Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1996
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 6: The Covenant: The Buried Truth of the New World
Lesson 23 – Implications of the Covenant for Nature:
Nature is Bounded by God’s Word, the New Heavens and the New
Earth, and Spiritual Lessons from the Physical Environment
11 Apr 1996
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We are on the event following the flood, the covenant of Noah. This covenant, which can be passed over so quickly in reading the Bible, is really a crucial part of the Bible as far as why its there, why God reveals Himself in covenant form. On page 87 of the notes I have 2 questions and I want to begin by looking at those two questions, just as a tool to review some concepts. We said, quoting Dr. Albright, that the Bible and the Bible alone is the only place where you can find where God makes a contract publicly with a nation and a people. The God of the Bible is known for His contractual agreements. We said there were a number of implications why this happens and why it is a very important observation about the God of the Bible, over against all other competitors.
Question one says: “Go back and review the pagan texts we studied in chapters 2 and 4. Try to devise what a covenant would look like between pagan gods and man.” This is sort of a negative approach. But let’s think about that for a moment. If we would try to imagine Marduk or Tiamat, or one of the gods and goddesses of those narratives that we read, keeping in mind that the narratives that we read are written by the same generation that wrote most of the Old Testament. So if we want to say the Bible is an ancient book and therefore full of ancient ideas, a healthy antidote to that is yes, go ahead and read some more ancient literature and compare it with the Bible, if you want to read ancient literature. When you do that, then you see the differences. It’s not until you do that that you see the differences.
Let’s think about those differences. Look on the pagan side, then on the Bible side. We want to train ourselves to be sensitive to these differences. If we were to try to generate a covenant on the pagan side, what would that covenant look like; let’s imagine, following some of the texts that we had, that on this side we had Marduk, he’s one of the gods of the pagan pantheon. What kind of a contract could Marduk propose to us? Let’s say he promises there will not be a flood. We’ll say Marduk and the God of the Scriptures make the same promise: no flood. Suppose Marduk were able to do that, let’s look at what backs up those words. What is the problem that the pagan has with this equation? If you think through the background of those texts that we read, what was going on in the texts? We saw that the gods and goddesses were competing with each other; there was no supreme god or goddess, permanent supremacy. It was always a football game, depending on what the next quarter was going to bring as far as the score. So even if we had a situation where Marduk promised a flood, what’s missing about Marduk’s character that renders a covenant untrustworthy?
Go back to the attributes of God; we’re right back to thinking about those attributes again? God is omnipotent. Is Marduk omnipotent? He might appear so as long as he’s top dog, but when he gets knocked off by another god or goddess he’s obviously not omnipotent. So Marduk doesn’t have that characteristic, so omnipotence is missing. Omnipresence, not being an infinite god but being a god trapped along with us he’s sort of a semi-deity, we would have to say that he’s not really omnipresent. Is Marduk immutable? We would have to say not really because Marduk can change, Marduk can be removed, Marduk is not a permanent fixture, and the very narratives that we saw show that, so he doesn’t immutability. God has immutability. Marduk was not eternal. How do we know that? What was eternal in the pagan view? It was the watery chaos, the universe, the world of matter, that was always kind of there, and it was part of the anatomy of the gods. There’s no case where here’s God and He speaks the universe into existence.
Like Michelangelo’s famous painting, where God is reaching forward and you see that part where God’s finger reaches out and Frances Schaeffer used to point out that Michelangelo knew his art and when he painted the finger of the Father and the finger of Adam, he didn’t connect them, he left a space between their fingers because God and the universe are not the same. But in paganism the universe, remember we had water and the water was connected to the gods and goddesses, so that these spiritual beings somehow were also physical, and that’s what we mean there’s a Continuity of Being between them, the universe comes out of their anatomy, or the universe is their anatomy. With God that isn’t so. So what is eternal on the pagan side is a mystery, it’s some sort of transforming part of the universe. God alone is eternal.
There’s sovereignty, that’s interesting because God has sovereignty so He has the right to say I will, but on the pagan side sovereignty is a missing element, hiding behind something, because if you have a pantheon of many gods, the question always is, which god and which goddess of the moments will prevails. To explain that, which obviously would lead to a pile of marbles, what the pagan writers always used to do was hide sovereignty underneath a thing called fate, and in that early manuscript of Enuma Elish, fate appeared as a tablet, it says the gods took the tablet of destinies. So they always had this tension because they can’t really get sovereignty inside their god, they have to have something behind their god that moves, and that’s fate. And fate is blind because it’s an impersonal thing, it’s a tablet. It’s always pictured as a tablet; it’s never pictured as a person. I pointed out if you see the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey the universe is driven by this tablet, it’s not a person, it’s a thing. And you always see that, it’s not accidental. Only in the Bible do you have a personal sovereign God.
Then we said that God is holy and so He’s the source of moral standards and the pagan gods are both good and evil, evil is always with them. So the quality, going back between the pagan deities and the God of the Scripture is enormous. Love—if you look at the gods and goddesses, their behavior is just like us, so it’s really selfishness. We point out that God is omniscient, He knows and the pagan gods cannot claim omniscience because they don’t know what fate holds. So the gods and the goddesses are trapped because they’re not omniscient, they in the final analysis are as much a victim of fate as any man or woman is a victim of fate. Everybody is a victim of this thing called fate, but nobody knows where it’s going. So that’s why you have horoscopes and all the rest of it in paganism.
Here we deal with a God who can promise no flood, and He has the power of character to back up the claim. On the other side, with paganism, you can have a god that makes the claim but doesn’t have the character to back up the claim, there’s no basis, no foundation for that. So we conclude that the God of the Scripture, who makes covenants …, and we want to point something else out, why do we have a covenant in the first place? Contracts are made whenever there is a need to measure behavior. So we have a contract and the contract deals with verifiable (that’s an important point—verifiable) behavior. Why do we want verifiable behavior? Why does God condescend to make a contract or a covenant with verifiable behavior? The answer is, as the Scripture tells us, because He keeps covenants. What does that show about God? It shows His faithfulness. Why God does this is it demonstrates His character? His character is the character of faithfulness.
So the contract form that you see in the Scripture, whether it’s a contract with Abraham, the contract with Moses, the contract with Israel, the contract with David, the contract with Jesus Christ and the Church and the New Covenant, whatever the contract is, it always has at its basis this element. This is the big idea behind contracts, and it’s the big idea behind Scripture.
On the second question, “if biblical covenants establish a framework of verifiability, that is, the behavior of the parties involved is to be checked, what implications does this principle have about ever historical text in the Bible?” Learn to think through the structure of your faith. It’s nice to have proof texts, but it’s far more powerful to be able to reason your way through, this makes sense in light of this, which makes sense in the light of that. There’s a systematic truthfulness to the Scripture. What are the implications when we have a contract that needs verification? The implication is this is what leads, and is the basis for the claim, for inerrant Scripture. Why is that? Because the Scripture is the historical testimony to the trustworthiness of God. It’s not a testament to the trustworthiness of us, we’re not trustworthy. It’s the trustworthiness of God, He’s is the One who is the trustable One, and it’s He that is the function of the stories. Next year when we get into the Old Testament a little bit more in these narratives, many of us went to Sunday School and heard the story of David, of Elijah, and all those stories are great, but often what we have always missed is that those stories, whether they be of Elijah, or David, ultimately are not of Elijah and David. They’re ultimately a story of the administration of the Mosaic Covenant, and all those stories are selected by the Holy Spirit for recording to demonstrate, anybody that knows the covenantal basis knows exactly why those stories are there and the order in which they come. That’s the hidden structure behind the Bible.
Having said that, we stress that at the end of the flood, at the beginning of a new era, this is Noah’s new world order, this was a new world order at a moment in time in history. Before this time we have an era of mystery, it is not well known what went on in the antediluvian world, it’s almost like a curtain has been drawn, we have lots of questions about what went on, but this side of the flood is the civilization that we know, that’s the civilization that we are part of, and that’s the history that we are familiar with, and Noah is the fountainhead behind all this. We want to look at the implications of this covenant structure for the environment, in which history is to take place, because we will find that there are certain things that God has put into the environment to demonstrate that He is a covenant keeping God, that His behavior is verifiable by observation, and that this structure to history, this environmental structure to history is attempted to be falsified by the pagan mind.
Remember we dealt with chapter after chapter, every time God reveals something the pagan mind comes along because the carnal mind is enmity against God, it will not submit to God, the enmity of the carnal mind always generates a counterfeit. This is no exception. We’re going to study the implications of the covenant for this environment, all during this period of history that we now live in, and that environmental background that’s structured by the covenant has been falsified in our time. The pagan mind has reinterpreted the structure of the covenant into something else altogether different. And all of us have been trained to think, primarily, in our public education in a very pagan way about this structure, so much so that we find it incredible to believe that certain things in the Bible have actually happened. We have difficulty believing certain things in the Bible happened because we have sucked in the presuppositions that are floating in the air all around us, we’ve bought into those.
We want to look at some passages that show the effect that this environment of control has. Look at the promise in the covenant again. Look at the terms of the contract, Genesis 9:13-14, where he signs his name with a rainbow, “I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth.  And it shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud,” and verse 15, “and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant,” look at the terms, an everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth. Immediately we know that this environmental contract is for the total environment, this includes believers and unbelievers, there’s no distinction. This is not a salvation and redemptive thing, this is a universal environmental thing holding for all men, all women, all races, all cultures, in all centuries. This is a universal.
The Noahic family had just come through a catastrophe of unimaginable dimensions. They had seen nature torn to shreds, and they would have naturally feared that this would happen again. We sit here centuries, thousands of years later and it’s easy for us who live in a relatively tranquil physical environment to kind of just kiss this off. But can you imagine the experience these people had for one year in a rocking boat, with the entire genetic pool aboard that boat. Think of the responsibility. If you were in Noah’s family you might not have thought of that because you might not have been a biochemist and have the understanding we do, but riding in that boat is the entire genetic pool of the human race. There are no other genes left, they’re all gone, they’ve been destroyed.
Every one of us carries the biochemical heritage of Noah, his wife, his three sons and their three wives. We get genes from on one else except those people. If you have a dog, cat, cattle, the genes of those animals were on this ark. This is the genetic pool that has been saved, and they have watched literally the physical environment around them disintegrate before them. They have witnessed the power of God like no person ever had up to that point and probably no person ever will until the return of Jesus Christ. It was an awesome thing for them to have lived through. And then they walk out in this muddy, reshaped, radically different earth with a radically different climate, almost like they’ve come to a different planet, and you can’t help but wonder if they’re saying are we safe, are we really safe? Viewed against the catastrophe that has happened, how can we be sure that we are at home in the universe; that we are at peace. Noah’s name means “peace.” And it’s a story of the establishment of stability and peace.
The metaphor of control of the flood occurs again and again in Scripture. We’ll go to one of those passages then we’ll show some personal application. We want to show how under the Holy Spirit the poets of the Scripture remembered and use this metaphor, and we still do in our language. It’s a metaphor that has been preserved in almost every language on earth, except maybe people who have always lived in the desert and never been around a lot of water. But we almost intuitively, when things are not going well in our life, when there’s a lot of chaos and confusion, what do we refer to it as: the storms of life. Give me peace in the middle of this mess, the storms of life. We’re using a natural metaphor, whether we realize it or not, it’s something that almost intuitively comes to us. In the Bible, this voice of praise, in Psalm 29:10-11, is the origin of the metaphor of calmness and control in the middle of chaos. “The LORD sat as King at the mabbuwl,” this is the chaos of the flood, “Yes, the LORD sits as King forever.” The application of verse 11, “The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” PEACE in the middle of that. In other words, because God is a covenant keeping God He has control of the environment.
Psalm 32 is an example of how the Psalmist uses that. You see it again and again in the Psalms, I’m just showing you some, it’s repeated again and again. World literature does the same thing. Psalm 32:6, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found; surely in a flood of great waters they shall not reach him.” In that case they are talking about the threatening arm of the flood, but the idea basically is, verse 7, “Thou art my hiding place; Thou dost preserve me from trouble; Thou dost surround me with songs of deliverance.” The idea there is that God has control, and we just to have to keep the prayer lines open.
In Psalm 124 there’s another reference to this flood metaphor, and again it’s just a common, ordinary use of the word, but you have to look upon this metaphor in light of what we just studied in the form of Noah. Psalm 124:4-5, “Then the waters would have engulfed us, the stream would have swept over our soul.  Then the raging waters would have swept over our soul.  Blessed be the LORD, who has not given us to be torn by their teeth,” in this case, this is people, there are real physical people here, but the metaphor is a flood of waters. A metaphor isn’t any good unless the physical source of the metaphor is valid. A symbol is no good if the thing behind the symbol is wrong, you don’t build powerful metaphors on fiction. So the Bible has this flood thing, and we saw how the Lord Jesus Christ calmed the Sea of Galilee as an example of this.
I want to show you how the Bible goes further with this metaphor and it begins to apply the chaos of the flood, the chaos of the waters, to humanity as a whole, and in apocalyptic and prophetic Scripture the sea becomes a metaphor of the human race at large. We interpret the Bible literally, but saying that doesn’t mean we don’t see symbols in the Scripture. In Daniel 7:2, Daniel is describing the motion picture, so to speak, that God gives him. And he’s going to record this vision, he reports is to us. “Daniel said, I was looking in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the great sea.” Now what is “the great sea?” Read further. “And four great beasts were coming up from the sea, different from one another.  The first was like a lion and had the wings of an eagle….” And you can finish the chapter and you’ll see that those beasts are basically kings and civilizations. The beasts have two roles, the stand for the head of the dynasty, but they also stand for the kingdom of the dynasty. There’s that dual thing. But where does the king come from? He comes from the sea.
Let’s think about a simple principle. A body of water is dangerous; particularly a fresh water body is dangerous because wind can stir it up. That’s why shallow water lakes are far more dangerous than the deep ocean, the reason being that when you get wind, wind conveys a force on the water and if your water is very thin, like Okeechobee in Florida where it’s not very deep, there was once a tragedy where a hurricane passed over and all the momentum of the wind was transferred to the water so the water just kept on moving in one massive surge and drowned hundreds and hundreds of people. Shallow water does that, deep water doesn’t because it can recycle, shallow can’t recycle because it’s not deep enough to recycle. So water takes on the shape of the force acting on it, and what happens in the apocalyptic Scripture is that the sea, being water, being formless, is like people, and the wind, it doesn’t require too much imagination to know what the wind means, the wind stands for spiritual forces that act on people as the wind acts on the sea. And it’s those spiritual forces that act on the human race all the time, the background principalities and powers that work their will into history that causes the rise and decline of kings and kingdoms. Daniel uses this as a metaphor.
Why do I go into all that to deal with the implications of the covenant from nature? Because all of those metaphors, whether they be in prophetic Scripture or whether they be in Psalms, applying it to personal living, all have their root back in God’s covenantal control on the forces of nature. So in the notes on page 87 one of the great principles I’ve enumerated there is that: “Nature is bounded by the Word of God.” Last week we saw Isaiah 54:9 and let’s stop there again on our way back to Genesis, because this gives you the model for how the flood idea is carried forward in the Bible as an illustration. Isaiah 54:9, God says through Isaiah, “For this is like the days of Noah to me: when I swore that the waters of Noah should not flood the earth again, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor will I rebuke you.” Later covenants are built on the faithfulness of God to this covenant. That’s why the Noahic Covenant is so critical; it is the ground covenant for all the following covenants. God Himself refers to that logic, I kept covenant, you haven’t seen a global flood, I have kept control as I said I would, now when I say I am going to do this and this in history, trust Me, haven’t I proven Myself trustworthy.
So the Noahic Covenant has specified in very definite ways that nature is bounded by the Word of God. On page 87 I point out this great truth, while it’s great, the environment is controlled, the Word of God stands over it, paganism can’t let that stand. So the fleshly mind always has to reinterpret and rearrange. So note where I say, “Paganism, both ancient and modern, inevitably transforms the Creator/creature distinction, God’s personal sovereign rule, into some sort of Continuity of Being and impersonal chance, and on the basis of neither is there room for establishing true universals.” I extend that idea few paragraphs down, page 88, “It is just at this point that we escalate the battle with paganism. Paganism, as the product of the carnal mind at enmity with God, can’t stand awareness of the sovereign omnipotent Word. It thus,” and this is a key sentence, “substitutes for the present experience of geophysical stability the idol of what is now called natural law. Paganism here uses the metaphor of human legislation to name its apostate attempt at getting universal constants.” We all use the word “natural law,” and it’s tempting, text books are written like this, Mother Nature, capital “N.”
Let’s look at this critically for a moment. Everybody accepts this. Why? Excuse me, but let me ask an embarrassing question. Why do we believe in natural law, what is it we mean by this. Look at that term again, “natural law.” Who makes law? From a pagan point of view it’s man who makes law. Where did this expression come from? This expression is purely metaphorical. Think about it, there’s not any scientific proof of this, who made the law? It’s just there. Well if it’s just there, why call it “law.” What do we call an object called “law?” When we use the term l-a-w, what are you referring to? You’re referring to a rule that some person makes. Some person makes that, so we’re used to some sovereign power, some authorized power, makes a rule, and we call that rule a law. But again we ask the question, in light of a pagan frame of reference, why do we use the word law?
Where does this come from, it’s purely a metaphor. That’s all it is. It gives the illusion that we’ve really explained something, oh, that’s natural law. No, all you’ve done is label it, but you haven’t explained it. What is a natural law? Well, it’s a thing that’s in nature. But what in nature makes law, I thought only people made laws? Well, it’s just something that scientists have discovered. Oh, you mean the scientists made the law. Yeah. No you don’t, if I have gravity, what scientist made the law of gravity? No scientist made that law, Newton didn’t make it, he just got hit in the head with an apple. The scientists see it, but they didn’t make it. So excuse me, I’m back to my primary question, what is natural law? That’s something that can be raised in a classroom, very safely. Just keep asking the question, where is natural law. We yak every week in lectures about natural law, I’m still confused, define for me what you mean by natural law. Well, it’s something that’s constant. So finally what you’ll press, if you finally push hard enough and ask over and over, finally what comes out is that by natural law we mean something that is a constant.
But here’s the problem. The moment somebody responds that natural law is a constant, they’re thrown back to our old nemesis, finite human knowledge. Right? How do you know it’s a constant unless you observe it’s a constant? But the problem is you’re limited in the sphere over which you can do the observation. So really you haven’t got a universal, do you? Really all you can say, your most powerful assertion isn’t anything like natural law, your powerful assertion is: in the area where we have observed it appears that it’s constant. Oh, now we’re not talking about some lawmaker that made this thing, we’re talking about a more conservative, a more humble approach, that what we’re really talking about is a diary of observations. Ok, I’ll buy that, it’s a diary of observations. I can by that as a Bible-believing Christian.
What I have trouble buying into is this idea that we have something called natural law that just sits there, because I know that no matter how brilliant the person may be, they may have an IQ of 40 times mine, but they still are finite. I don’t care how smart they are, they’re not infinitely smart, and if they’re not infinitely smart, and they do not have an infinitely long life, then they have not an infinite data set and they are not omniscient and therefore cannot know a universal constant when they see one. They only have a diary of observations that this appears to be constant, over the domain of the observation. Any Bible-believing Christian can buy that. But lo and behold, once we confess to the fact that we are back to a diary of observations, aren’t we back to another idea, aren’t we back to God as a covenant keeping God. Isn’t our diary of observations, in reality, a documentation of His faithfulness? So far from being a natural law, what we really have is an empirical verification that He kept His promise. But the pagan mind doesn’t want to have God involved, after all, He’s unconstitutional, we can’t get Him involved in the picture so we have to substitute another source for our universals and we do it with slick talk.
The natural law idea is a slick talk, a lot of people like to use it, it’s part of the vocabulary of our time and we use it, but we have to understand when we use it what we’re using it for. Let’s not invest it with some sort of magic, there’s no such thing as natural law just sitting there, something’s behind it. And on the pagan basis we ask: who? Marduk? Tiamat? Fate? Chance? Where is all this coming from? I have an answer as a Bible-believing Christian, what’s yours? Well, it’s just there. That’s not an answer, what do you mean it’s just there? Do you have any basis for asserting this, other than your own personal observation, etc.? We’ve belabored that point enough.
The point is, that paganism wants to counterfeit, as it always does, and it’s something to understand as we go through the Scripture, it doesn’t make any difference whether in Genesis, whether in the New Testament, whether we’re in Exodus or Romans, no matter where we are in the Bible there’s a battle on to take the Bible straightforwardly, or to distort it and distort the truth of God’s Word.
Let’s look at the direct implications this has for our doctrine of nature. If it is true, let’s draw planet earth, that God promises there will be no flood on the earth, so this is a no-flood earth, no global flood earth, what is implied when He made that promise? What else can we infer if He makes a no-flood earth? We know very well something out there in the Chesapeake Bay, and anybody that’s been out there, if you’re a fisherman or a boater, what happens every 10 or 12 hours? Tide, you have a tide effect. Where’s the tide coming from? The tide is because of the moon. Can the moon and extraterrestrial bodies then affect water on the earth? Yes. Suppose we had a powerful pass-by of an asteroid that passed by with its gravitational field in resonance with the earth, and picked up the waters of the ocean into a super tide and smashed across the continent with it. Would we have a global flood? Sure. So what then does God have to control to have a no-flood earth? He’s got to control nearby astronomical bodies, all of them.
So we extend the power of the promise, because to make the promise work for the earth, He’s got to protect the near environment of the earth. But now in order to control those astronomical bodies that are close by the earth, they in turn can be influenced by astronomical bodies beyond them. Then what has God got to do in order to keep the no-flood earth? He’s got to control the nearby bodies but to control the nearby bodies He has to control the far off bodies, etc. What have we done here in this line of reasoning? Let’s look at it carefully. We have said that in order to promise anything at any point in the universe, God has to control every other point in the universe. Either He controls every point or He can control no point, it’s either/or. So we have here a very powerful implication for nature, and for our whole idea of nature, that God’s words control astronomical bodies of unbelievable distance and force.
In Genesis 9, pretend you were there with a tape recorder, you’re standing there with Noah when God speaks these words, you hear God speaking in whatever the language was that He was speaking, and He speaks to Noah and He says the earth will never, ever again be destroyed by water, I guarantee that. Click off the tape recorder. What you have heard and got on that tape recorder is something that is superior to every law of physics in the universe. Think about this, because this is an exercise we as Christians really need to do, because every day of our lives we’re walking around in a world that thinks exactly the opposite way. Every news article we read, every magazine article we read, and this is Easter and Newsweek and U.S. News and World Report and everybody had to run convenient little stories about why Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, and why He couldn’t have been God, and at Christmas He couldn’t have been born of a virgin, and Easter He couldn’t rise from the dead, but we’re very religiously neutral and all this stuff, don’t get us wrong, we’re being very objective, this is scholarly opinion. Of course, they suppress the conservative scholars, and what they define as scholarship is liberalism. But let there be a conservative speak out, oh, we can’t do that because that’s religious.
We have this situation where we are contaminated intellectually, and you have to take a bath, and what I am suggesting is to take a bath intellectually, get rid of all the dirt, and the way to think this through is to cycle the implications of the Word of God imaginatively through your brain. In other words, through the medium of imagining a tape recording, and hearing God’s Words in Genesis 9, actually being spoken, and looking up at the stars and looking at the moon and think to yourself as you hear the tape recording, and you look into the sky, and you see what’s going on, a lunar eclipse, and you see this, you look out into the expanse of the universe and you hear God’s Word saying this is a behavioral pattern I have imposed on the geophysical universe, it will always be so. What that does for you, it puts above any concept of natural law the Word of God, and here’s how we can restore the Word of God to its primacy. What we’re used to doing is have some law of physics, F=MA, something like this, then we say there’s molecules and that equals MA and we develop all these explanations and then we start talking about human behavior in terms of biochemical laws, etc., so we derive everything from this natural law. Then we wonder why we have trouble believing God. The reason we have trouble believing God is because we’ve washed Him out at the very starting point. What we need to do is take a bath and say wait a minute, the constraints of solving that equation, the bounds in that equation, are controlled by the Word of God, a personal word from Him that is superior to the equations.
There’s a passage in the New Testament to dramatize this. [blank spot] In Colossians 1:16-17, talking about Jesus Christ, clearly showing His deity, and by the way one reason I think Paul did this particular writing of these particular verses is because the Colossians apparently were coming under the influence of a pagan concept called Gnosticism and that was very close to the Continuity of Being, where they smear the differences out between God and man. What he’s trying to do here is look, don’t misinterpret Jesus, Jesus is not just a super man, Jesus is God, because in verse 16 he says my claim is that by Jesus Christ “all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth,” you see how he does that, he could have just said “for by Him all things were created,” and a sloppy reader would say oh sure, the animals and the cats and the dogs, but by stopping the sentence, putting a comma in and saying “in the heavens and the earth,” he said wait a minute, the heavens were worshipped as gods and goddesses. When you see art work of Pharaoh, what do you always see on his brow, you usually see serpents, the python, but in the center of his emblem is the solar disc. “For in Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible,” so even in the spiritual realm Jesus Christ created angels, so that cuts all the angels down, by saying the heaven that cuts the sun, moon and the stars down to size, see how he makes Jesus bigger at every clause, “by Him,” by Jesus Christ, “all things were created, in the heavens, on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and,” to add further insult to injury, “for Him,” not for themselves.  “And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together,” here’s the key verse; “in Him all things hold together.”
The Word of God is what holds the universe together. What we describe as equations, all these are mere diaries. It’s just somebody kept a diary and described it. Think of math like English or French or Russian. Math is always a language. Do you realize that when we write something like F=MA, what do you think people did three hundred years ago? You can read a scientific text from years and years ago, they didn’t have this equation, this symbolism that we use is only a few centuries old, but they had science then. How could they have had science before they had equations? Simple, they just described it in a sentence, the force is equal to the mass times acceleration. They didn’t have any symbols for this, so don’t get spooked by some “sacred” thing going on when I can write something in an equation.
I’ll try to bring the equation for the growth of a raindrop, it has about thirty-five or forty different terms in it, and you can see how many descriptions, just to make this little tiny raindrop grow right you have to describe, and it goes on and on and on. The funny part is, it seems to describe a raindrop except for the fact that when you plug it into a computer it takes you some thirty-six hours to grow a raindrop, and it’s always been a puzzle, how does the real rain happen, because it isn’t supposed to happen that way. So obviously we have a force going on in rapid generation of precipitation, we still don’t really understand what’s happening there, because raindrops obviously don’t take thirty-six hours to form.
What we want to do as Christians is see that the Word of God is prior to what we call natural law, that’s the big idea behind this, a personal contract preexists equations. That’s what we’re saying with the Noahic Covenant. While we’re in the New Testament let’s go to 2 Peter 3:4 for that commentary on this whole period and review, because every time we learn truth we want to learn how it’s twisted. The twisting, according to Peter, is that if we go back to the idea of natural law, Peter says here’s the trap, and notice it’s not talking in 2 Peter 3:4 about the Noahic flood, it’s talking about the Second Advent of Christ, the end of the world, encapsulating the millennium and the eternal state and everything else together. The point is, look what happens when you think wrong. Verse 4 is mockery. Notice verse 3, “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking,” that’s the word for this, what you hear and read in U.S. News and World Report, Time Magazine, when they make these statements it’s mockery; Peter said that.
Verse 4, “Where is the promise of His coming, for since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” So what are they saying? They’re saying I believe in constants. Now if you really believe in constants you’ve got to root those constants on what foundation? What’s the foundation underneath the constants? Imagination, it’s not observation. It’s just a reasonable guess, and Peter says if you make this your authority, you’re going to negate every work of God in history; particularly you’re going to negate the Second Advent of Christ. Come on, what computer model is going to forecast the return of Jesus Christ, and the disruption of the geophysical universe? They can’t, I guarantee it. If you’ve done any programming and you know the equations, your equations are no more powerful than the initialization and so you initialize the equations and you set up the equations, you have boundary conditions for their solutions, and you move on. But the Second Advent of Christ was never in the initial condition, it’s not in the boundary conditions to your equations, you’re just fooling yourself to think yourself to think you’re describing history. You’re describing a wonderful model, it may be very pleasing, it may be a beautiful elegant model, but that’s all you’ve done is you’ve made a model; you haven’t created a true description of the universe. And Peter warns against that. When you depart from saying I made a wonderful model, to going out and making the additional assertion that this is what describes the universe, there is where you have to be stopped and challenged.
We’ve looked at the idea of the covenants, the constraints it puts on nature, the fact obviously is that God dares us to measure His faithfulness, we haven’t had a global flood, not going to have a global flood, have the seasons stopped, no the seasons haven’t stopped, they have continued, the earth has always had its season shifts, etc. We have also said the implication of the covenant on page 89, two implications: “All of these promises require boundaries on the movement and changes of every astronomical body, boundaries which form the core of all astronomical observations today. Second, “All mankind now lives in a new geophysical biochemical steady state bounded by God’s verbal promises.”
What are the spiritual lessons to be learned? The spiritual lessons to be learned are that God is trustworthy, He is covenant keeper, and when we see what we have facetiously called natural law, we are looking at a covenant keeping God. We’ll conclude by turning to page 90 and look at question 1, because it is a thought experiment, it’s an exercise. If you’re a student and been working in any area of geology, physics, biology, or anything to do with natural history in any shape or form, you’d better have thought this through, because you’re going to have to think it through at some point in your life. Let’s think through “the covenant implications for nature, spell out a Biblical alternative to the modern methodologies for constructing natural histories.” We’ll have four extra sessions for those interested in scientific and technical details; we’re not going to talk about them right now. Continue question one, “how should one proceed who wants to reconstruct the past history of geophysical systems? What do you start with? Why? How far can this Biblical method be taken? What are its limits?” So whatever, whether it’s in biology or geology or whatever it is, you have to think through your method, what sort of method is being used. Every time you ask this question you come up with the 2 Peter 4:3-4 thing that you’re dealing with natural law. The whole premise behind modern science as it tries to reconstruct the past is that observations on a data base here, where we can control it with direct observations, are valid back there, and we extrapolate that, we say natural law is natural law, and it has to go on. But how do we know back here that things were as they appear now.
I’ll give you a practical illustration of this. When I get into Appendix C we’re going to take a look at some physics, the physics of chronology, chronometry, etc. and one of the interesting things, I will show you a slide, it was derived from work done at Oak Ridge by a man who subsequently lost his fellowship at Oak Ridge because he did this, but he made the observation that there appears to be evidence in the rocks of the earth that the radioactive decay constant has changed. And it’s a very stunning observation. His observation basically is you can go into granite matrix, rock, and you can see particles that have a half life of 3½ minutes with a burn pattern. And the problem with that is that if they only lasted 3½ minutes, when did they do that? Because of the existing model the earth was molten, and so these particles, these particular isotopes would have been floating in this molten array and surely would have decayed before the rock crystallizes hard in granite. But if they disintegrated before the granite matrix formed, it wouldn’t let the burn mark. So obviously it must have radioactively decayed after the granite hardened up. But if that’s the case, then how did it get into the granite matrix? A very interesting puzzle. Those are instances where we have observed radio active decay, a decay rate over this period of time. Great, we have great observations, we connect all the dotted lines, we have curves of best fit, no problem, nobody’s arguing that. What we’re arguing is whether the decay constants you derive from data here is valid back here, that’s the debate. And there’s no way around it other than speculation.
Let’s go back to the chart again, on the right is the time line. This is the area of direct observation of man, we can extend our direct observation somewhat with microscopes, we can extend it with telescopes, we can have high speed filming that takes smaller and smaller segments of time, at Aberdeen we’re down to billionths of a second to photograph what happens when a bullet comes out of a gun and it starts to turn, you can measure little torque rates, etc. with ultra-high-speed photography. But notice it’s clipped on the right side of this chart. See, you can go down, you can go up, you can go left but you can’t go right. Why can’t you? Because there’s no direct observations there.
Well, says a student who was here 3 weeks ago, my teacher said of course we can go right because we can look off into space and see light and events that took billions of year to go because of the speed of light. The problem with that is, do we know that the speed of light has always remained the same? Do we know that the speed of light is the same at all points in the universe? Do we know that? Has that been checked? Or are we just guessing that the speed of light is a universal? Obviously we haven’t checked. Then if you haven’t checked, don’t call it a universal, and don’t blame me if I doubt it. What the Bible does, the Bible separates what we call hard science, and by hard science we’re talking about science where you can reproduce something, it separates hard science from speculative science, and we have an awful lot of speculative science today mixed in under the great slogan of science. Science has done wonderful things, science is part of the dominion covenant that God gave Adam, the problem is they can say science has helped us in medicine, scientists have these great observations, and we’ve benefited. Of course we have. Therefore what is your problem when scientists say … because when scientists say speculation they have ceased to be scientists and turn into philosophers. The problem with them is you can’t get them to admit that they’ve changed their caps. They want to talk science in one breath and talk philosophy in another, and still label the whole thing as science. That’s what the debate is.
So what we want to remember from Noah’s situation and the covenant is what the supreme standard is? It is the Word of God. Why is it the supreme standard? Because God [can’t understand word/s] It’s a very simple idea. Natural law is a substitute for the Word of God and His faithfulness. Next week we’ll deal with the implications of the covenant from man, that’s going to take a little time to deal with because God has to refurbish the divine institutions. Review chapter 3 of the notes, where I go through the design of man, the divine institutions, so when you come to the section for next time, you’ll notice on page 93 I start all over again with the divine institutions because they’re starting to change a bit this side of the flood.