Guests: Dr. Janice McKenzie and Dr. Doug Thomsen
With so many scientific claims made about life on earth evolving through millions of years, can Christians still believe in God as a creator?
The final phrase of the 1st angel’s message is another imperative, and this time it urges people to worship. Many secular humanists have said that God is narcissistic because He commands people worship Him or die. But here in Revelation 14, it is an angel giving this message, and the context is vitally important. We must remember that there are conflicting objects of worship, of allegiance, of homage, or service. Revelation 13 pictured a Christ-like beast that begins speaking like a dragon, and compels people to worship an idol. Much is said throughout the Jewish and Christian scriptures about idolatry. Jeremiah 10:1-10 speaks about the foolishness of idol-worship. People go to the forest, cut a tree, carve it, decorate it, nail it down so it doesn’t fall, then they fall and worship it. But idols and images need not be physical, made of material things, to gain our worship.
Revelation 14: And Worship Him Who made the heavens, the earth, and the fountains of water.
The call to worship the Creator may be on of the most significant in Revelation. In ch. 4, the One on the throne is worthy of worship because He created all things, and sustains them. Now, in light of the lamb-like-beast making an image to the first beast, we have a call to worship the TRUE Creator. Much of the secular and scientific world believes that our world is the product of chance, a singularity, and that life emerged and evolved in just the right more-or-less random set of circumstances (thank you, Charles Darwin!). Today, many scientists are beginning to question the fundamental neo-Darwinian view of origins and evolution; the chance that the structure of living cells arose at random is so small as to be unacceptable. Many are now turning to intelligent design, whether invoking the Bible’s God or not, to explain life.
Why do you suppose that there is a call to worship the Creator as a response to the power of the lamb-like beast? Is it possible that the lamb-like beast is suggesting other origins for life, for people, and the universe? How would this play a role in the Great Controversy between Satan and God?
While there are very few quotations in Revelation from the Old Testament, this is about as close as we come. The passage alludes to the 4th commandment in Exodus 20, and forms the foundation for the 4th commandment regarding rest on the Sabbath.
But now we have a challenge. The command says to “worship.” How do I show my worship of God as creator? Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for their traditions, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’”
Honoring God as creator means identifying with Him in His creation, and the 4th commandment tells us what that looks like: Rest! The seventh-day is our day of REST! I can honor my Creator and give Him glory by resting on the day that commemorates His creative power, the day He sanctified and made holy.
Some people suggest that honoring God by resting on the 7th day is legalistic. How might you respond? Why did the Sabbath become so burdensome to the Israelites in Jesus’ day? How did He show its true purpose and meaning? (See the Gospels and Acts!)
How do we think about the Sabbath as a day of rest when often times even going to church is work? How can we make our religious services less work and more restful?
The fact that creation is recalled also reminds us of the image of God. Dr. Nicholas Miller, professor at Andrews University Theological Seminary has noted that the land–beast makes an image to the first beast; but it is a parody of the image of God. Many Christians rightly see a call to Sabbath here, but in Genesis 1 at creation, we also see the image of God displayed. Genesis 2:28-29 clearly say that humans were created in God’s image—male and female, with the command to be fruitful and multiply. The divine image of God, then, is seen in marriage that leads to procreation. The beast has a counterfeit for that, and without question, has compelled people to worship that image.
How can God’s people retain their appreciate of His image found in male-female marriage in our western culture that pushes it further and further from the norm? What level of obedience is necessary to preserve it?
The final part of the phrase describing God’s creation mentions the fountains of water. This phrase is not in the 4th commandment; rather, it comes from Genesis when describing the flood. The fountains of the great deep burst open when God sat as king at the deluge (at the mabbul, Psalm 29:10). This command to worship God as Creator also implies the un-making of the earth in the judgment of the flood, and the re-creation afterwards. Much of the language of the flood mirrors that of the creation account. We see the wind blowing over the water, dry land appearing, the emergence of animals and people, and the command reiterated to fill the earth and subdue it. God even gives instructions and limits on diet, just as He did in the garden. Now in Revelation, worship of the Creator invites us to also remember the flood.
Why did God send the flood on the earth? Will He destroy the earth again, and remake it? How does this concept fit in with the command to “fear God and give Him glory because the hour of His judgment has come”?
This section of the 1st Angel’s message is vital, and central to the Seventh-day Adventist church. It forms a core tenet of doctrine, but more than that, guides us in our message and mission to the world. We are to call people back to God as our Creator, the one who remade the earth at the flood, and will do so again at the end! We give Him glory and honor by resting each seventh day as He modeled for us and asks us to remember in the 4th commandment.