Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How Big Was Eden?

Biblegems #151
Question: Genesis 2:10 mentions a river that flows out of Eden to water the garden. Does this mean that Eden was more than just a garden? Could it have been a larger region that had a garden in it?

The geographic details on Eden are found in Genesis 2:8-14. There are several details in the description that give us a general idea of Eden’s size and location. It must be remembered, however, that the geography described here is from the pre-Flood world. The Flood itself, and other calamities in nature associated with the Flood—earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, etc.—dramatically changed the landscape of the earth. It is impossible to accurately locate exactly where Eden was or how large an area it took up based on the descriptions in Genesis 2 because the landmarks have all changed.

That being said, there are some things we can discover. Eden lies “east” of the point of view of Adam, the one who first passed on this description. We don’t know where Adam was at the time Eden and the garden were created, or if Adam’s point of view reflects where he was when he was telling his children about the creation of the garden. It could be assumed that Adam was somewhere in the area of what we now know as Palestine, based upon a further assumption that the Tigris and Euphrates rivers mentioned in the account might be somewhat close to where these rivers were located before the Flood.

The garden, as the questioner suggests, was actually “in Eden” (2:8) and the river that fed the garden originated from an underground source somewhere “from Eden” into the garden (2:10). This river had to be quite large because it separated into four other large rivers after feeding the garden (2:10).

Adam named the first river “Pishon,” which he described as winding through, or perhaps encircling, the land of Havilah. Havilah ceased to exist after the Flood, so we don’t know where it was located. The name seems to mean “Sandland,” and it was known for its wealth of gold, precious stones and an aromatic gum (2:11-12).

Adam named the second river Gihon (2:13). That river circulated through the land of Cush. Later in Scripture, Cush is the name given to Arabia and Ethiopia. It is possible that the same general area was renamed Cush after the Flood, even though the natural boundaries had changed dramatically.

Adam named the third river the Tigris, or “Hiddekel” in Hebrew. The Tigris is described as running along the eastern border of Assyria, which in post-Flood times would be north / northeast of Arabia.

The last river is the Euphrates, and no description is given of its location. If the Tigris and Euphrates of Adam’s pre-Flood world are reasonably close to their current locations, then the Eden of the Bible would extend roughly from the modern day Persian Gulf northward to encompass Iraq, western Turkey and the stretch of northwestern Iran between Turkey and the Caspian Sea. The garden in Eden would be a smaller area tucked somewhere near the headwaters of the original rivers.

Eden, which translates “Delight,” is a very large piece of real estate! Yet Adam was clearly familiar with the geographic borders of his garden home. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Our Age In Heaven

Biblegems #150
Question: Will people in heaven be forever the same age in appearance as when they died?

The Bible does not answer this question specifically. There are, however, indications in Scripture that I believe give some strong clues.

The most complete description of our resurrected state in heaven is found in 1 Corinthians 15. There we learn the resurrection body will be imperishable (42). It is also a transformed body, spiritual in its very nature, yet still a recognizable body (44) that will be like Jesus’ resurrected body—having form and substance, not that of a ghost (49). In fact, Jesus presented Himself to His disciples in His resurrected body on several occasions, even appearing before them behind locked doors, and gave proof that the resurrection body has flesh and bones:
         Luke 24:39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.    

When it comes to the appearance of age in heaven, Jesus again becomes our model. The apostle John writes:
         1John 3:2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Jesus’ resurrection appearances revealed the peak of physical maturity. The book of Revelation also shows Him to be a fully mature male, although shining and radiant in the splendor and glory of His heavenly environment. Even that, too, may be true of us, that we will wear a supernatural glow in our appearance:
         Phil. 2:15 …so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

The indication seems to be that our appearance of age will be one of full male or female maturity depending, of course, on our gender here. Paul uses the example in First Corinthians of a seed that is buried in the ground coming to life again in a new form and a whole new level of glory:
1Cor. 15:37-40 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.

The clues in the Bible strongly suggest that whether a person dies in childhood or in extreme old age, the resurrection body will be recognizably human, fully mature, reflecting our gender, beautifully radiant and absolutely imperishable.  No wonder the apostle Paul says in Romans:
         Rom. 8:19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Bible: Word Of God Or Man?

Biblegems #149
Question: How can the entire Bible be demonstrated to be the Word of God, especially when so many people were involved in composing it over many centuries?

The Bible can be demonstrated to be the divinely inspired Word of God on several levels, and the evidence is far too voluminous to catalogue here in 500 words or less. So I can only give a brief summary that I hope will whet your appetite for more.

The Bible Is Unique. It is the only book ever written over a span of 1600 years, composed by over 40 people from practically every walk of life who lived in dramatically different environments on three different continents, writing in three different languages. It tells one story: the story of God’s redemption of mankind, while at the same time addressing hundreds of controversial subjects from one harmonious point of view from Genesis to Revelation.

The Bible is the only book containing a large volume of prophecies by several individuals over several centuries which accurately foretell—hundreds of years beforehand— events related to Israel and specific cities and nations of the world. Add to that the numerous prophecies that accurately foretold the manner of Jesus’ birth, birthplace, his ministry of miracles, his teaching style of parables, his betrayal by a friend for 30 pieces of silver, his manner of death and burial. A statistical study of just 48 of these prophecies concluded: “We find that the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157.” [i] 

The Bible’s Own Claims.
The prophecies fulfilled in Jesus are far beyond the realm of accident or coincidence. When you add to this the huge number of other prophecies fulfilled throughout history, the statistical probability of them coming to pass by chance becomes ludicrous. No wonder the human authors of the Bible understood that they were acting as God’s spokesmen, passing on His revelation of Himself and His plan for the universe through human language in written form.  As the apostle Peter put it:
         2Pet. 1:21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The Old Testament prophet Hosea knew that he was communicating a message from God to his Jewish culture through his native Hebrew language:
         Hos. 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel 

The human authors of the Bible understood that they were not being used as dictation devices by God, but that there was a willing partnership as God transferred His thoughts to humanity through the personalities, styles, languages and cultures of individuals He chose for that purpose. These individuals were “inspired” by God to communicate His Word. “Inspired” is an English translation of a Greek word that means “God-breathed.” It beautifully describes the non-mechanical way God spoke through human beings to convey His Word:
         2Tim. 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness

[i]  Peter Stoner, quoted by Josh McDowell. Evidence That Demands A Verdict. 1972, pg. 175

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Where Did All The Water Go?

Biblegems #148
Question: A global flood covering the mountains by more than 20 feet as described in Genesis 7:19-20 would require steady, planet-wide rainfall at the rate of 6 inches per minute, 360 inches an hour, for 40 days and 40 nights, covering Mount Everest under 22 feet of water. How, exactly, did Noah measure this for the record? Where has all of the water gone since? And why is there no legitimate geological evidence of a global flood?

There are actually three questions here, and I will attempt to answer each one accurately as well as briefly.

The first question, how did Noah measure this, is the simplest. The very ancient practice of dropping a weighted rope over the side of a boat to the seabed below allowed sailors to then measure the length of rope immersed. This, of course, only allowed for measurements at the location of the vessel. For Noah, that meant measuring depths that likely covered what we now know as the areas of the ancient Near East and Turkey.

The second question, where has all the water gone, assumes (based upon the statistics in the question above) that the continent, mountains and oceans were pretty much the same in Noah’s day as now. That is a very inaccurate assumption. Recent studies have revealed that mid-oceanic ridges—mountain chains beneath all the oceans—were at one time only about 0.6 miles below the ocean waves. Today, those ridges are much deeper: approximately 1.8 miles below sea level. The cause behind this dramatic change is an abrupt shift in the earth’s tectonic plates caused by extreme heating of the Earth’s mantle—up to 300 degrees hotter than at present.[i] This over-heating triggered the break up of the pre-flood continent(s). It also pushed up the sub-ocean mountains, causing horrific earthquakes, multiple tsunamis and volcanoes. Ocean waters would have inundated the land-masses as the oceanic ridges pushed mountains of water away, adding to the torrent of rain falling for forty days.

Many of the mountain ranges we are familiar with today would have been created during this global upheaval. As the mantle began to cool off the ocean ridges would have dropped some. At the same time, new mountains of great height, such as the Alps, had been created as the continents crumpled and plowed into each other. Water would drain off of these into the newly shaped ocean basins. The Ice Age that followed carved many of the mountains, valleys and riverbeds that now shape our world.

That brings us to the third question— why is there no legitimate geological evidence of a global flood?

The question itself points to a bias that would render any answer unacceptable. The questioner assumes that any geological evidence favoring a biblical, creationist viewpoint is automatically illegitimate. 

Nevertheless, the evidence for a young earth is vast and overwhelmingly convincing. In this brief article alone several false assumptions have been exposed regarding the commonly taught theories of the age and formation of earth’s environments. A serious look at the geological, astronomical, hydrological and fossil evidence apart from these assumptions will reveal a young earth at the heart of a young universe whose origins, design and purpose testify to the accuracy of God’s revealed Word.
         Ps. 33:6  By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.

Below I have listed some sources for those who would like to dig deeper into the abundance of evidence that is available.

For Further Research:
The Global Flood. Dr. John Morris
Clearly Seen, Dr. randy J. Guliuzza
The Fossil Record, Dr. John Morris and Frank J. Sherwin
The Book of Beginnings, vol. 1&2, Dr. Henry Morris lll

[i] Sources: Brandall, P.A., et. al. 2013. High mantle temperatures following rifting caused by continental insulation. Nature Geoscience. 6 %0: 391-394.
  Langmuir, C. 2013. Older and hotter. Nature geoscience. 6 (5): 332-333.
  Clarey, Timoth, Ph.D., Hot Mantle Initiated Ocean and Flood Beginnings. Acts & Facts. 42 (8): 15.