The Mystery of Omnipotence
April 13th, 1988 @ 7:30 PM
THE MYSTERY OF OMNIPOTENCE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
04-13-88 7:30 p.m.
The title of the sermon is The Mystery Of Omnipotence, and it is a presentation of the creation of the world as we read it in the first chapter of Genesis. The Bible begins—Genesis begins, and the first chapter begins, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. The word used there, bara—translated “create”—refers to the bringing into being of something that has not been before. So this world is not eternal. It had a beginning. There was a time when there were no stars in the sky, there was no sun to shine, there were no planets to revolve around that central sun, and there was no earth. “In the beginning God created”—bara, brought into being out of nothing. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” [Genesis 1:1]. Now, this is a supposition on my part, but I cannot escape it. Through the years and the years and the years that I have read and studied, I have never been dissuaded from it; if God did it, it would have to have been done perfectly. I cannot persuade myself that the Lord God Creator could create something imperfect. If God did it, it was done beautifully, preciously, wonderfully, perfectly, if God did it. And the first verse says that God created the heaven and the earth [Genesis 1:1].
Now, when I turn to verse 2, it says: “And the earth was without form, and void”—tohu wabohu; translated here “without form, and void”; it was chaotic—”and darkness was upon the face of the deep” [Genesis 1:2]. Now the Bible, to me, expressly says in Isaiah 45:18 and I read it, Isaiah 45:18: “Thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not tohu—tohu wabohu”—He did not create it chaotic—”He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else” [Isaiah 45:18]. Now, to me, that is an avowal that when God created His perfect universe it became tohu wabohu—it became chaotic. Something happened to destroy it, God’s beautiful created world, universe, this earth, and the heavens above us. Now what is that that happened when God made His beautiful, perfect universe, and tohu wabohu—it became dark and formless and void? [Genesis 1:2]. What happened? I think what happened was in the passage that we read in Isaiah 14:12-15, and that same thing is repeated again in Ezekiel chapter 28, verses 11 to 19 [Ezekiel 28:11-19]—what happened was the rebellion of Satan, Lucifer, in heaven. He said in his heart, “I will be God” [Isaiah 14:14]. And when sin was found in Satan, he was cast down [Ezekiel 28:15-17; Revelation 12:9]. And when Satan fell, bringing sin into God’s universe, the whole creation fell with him. One of the most astonishing of all of the revelations in the Bible, the power of this anointing cherub, this angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14], whose name was Lucifer, son of the morning [Isaiah 14:12], when sin was found in him and he was cast out of the presence of God [Ezekiel 28:15-16], he brought down with him the whole created universe.
Now that is why I refer to the mystery of omnipotence. Why did God allow that? Why does God allow sin, and death, and chaos, and corruption to reign in this universe? Why those dead stars; those planets that are barren and sterile? Why these cemeteries in the earth? I sometimes refer to the earth as being none other else than a place in which to bury our dead. Satan reigns. He is the king of terrors. He brings death. Why does God allow that? Why did He allow it? It is a mystery unfathomable. In one of the epistles, it refers to the “mystery of iniquity” [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. It is one of the phrases of Paul. We don’t know, nor shall we ever know until we get to heaven and ask our Lord God face-to-face, why disease, and hurt, and age, and sorrow, despair, and death? Why? I live in that kind of a world. I live in a world of sickness and illness. I live in a world of death and memorial. I have lived in that world ever since I was a teenager. It is beyond what our minds can enter into, that the great, beautiful creation of God in Genesis 1:1: “became formless, and void” [Genesis 1:2]. And the whole universe fell, when Satan brought sin into this beautiful world [Ezekiel 28:15]. Now, what we have in the first chapter of Genesis is a re-creation of this planet, and the bringing into being of the living things that are on it. In six days God created, re-created, rejuvenated, remade this fallen earth [Genesis 1:3-31].
Now what kind of a period of time is referred to in a day? There are six days. What kind of a day? Now, if you read you will find world without end men who say that those days are geological ages. Some say that the word “day” will refer to a million years. Some of the them will say a “day” refers to a hundred thousand years, that a day will refer to two hundred thousand years. Most of the men that you will read after will say that each one of these days represents a geological age of five hundred thousand years. Now, I address that this evening. In this re-creation of this fallen world described here in the six days of the first chapter of Genesis, what does a day mean? [Genesis 1:3-31]. Are they geological ages? I have nine reasons why I think, I believe, that a day is our solar day, and Moses intended it when he wrote it. I have got nine reasons.
All right, number one: when Moses wrote this, each day is divided into periods of darkness and light, evening and morning, just as we have in the rotation of the earth. Moses wrote that, “the evening and the morning were the first day” [Genesis 1:5]. That is the Jewish way of saying a day; it starts in the evening—it starts at sundown and goes until sundown on the next day. The evening and the morning, the darkness and the light make a day [Genesis 1:3-5]. That is what Moses wrote, and it sounds that way.
All right, number two: Moses intended to convey the idea of a twenty-four hour day. He writes of night and day, evening and morning, first day and second day [Genesis 1:5, 2:8]. If he did not intend a twenty-four hour day, he writes in a most confusing manner, and we are going to see that.
All right, number three: the Hebrew word for day, yom—Y-O-M—the Hebrew word for “day” is used like this, and there is no exception to this in Hebrew Scripture. And you have a Hebrew scholar of great note in our presence tonight, and he can avow what I am saying. “Wherever that word “day,” yom, is modified by a numeral, 1, 2, 3, 4, whatever—or by an ordinal, first, second, third, fourth—it always refers to a solar day. There is no exception to that in the Word of God. Biblical authors are most meticulous in their writing. The seventh day—when the author Moses writes the seventh day, he does not mean the fifth day or the fourth day or the sixth day, he means the seventh day, that day. When he says the fifteenth day of Nisan, he does not mean the seventeenth day of Nisan or the twentieth day of Nisan. He means that day, and all Hebrew Scriptures are written just like that.
All right, number four: In Exodus 20:8-11, the wording of the fourth commandment could not possibly refer to an age of five hundred thousand years. On that day you are to keep the Sabbath holy unto the Lord. And in the same passage and verse, if God switches from a twenty-four hour day to an age of five hundred thousand years, we have no basis for understanding Him at all. In that passage in Exodus 20, there is an extensive word from our Lord about the Sabbath day, the seventh day. And if that seventh day in that same passage referred to a twenty four hour day and a five hundred thousand age day, language has lost its meaning, and we can never understand [Exodus 20:8-11].
All right, number five: the Hebrew text of creation implies instantaneity of accomplishment. It was done by the word of God, just like that. Let me give an instance of that here. “God said”—in the third verse, on the first day—”Let there be light: and there was light” [Genesis 1:3]. Now all of that was a translation of three Hebrew words: yehi or wayehi—yehi, “be”; or, “light”; wayehi, “and light exist, light existed.” The words are emphatically just like that; translated here, “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” It happened instantly, instantaneously. God said it, and it did just like that. Now, I want to ask you a question. Can you imagine light evolving and developing over five hundred thousand years? How could such a thing be? How could you think like that? When God said, on that first day, “Let there be light; there was light—just like that [Genesis 1:3].
All right, number six: on the third day botany and vegetation came into being [Genesis 1:11-13], but not till the fourth day did God constitute the sun in its relationship to the earth [Genesis 1:14-19]. Now do you think that plants and vegetation could do without the sun for the five hundred thousand years necessary in a day-age theory? It’s unthinkable!
All right, number seven: Genesis 2:17, God said to the man, “In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die.” When Adam transgressed God’s commandment [Genesis 3:6], that day he died. He died spiritually. He was separated from God. “How do you know that, pastor?” Simply because he hid himself. When he looked at himself, he was naked, and when he felt in his heart he was separated from God, he had died! [Genesis 3:7-10]. And, of course, after a while, he died physically [Genesis 5:5]. Now, you look at that. What would this mean when God said to Adam, “You will surely die?” [Genesis 2:17]. What would that mean if millions of God’s creatures were already dead or dying? Again, if there were not dead and dying creatures by the sixth day, they would be millions and millions of years old.
And number [seven]: Romans 5:12 says that “Sin came into the world by one man,” Adam, “and death by sin.” There was no death in this world until there was sin. Sin brought death into the world, and when Adam sinned death became a common phenomenon in this created planet. Now, these living creatures were by no means facing death before Adam’s fall. Death came with Adam’s sin, and there was no death before Adam’s sin [Genesis 3:1-6]. And there were no living creatures millions and millions of years old, if these days are five hundred thousand years in age.
All right, number eight: Adam lived a portion of the sixth day. He lived all of the seventh day. If those days are five hundred thousand years in length, how old was Adam when he finally died? He would have been hundreds of thousands of years old. But Genesis 5:5 expressly says, “And all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years.” He was not hundreds of thousands of years old when he died. He was nine hundred and thirty.
All right, last: now you look at this. Mathematically, the human race cannot reach back beyond about 10,000 years. Now you look at it. In the Roman Empire there was a population of a hundred million people. Beyond the Roman Empire there was possibly another hundred million people. So we begin two thousand years ago with two hundred million people. Today, that two hundred million people has grown, multiplied, into about four billion. Now let us take that two thousand years ago up to now four billion. Now let us go back with it. Let us start with that two hundred million and go back. Let’s project it back. And when we do, we run out of people after about ten thousand years. Can you imagine the overpopulation of the world if man were here two to three million years according to a five hundred thousand year day? If in two thousand years you grow from two hundred million to four billion, how many would you grow over several million years? You would have so many people here they would be stacked on top of each other clear to the moon. You just run out of people when you go back.
The sum and substance of the study is this. When you read it, God made it perfectly, beautifully, preciously. It fell when sin entered the universe. God recreated this fallen planet for us [Genesis 1:3-31]. And the first day, it was light. In the second day, it was the firmament of the heavens [Genesis 1:6-9]. In the third day, it was land and sea and botany, vegetation [Genesis 1:9-13]. In the fourth day, God set the sun and the moon [Genesis 1:14-19]. In the fifth day, He created the animals [Genesis 1:20-23]. And on the sixth day, He made us in His own image, after His likeness [Genesis 1:26-28]. And when God saw everything that He had made, behold, it was very good. “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day” [Genesis 1:31].
What a tragedy that the same evil personality who destroyed God’s first heaven and earth [Genesis 1:2], what a tragedy that that same Lucifer destroyed God’s re-created paradise. What a tragedy. And what a tragedy he’s still doing it. All the tears and the heartache and the sorrow in this world, and death inevitable.
The mystery of the omnipotence of God; we have no other hope but in the coming of our wonderful Savior [Acts 4:12]. No other hope. I face inevitable death. I am fallen in this fallen creation. I am a part of it. Inexorably, will be buried in it, and “Lord, is that the conclusion of the story that I face, nothing but disintegration and corruption?” [Genesis 3:19]. Praise God. Beyond the grave and beyond death [1 Corinthians 15:54-57], God has promised a resurrection [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17], a rebirth [John 3:3, 7], a re-creation [2 Corinthians 5:17], a regeneration [Titus 3:5], and I shall live in that new world: a new heaven that will never be destroyed; a new earth that will never be doomed and damned; a new body that will never grow old [Revelation 21:1-22:21].
How do I know that? Because Satan is bound and cast into the bottomless pit, and he will never sow discord and despair and death anymore [Revelation 20:10,14; 21:4]. It is the purpose of God to take Satan out of our lives, and out of our world, and out of our Paradise, and out of our heaven [Revelation 20:10, 14-15]. And we are going to live with our blessed Savior, just as He lives beautifully, preciously, perfectly, forever and ever and ever [John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17]. That is the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God. O Lord, give us the heart to love Thee more and serve Thee perfectly.
Now Eddie, we are going to sing us a song, and while we sing it, a family you, or a couple you, or anybody you, to give your heart to the Savior, to come into the fellowship of our dear church, a thousand times welcome, while we stand and while we sing.