GOD’S KINGDOM IS FOR EARTH-LOVERS
God’s Kingdom originally was The Garden of Eden, the perfect place on the perfect earth, boasting boundless beauty, marvelous magnificence, unequalled splendor, year round delicious fruits for the picking, shalom galore: not a dissonant note, only wholesome harmony.
In that perfect place God eased Adam and Eve, charged them to read that beautiful book, the Book of Paradise, where every creature reflected God’s glory: they were there to live, to learn and, especially, to relish.
Picture these two creatures: imagine those two humans, feeble man and feeble woman, creatures among creatures, two tiny bits of the universe endowed with self knowl¬edge, two tiny bits of a world that had become self-conscious: there they were, not even in control over their own heart beat.
There they stood, these two, fragile, weak members of that over¬whelming massive context of the Kingdom. But there they also stood as rulers, as a prince and a princess among all creatures, and as owners. Psalm 115:16 unequivocally says, “The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to humanity.”
Wow! God entrusted this beautiful world to this naïve pair and to us! So when the enemy came, posing as a friend, they were bound to fall for his clever talk.
And they did!
THE BIRTH OF CAPITALISM ALREADY THEN!
Look at this: Genesis 2: 9 paints Paradise, “And the Lord made all kinds of trees grow… trees that were PLEASING to the eye and GOOD for food.
Note the order: beauty before utility.
Then, in the next chapter, 3: 6, the order is reversed, “And the woman saw that the tree was GOOD for food and PLEASING to the eye”. Again note the order: now utility before beauty. Right there the birth of Capitalism, and the beginning of the END. That simple reversal embodied the death of creation and the need for renewal.
THE TWO HOLY WORDS.
On every page the Bible makes plain that the meaning of creation resides only in the one overarching motif: the motif of God’s Kingdom. That is why Scripture and Creation are never at odds: they always form a unity where the one reinforces the other.
The church has recognized this.
Here’s what the Belgic Confession says,
“We know God by two means:
First, by the creation, preservation, and government
of the universe,
since that universe is before our eyes
like a beautiful book
in which all creatures,
great and small,
are as letters
to make us ponder
the invisible things of God:
God’s eternal power and divinity,
as the apostle Paul says in Romans 1:20.
All these things are enough to convict humans
and to leave them without excuse.”
The Belgic Confession continues:
“Second, God makes himself known to us more clearly
by his holy and divine Word,
as much as we need in this life, for God’s glory
and for our salvation.”
That gives us TWO HOLY WORDS: Creation as God’s Direct and Primary Word; the Bible as God’s indirect and Secondary Word.
However, the church has reversed the order, in many cases eliminated Creation as God’s Holy Word altogether. Just as the beauty aspect was pushed back to give priority to utility, so the church took the easy way out and let reason, the intellect – the inspired human Scriptures – have precedence over God’s direct creation-word.
Now, in the End Time, this has resulted in immense natural disasters because the vast majority of Christians does not even see creation as God’s word at all and strictly relies on the Scriptures as the key to Salvation, resulting in such ungodly ideas as RAPTURE.
Paul recognized that when he wrote ROMANS 1: 20, “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse.”
I repeat, “All these created things are enough to convict humans and to leave them without excuse”.
We can never claim ignorance. When we appear before God’s judgement – and we all will be judged – believing in the CREATION word is decisive. Romans 1: 20 does not say that reading and believing the Bible opens up the way to salvation. No, not recognizing Creation as God’s Holy Word: that is enough to convict people.
THE NATURE OF THE KINGDOM
Here’s what the Bible says about THE KINGDOM, God’s perfect earth.
Nowhere in the Bible do we find the word harmony, but the idea of synergy, of concordance, is one of the most essential features of the entire doctrine of creation found in the Bible. And that innate cohesion – everything is connected to everything else – can only be so totally harmonious because every part in that great edifice of creation is, in its deepest sense, focused on the one common goal: devout obedience to the will of the Almighty, in which men and women, angels and animals, plants and stars, sun and moon, are united.
The world in which we live is a well ordered world. We read in Scripture that God was very pleased when he saw what he had made, “and behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).
Creation explains where Scripture lacks: we can’t find an answer to homosexuality in the Bible. For that we have to rely on creation, where it does occur naturally. Also the age of the earth can only be deduced from investigating the earth itself.
The Kingdom of God was not intended to be static but dynamic. From its very inception the Kingdom contained an incentive to develop, evolve, and unfold all its potentials and powers contained in it.
Here I hear an echo of Nietzsche’s words: Remain true to the earth!
Bonhoeffer in his Creation and Fall, dealing with the first three chapters of the Bible, Genesis 1-3, writes, “The human being is the human being who is taken from earth…. The earth is its mother…. It is God’s earth out of which humankind is taken….. Its bond with the earth belongs to its essential being. Human beings have their existence as existence on earth.”
Johan Herman Bavinck in his Between the Beginning and the End: a radical Kingdom Vision writes,
“A long time ago the Bible tells us, God fashioned the first human pair from the earth. The Hebrew word for soil is Adamah, from which Adam comes. The word adam reminded the Israelite immediately of the first Adam who was taken from the soil of the earth, hence the well-known saying: soil we are and to soil we shall return. Just as we have red clay and black soil, we too have people of different colors. The word ‘adam’ typifies the human race in its unbreakable unity. We all come from the earth and we all go back to the earth. Earth-bound we are, forever. We, the human beings, are adam, and belong to adamah, the life-bearing earth. With every sinew of our exis-tence we are tied to the earth, which bears us and feeds us.”
God gave us authority over the earth and its plants and animals, to rule over them and to utilize them for God’s service, to fathom and under¬stand creation’s hidden powers, and so bring to full deploy¬ment the infinite possibilities of creation.
THE SIN AGAINST THE KINGDOM.
We have ruptured the Kingdom; we have brought dissonance into the world order. At one time everything in heaven and on earth was united in one over arching purpose, in devout submission to him who created it all. We now have excluded ourselves from this goal.
The heavens declare God’s glory and the expanse tells us the work of his hands, but we, the human race, we alone have refused to be included in that act of worship. We have torn ourselves away from this all embracing body and have declared ourselves to be sovereign.
We have become a law to ourselves and by that act clothed ourselves with the mantle of loneliness, no longer able to hear and understand the song of creation, and, sadly, in turn no longer seen by creation as part and parcel of it.
Today we experience this sundering of creational harmony with the most ominous results. I fear what is in store for us in 2018, if 2017 is an indication.
The disappearance 75% of all insects is deeply frightening. E.O. Wilson, the world’s foremost expert on insects, says that, when all insects go, the human race has only a few months left. The most likely cause of this INSECTAGEDDON has come because the land has become hostile: “Cursed is the soil because of you,” Genesis 3: 17.
Even more frightening is the melting of the Arctic. On January 2018, methane levels as high as 2764 ppb (parts per billion) were recorded there. The very high reading was likely caused by methane hydrate destabilization in the sediments on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean.
In the short term methane is 100 times more lethal than our CO2. There are billions of tons of this explosive gas on the Arctic seabed. ARCTIC NEWS calls it “The Unfolding Arctic Catastrophe”, and, if the hydrates are affected, gives us no more than 8 years.
Last week Gerald Caplan in the Toronto Globe and Mail had this to say,
“In any event, there are other roads to doom. For a start: the updating of nuclear weapons, climate wilding and Mr. Trump’s America spinning out of control. Take the third: there’s no reason to believe that this summer’s outbreak of violent anarchy in Charlottesville, Va., will be the last. Countless Americans are ready to erupt. It’s estimated that hundreds of heavily armed neo-fascist militias threaten to unleash their power, knowing they have an ally in the White House. Both furious African-Americans and frustrated whites have had enough. America feels ripe for its second civil war, which, like the first, would unleash forces that can hardly be imagined. How can any normal sensible person fail to be shaken? I include me. Frankly, these feel to me like the apocalyptic End Times that the hysterical Old Testament prophets foresaw many millenniums ago.”
ANGRY NATURE CAUSES ANGRY PEOPLE.
We now see God’s work of art embroiled in the power of demons. Satanic forces have thrown themselves onto nature, onto us humans, onto the entire radiant creation.
No longer is our universe one of only beauty and harmony, but, especially in our days, one of unpredictable powers which threaten us with annihilation from all directions. The world in which we live is dominated by demons. Every hour we experience the terrible influ¬ence of this satanic situ¬a¬tion.
It is impossible to visualize the immense difference between the majes¬tic, harmonious unity of creation as it emer¬ged from God’s hand, and the frantic, demon dominated planet in which we, the cursed human¬ity, dwell after the fall into sin.
THE KINGDOM IS IN SHATTERS.
That is the profound tragedy con¬fronting the life of the world. This goes far beyond the fact that we have torn up its cohesion: it actually means that God has surrendered his own creation to Satan and his followers, whose only purpose is to abuse it and destroy it.
The Kingdom, after all, com¬prises all things, all plants, all animals, all people, all angels. The King¬dom includes the sea and the land, the moun-tains and the valleys, all that was and is and is to come; and all of it is incorporated in a great and mighty whole.
The Kingdom is the place where all things are in their rightful place and where everything can fulfill its function and deploy its potential in complete harmony with all that surrounds it.
The Kingdom is synonymous with light, peace, joy, service to God, in harmonious vene¬ra¬tion. Where the Kingdom is being destroyed, where this structure comes apart at the seams, there is decomposition, brokenness, frag¬men¬tation, enmity, contra¬diction, meaninglessness, darkness, death. The Kingdom is the smile of God’s good pleasure: “See, it was very good.”
Soon, very soon, almost any minute now our prayer “YOUR KINGDOM COME”, will become reality.
Remember, That KINGDOM IS FOR EARTH-LOVERS, because John 3: 16 says: “For God so loved the WORLD – THE COSMOS – EVERYTHING that lives and moves and has a being – that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
That is our hope in life and death.