Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Shout of the Sunrise (Part 1)

The Shout of the Sunrise
(Part one of 2)
I have a favorite picture of my wife and me with two of our daughters taken early one morning in South India. We’re standing on the roof of a hotel at Cape Comorin, at the very southern tip of India. The four of us are in silhouette against the beautiful morning sunrise. As we watched the sun come up over the Bay of Bengal, it was an amazing light show.

The beauty, color, and intricacy of nature tend to inspire us. People everywhere pause, gaze, and comment on the sheer glory of what they’re seeing. Some write poems or compose songs. The Bible says, “They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of your signs; You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.”
[1] The word translated “signs” in Psalm 65:8 is interesting. The Hebrew word is “oth,” which can also be translated flag, beacon, or evidence. The point is these attention-getting events communicate a message to us. God shines like a beacon, or lighthouse, each morning and evening. He waves a flag to get our attention. These “oth” are evidence that, “I am here. I am big. What you are seeing reflects who I am.”

Scripture is telling us that the Lord gives man daily evidence of His reality. The rising and the setting of the sun are two of these signs. They literally “shout for joy” to those who are watching them. As a heavenly drum roll to begin the day and solemn bugle call to end it, we look on admiringly. There is no music; no voice is heard, yet for us that morning at Cape Comorin, the sunrise literally shouted with joy to our family.

Modern Thinking

Today, many disagree with the biblical claim that God communicates to us through natural events. Science can break down a sunrise into its components and explain why it happens. Sunrises, and natural events, are reducible to basic physical principles. Given these elements of angle, light, clouds, the earth’s atmosphere and rotation, it is no wonder that a sunrise or sunset occurs! Unfortunately, the fashion today is proving that a rising sun is “no wonder.” In this climate of scientific reductionism modern man has minimized God in our perception. Man-centered secularism says the sunrise and sunset are natural and just ‘happen’ given all the conditions that have evolved. Claiming proof for a Creator in nature is labeled hogwash.

This perspective is the result of decades of humanistic, post-Christian worldview. Denial of evidence for God in the universe around us leaves us with an evolutionary worldview. A God who is mighty enough to create everything would be scary to many. That would mean He is really God, and cannot be ignored. So man promotes the notion of a god that fits his lifestyle and that can be controlled. Learned men pay attention to the whys and hows of the universe and interpret what they learn to explain away God. The Biblical account is ridiculed. Influential scientists, professors, intellectuals and even judges say there is no evidence for design in the universe. Those who deny design in the facts of nature around us, are like those who the Psalmist says “…do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord, nor do they consider the work of His hands.”
[2]

The Biblical Perspective

We were meant to consider the works of Gods hands! The Christian believes that the entire creation “shouts for joy” that God exists. Well did Isaiah say, “That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the … Holy One of Israel has created it.”
[3] This was evident to scientists in the past such as Johannes Kepler. He said, “The chief aim of all investigations of the external world should be to discover the rational order and harmony which has been imposed on it by God.”[4] He saw science’s role as studying Gods creation, not explaining God out of it!

As we turn to the words of Scripture, we learn over and over that the very creation itself is a “sign,” or evidence for mankind to see, hear, smell, and sense. Literally all creation exists to reveal God, the Creator. Rick Warren writes, “The ultimate goal of the universe is to show the glory of God… Where is the glory of God? Just look around. Everything created by God reflects his glory in some way. We see it everywhere, from the smallest microscopic form of life to the vast Milky Way, from sunsets and stars to storms and seasons. Creation reveals our Creator’s glory.”
[5]

What is True?

So this is the modern debate. Many people oppose the biblical view of God’s revelation in nature and deny evidence for design. Yet we Christians sing, “...early in the morning, I will celebrate the light...” [6] as we observe the beauty of a sunrise. Two opposing views! What does the evidence suggest? Does reality, that which is observed, support the Biblical account or the naturalistic explanations that began with ´´the Age of Enlightenment and Newton’s mechanical description of the universe? ``
[7] We turn in the next installment to proofs in support of the biblical account.


References[1] Psalm 65:8 (NASB)[2] Isaiah 5:12-13 (NASB)[3] Isaiah 41:20 (NASB)[4] Charles Colson, “Developing a Christian World View of Science and Evolution, (Tyndale House Publishers, 2001) p 17[5] Rick Warren, “The Purpose Driven Life,” (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002) p 53-54[6] Marc Byrd & Steve Hindalong, “God of Wonders”, Copyright 2000 by New Spring
Publishing

[7] Norman L. Geisler & Chad V. Meister, `Reasons for Faith, Making a Case for the Christian Faith, (Secunderabad, India, Authentic Books, 2007) p 219

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Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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I've served as a life-long missionary in Samoa, the Pacific region, India, and now in Pennsylvania. The Christian faith is reasonable and works in real life. It is true to the facts. Hope you enjoy some of the thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

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