home > Pastor’s Desk > 2021 >  September > THERE’S MORE TO OUR WORLD THAN MEETS THE EYE

THERE’S MORE TO OUR WORLD THAN MEETS THE EYE

It’s easy to miss the weight of the opening verse of the Bible –

This opening verse of the Bible tells us some obvious things about the world we live in, such as – the universe had a beginning. This point was, for a long time, mocked and dismissed by so-called enlightened scientists in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries until the discoveries of red-shift, dark energy, and cosmic microwave background radiation, which have all proven that the cosmos had a beginning at a measurable moment in the universe’s past.

Prof. Roger Penrose

Prof. Roger Penrose, Nobel Prize winner.

This point was reluctantly affirmed by Prof. Stephen Hawking, who together with Prof. Roger Penrose proved that the universe must have begun with a ‘big bang’. Hawking later wrote this research into a popular book, A Brief History of Time. But recognising the theological implications of this discovery (since it confirmed Genesis 1:1), Hawking who later divorced his evangelical wife, Jane Wilde, spent the rest of his life attempting to disprove his discovery so that he could disprove the existence of God. He posthumously he published Brief Answers To Big Questions in 2018 in which he claimed that “there was no possibility for the existence of God”. Hawking had many critics of his notion that the laws of gravity created the universe. In effect, he ended his life being unable to disprove the existence of God. But this is not the point that I want to make from the opening verse of the Bible.

Genesis 1:1 also gives He who had no introduction, God, the credit for beginning the universe. For those familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia, in The Silver Chair, Aslan says,

“‘I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,’ said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it” (C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair, Apple Books, p. 35).

In the same way, Genesis 1:1 reveals that God created every molecule in the universe but not as if it was a boast — it just state it as a fact. This opening verse of The Ultimate Story doesn’t make a claim, it reports a fact — that God, the One who is outside of the material cosmos and its four dimensions, created the four dimensions comprising: matter, space, energy and time. However, there is one significant clue within the Hebrew word translated as ‘God’ in this verse that should cause the reader to reflect deeply. God, Elohim (אֱלֹהִ֑ים), is not presented as El (a singular Hebrew word for God), but in its plural form – Elohim. The reader should not be confused into thinking that this plural form of El (Elohim) is polytheism (many Gods) nor is it pantheism (the impersonal universe is God). This is one God who is: perfectly united as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (“Let us make man in our image…” Gen. 1:26), personal (He speaks, Gen. 1:26), and is the Creator of the universe (which means He cannot be the universe — which is known as pantheism). It turns out, according to the doctoral research of Dr. Michael S. Heiser, that “Elohim” means heavenly beings. Before God created the universe and its various dimensions, the only heavenly beings were the members of the eternal Godhead (Father, Son and Spirit), but later included a host of created beings who formed a type of council with Yahweh.

Thus, Genesis 1:1 is accurate when it ascribes the creation of the multi-dimensional cosmos to Elohim since the uncreated Godhead were the original and founding members. But this reveals something very special about the heart of Yahweh: He has always been in community. And as we track through the Scriptures how Yahweh created beings that populated the realm of heaven around His throne, we see that these heavenly beings became God’s heavenly family. The Bible even designates some of these more powerful created heavenly beings as “the sons of God”.

¶ Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Satan also came among them.
Job 1:6

And while this is an important point to note about the opening verse of the Bible, I really wanted to draw your attention to the word, heavens. This means that there was at least two dimensions of heaven, and because of Paul’s description of God’s throne-room (Psalm 103:19) being the third heaven (2Cor. 12:2) there must at least be three designations of heaven

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.
Second Corinthians 12:2

The Scriptures refer to the sky, particularly the night-sky, as heaven. (Gen. 1:20; 15:5; 1Chron. 27:23; Psalm 8:3). Presumably this is the first heaven. The apostle Paul refers to the realm where spiritual beings interact with our physical dimension as heavenly places (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12). Presumably this is what we might artificially call the second heaven. And probably what Paul then refers to as the third heaven is the domain where evil spiritual beings no longer have access, is the very presence of God. It is also referred to in the Scriptures as the highest heaven (1Kings 8:27; Psalm 148:4).  

 

It seems that before God created mankind, He had created a heavenly family composed of powerful, intelligent, volitional (able to make decisions and act upon them) created beings. We get a later glimpse of the vast numbers of created heavenly beings who fill the Third Heaven of God’s realm in Revelation 5:11- 

¶ Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands
Revelation 5:11

We get another glimpse of a scene of the highest heaven, in Isaiah 6, where Isaiah the prophet is shown God on His throne surrounded by magnificent heavenly creatures who serve Yahweh as heaven‘s worship leaders whose presence invoke great awe of God.

¶ In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above Him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” ¶ And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Isaiah 6:1-4

But it seems that God also created a special category of heavenly beings who would watch over (they were called “watchers” Daniel 4:13) and guide the future creation of mankind on earth. These incredibly powerful creatures were given appropriate abilities to be able to interact with mankind. They appear to have been trans-dimensional — that is, they could appear in physical form in this dimension in which we exist, and they could translate back into the second heaven (and originally they could each also translate into the Third Heaven to appear before God as alluded to in Job 1). It seems that Yahweh entrusted to each of these Watchers, also referred to as “the holy ones” and “the sons of God” (Deut. 32:8) and as “Elohim” (Psalm 82:6-7), authority over a nation each, and the right to decree certain governmental decisions-

The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’
Daniel 4:17

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He divided mankind, He fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
Deuteronomy 32:8

At some stage, a cohort of these Watchers left their assigned stations and rebelled against the Most High when they shape-shifted into humanoids who then lusted after and seduced gullible women and sired the half-breed nephilim (Gen. 6:2-4) and were doomed to eternal damnation for their wickedness — some of the more powerful beings were too dangerous to be allowed to remain unfettered until the day of damnation and they were, according to Peter “imprisoned in chains in outer darkness” (2Peter 2:4; Jude 6) — the fate the rest will be carried out at the completion of Yahweh’s plan of redemption is consummated at the Judgment “on the last day” (John 6:39, 40, 44; 11:24; 12:48). This is why the forces of evil will do anything to stop the people of God from fulfilling Yahweh’s plan of redemption. Because, when this happens their eternal doom will be enacted and apparently they aren’t too keen for this to happen. It’s why our evangelism—especially our collaborative evangelism—is so critically needed and urgent. And all of this understanding is drawn out of a deep biblical reflection into Genesis 1:1. It just goes to show that Genesis 1:1 reveals that there is much more to this world than meets the eye!

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

3 Comments

  1. John Sands

    Thank you for this. It is unnecessary for someone’s salvation and living life, but wonderful for helping one to understand and enjoy scriptures and life even more.

    I value this scholarship which is more than just knowledge for its own sake.

    It also adds veracity for doubtful readers. Would be a challenge to Jehovah’s Witnesses. I suspect that Christadelphians would love it

    Reply
  2. LYDIA

    Thank you! The Scriptures are truly incredible. God’s love is immeasurable. Another few pieces of the box lid…

    Reply
  3. Richard Brunning

    Thank you Andrew for that insight into the deep meaning of Genesis 1:1. Somewhat over my head, but I can begin to understand that our Father, Son and Holy Spirit are proven to be the Creator.

    Reply

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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

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A CERTAIN GOD

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It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

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This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.