Thread Bible Podcast with Chuck Quinley

Thread Season 4 Episode 6: Lights in the Firmament

February 25, 2020 Thread with Dr. Chuck Quinley Season 4 Episode 6
Thread Bible Podcast with Chuck Quinley
Thread Season 4 Episode 6: Lights in the Firmament
Chapters
Thread Bible Podcast with Chuck Quinley
Thread Season 4 Episode 6: Lights in the Firmament
Feb 25, 2020 Season 4 Episode 6
Thread with Dr. Chuck Quinley

In this episode of Thread we learn the important role of the Moon and stars in all of our lives, and we'll hear the first shot in the story war between YHWH, the Creator God, and all the sky gods who were worshipped in the ancient world.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Music by Ryan Andersen
 Ryan Andersen is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=RL4F28KKJPKWQ)

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Thread we learn the important role of the Moon and stars in all of our lives, and we'll hear the first shot in the story war between YHWH, the Creator God, and all the sky gods who were worshipped in the ancient world.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Music by Ryan Andersen
 Ryan Andersen is licensed under an Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Support the show (https://www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=RL4F28KKJPKWQ)

Hi, I'm Chuck Quinley from the Thread Bible Podcast. Last week in Genesis 1 we witnessed the birth of mother Earth, and we saw God's tender connection with nature, and with all forms of earthly life. In this episode, we learn the important role of the moon, and the stars, and all of our lives. And we'll hear the first shot in the story war between Yaweh, the Creator God, and all the sky gods who were worshipped in the ancient world. Stay tuned.

Welcome to Thread, God's word tying together all the pieces of your life through verse by verse study of the Bible. In Season Four, we're exploring the bedrock of the entire Bible Genesis 1-12. The Thread Bible Podcast is brought to you by MediaLightAsia.com. And I'd like to tell you again about MediaLight's summer media missions boot camp. If you're going to live a life of impact you need to find your voice. And MediaLight has developed a two week workshop to help you do just that. Come spend two weeks in northern Thailand with us. We will have worship every morning, and you'll have professionals help you discover your natural speaking voice. You will work to align the message your body is sending with the words you are speaking, and then we'll teach you how to produce professional quality video using the camera you know best: your cell phone. No selfies here. We're talking about using the rules of photography, and the apps and gear used by filmmakers like Oscar-winning Steven Soderbergh, to get your message across. And we believe in working hard and playing hard, so we'll still take time out to hike to jungle waterfalls, and navigator river on one of Thailand's famous longtail boats. You can even feed elephants by hand in a nearby village as we enjoy one of the world's most beautiful countries, Thailand. It's all in July, and you can find out more by visiting MediaLightAsia.com/summer. MediaLightAsia.com/summer.

I want to take a moment and thank the amazing Ross Schmidt. The producer and editor of Season Four of Thread he's helping to raise the bar on audio quality, and the look and feel of the show he's going to drop in some musical interludes every eight minutes or so to help you avoid listener fatigue for those who binge listen. So welcome to the team Ross. Thanks for your contribution.

Okay, let's tune back into the Creation Overture, Movement #4. Again, Genesis chapter 1 is a meticulously crafted message about the purpose and meaning of our existence as humans, and the destiny for our planet. Tim Mackey of the Bible Project reminds us that Genesis is not "security camera footage". So we can watch how God made the world. You know, our writer skips massive chunks of important creation knowledge. And he repeats themes, and he aligns actions and words. So you can see the patterns he wants you to notice, and go down the thought paths he's directing us to as readers. So you might want to go back to Episode Two where we talk about Science and the Bible if you missed this. The point is, that the writer has a set of key messages he wants to deliver to us about the person of God, what he's all about, why he created the earth, and what our purpose is as humans. It's hugely important stuff. And he'll use historical accounts to make his points. But we just need to take seriously that this is a coded message, not a history book, or you'll miss the magic and the big takeaways that are in every paragraph.

The story in chapter 1 is built around the actions of God during two sets of three days. And these two sets of three days have similar themes. For example, on day one, we saw that Yahweh conquered the darkness with his spiritual divine light. Now here on day four (which is the first day of the second set of three), he's again focused on things related to light. Only this time he's creating the physical luminaries, the series of literal, physical heavenly lights, and he is placing them above the firmament. And we're talking about the sun, the moon, the stars, and the planets. Now Earth has many wonderful things. But one thing it does not have, and must have for survival, is a source of light and warmth. You know, we need just enough radiation to warm us not too much, or will be roasted, and no life can survive. And in our story today, God provides just the amount of light that we need. So let's read the text. Genesis chapter 1, "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them serve as lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth.'"

You know, a few nights ago, our family was in the mountains. And it's a really unique town called Pai here in Thailand. And I went out into the dark because we had our grandson Leo out with Ben and Jess, and we were having a family meal. And Leo is active. So I took him outside. And I walked out into a field at the very end of sunset. So I'm looking to the west, and there's a mountain there, and the sun has gone down, and there's this -- they're burning the bushes in the mountain this time of year. So it really makes, it's terrible for the air, but it makes beautiful sunsets. And so I look up and here is this glowing red, broad sun going down. As the sun slides down the horizon, right behind the sun, is a waxing moon that is already in the west about to set also. Just a thin little red moon. And just up above the moon, there's Venus bright shining, like a 747 on approach to an airport. And I just sat there soaking it all up, you know, I had to step into this field to see it, because of the bright streetlights in the parking lot. But just imagine the skies when the whole world had zero light pollution. And even a candle in a window might have been seen for a mile.

Well, that's the world that we had. And so God is creating lights in the firmament, we're in verses 14-19. And let me finish the passage, it says, "And it was so. And God made two great lights -- the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night -- and the stars. And God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day." All right. Let's break this down. What does the text say about the five purposes of the luminaries? (And that's the proper name to categorize all the sky bodies that give light) So what are their purposes? And this text says, well, there's actually five purposes for the lights in the firmament of the heavens. The very first purpose: to divide the day from the night. It's really amazing how quickly sunrise and sunset happen. You know, that moment is there as a dividing line between what the darkness has power to do and what the daylight has power to do. And even in these moments of handoff the glory of God is displayed. Sunrise is just a special feeling. It's a special moment. If you're ever up that early, and you can be there in the darkness and watch the the emergence of the light and the way that it just dispels the darkness. And then at the end of the day, as the sun finishes its circuit and slides below the horizon. And you know, for half an hour or more, there's a glorious sky left behind. And then the stars come out and Venus. Venus is usually the first thing you can see. It's always in the west, and in the morning it's always in the east. And so that was the first purpose. I want a clear divider between the day and the night, and in that moment of handoff, we see the glory of God. The second thing he said, purpose for the luminaries: Let them be for signs. You know, what's a sign? A sign is something that points beyond itself. Signs point beyond themselves to something greater. They serve the traveler. They serve the seeker. They serve the one needing direction in their quest. The sign is not the big deal. The sign is pointing to something greater, but it's serving someone else. So the sign is a servant. The sign, and this word is very important again to John in his gospel. And he's so tuned into -- I mean, everything he writes -- he's got Genesis 1-3 on his mind. But in John's gospel he talks about the purpose of healing. And if you think about it, you know, what's the purpose of healing for a terminal generation? if you get healed of cancer, you're still gonna die of a heart attack. You get healed of a heart attack, you get hit by a bus. I mean, something's going to take you out. You're not curing your problem, the real problem is death. And there's nothing about even the most glorious, supernatural healing that is going to save you from death. So what is healing all about? Why do it? And John says, it's a sign. You know, it's a thing that points to something so much greater. It points you to Jesus, it points you to God, it points you to the truth of his word, these things are signs so that you may believe. Stay tuned.

Are luminaries are signs? Well, first of all, just in the natural way, the luminaries show the way to many amazing places on earth. And hikers, sailors and pilots still use the skylights, especially at night, to plot their courses. This has been very important throughout the history of our planet. That there is stability in the heavens, there is a set of signs, there are stars that do not vary in their distance from each other, they are stuck in space. We can use them, they are reliable to guide us. Especially in the desert, travelers, for whom this book was written initially, you know, they do they're moving at night when they travel. And so how important that God put signs in the sky, to guide their path. But beyond that, the signs draw pictures in the sky. And they, as a sign, point to a creator with the intelligence behind our universe. You know, the orderliness of the path of the things of the sky, the orderliness of the elements, the orderliness in math, there are.. the Creator's fingerprints are all over the creation. From the divine ratio that's been so written about, you know, this, this... anyway, you can you can Google it. There is a ratio by which so many things on Earth are made. And then there's DNA. And anyway, the primary daily witness that we all get, that this planet has been created by a higher power is the witness of the evening sky. It's an important part of general revelation. It's, you know, my favorite hour of any day as a parent, and nowadays, as a grandparent, is that hour in the darkness laying snuggled in a bed with a little kid in flannel PJs. And you can curl them into you and feel that warmth, and then you can turn on a light mobile and watch the star pictures move across the ceiling. And if you can imagine a world without electricity, which is just, you know, little over 100 years ago. A world without electricity and how the stars alone were enough light for a journey. He says, I want them to be signs.

Thirdly, he says: I want them to be for seasons. And here he's talking about agricultural seasons, but also liturgical seasons. We'll talk about that in a second. You know, these heavenly bodies create the tides for fishermen, and the tides for sailors. They create seasons for farming, and you know, there's a power in a season, like winter. I mean, winter just happens to you. You can't affect it. It dictates to you because it's in charge of you. And so it does a thing to the earth because it's the season for -- like winter. Winter is a season for doing certain things. And then there's spring. And spring is a season that dictates to us what actions we must be doing and not doing. But not only agricultural seasons, liturgical seasons. After coming out of Egypt, the life of the children of Abraham was regulated by seven feasts, kind of like if you're in a liturgical form of Christianity. And you have a calendar that's already set, it's been set for hundreds of years. And it governs what you're going to focus on in every month of the year as a spiritual theme. Well, the same thing was happening with Israel. They had seven feasts, one fast, each feast had one lesson at its core. And every other month or so, then, you had a feast to prepare for, and a feast to attend. And you knew exactly when the next feast was coming. How? Because this guy told you, it was the notice board. And at the end of every week, there's a mini festival called the Sabbath. And we'll talk more about that later. But if you think about it, even the moon and the sun usher in a short season each day. This Scripture says God gave the sun and the moon authority over the seasons in our life, and all life on Earth obeys them. You know, some animals are nocturnal, they only awake and move about when darkness returns to do its work each day. Others are diurnal. They move about only during daylight. And some are crepuscular. They move about in both. Well, the darkness is a natural time to end activities, and to settle in. You know, it's nighttime. It's a good time to eat, and make music and relax. It's a time to talk to each other. It's a time to get ready for a nice long sleep. But humans tend to throw off all authority. And we've done that in this case, through electricity. We decided we didn't want to follow the natural rhythms of each day, we wanted artificial light. God gave us natural light, we wanted artificial light so we could keep on what working. So now humans get less and less sleep, work more and more hours. We have 24 hour stores. Because now we've got this artificial light that amps us up. And instead of just talking with someone by the glow of a candle or a fireplace, or in the growing darkness on a front porch, we stare into a TV screen, we watch violence, or we surf the internet till after midnight. But this is not the way we were intended to live. And our mental and emotional stress and breakdowns across this world give evidence that our new ways are not necessarily better ways. God said, I'm going to give seasons. And the luminaries will set up the seasons, you can follow your bio rhythm, you can follow the rhythms of nature and find a healthy life. God gave us that.

Fourth thing the luminaries are for he says: and they are to establish days and years. Let me ask you a question. How much money will you have five years from now? You don't know right? Will you be healthy five years from now? You don't know. You can't know any of these things. The one thing you do know is that if you're alive five years from now, each day will have 24 hours of 60 minutes. It's the only thing that never changes. It can't be changed because God established it. And he established it not because the universe needs it, but because humans need it. Humans need the constant of time. You know, planets don't know what day it is; don't know what time it is. It doesn't matter to them. It matters to us. We need regular dependable boxes of time. We need it for now at least. In order to live our lives productively, because, you know, only action moves your life forward, and action needs an assigned time slot. Somebody told me that hugely successful people do not have a to-do list. And I said well, how do they, how do they get things done? And they said they have a calendar. They don't have a to-do list, an endless to-do list that runs their life. They don't need that. They need to decide what is important to do and put it on the calendar. How much time does that take to do? Why is it important? Where does it go on my calendar? And when that moment is here, give 100% of my energy to doing that important thing. And if it's not worthy of my calendar, then just don't do it, you know. Delegate it or just let it fall. We need days and years. And that's one of the functions. We needed time, and God established it.

Now we're down to our fifth function. The last purpose for the luminaries is practical. Number five says: and let them serve as lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light upon the earth. We're just talking about the simple function of having light to see, and light for growth in plants and animals. A luminary. They are so important to all of us. Verse 19 says "God saw it was good. There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day." If you stick with me for just a minute, let's go a little bit deeper about this simple lesson about the establishment of the luminaries in the sky. We'll be right back.

Day four of creation is actually the day where the.. I'm gonna call them: materialists. Materialist creationist, or rationalist creationist. You know, there's a fabric.. I... Let me think how to set this up. I have genuine respect for everyone who is concerned not to let the message of the Bible be violated or unfairly attacked, because it isn't a book open to attack. The scriptures have been attacked from the very beginning. And there is a feeling in some people, that if you give up a literal seven day creation, the entire scripture just falls apart. And I think that person is... that if we take that position, we are simply showing ourselves to be slaves to the very same materialism and rationalism that is anti-God and used all over the world, you know, to make a science that has no reference to God. And to say there is no spiritual dimension to life, there is no soul in a man. It's just a piece of meat, brain, we're just a glob of cells. Why would I join that group? And this is the day, if you're gonna, like, fight for seven day creation... This is the day where, for me, the whole thing starts to come unraveled. Because how are you going to count days when you haven't even had a sun yet? The light on day one is clearly not of earthly origin, it is not a natural light. There is not a scientific explanation for the light that conquers the darkness and the Tohu va Bohu state of all things. And that's gone on for three days in a row. And now finally, God establishes our need to have sun, moon, and stars. So we can agonize to defend a position, that I think, actually weakens us in the end. Because rationalism and materialism means all there is is the material world. This is not the mindset of the Bible. No one who wrote the scriptures or read the scriptures had that as their mindset. So when we take that on, and just buy into this world's mindset and not go back to our Bible, which has an entirely different function than their world can understand, we're limiting ourselves by their rules. I think it's a mistake. Second thing I want to say about this passage is this and every other thing in the Bible is intentional. This is not a history book, this author is not bound by the duty to report history and sequence or in detail, it is not his job. This is a theological account, and it is constructed for meaning. It was probably written between 2500-4000 years ago. Thousands of years. Thousands of years before the world became bound to see all things through one lens: science and "facts". And because of this, this writer has very little interest in scientific things. But to his great advantage, and to our benefit too, he understand so much better than any modern scientists, the power of story, and how story can tell the truth and tell it in a way we can comprehend it. And when we receive our truth in the form of story, it will click inside of us and we will not forget it.

So, you know, when you look at day four, and you read aloud about Yahweh making sun, moon, and stars, the modern rationalist Christian says, Oh, that's nice. Did you hear that kid?, you know, you hear that kids? I see the moon, the moon sees me. God made the moon and God made me. Well, then you miss everything that's been built into this story, because at least one aspect of the story we just read is an absolute war against sky gods. You will completely miss that this little story, it's an act of war. Because you've got, you know, the initial birth of the Jewish nation is in Egypt. In Egypt, there was a slave state that built its temples, its farms, and its monuments. Using the people of Israel as slave labor. Next they're going to fight Canaanite giants. There are armies of them as they fight them in the wilderness. Finally, they're going to end up in the Empire Babylon again as slaves, living as slaves in exile, as the final form of this book, is compiled and reaches them. And I'm going to devote an entire episode to Genesis 1-12 as a story war, and how vital it is to wage war against narratives that program people's minds against God and against his will for the world. But I just want to lift up day four as one example of a slave making war on their master's entire society, through stories. Because these stories are going to get circulated in the general population. What are you talking about? The ancients across the world worship the sun as a god. This is true throughout human societies. You can go from Africa to Europe to the Middle East to the Americas. You can go today and see the pyramids where Aztecs performed human sacrifices to keep the sun god moving the sun across the sky. The Egyptians worshipped the sun as a god. To the Babylonians, the sun god was Shamash and he was the twin brother of the queen of heaven. And he was the son of the moon god, and together with his wife, Venus (Ishtar), sun, moon and Venus formed a Babylonian trio of heavenly rulers. And you've got to understand the force of this story in Babylon. Where this book of beginnings told the children of Israel, the slaves, a different story from the one the Babylonians told. It said sun, moon, stars, planets, they're not gods at all. They are the creations of the One God Yaweh. Sun, moon, and stars do not rule humans. On the contrary, they were made to serve the needs of humans. Because humans alone are the imagers of the One God who created all things. We do not bow down to the sun. This little day four, it's a story war. Okay, imagine the scene playing out socially. You're in Babylon, and your landlord comes to you as a Jew to inform you about the date of the coming sun festival. So, you must come and join us and bow and worship the great sun god Shamash and offer sacrifices to him so he will bless our land. And you reply, sorry, we we won't do that. Why not? Shamash is not a god. Gasp! Blasphemy! Do not say that! He might hear and cease to move across the sky, and our crops would not grow! Oh, don't worry. He can't be angry at us. Why not? Well, because there is no Shamash. The sun is not a person. It's just a powerful light, made by the One God, creator of everything. Oh, how ignorant you are! You know nothing of our deep science. Next you'll be saying the great moon Sin, father of Shamash, is not a living god. Correct. And Venus is not a god. I, on the other hand, am a human and why should we humans bow down to anything else. These great lights are created to serve us and our need for guidance and routine, and for the light in the day and the night. They are not gods, they are the creations. They are the handiwork of the one God. They are not alive.

These are big ideas. And people get killed for ideas like this. Because revolutionary ideas spread, especially if they're crafted into a story, a compelling narrative that does a better job of explaining things than the current story does. This simple little story undermines all the sky gods of Egypt, all the gods of the Canaanites, and the three sky gods of Babylon. And if the sky gods are not real, then the priests are either fools, or liars. And the king is either a fool or a liar. Because if the sky gods are not real, maybe none of the gods are real, maybe they're all lies. And maybe only the one God is the rightful king over any other human. And he is king of the sun and the moon, and the stars of heaven. And so the story of day four, in the ancient world, is God's declaration of war on all other gods. Even the great sun and moon are just examples of what he can make. As the psalmist wrote in Psalms 19:1 "The heavens declare the glory of God. The sky displays what his hands have made." Stick with this story. It's got so much. So check out MediaLightAsia.com/summer to learn more about our summer media camp, and please click the share link and send this episode to a friend. Remember to leave a comment on the iTunes podcast app to help others find the podcast. That's all for now. expect God to use you today because you are the light of the world.