Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Beginning

What better place to start than in the beginning. The start of the prologue of John is in a way a parallel of the beginning sequence in the book of Genesis. The story is very popular; God created the earth in six days and “Rested” or “ceased” on the 7th. By looking closely at Genesis 1, we can see that God did not just randomly create as He went along, but He followed a structured Plan. When Jesus was teaching His disciples the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:5-14), He said “Your (God’s) Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. This was the Master Plan God had for the earth when He created it; to be modeled after Heaven, where Order and Perfection rule.

Back to the story; God created the heavens (not Heaven; see note)[1] and the earth. At this point, the earth is without form or content, except for waters. And the Spirit of God is walking through the entire earth, surveying it and ready to unveil the Master Plan. God’s famous First Recorded Words: “Let there be Light” and there was light, and God separated the light from the darkness calling them “day” and “night”. Why did God create light first? The Bible says somewhere in Psalms (no, I don’t know the entire Bible from A-Z or the precise location of all the verses. Don’t tell my Christian brothers or they’ll be on my case too :p[2]) “In Your (God’s) Light may we see Light”. In Heaven, God’s Radiance is the Source of Light; Light is not only beneficial for seeing physically, but for spiritual illumination of who God is. By creating light on earth “as it is in Heaven”, God was placing a sign to remind His creation of who God is, by pointing to the Source of the light, that as they seek the light they may also seek the Source. And “God saw that it was good”. This was the first day.

On Day 2, God created an expanse or space between the waters, to separate them. This he called “sky”, with the waters on either side being clouds and seas. “”And God saw that it was good”.

Day 3, God creates dry ground by gathering the waters to specific locations that there may be land. With dry land, God was able to create vegetation on the land, trees and plants of all kinds. ”And God saw that it was good”.

Day 4, and God creates “lights” to separate day and night, more specifically light bearers or channels through which the light could shine on earth. They also serve as “signs to mark seasons and days and years”. These were the sun, moon and stars which still serve as signs today. ”And God saw that it was good”.

Day 5, God created living creatures in the sea and the air. Here also, we have the first recorded Blessing given by God in verse 22, to be “fruitful” and “fill” the waters and sky. “And God saw that it was good”.

Why, are we told at the end of each day that God saw that it was good? You would think that an all Powerful God would be able finish creating in less than a day. Why then did He space it out? Here we see one of the Qualities of God, His Patience. It also shows His Order, in that He does not just randomly set out to do as much as He can each day, but for each day He has made, He also has a Structure or Plan for that day, a Specific Purpose or Master Plan without deviating. Consider days 1-3, light and darkness, sky and waters, dry land and vegetation; things are formed. In days 4-6, the formed things are filled; light and darkness with sun and moon, sea and air with birds and sea creatures, and dry land with land animals and man. This clearly shows an orderly plan. Not that He would have in any way been overwhelmed, but that He is content and of an Inflexible enough Mind to stick to His Order. It also shows that “it was good”, i.e. it was done on earth “as it is in Heaven”.

Lights – sun, moon and stars
Sky and Sea
Birds and Sea Creatures
Dry Land and Vegetation
Land Creatures and Man

Day 6, and God creates livestock, reptiles and wild animals to fill the entire earth. Having created everything needed to live, God creates the centrepiece of His creation. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our Image, in Our Likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground’”. 

God already Rules over Heaven, with the angels and creatures serving Him, and He has now chosen to make man in His Image, i.e. bearing His Radiance in bodily form  and possessing and dominating the earth, for his(man’s) benefit and pleasure. Compare this with the image of the Radiance of God also being made manifest in Jesus' bodily form from the previous post “Who is Jesus”. This also corresponds to the "Light" and "lights", showing that God is the "Light" and man, being made in His Image is intended to be the plural, "lights", through which the Glory and Radiance of God is fully displayed. As Heaven is the throne room of God, for His Benefit and Pleasure, so was earth modelled after Heaven that God may transfer His Sovereignty and Nature unto man on earth.

By the 7th day, God had finished creating all His creation, so he "rested" or "ceased". And sure enough, as it is in Heaven, God blessed the 7th day and made it Holy. It was a day in which man was also to find rest in God and be blessed for his "work" in and through this rest; the "work" in this case represents the Will of God done in/through man. Contrary to popular belief, this day was Saturday, not Sunday, but we shall discuss that later on. What is important to note for now is that this day prefigured something greater; the Rest which Jesus Christ would later provide. Before Jesus died, He said "It is Finished", an echo of the blessing of the 7th day in which the "Work" of God was "finished". So Jesus is saying the Work of God is "finished" in Him, (cf. the Fulfillment of the Law in previous post) which transcends beyond just a day, but becomes a way of life, and indeed, a Way to Life. We will come back to how and what Work Jesus finished through His death later on; in the meantime, you can read Hebrews 3 & 4 for more info on this "Rest".

Also, notice that God says “let Us”, “Our” etc. We know from the previous blog entry that the “Word” was with God, and the Word was God, “in the beginning”. Here we see the Person of Jesus Christ present at creation, as John 1:3 says, “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made”. So we see here the evidence of the Divinity of Jesus “in the beginning”, the same One who would later repeat the creation sequence by donning the nature of man to display the Radiance and Sovereignty of God on earth, so that He could once again finish the work of God on the "7th day".

In the next entry, we shall look at how this Perfect Picture was corrupted which should bring us closer to why there was the need to “re commission” man, if you like, through Jesus, to dominate the earth again.

[1] The universe aside from the earth, i.e. planets etc.
[2] It’s actually Psalm 36:9. I found out later on by going online :D. For a good online Bible with multiple translations, try www.biblegateway.com.

Who is Jesus, really?


If you ask anybody what/who a Christian is, you will probably get mixed answers. Some will say pious and self righteous, holier than thou, while others will say humble and compassionate; some may even go as far as calling Christians crazy, weird or nut jobs. As many views as there are as to who or what a Christian is, and as diverse and divided as the Christian church is in doctrine, beliefs, attitudes and practices, not all of these opinions (which can be formed by merely observing those around you who call themselves Christians) and characteristics of Christians truly portray the genuine Christian; they cannot all be right if they are so contrasting.

So what is a genuine Christian? The word means "like Christ", therefore in order to know what/who a real Christian is/should be like, we must look at the character and person of Jesus Christ. At this point, you're probably thinking "Oh no, not another Christian blog!", and you may be right in some respects, but I am in no way saying "You're a sinner, I'm holy and better than you, therefore listen to me and repent or burn in hell". If you will be willing enough to forget everything you've heard and seen about Christians or Christianity, and bear with me as I attempt to explain and reveal who the person of Jesus is (why He came, what He did, and how that is relevant, if in any way, to your life today), through what should be the only Source of Christian belief, the Bible, then you might just get something out of this blog.

I do not claim to have all the answers of to be perfect in knowledge and wisdom, neither do I in any way feel as though I am any better than you, in fact, on the contrary I am human just like you; I too also have feelings, I get mad (sometimes over the smallest of things), I get sad, I sometimes feel vulnerable and shy and have periods of low self esteem, just like anybody else. So please do not think of me as an alien of some sort, or view this blog as a religious sermon in any way, or a one way blog; feel free to comment or ask questions relevant to the blog entries and the purpose of the blog. As the Bible says (I will often quote from the Bible to get across a certain point of view or give examples from Jesus' life) "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."

Now, back to the topic at hand. Most people are familiar with the name Jesus Christ. It is used as a swear word, or in popular phrases like 'what would Jesus do?'. The name has come to be known in many circles of life; art like Da Vinci's, media like Jesus Christ Superstar and the Passion of the Christ, even cameo appearances on Family Guy, a piece of toast and on a piece of wood.

But not many people know much about what the man Jesus stood for and who He really is. So by attempting to look at the Life of Jesus in more detail I will aim to clear up some misconceptions you may have about Christianity and by explaining in clearer terms who Jesus is, why He came, and His relevance today, I hope that you will be able to look at my Faith in a different light.

Firstly, we will look at who Jesus is in brief detail. According to the Bible, he was the Son of God in earthly form. The book of John has a good description of Him. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God...” (John 1:1-18 serves as the prologue for the rest of the book) The word “Word” here is used for the Greek term “logos”. I appreciate many of you are not Greek scholars (neither am I for that matter) so I will try to explain the concept of “logos” in simple terms. In the time of Jesus, Greek was the common language of the world; the term was used by philosophers and intellectuals to refer not only to the spoken word or reason, but also in reference to the thing or set of laws that created and governed the universe[1]. What John, the writer of this gospel, is saying is that this “logos” is not a thing or set of laws, but a “He”. “In the beginning was the Word (Logos)”, in the beginning was He who is the Reason and Source of everything, “and the Word was with God”, and the Word dwelt in the presence of God and shared His Radiance, “and the Word was God”, the Word is Divine and in every way equal to God. He being in the presence of God since before creation and sharing in His Radiance is in every way the Image and Likeness of God.

This Person, the Logos through whom the world was made is also said to have come down and made His dwelling among men. He is likened to “Light” shining in the “darkness”, and as coming to “that which was His own”. The word used for dwelling is the same as the Hebrew equivalent of the word “Tabernacle”[2], the place where God “came down” and “dwelt” among His people, His Radiance seen by all; we will study the Tabernacle in greater detail later on in this blog, but it is clear, from looking at the basic function of the Tabernacle, that John is using this example to show how the Logos came down to the earth to dwell among His people. This “Logos” is Jesus who came down in human form to tabernacle among His people, that they may see the Radiance (that which is in Him, He being in the Form and Likeness of God and in every way equal to God) of God in bodily form (John 1:14) .

So why did the Son of God have to leave His Throne and Place with God to come down and dwell with us? Why did He feel the need to come in the form of an inferior being to show His Glory when such a form could not adequately display the full Radiance of Him through whom the entire universe was made? What was His purpose in coming? You’ve probably at one point in your life been preached to before; some have used fear and guilt, “You are a sinner! Repent or be condemned to an eternity in hell”; others have used love, “God Loves you in spite of who you are”, still others have used compromise, “Jesus loves you, but He is not the only way to Heaven”. The point is that there are so many different messages being preached today that it is hard to know which to listen to. Yet many non Christians, and “Christians” for that matter, do not know enough about why the message is being preached in order to make an informed decision. Usually, the message precedes the reason behind it. My aim with this blog is to first lay out in greater detail the purpose for which Christ came. Starting from the beginning of the story, i.e. the “Word”, God and the beginning, and working our way through to Jesus, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us”, we will begin to paint the picture of what God had in mind; from there we will then be able to see more clearly how Jesus fits into this picture. In the process, we will also begin to explore the relevance of all this, i.e. what relevance it is to you/where you fit into this picture. As Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish the Law[3] but to fulfill it...”, so also will we have to look back at the Law to see how it is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

I appreciate that many of you will have questions and may disagree with some viewpoints. As I have said before, I do not claim to have all the answers, neither do I think that I am better than you, so please feel free to ask questions and I will do my best to answer them. Unfortunately, I may not be able to answer all the questions, due to several factors, such as limited internet time, so don’t take it personally; the most common questions will take priority. Some questions will not be answered straight away, but will be addressed in later blog entries, so some patience will be required on both your part and mine because I do not want to overlook anything in the process. So sit back and enjoy the ride, as we explore Jesus in greater depth.

[1] More info on Logos - here and here
[2] More info on the Tabernacle and its contents - Exodus 25-27
[3] The Law here refers to the entire Old Testament (Genesis - Malachi)