Welcome to the May 29, 2008 edition of Bible in the News, this is Glenn Abel reporting. The week began with the attention of the world being drawn to man’s activities and aspirations in space, as the latest “mission to Mars” landed successfully. The high-fives, fist-pumping, and backslapping were in stark contrast to the tension present during the final minutes of the “Phoenix” spacecraft’s descent. Commentators waxed eloquent on the greatness of this achievement, and all of the benefits mankind would gain from the mission – paving the way for future manned missions to the so-called “red planet”.
But the purpose of the Eternal Spirit’s work is with another “red” planet – of which John Thomas wrote in 1848: “Revolving upon its own axis, and describing an ample circuit through the boundless fields of space, is a planet of the solar system bearing upon its surface a population of over a thousand millions subject to sin, disease, and death”. How apt that description of our earth - a planet “red” with sin, disease, and death! We see its effects everywhere.
Having wreaked havoc with the earth, man assumes it is only a matter of time before the earth is uninhabitable. And so, he feels an urgency to explore other planets, like Mars – to find a solution. Speaking at an event last month, in honor of NASA’s 50th anniversary, the “renowned” University of Cambridge physicist, Stephen Hawking, called on the United States to increase funding for projects leading to a colonization of space. He said that such endeavors “will completely change the future of the human race and may determine whether we have any future at all”.
God’s Purpose Steadfast
Man may have given up on the earth, but God hasn’t. In Isaiah 45:18, we read: “For thus saith Yahweh that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am Yahweh; and there is none else.” In the face of an unbelieving and stubborn population, God’s purpose is steadfast. In Numbers 14:21 he proclaims: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Yahweh.” And this purpose will come to fruition, for His Word will not return unto Him void, but it shall accomplish that which He pleases. (Isaiah 55:11)
During his lecture, Hawking told the crowd that in order to survive, man must “boldly go where no one has gone before”. How true it is that ever since the time of the tower of Babel, men have sought to “make a name” for themselves. In fact, today is the anniversary of the first summit climb of Mt. Everest – a testament to the spirit of man – always seeking to ascend to the heights of vain glory. The time is fast approaching when the words of Isaiah 2:11 will be fulfilled: “The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and Yahweh alone shall be exalted in that day”.
One could not help but be reminded of the words of the prophet Jeremiah on Tuesday when the celebratory mood turned to one of consternation as the Phoenix lander’s robotic arm initially failed to deploy: “… Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from Yahweh.” (Jeremiah 17:5) Compare that with what he says in chapter 32:17: “Ah Lord Yahweh! Behold, thou hast made the heaven and earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:” There is nothing too hard for the God of Israel!
The Building Blocks of Life
In her “blog” on NASA’s project Phoenix web site, Dr. Deborah Bass indicates that one part of the Phoenix Mars Lander’s mission is to dig in the northern polar region of Mars, to “look for evidence of the building blocks of life – carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen”. Surely there are better uses for the $400 million dollars this mission cost! Truly “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1) Scripture reveals all we need to know about the building blocks of life in Genesis 2:7: “And Yahweh God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul [being]”. God’s formula is quite simple: Dust of the ground + breath of life = living, breathing being. Let us not look to the “wise” of this world (those who make a name for themselves) but rather, let US be wise and follow the admonition of the Eternal Spirit in Isaiah 45:22 when He said: “Look unto Me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
Return to Dust
At the end of the day, no matter what their accomplishments, and how much “renown” men attain, they will still perish as the beasts, revealing the futility and vanity of their efforts. And so, while the United States celebrated another Memorial Day on Monday, honoring the dead, we bring to mind the words of the Psalmist in the 115th Psalm: “The dead praise not Yahweh, neither any that go down into silence.” (Psalm 115:17) Solomon takes up this consideration in the book of Ecclesiastes. In chapter 12, he notes that when a man dies, the dust returns to the earth and the breath returns to God who gave it. Solomon’s conclusion: “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”
The Promised Inheritance
Amidst the doom and gloom of today’s scientific “prognosticators”, Bible students ought to take comfort in the words of Ecclesiastes 1:4: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” And so, the earth will still be here long after the “renowned” of this generation return to dust.
Even though the meager accomplishments of the Mars Lander are a far cry from sending men to Mars, we ought not to allow ourselves to be caught up in the exuberance of man’s achievements in the “race to space”. The Holy Scriptures are clear that man has no business beyond our earth. The Psalmist declares in Psalm 115:16 “The heaven, even the heavens are Yahweh’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” All of the “great and precious promises” of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, have to do with a physical inheritance upon the earth. “For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon Yahweh, they shall inherit the earth” says Psalm 37:9.
When the confederacy of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, spoken of in Daniel 2, finally stands up, and is subsequently pulverized by the God of Heaven, a Kingdom will be established “which shall never be destroyed” but will fill the whole earth. “And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” (Daniel 7:27) Clearly, our future is on the earth!
To inherit the earth, we know that our “corruptible” bodies must put on “incorruption”, for “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 15:50). Thus we patiently await the return of the King of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the time spoken of by the prophet Daniel - when “many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (Daniel 12:2-3)
The Bottom Line
As man desperately seeks to dig himself out of his self-made “pit”, we ought to take heart that the God of heaven and earth, has prescribed a solution to the root problem of sin, disease, and death. His invitation is open to all who would take the time to investigate the matter: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith Yahweh: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for Yahweh hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:18-20) Those words, spoken to Israel are equally applicable for all those who would respond to the call of the Gospel of the Hope of Israel.
Let us not seek “to the stars” to escape our problems, instead, “Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: Yahweh is His name” (Amos 5:8).
Join us again next week, God willing, for more Bible in the news, as we eagerly anticipate the time when righteousness is the order of the day, and this “red” planet becomes “white as snow”.