understanding starts here.

When you are being creative, what inspires you?

Scarlet Yarn

There was a lot of Old Testament ritual going on around the time of Jesus’ death on the cross.  One of these rituals was that of the Red Heifer found in Numbers 19.  There is a man involved in that ritual who was neither a priest nor a levite but who yet had a very significant role.  Some of the following is speculation.  It presumes that the Red Heifer ritual was occurring at the same time as Jesus’ crucifixion and that the man involved saw both things happening.  By putting the two events together like this we can see how this picture in the Old Testament points to Christ like so many pictures do.

 

The red heifer lowed and complained as it was brought outside the city walls.  Unlike the lambs that were sacrificed in the temple it wasn’t silent as it was led to the slaughter.  It was just like any other animal in that sense.  Otherwise it wasn’t a normal animal.  It had to be specially bred.  It was chosen from birth and reared for this day of its death.

I slaughtered the red heifer in the place chosen.  I could see the man from there, hanging on the cross.  The soldiers had even taken some of the sacred hyssop from the priest as he was coming out with it and used it when offering him a sedative.  Which he refused.  Why anyone would refuse that when going through such pain I couldn’t understand.

As I had been instructed and as my predecessors had done for the last 1500 years I burnt up the red heifer’s carcass, dung and all.   The priest then added the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop he had brought.  The wood reminded me of the cross on which that man was hanging.

I saw the soldiers gamble for his tunic.  It was full of scarlet yarn like the piece the priest had thrown in the fire.  Scarlet from blood.  Isaiah’s words come to my mind as I watch them:

“Though your sins are like scarlet they shall be as white as snow.”

The ashes of the red heifer were mixed with the ashes of the cedar wood, the scarlet yarn and the hyssop and mixed with water to make the water of purification.  This was the whole point of that red heifer’s sacrifice.  That water would then be used if anyone was in contact with dead bodies, had a skin disease or was accused of adultery.

Leviticus! The Totality of His Forgiveness

Jesus’ death on the cross changed the ground rules of what it means to sin forever.  Before His death the Law reigned and sin produced spiritual death through the knowledge of the Law (read Paul’s letter to the Romans chapters 6-8).  This started when a commandment was given to Adam and Eve which they broke and therefore sinned and death entered the world through that sin.

However, Paul says that when Christ died, the Law (and we also) died with Him so that there is no longer any such thing as transgression (Romans 7).  So really now it doesn’t matter what you do right?  Actually that is right in theory but in practice the law of sin and death has been replaced by the new law of love.

If you really believe that God so loved you as to give His only Son to die for your sins there is no way that you should want to do anything that wouldn’t please Him.  Like any one in love with another person the ideal is that you couldn’t do anything to hurt them.  You want to follow them to the end of the earth.

However in practice people don’t always act consistently over their whole lives with the ideal.  So what then?  Well then it is a question of your will.

So you decide.  Things are tough.  Jesus perhaps hasn’t come through for you in the way you expected Him to.  Where do you turn to now?  Do you turn to someone else?  Do you expect them to save you from the predicament you find yourself in?  Will they?

The answer is no.  Expecting anyone to fill the gap in your life that only God can fill is idolatry.  The first commandment is, like all the commandments now, not a law but a promise.  If you have been born from above, you have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come.  From now on nothing else will do.

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

 “For in just a little while,
    the Coming One will come and not delay.

And my righteous ones will live by faith.
    But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away.” (Habakkuk 2:3-4)

 

We are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.

Dear friends, even though I am talking this way, I really don’t believe it applies to you. I am confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers as you still do. My great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true.

Yes the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews puts it better than ever I could. Please read chapters 6 and 10 of Hebrews to see the context in which I write these blogs.

Leviticus! The Greatest Challenge

Willful Sin after you are born again is not covered by the Sacrifice of Jesus!

If you have read the Letter to the Hebrews you will have come across some very hard passages.  After having explained at length the removal of the need for animal sacrifices by the one great sacrifice of Jesus (Hebrews 7:26 – 10:25), the writer then goes on to say what that Sacrifice does not cover – willful sin:

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgement.” (Hebrews 10:26-27a).

And it doesn’t get any better from there.

In saying this the writer is only being consistent with what Moses wrote in Leviticus.  The animal sacrifices there also do not cover willful sin.  There are a litany of sins the Sacrifice does cover but the ones covered by sacrifice alone are the unintentional ones (see Leviticus 4:2, 13, 22, 27).

I think if we are honest we know this.  No where in the Great News of Jesus’ death for us on Calvary as declared in the Scriptures is there any indication that it enables us to do what we want.  Quite the opposite.  In these days where so many worship songs and the atmosphere of the country we live in all pours out “Freedom” as the untouchable mantra, the idea of being a slave to either sin or righteousness can get quite unpopular.

If you think that only the writer to the Hebrews deals with this then you haven’t read much of the New Testament.  Have a look at 1 John 5:16 for instance.

If you take a simplistic view of sin and make no distinctions between willful and unintentional sins then you are bound to be confused.

I believe that a careful reading of Leviticus will clear up that confusion.

Jesus’ sacrifice does cover a lot of the sins we commit after we are born again.

Sacrifice also plays a role in some intentional sins but even then the sins have an unwitting or unintentional part to them.  Examples are not testifying about some crime you have witnessed (Leviticus 5:1), touching unclean things (5:2,3) or saying you will do something and not doing it (5:4,5).  However, in each of the above cases confession is also required.  Jesus’ Sacrifice on its own is not enough even though without it we are lost.  Confession is not enough either, you have to have both.  As it says in the apostle John’s first letter:

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

If you are not born again all this could appear to be foolishness.

I am going to continue this series by looking at what Leviticus says is and isn’t covered by the Sacrifice.  That doesn’t mean that you should go around analysing everything you do to see if it fits into one category or another.  If you are born again you know in your heart when you are out of sync with the Holy Spirit.  A lot of the things mentioned in Leviticus such as confession, restitution, willful sin and restoration you will do without needing to know the chapter and verses that apply to them.

But if you are like me and love the way the Scriptures, Old and New Testament, consistently reveal the nature of God then you might want to follow along.

Leviticus! Yes, but the Letter to the Hebrews is better.

If you are reading my posts on Leviticus up to now please also read the Letter to the Hebrews. It explains much better than I can what Leviticus is all about. The foundations of understanding all of Leviticus are there especially from Chap. 7 v. 26 through to the end of Chap. 10.
These foundations are:
1. There is no need for the sacrifices of Leviticus now since Jesus has offered up Himself as the perfect sacrifice once for all (Hebrews 7:27; 9:11-15, 24-28; 10:10-18)
2. The place of most significance where the blood of Jesus was sprinkled was not the physical place outside the old walls of Jerusalem.  The significant real place that Jesus’ blood was sprinkled was the true tabernacle in heaven of which the one described in Exodus and Leviticus is but a copy (Hebrews 8:2, 5; 9:11, 23, 24).