Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Inspired or conspired?

A couple of months ago an old sceptic said to a colleague and me that the Bible "appears to be united" but when you examine it it falls apart. My experience is precisely the opposite. On a surface reading it appears there are stories disconnected from the overall story, random things thrown in, but when you examine them closely and carefully you see how they all link together in an amazing way that defies human ingenuity. All the stories tell one great story.

I want to give you one example of this, and I want you to ask if you honestly think if this is mere coincidence, deliberate conspiracy or could it be divine inspiration? 
In Genesis 8 the world had just gone through a period of unparalleled upheaval and tremendous unrest, and in this chapter we are entering into rest and new creation.[1] The chapter divides into three sections (vv. 1-5, 6-12, and 13-22), and the commencement of the second and third sections is marked by the words, “And it came to pass...” (vv. 6, 13). In each section we find rest: in the first section the ark rests on the mountains of Ararat (v. 4); in the second section the dove initially finds no rest for the sole of her foot (v. 9) then evidently does find rest (v. 12); then in the third section the Lord smells a sweet savour from Noah’s offering (v. 21), or as it literally reads, the Lord smelled “a savour of rest”.[2] In the first section the ark rests, in the second the dove rests, in the third the Lord rests, and it doesn’t require any stretch of the imagination or twisting of the text to see the Trinity at rest here. The ark, as we have seen, is a picture of the Lord Jesus, the dove is a picture of the Holy Spirit (see e.g. Matt. 3:16), and the Lord would be God the Father.
The ark came through the judgment and came to rest. Consider when the ark rested and where the ark rested: the ark came to rest on the 17th day of the seventh month. When we come to Exodus 12 we find that God resets the calendar so that the seventh month becomes the first month. This means if we go by this reset calendar that the ark came to rest on the 17th day of the first month, which just so happens to be the day the Lord Jesus rose from the dead.[3] The resurrection is the proof that the storm of God’s judgment is over, the declaration that the work is done. Christ rests.
But where did the ark come to rest? On the mountains of Ararat. Brown-Driver-Briggs, in their Hebrew definitions, tell us that Ararat means the curse reversed.[4] So, the ark, speaking of Christ, rests on the day of resurrection on a site which means the curse reversed – can there be any doubt as to the inspiration of Scripture here? It is through the work of Christ that the curse against us can be reversed and we can be brought into blessing:
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal. 3:13-14, NKJV)
And it is through the work of Christ that the curse on this creation will be reversed:
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Rom. 8:18-21, NKJV).
This pictures the truth of the gospel in a way that could not have been artificially manufactured; we can see the fingerprints of God on the page of Scripture.
In the next section Noah first of all sent out a raven. The raven was happy to land on the carrion that was floating about, it could feed on that which was dead and corrupting, but the dove couldn’t do that; the dove could only rest on that which belonged to the new creation and could only feed on that which spoke of new life. This is illustrates the teaching of the New Testament regarding the two natures the Christian has (see, for example, Gal. 5:17; John 3:6). When someone is born again he still has what the Bible calls the flesh – that sinful nature that we got from Adam, which is happy to feed on that which is corrupting; but he is also indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit, which means that he can never again be comfortable in the corruption of this world; he feels at rest in God’s presence.
The third section tells us about the Lord smelling a savour of rest from Noah’s offering, pointing to the fact that, in the offering of Christ at Calvary, God can rest. Sin had outraged and robbed God, but, in the sacrifice of Christ, the desires of His heart and the demands of His throne have been satisfied. God rests.
The picture of the rest of the Triune God is so strikingly beautiful, and yet so obviously not something that Moses was aware of. Even if the Bible were the work of one human author, to incorporate all these features so skilfully would be a work of incomprehensible genius. It is clearly the work of one author, but not a human author; as Peter said, holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Pet. 1:21, NKJV).

[1] The wind moving in 8:1 draws the mind back to 1:2 telling us that chapter 8 is a chapter of new creation.
[2] The word “sweet” is from the same family as the words translated “rest” in vv. 4, 9.
[3] By the Galilean way of reckoning the days,
[4] Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Definitions on e-Sword.