How does the Holy Spirit engage with us?
For Christians it's the hottest chestnut of them all, so much so that most believers don't touch it for fear of getting their fingers burnt. To take one of the two traditional positions is to lay yourself open either to ridicule or righteous anger. Many take refuge in compromise, but is that just a cop-out? It's time we thought hard about this issue and did some research.
Abraham, Moses, Joshua and King Josiah all believed in a literal six day Creation. Well of course they did, they had no evidence to believe anything else. And there's the central issue: evidence. Evidence is defined as something that helps us to reach a conclusion. Let's take it a little further. Is the Bible a book to be open to new evidence? Was it God's plan to make the Bible pliable enough to allow for new interpretations as soon as mankind had new knowledge, or evidence, to re-evaluate things? Or is the Bible fixed in stone, plain in its interpretation and rigid and uncompromising in its message, regardless of the advances in human discoveries and thinking? We will return to those thoughts a little later on.
In those early "Days of Torah" at the time of Joshua, all believed that God created the World in six days. These stories would have been passed down from generation to generation. Dare we believe that they could even have been traced back to Adam regaling Seth and his other kids with stories of when he, himself, had spoken to God Himself, from the days when they walked together in the garden in the cool of the day.
Of course the Israelites were also exposed to other ideas. The Canaanites, like many ancient cultures, saw their gods and goddesses as forever fighting and procreating, primarily looking after their own interests and providing mankind with incidental benefits, such as the creation of the land, the sea and everything else. These crude imaginings just pale into total insignificance, when judged against the sheer majesty of Creation by the loving and all-powerful Father God of the Hebrews. It is very hard to believe the Children of Israel being seduced by these alternative scenarios, although undoubtedly some succumbed, seduced in a very real sense by the sexual aspects of the pagan worship to Baal and Astoreth.
By the time we arrive at the time of the Kings of Judah and Israel, the Hebrews would have been exposed to the Creation myths of all of the people who lived with them and alongside them. Some Babylonians believed in a fight between a young god, Marduk, and the ocean, which is defeated and split in two, providing the Earth and the sky. Man is subsequently created from the blood of one out of the defeated army. Sumerians put themselves at the centre of the Creation. One Egyptian myth has a god extruding bodily fluids, which became Earth and sky, born in a state of copulation! Another Egyptian myth involves an egg laid upon a mound of dirt by a heavenly bird.
But again, we must match these against the Biblical Creation story told at the start of Genesis. The Bible story alone is free of the human concerns of sex, war and national pride and just rings true, as a result. Without endowing the Creator with human characteristics or failings it provides the simple narrative of a holy, separate, benign and loving God speaking the Universe, the Earth, life and mankind into existence over a six day period.
We now progress to the days of the early Church. Jesus, as already mentioned, was a creationist by virtue of the fact that, as the Creator, he remembered the act of Creation.
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. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17).
There are other clues. First from the mouth of Jesus:
Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. (Luke 11:50-51)
Here Jesus places the affairs of man firmly at the beginning of the World i.e. quite soon after Creation. Then Paul seems to agree with this:
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. (Romans 1:20)
It all seemed so straightforward in those very early days of the Church, the Jewish years, when Holy Scripture alone sufficed to provide one with a worldview. But then, along came the Greeks...
(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Truth: And How it Can Find it again)
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Watch the above video by Steve Maltz - "Hebrew Roots - Bondage or freedom?".
Watch the above video by Steve Maltz - "Jesus from a Hebraic Perspective".