The Sabbath and Creation
The Creation-Evolution debate can be reduced to questions of faith: Do you have faith in the ability of scientists to reach reliable conclusions about our origins on the basis of "scientific" evidence? Or, do you have faith in the reliability of the Bible story of Creation?
Some people see a possible middle ground between these two positions. They accept Theistic Evolution, a theory that accepts the existence of God but proposes that He used the process of evolution to "create."
Here is a brief look at Evolution:
- The Universe
- Evolution is commonly understood to teach that our universe is approximately 12 to 15 billion years old; it started with the Big Bang, evidence of which is seen in the "background radiation" left over from that initial burst of energy as well as in continuing expansion of the universe itself.
- Big, ultimate questions remain unanswered, like: How long will the universe keep expanding? Will it eventually contract, finally collapsing in on itself and perhaps causing a new Big Bang?
- Life on Earth
- According to current evolutionary thinking, Earth and the other bodies in our solar system formed as far back as four to five billion years ago.
- Single-celled life forms may have existed on our planet more than three billion years.
- Multi-celled fossils have been dated only to one billion years ago or less.
- Animal life as we know it began between 500 and 600 million years ago.
- All the various forms of biological life we see today developed through the process of Natural Selection that required the deaths of untold billions of organisms and the survival of only the fittest, most well-adapted individuals; we ourselves are the result of that process.
Now let's look at the biblical view of Creation:
- The Bible's account of Creation does not tell us how or when God created the universe. The fact that God is eternal leaves open the possibility that our universe is all but infinitely old. We will limit the scope of this study to the Creation of our world as it is described in Genesis and referred to elsewhere in sacred scripture.
- The Old and New Testaments are united in their testimony regarding Creation and its Creator.
- In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).
- For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it and did not create it a waste place, but formed it to be inhabited), "I am the Lord, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:18).
- But the Lord is the true God…. It is He who made the earth by His power, who established the world by His wisdom; and by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens (Jeremiah 10:10, 12).
- We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them (Acts 14:15).
- Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they existed, and were created (Revelation 4:11).
- And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there shall be delay no longer (Revelation 10:5, 6).
- Both Old and New Testaments testify to the six-day Creation followed by God's seventh-day "rest."
- And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done (Genesis 2:2).
- For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them… (Exodus 20:11).
- …in six days the Lord made heaven and earth… (Exodus 31:17).
- For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works" (Hebrews 4:4).
- The Bible clearly teaches "fiat creation"—that is, creation by command.
- And God said… (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24 and 26).
- By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their host. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6, 9).
- By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible (Hebrews 11:3).
- The New Testament reveals the role of Christ in Creation.
- For by Him [the Son (v. 13)] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities -- all things have been created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).
- God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1, 2).
- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being (John 1:1-3).
- The Sabbath is a Memorial of Creation
- Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you.
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:8-11).
- So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed (Exodus 31:16, 17).
Here are a few points of comparison to illustrate the irreconcilable differences between theistic evolution and biblical creation:
Billions of years of evolutionary development on Earth.
The biological world developed through Natural Selection.
The Sabbath may have physical, social, and religious value, but its connection to Creation is mythical and symbolic.
The fossil record proves that billions of creatures died in the Natural Selection process.
Death was a necessary mechanism in Natural Selection.
Death was a part of the natural order of things long before Adam and Eve sinned.
God created our world in one literal week. (Genesis 2:2)
God commanded, and it was done ("fiat creation"e;). (Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24 and 26)
God blessed and sanctified the Sabbath, establishing it as the perpetual memorial to His literal six-day Creation.
The Flood was a world-wide catastrophe that accounts for the fossil record (Genesis 7:19-23).
The Creator is a God of love who cares for even the tiny sparrow (Luke 12:6). Such a God would not use suffering and death as His tools of Creation.
Death came as the result of sin (Romans 5:12).
Let's look more closely at that last point. Here's what the Bible says:
- Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned… (Romans 5:12).
- Death spread to all men.
- These words have led some people to wonder if Adam's sin brought death into the human family only. Such a conclusion leaves open the possibility that the sin-death connection relates only to human life; sub-human creatures could die from natural causes totally unrelated to sin—causes like Darwin's process of Natural Selection.
So here's a question we need to answer: Is sin the cause of human death only, or is it the cause of all death? The Bible provides the answer:
- For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Romans 8:20, 21).
- not of its own will
- The natural world and everything in it bears the curse of sin, which is described later in this verse as "corruption"—death and decay. Nature is not responsible for this condition. It wasn't a tree or flower or bird or beast that sinned. It was man.
- Him who subjected it
- This refers to God, who pronounced a curse on the earth because of Adam's sin (Genesis 3:17).
- creation itself will also be set free
- There is hope for the natural world as well as for the human family. God's plan of salvation includes the restoration of His creation to its original perfection, "and there shall no longer be any curse&" (Revelation 22:3). (See also: Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1.)
If death was really part of the natural order of things prior to the time of Adam and Eve, then the biblical account of the Fall is not historical fact. At best it's a fable with a good lesson, a morality tale meant to teach us that disobeying God is a bad thing.
If the Bible's record of how sin and death came into the world is not accurate—if we cannot accept it as factual—then what is the plan of salvation all about?
If death is not the penalty for sin, why did Jesus have to die for us?
Is His death only a good example of standing up for what you believe, no matter the cost?
Is the cross merely a vivid demonstration of forgiving your enemies?
Is the whole of His life and ministry simply meant to influence us to live better lives—and is that just another part of God's plan for man's evolution toward eventual perfection?
What does the Bible teach about all this?
- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
- For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).
- But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
- For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
These verses clearly teach that death is the consequence of sin, that Christ came to die for us, and that we can have eternal life if we believe in Him. He is our Savior, our Substitute, our Redeemer, our Deliverer.
Here is where the Sabbath comes back into our picture, tying together two concepts: Creation (Exodus 20:11) and Redemption (Deuteronomy 5:15).
The Sabbath speaks to us of our Creator, who made it part of a perfect world before sin entered the picture; and it speaks to us of our Redeemer, who has delivered us from bondage to sin and death.
The Sabbath points us to the Holy One who sanctified it, consecrated it, separated it from the other days to make it His own; and it points us to Him who sanctifies us, making us His own people and transforming us by His presence.
In Revelation 14 the first of the three angels carries the message of an eternal gospel to the whole world, delivering an urgent invitation to all mankind. Notice the words of that invitation:
- Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters (Revelation 14:7).
According to this verse, that invitation is tied chronologically to "the hour of His judgment." That's a reference to the pre-Advent judgment that must occur prior to the second coming of Christ.
The prophecy of Daniel 8 puts the beginning of that judgment in the 1840s. That's when the call to "worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters" was to go forth. (Interestingly, in that same time period Charles Darwin was developing his theory of the origin of the species.)
This call to worship uses the language of the Sabbath commandment—Creation language. It invites the people of earth to worship the Creator, and that means observing the Sabbath of Creation.
The proponents of Evolution—even those who believe in Theistic Evolution—rely on their interpretation of "scientific" evidence. That evidence leads away from a loving, benevolent Creator and contradicts the Genesis account of Creation.
Those who truly believe the Bible, who trust it without reserve, must be willing to ignore the theories and speculative conclusions of "science" and to distrust even the evidence of their own senses. By honoring the Sabbath they can tell the world that they believe the Bible and have faith in their Creator and Redeemer.