- The New York Times reports on a recent gathering of scientists who met to discuss what and where the Garden of Eden might have been – kind of – in “A Romp Into Theories of the Cradle of Life.”
Darwin speculated that life began in a warm pond on the primordial Earth. Lately other scientists have suggested that the magic joining of molecules that could go on replicating might have happened in an undersea hot spring, on another planet or inside an asteroid. Some astronomers wonder if it could be happening right now underneath the ice of Europa or in the methane seas of Titan.
- Scot McKnight has begun a series on Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses.
Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa prove — not contend — that students are not learning what they should, professors are not doing all they could, administrators are not focused on education enough and, as if that weren’t a glassful, society is and will continue to suffer is something isn’t done about it.
- Fred Sanders offers a fascinating look into pop culture with “Born This Way (so Raise Your Glasses, All You Fireworks).“
Three hit songs in the last few months have pushed the same message: You are awesome. You’re awesome just the way you are, even –no, especially– if you don’t fit in.
- Brian LePort offers his thoughts on what “rapture” means in 1 Thess. 4:17.
My take on the passage is that it refers to our meeting Christ in the air to welcome him to his earthly rule. If this is a “rapture”, fine, as long as it is not confused with the popular idea.
- Rod has started what looks like a fascinating series on Firefly & Theology. (If you’re not familiar with Firefly, it was an outstanding scifi series on Fox that sadly only made it through one season, though it was later made into a movie.)
- The Gospel Coalition has launched a new resource on Preaching Christ in the Old Testament that looks very interesting.
- And, here’s an explanation of how to win at rock-paper-scissors every time.
I couldn’t resist. I really couldn’t. I thought about saving it for tomorrow’s Flotsam and Jetsam, but it was too much fun.
HT 22 Words
We have several houses in our neighborhood that really get into the Halloween spirit. Every year they’re decked with all kinds of scary things—witches, ghosts, goblins, giant spiders, black cats (any of kind cat would work for me), and pumpkins carved to demonstrate what a psychotic dentist could do to you if he really wanted.
And, without fail, each yard has its own supply of skeletons. Now, I can understand how most of those other things would be scary, but skeletons? What exactly is a skeleton going to do to you? They don’t have any muscles, so I’m guessing they can’t run very fast. (Actually, without muscles they shouldn’t be able to move at all, making them even less scary.) And, if they did somehow manage to catch you, what are they going to do, poke you with a finger? Those bony hands can’t be very good at holding onto things, so good luck using a knife or any other weapon. And, they don’t really have any special powers. I’ve never heard of skeletons suddenly being able to fly, cast spells, or shoot fireballs from their empty eye sockets. They do have teeth, but they’re generally not very sharp. So I suppose your worst case scenario is that the skeleton would catch you napping and start gnawing on your leg. Unpleasant, but not terribly scary.
So, why are skeletons scary? I think it’s because skeletons represent a human person without life—no flesh, no spirit, no warmth…no life—an empty person. And, that’s scary.
Now, imagine that you’re standing in a valley with the hills rising all around you. Shifting your weight a bit, you hear a crunching sound. You assume at first that you’re standing on some dry leaves, but that impression flees as soon as you look down. Bones. Dry, brittle bones all around your feet. Slowly you raise your eyes again and see that the entire valley is filled with skeletons—jumbled piles of blanched bones blanketing the valley floor. And, imagine that these aren’t just any bones, these are the bones of your people—your families, friends, neighbors, co-workers, all turned into dry bones and scattered uselessly across the ground. Not very pleasant , is it?
That’s what Ezekiel saw (Ezekiel 37:1-14). God showed Ezekiel the nation of Israel as a valley full of dry bones. Because that’s what Israel had become: a people separated from God, sapped of life, discarded among the nations. East of Eden.
Walking around among the bones, Ezekiel is struck by how dry these bones are. That might seem a little odd. Of course the bones are dry. Why wouldn’t they be? The point, though, is not simply that the bones were not wet, but that they were without Spirit. The Bible routinely associates the Spirit of God with water and life (e.g. Jer. 17:3; 31:12; Ezek. 47:9). So, in the vision, the very dryness of these bones shows that they are without Spirit, without the life that only God’s Spirit can provide. The bones are God’s people without God’s Spirit.
Notice the stark contrast between the Valley of Bones and the Garden of Eden. The Valley is dead and dry, but the Garden contained life, water, and Spirit. In the Valley, God’s people are separated from him, cut off from the source of life. In the Garden, God’s people walked intimately with him, bringing him glory throughout creation. The Valley is east of Eden. And, God’s people are in the Valley.
But, God offers more. The coming one, the one that God has been promising since the Garden, he will also bring with him a new spirit for God’s people. He will be the one on whom God puts his Spirit (Isa. 42:1). And, when he comes, God will pour out his spirit “on all flesh” (Joel 2:28). All of God’s people will receive God’s spirit again.
And, when the promised one brings the promised Spirit and pours it out upon God’s people, the Valley of Bones will again be filled with life! “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD” (Ezek. 37:5-6).
Think back to the Garden. When God created Adam from the dry dust of the earth, he breathed into him the breath of life (Gen. 2:7). But, Adam rejected the God of life and was separated from the source of life. Here, God demonstrates his faithfulness to all of humanity by again breathing into his people the breath of life. He will not allow his people to remain trapped in the Valley of Death, but he promises that he will again restore them to life.
When he comes…God’s people will live again.
[Read the rest of the posts in this series on the Gospel Book page.]
Do you see it? We have an immense propensity to take the gospel and turn it into law. We love to take good and turn it into chains. Why do we do that?
- Sam Storms wants to know Why Doesn’t God Save Everyone?
If election were solely based on what God wanted and not anything in us that might differentiate the chosen from the un-chosen and thus account for why this one and not another, why didn’t God choose all? If he could have, why didn’t he?
- And, also from Reclaiming the Mind, Michael Patton asks, Why Did God Put Satan in Eden?
While there is more we could expand on here, the question of the hour is this: If Satan is so evil and “anti-God” why did God put Satan in the Eden? While there is no way to know what would have happened had he not been present, it is evident from the narrative and the ensuing curse that Satan played a big part in the fall.
- Here’s an interesting summary of Peter Leithart’s understanding of baptism and apostasy.
According to Leithart, water baptism has “virtually unbelievable powers” that makes someone a member of Christ instead of Adam, turns someone into a member of Christ’s body, and brings someone into acceptance with God.
- Brian LePort wants to know if we should say that Jesus is God’s Facebook.
- Chimpanzees have not only figured out how to disarm traps, they may have learned how to pass the knowledge on to future generations.
- And, the Onion reports that the gap between the rich and the poor has been named the 8th Wonder of the World.
- Internet Monk is discussing Gen 2, and today he addressed the nature of the Garden (The Promised Land) and Adam/Eve’s role in the Garden (priests). Interestingly, he argued for a Sailhammerian view of the Land – i.e. Gen 1-2 are about the preparation of the promised land and not the creation of the world. I’m running across this view more and more lately.
- Joel points out a free ebook download, The Earliest Christians in their Own Words.
- Heidelblog offers some thoughts on the trajectories of various Presbyterian groups, expressing concern that the EPC might be moving closer to mainline Presbyterianism.
- First Thoughts offers a list of the 50 best/worst childhood fads. Fortunately, I’ve managed to avoid the worst of these so far, though I did work next door to a Beanie Babies shop for a while in college. Scary. And, I completely disagree about Frisbees. Frisbee is never boring. By far my favorite though, was his reason for not liking troll dolls: “When you’re not looking, they eat your soul.”
- I’d like to pretend that this isn’t true, but apparently female sign-ups at ashleymadison.com (a dating service for married people) increased ten-fold the day after mother’s day. And, the day after Valentine’s Day was even busier. I wonder if this results from too many men forgetting about these holidays.
- The prime minister of Iceland made history last week when she became the first head of government to enter into a gay marriage.
- And, here’s a story about a professor who apparently streamed porn to his college classroom on accident. In case you were unsure, this is not a good idea.