Timing IS Everything

Please read 2 Peter 3:8-10 in your Bible.  I’ve used the NIV to prepare these remarks.

In a message entitled “Timing is Everything” Rev. Bruce Goettsche wrote, “You have probably heard the phrase many times, ‘timing is everything’. There is a great deal of truth in that statement.

“The difference between a good joke and a bad one is a person’s sense of timing.  An appropriate pause makes a joke . . . an inappropriate pause can kill the same joke.

“Timing is essential when dealing with people. You don’t ask for a raise when business is not going well or when things are tense around the office. You don’t try to correct someone who feels threatened by you. You don’t ask for a favor when someone is under a lot of stress or angry.

“Timing is important in cooking.  The juicy hamburger on the grill is raw meat if cooked for too little time and a clump of charcoal if it is cooked too long.

“Timing is important in your spiritual life as well.  Jesus was very conscious of timing. He lived His life with an acute awareness of God’s timing for His life. The gospel of John records these words of Jesus,

  1. John 2:4 ‘My time has not yet come’
  2. John 7:6 ‘The right time for me has not yet come’
  3. John 7:30; 8:20 ‘His time had not yet come’

“Peter tells us that the second coming of the Christ is a matter of timing. God has not sent Christ back to earth yet because ‘he wants everyone to come to repentance’.  God is waiting until everyone who will come to Christ, does.”

REVIEW

  1. We are called to be Saints among Scoffers (3:1-7).

NEW

  1. God’s timing is not your timing (3:8-10).

God is eternal; we are stuck in the present (8).  This is one of Peter’s rebuttals of the SCOFFERS – a theological one – God relates to time differently than we do.  All discussions of timing – including the arrival of the Second Coming of Jesus – need to account for this.  Peter is referenced Psalms 90:4, which says, FOR A THOUSAND YEARS ARE LIKE A DAY THAT HAS GONE BY, OR LIKE A WATCH IN T NIGHT.

The word “eternal” does not mean an unlimited amount of time; it is not exactly a synonym for the word “forever.”  Instead, “eternal” means timeless.  God is eternal in that He transcends time; He is not affected by the passage of time nor limited to any one time.

In a sense, God is always in the present moment; He exists in all times simultaneously.  We say that God is present in all places simultaneously (“omnipresence”) and we can also say God is present at all times simultaneously (“omnitemporal…?”).

Back to verse eight.  Peter is saying, “These SCOFFERS who accuse God of being late don’t know God.  He is never late because he is always present.”  That’s why Peter urged his readers DO NOT FORGET this important truth.  Because God is who He is, no one can accuse Him of lateness.  So the gap between the promise of the Second Coming and its fulfillment cannot be explained as some failing in God or something lacking in our faith.  Peter offers the true explanation in verse nine.

God is patient; we want it done yesterday (9).  God is neither late nor slow; instead He is PATIENT.  God is neither unwilling nor unable; instead He is giving people opportunity to repent so the Second Coming will be a day of life, not death.  The fact that the Second Coming has not yet happened is not to be misinterpreted as the SCOFFERS have done (AS SOME UNDERSTAND SLOWNESS).  Instead, it is a demonstration of God’s patience. There is a lot of biblical evidence for the patience of God; see Exodus 34:6; Numbers 13:18; Psalm 86:15; Jeremiah 15:15; Romans 2:4; 9:22 as examples.

The reason God shows patience is bound up in His desire to see all people repent and be saved.  The will of God is made clear in this verse; God’s will is for all people to be saved.

However, God is not going to save anyone against their own will.  He has delegated authority to us in the form of free will.  We decide for ourselves whether or not we accept His gracious gift of salvation.  I explain it this way: Salvation is 99% God’s action and 1% our reaction.  However, our 1% is the deciding factor.  With our one percent we either accept God’s salvation in Jesus Christ and have eternal life or we reject it and suffer eternal death.

This means that God cannot be accused of sending anyone to hell; people send themselves by the choice they make.  If God had His way all of us would be saved.  But then that free will thing is toast.

The Lord is coming; the world is ending (10).  Peter issued two warnings to the SCOFFERS.  One, Jesus’ second appearing will be something they won’t see coming while in their present frame of mind: it will surprise them LIKE A THIEF in the night.  Two, it will have a deadly outcome where they are concerned; they will be destroyed with FIRE.

While the Second Coming is something we are to anticipate every day, when it happens it will be without any obvious warning.

We install locks and security systems to guard against thieves, but they don’t call ahead to schedule their appearance at our homes.  Similarly, the SCOFFERS will be surprised at Jesus’ sudden reappearance.  Their decision not to have faith will mean that they did not see this coming.  The expression AS A THIEF is one Peter borrowed from Jesus’ own teaching on this subject (see Luke 12:30, 41).

The phrase DAY OF THE LORD tells us that the Second Coming is a single event that unfolds a series of consequences.  For example, the DAY OF THE LORD is the same event as Judgment Day, as judgment being one of the reasons Jesus will reappear in this way.  Judgment Day is implied in the phrase EVERYTHING DONE IN IT WILL BE LAID BARE.

The other part of this that is hard for the SCOFFERS to wrap their heads around is that reality as we have known it will come to an end.  What is bound by time will be replaced with what is eternal.

THE HEAVENS WILL DISAPPEAR WITH A ROAR is another way of describing the suddenness with which the Second Coming will occur.  Both heaven and earth will come to an end on that day; Peter makes it clear everything will be destroyed by FIRE: THE ELEMENTS WILL BE DESTROYED BY FIRE.  THE ELEMENTS are what we call “atoms” and “molecules,” the basic building blocks of reality.

– In the Bible, FIRE is a symbol of three things.

One, it is a symbol of purification.  Like gold, which is purified by fire, our faith and moral nature are purified by trials and tests (see 1 Peter 1:7).

Two, as the Apostle Paul used it in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, FIRE is a symbol of judgment.  What is not of God does not survive the fire, revealing its true nature.  On Judgment Day, each person’s life will be LAID BARE, the truth of our decision exposed in the way we have lived our lives.  All that survives the fire will survive in the new, eternal heaven and earth.  What is burned up is destroyed.

Three, fire is a biblical symbol of destruction (see verse eleven).

In a message entitled, “Don’t Blame The Judge,” Tim Smith wrote, “God has done everything He possibly can to keep you out of Hell and still leave you as a person with free will. Some Christians argue otherwise that it is in fact God who sends people to hell. But when a criminal is sent to jail, we don’t blame the judge, do we? We blame the criminal. The judge isn’t responsible because he’s just following the law. It was the criminal who broke the law and that’s why they were sent to jail. Likewise, God is bound by who he is, a holy, loving, righteous and just God and by His decision to give us free will and then not violate it by keeping us from making bad decisions. So it’s not God who sends us to hell but our decisions and the repercussions that we must live with.”

<Retrieved from https://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-tim-smith-stories-hell-83766?ref=TextIllustrationSerps on 7/14/17.>

God’s timing is not ours.  Unless we step into Scripture and see things from God’s perspective, we see everything through this very limiting lens of time.  We must understand that things are NOT going to continue forever the way they have been.  Understanding this motivates us to appreciate the urgency of preparing today for an event that will happen tomorrow.  Preparation begins with deciding to accept God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ.

Right from the Beginning #3

(Please read Genesis 1:14-23 from your favored version of the Bible.  I have used the New International Version to prepare these remarks.)

We can approach the subject of the creation from our head or our heart. The head approach attempts to reconcile the creation account with science, delves into the particulars of text in a way to reconcile it with what we know as true and factual about our world.  One example of this approach is the ongoing discussion/debate between creationist, evolutionists, and Intelligent Design theorists.  This is one approach to accessing meaning in the creation account.  Let me share an example with you.

Biochemist Michael Behe (Darwin’s Black Box) argues that many biological systems are “irreducibly complex” at the molecular level. Behe gives the following definition of irreducible complexity:

Behe starts with the example of a mousetrap; he claims that a standard mousetrap is “irreducibly complex”. Such a mousetrap consists of:

1) a flat wooden platform to act as a base

2) a metal hammer, which does the actual job of crushing the little mouse

3) a spring with extended ends to press against the platform and the hammer when the trap is charged

4) a sensitive catch that releases the hammer when slight pressure is applied

5) a metal bar that connects to the catch and charged hammer (there are also assorted staples to hold the system together)

Behe then continues with his logic as to why this system is “irreducibly complex”:

Which part could be missing and still allow you to catch a mouse? If the wooden base were gone, there would be no platform for attaching the other components. If the hammer were gone, the mouse could dance all night on the platform without becoming pinned to the wooden base. If there were no spring, the hammer and platform would jangle loosely, and again the rodent would be unimpeded. If there were no catch or metal holding bar, then the spring would snap the hammer shut as soon as you let go of it…

A mousetrap cannot “evolve” slowly, bit by bit. All of the parts must be in place at the same time. The same with such things as DNA.

<Retrieved from http://www.jameswatkins.com/articles-2/heavy/evolution/ on 10/13/16.>

“Behe is known, besides authoring [this] book, as a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and as a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute‘s Center for Science and Culture.

<Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darwin%27s_Black_Box on 10/13/16.>

That argument has been examined by persons on all sides of the issue.  Studying and discussing Genesis in this way can be very edifying and even fun.

However, that is only half an approach.  We’ve also got to see the creation account with our hearts, relying on the Holy Spirit to lead us into truth accessed by our feelings and intuition.  Allow me to share an example of truth that is accessed by means of the heart.

Lyrics to” GoD and DoG” by Wendy J. Francisco

I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog. Simple spelling G O D, same word backwards, D O G. They would stay with me all day. I’m the one who walks away.

But both of them just wait for me, and dance at my return with glee. Both love me no matter what – divine God and canine mutt. I take it hard each time I fail, but God forgives, dog wags his tail. God thought up and made the dog, dog reflects a part of God. I’ve seen love from both sides now, it’s everywhere, amen, bow wow. I look up and I see God, I look down and see my dog. And in my human frailty…I can’t match their love for me.

<Go to http://www.wendyfrancisco.com/ to see the video.>

Even before I started this series, I have thought about ways to explain why this subject and these Scriptures are so important.  Then I came across the video and it was like God said to me, “You can’t make this important to anyone.  That’s what my Holy Spirit does.”  Here’s the connecting thought:  If you hear the “GoD and DoG” song and you have loved a dog, you get it.  If you hear the words of Genesis and you love the Lord, you get it.  It’s a heart thing as much as it is a head thing.  Yes, we’re approaching it as logically as possible, but my heart’s desire is that you feel the need to believe in creation as much as your head tells you its right.

REVIEW

  1. Before creation: Only God existed (1:1-2)
  2. Creation, Day One: Separating day and night (1:3-5)
  3. Creation, Day Two: Separating sky and sea (1:6-8).
  4. Creation, Day Three: Separating the sea and the land, growing plants on the land (1:9-13).

NEW

  1. Creation, Day Four: Creating heavenly lights (1:14-19).

God said, “LET THERE BE LIGHTS IN THE VAULT OF THE SKY (14).”  Remember from previous messages in this series the ancients’ view of the world where the VAULT is an inverted bowl placed on the surface.  The space between the surface of the earth and the underside of the inverted bowl (VAULT) was called the SKY on day two.

I will also remind you that an emphasis of the creation account in Genesis is on the effectiveness of the word of God: GOD SAID (14)… AND IT WAS SO (15).  This is affirmed in Hebrews 11:3; THE UNIVERSE WAS FORMED AT GOD’S COMMAND.

What purposes do these LIGHTS serve?  The text is not concerned with explaining HOW the heavenly lights create light; that is a concern of science.  This passage is concerned about WHY God created these LIGHTS, and so it explains the functions assigned to them.  There are many; eight in fact.

#1 = TO SEPARATE THE DAY FROM THE NIGHT (14).  This was already done on day one – is this a repeat?  No, because now – on day four – God is continuing His work of organizing what was created earlier: He is organizing the LIGHT into its various natural sources; our sun and other stars.  Another difference between days one & four: The source of the light on day one was not identified.  We guessed that the glory of God shone (this interpretation is supported by Psalm 8:1-3 and other passages that identify the stars as evidence of the glory of God).  These LIGHTS are set in THE VAULT OF THE SKY.

What’s amazing is that God has promised to restore this aspect of creation in the new heavens and earth.  In Revelation 22:5 it is written, THEY WILL NOT NEED THE LIGHT OF A LAMP OR THE LIGHT OF THE SUN, FOR THE LORD GOD WILL GIVE THEM LIGHT.  (See also Revelation 21:23.)

#2 = TO SERVE AS SIGNS (14).  In the Bible, SIGNS are miracles, supernatural acts by which God warns of judgment, motivates the faithful, and authenticates those who truly speak for Him.  The fact that these features of creation serve as SIGNS shows that God is in control; nature can be made to serve supernatural purposes.

#3 = TO MARK SACRED TIMES (14).  These are not seasons in the usual calendar sense, but “seasons” of the religious calendar; the feast and fast days that God would command His people to observe.

#4 = TO MARK DAYS AND YEARS (14).  Throughout human history the sun, moon, and stars have been used to create calendars; to literally mark time.  In the Jewish calendar, the setting of the sun marked the beginning of a new day and a month was marked by a full cycle of the moon.  The stars were used to synchronize solar and lunar calendars.  Remember, creation is all about bringing order to chaos, so creating the calendar is part of that action.

#5 = TO GIVE LIGHT ON THE EARTH (15+17).  We’ve already observed how it is both biblically and scientifically true that light is necessary for life.  This is obviously where sunlight is concerned; in the natural action of photosynthesis, for example.  On a more emotive/intuitive level, LIGHT also brings comfort, allows us to see, and symbolizes the holy presence of God.

#6 = THE GREATER LIGHT TO GOVERN THE DAY (16+18).  Why does the author not name “the sun” here?  That word in ancient languages was misused as a name for an idol.  The author avoids the word to avoid giving them any excuse to worship the sun as a god.

#7 = THE LESSER LIGHT TO GOVERN THE NIGHT (16+18).

Why does the author not name “the moon” here? That word in ancient languages was misused as a name for an idol.  The author avoids the word to avoid giving them any excuse to worship the moon as a god.

#8 = TO SEPARATE LIGHT FROM DARKNESS (18).  The LIGHT and DARKNESS had already been separated on day one.  How is this different?  It is different because now – on day four – the way LIGHT and DARKNESS is perceived and recorded is by means of these newly-made sources of light, not the original source.  The separation remains, but the reason for it has changed.  It’s as if, by closing the VAULT, God cut off the supernatural light from His glory and replaced it with a natural light source.

Remember, the heavenly lights were created to be SIGNS that signified various things.  So, even though time was created on the first day, it is on day four that God gave the heavenly lights to show all the creatures of the earth when each day passed.  They are the natural means by which we measure time and its passing.

  1. Creation, Day Five: Creating animal life in the sea and sky (1:20-23).

LIVING CREATURES is the term also used to describe land animals in the next verse (24) and Adam in 2:7.  Though humans share our origin and some of our nature with animals, this in no way endorses the idea that we are descended from them in the way evolution states.  The key difference is that people are the only creatures who were created in the IMAGE OF GOD (1:27).

Let’s look at the WATER CREATURES first.  While we normally think of typical sea animals like fish and whales and the like, the NIV correctly translates the Heb word tannin as THE GREAT CREATURES OF THE SEA.  There are five OT passages that use this word to describe a creature named “Leviathan” (Job 3:8; 41:1; PSS 74:13-14; 104:26; ISH 27:1).  Think the Loch Ness Monster.

I think the phrase ACCORDING TO THEIR KINDS shows that when Moses wrote CREATURES in the WATER, he intended to include all the usual kinds of aquatic life.  At the same time, he emphasizes this beast that sounds like something out of a dinosaur book or a book of mythology.  Why would He do that?  In all the OT mentions of the Leviathan, the point is that man has no power over the beast, but God has complete power.  As God created it, God commanded it.  Remember, the point of the creation account is not to establish HOW God did it, in the usual scientific sense, but THAT God did it, and WHY He did it.

The SKY CREATURES are specifically identified as BIRDS (20-22), though we know scientifically there other animals that fly or at least glide through the air, and some BIRDS are flightless.  In fact, I read one skeptic who thought the fact that the Bible assigned bats with BIRDS proved the Bible was unscientific and therefore false.  We’ve shown repeatedly that those two things are not the same thing.

Both sea and sky creatures are BLESSED, being told to BE FRUITFUL AND INCREASE IN NUMBER.  This blessing will be repeated for all the land creatures as well.  This blessing implies God’s intention was that His creation should prosper; He did not create it to fail, but as we read in every day but day two, God declared His creation to be GOOD.

This is important as it informs our view of creation.  As God’s children, we should understand that God our Father created all that is and blessed it with prosperity and life and called it good.  We should act in ways that do the same.

On October 12, 2016 Toyota announced that next year they will be selling their Japanese customers a little robot called “Kirobo Mini.”  It is a cute little fellow they describe as “a friend that can sit in your car’s cup holder.” Leo Lutero wrote about it for a website called PSFK.

“The Kirobo Mini is 10-centimeters tall and will bridge the gap between humans and their machines while it sits snugly inside your car’s cup holder.

“At release, the robot can carry out conversations exclusively in Japanese. Hand gestures, facial expression, and even the tone of speaking changes according to the mood of the conversation. Aside from listening, a built-in camera also lets the Kirobo Mini look at who it is talking to and identify people’s facial expressions so it can respond accordingly.

I will spare you all the details of how such a tiny device does all this.  The robot costs $387 and requires the use of an online service that costs $3 a month.  It will be available only in Japan and only at select car dealerships.

“Aside from just providing small talk, the Kirobo Mini can comment about your driving and help you navigate. Just as you pull up the driveway, the robot can remind you that a hot bath is running for you and whatever smart home appliances are activated upon your arrival.

“By providing a humanoid figure, Toyota aims to open up drivers and allow them to reveal their needs more deeply. By allowing drivers to just talk naturally, Toyota might be able to unlock what people demand from modern vehicles.”

This strikes me as pathetic for at least three reasons:

1 – In a culture already too much in love with its toys, here’s a toy that will love you back.

2 – Wearing the mask of a cute little robot, Toyota has found a way to get into the heads of their consumers.  This is a horribly cute way to accomplish a horrible invasion of privacy

3 – Robot companions will never replace human companions; how lonely must you be to have a $400 robot friend?

I feel led to consistently explain and re-explain why we are taking the time to look closely at these creation narratives.  The news of the Kirobo Mini is an illustration of a vital reason for us to understand and apply Genesis.

One side effect of rejecting God as Creator is loneliness.  If we are – as our secularized culture pushes us to accept – just accidents, random bits of genetic code that cause random bits of experience when we accidently bump into one another, then we are truly alone.

If we don’t have a Creator, we also do not have a family of believers and our blood relatives are only related as an act of chance too, so who cares?

People are killing themselves and others because they are so alone they don’t think their actions matter.  They have no higher authority than themselves, so they say and do what they please.

If God is not our Creator, then we are truly lost.  If all that exists did not come into existence by Him, then human lives and the world we share are truly trivial.  We have to get a handle on Genesis and not be distracted or deterred from this first affirmation of faith: IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED.

(If you would like to view this message being preached, look us up on YouTube at “EBCSF.”)