Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Answers to High Schoolers' Questions about God

Part 1: God
(This is the first in a series on Answers to High Schoolers' Question About Genesis.)

Q: Where did God come from?

A: God is eternally existent. God always existed and will always exist. By the very definition of the term "God" we must infer qualities which are not human.  Therefore we speak of God as eternal, immortal, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, immutable and totally pure and good.

Q: Who created God?

A: God is Uncreated Creator. Some ancient philosophers regarded God as the “Unmoved Mover.” The pre-Socratic philosopher Anaximander described God as the origin of the Primary Substance.  That is to say that the Creator is not bound or constrained by matter and, to use Anaximader's own words, "All things must in equity again decline into that whence they have their origin; for they must give satisfaction and atonement for injustice, each in the order of time.''

Q: If God created the heavens and the earth, then where was He before? People say that God is everywhere, but where was everywhere if there was no heavens and no earth?

A: God is transcendent, existing outside of time and space. God is not constrained by time and space as creatures are. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ is a great miracle of love because the Son of God left his glorious existence outside of time, space and the decay of this fallen world to become human, only without sin. This was the divine plan whereby the “Seed of the Woman” (Gen. 3:15) would bring salvation to repentant sinners.

Q: How did God imagine earth when He created it, before the fall?

A: From Genesis we gather that at every stage of the creative process, God declared His work “good” and before the Fall, Eden is described as Paradise. In Genesis 13:10 the land Lot sees is like the paradeisos of Yahweh, a reference to Eden (the garden of the Lord). Revelation uses the same phrase as Genesis 13:10.

Q: Why was God more active and visible in ancient times than He is today?

A: God is unchanging (immutable). He is as active today as at any time in the past. Those who have ears to hear will hear. Those who have eyes to see will see.

Q:  Why don't we hear God's voice now like people did in the old times?

A:  A wonderful Bible expositor by the name of A.W. Tozer once wrote, "Most Christians don't hear God's voice simply because we've already decided we aren't going to do what He says anyway." I think that is part of the answer. Another part is that we hear and see what we expect to hear and see. Many have been taught that God no longer works miracles; that miracles were only performed in the time of the Apostles. This is false. Ask any missionary who has seen miracles. Ask the average Christian whether God has worked a miracle or two in their life.  We hear what we expect and if we don't expect to hear God, we probably won't.

Q: Why was God more strict during the time of Abraham and Isaac than He is now? Back then He would curse them for not trusting Him. Now He doesn't.

A: God takes lack of trust and sin as seriously today as in the time of the Patriarchs. God does not change (immutable).

Q: I've always known God as a loving, fatherly figure, but when I read Genesis He seems harsh. Is God a loving God or is He harsh? Or has God changed from a harsh God to a loving God?

A: Most of the promises of the Bible are contained in kernel form in Genesis. This is because God is a loving and promise-keeping God.

Q: If God knows all things, why did He allow the fall, which created evil?

A: God is all-knowing (omniscient). God’s knowledge is such that humans are granted freedom to decide how we live and what we do. Humans often make bad decisions and do evil things. This is the result of evil, not the origin of evil.

Q: Why would God create a universe to glorify Him?

A: The universe was made for us to enjoy God’s glory and to share in it. The corruption of sin makes this very difficult, but God’s forgiveness and the Holy Spirit make it possible.


Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Thank you for these.

I have one more to add to the stack, and this really is asked in good faith, because I do not know any answer. How to you put these 3 passages together?

GE 11:26 Terah was 70 years old when his son Abram was born.

GE 11:32 Terah was 205 years old when he died (making Abram 135 at the time).

GE 12:4, AC 7:4 Abram was 75 when he left Haran. This was after Terah died.


Alice C. Linsley said...

These verses show that the ages assigned to the rulers have regnal significance and should not be taken as literal years of life. The symbolism of the numbers requires much more study. The Ancients were big on number symbolism, especially for rulers.

Consider that Lamech, Noah's father, lived 777 years (Gen. 5:31). In verse 28, we are told that Lamech was 182 years when Noah was born. After Noah was born, Lamech lived 595 years (verse 30). The pattern is to give the years before the heir is born, the years after the heir was born, and the final number of years indicates the quality or righteousness of the ruler's reign. Having lived 777 years, Lamech was judged a righteous ruler.

This pattern is not consistently applied in Genesis, however. That suggests that there has been some redaction.

All these numbers - 70, 205 and 75 are significant in the context of Horite cosmology and numerology. The zero was a solar icon, indicating God's favor. The number 7 represents perfection or fulfillment of destiny as a deified ruler. The birth of Abraham to Terah at age 70 would mean that God showed favor to Terah in granting him Abraham, the one with whom Yahweh formed an unconditional covenant.

Calculations of the marriage and ascendancy of the Horite rulers, such as Terah and Abraham, indicate that they lived about 75 years and at death, either the ruler's firstborn son by his sister wife or his grandson by his daughter ascended to his throne.

Abraham left Haran when his father died, probably at age 75. It appears that the number 75 was applied to Abraham in Gen. 12:4, even though he did not yet have a kingdom. Nahor, Abraham's older brother, ascended to Terah's throne in Aram of Mesopotamia.

I'm not sure how helpful this is. There is still much research to be done on the Horite number symbolism.

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Very helpful, to me at least. Thank you.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Glad to hear that. I hope you will find this series helpful.

Derrick said...

Wow, I found this description of God to be exactly who he is showing himself to be, to me.

I too have found that we are created to express part of Gods knowledge(his love, goodness, etc), back to him, and thus take part in him while we live. Though I have found that the universe is not made for us, we were made for God. I believe the universe is God's expression of himself back to and in himself, which makes us integral to his plan to express his love because we are in and through and by him and for him. We are constantly to be expressing his knowledge through us(ie what he gave us.). Makes life pretty special. :-)

Alice C. Linsley said...

Derrick, it is good to hear from you about this. Welcome to Just Genesis.

This series continues with the related readings posted at the end of the article. I'd like to read your comments on the other articles in this series.