There are many attributes of God which are hard for humans to comprehend.  We tend to focus on God's power and might and tend to be amazed at the more spectacular and visible things.  We focus on the fall of the walls of Jericho, the slaying of Goliath, the miracles, and the destruction of God's enemies.  These are wonderful portrayals of the great power and majesty of God, but equally amazing and significant is the patience of God in the creation.

Many people want to assume that when the earth was created it was an instantaneous event.  In a religious framework, the idea is that God thought it or spoke it and there it was.  Mankind has had a zap mentality in that the earth and all that allows life to function were zapped into existence.  There have even been those who have suggested such a process produced fossils, top soil, oil, coal, gases, etc., suggesting that any natural process that produces these things is somehow in opposition to what the Bible says.

There are many problems with such a belief system.  The first is that such a view suggests that God has faked history.  In 1987 a star in the southern hemisphere sky exploded.  Astronomers had expected the star to explode because of our understanding of how stellar processes work.  Not only did the star explode, but we have been able to watch the debris expanding outward from the explosion and examine the core of the star left from the process.  When we measure the distance to the star, we find that the light from the star left the star 160,000 years ago.  So we are watching an event that took place that long ago.

If you maintain that God created the cosmos with everything in place a relatively short time ago, then He would have had to create the light from this star showing the star exploding when in reality it never happened.  This is inconsistent with the nature of God. God does not lie, misrepresent, distort, or in any way mislead man.  (We encourage you to read the article by Al Maxey titled "The Great Belly Button Debate" in our September/October 2006 issue.)

The scientific evidence and the biblical evidence show us that God does things much more patiently, logically, and systematically than many of us wish to think.  When the earth was being prepared by God, many things were built into the earth that require time.  Plants cannot grow without soil.  Soil is something prepared over a period of time.  The original rocks of the earth were volcanic materials like granite.  Granite is made of the minerals orthoclase, hornblende, biotite, and quartz.  As granite weathers the orthoclase breaks down quickly producing clay.  The last mineral to break down from granite is quartz which produces sand.  As plants and animals die, their decayed organic material enriches the clay and quartz producing topsoil.

The above description is simplified, but we see strong evidence that this is how the earth with its vegetation was produced for man. In the Genesis account, there is further support for this concept. When the first life is explained in Genesis 1:11-12, we find God creating plants.  There is a sequence to the plants with the first plants being deshe, translated grass.  The literal meaning of deshe is "tender grass," and the understanding of tender grass would be lichens, mosses, and the like--plants which are easily broken.

The second plant described is eseb, translated herb. The normal understanding of this word is a plant that has no edible seed--most likely a gymnosperm--a spore bearing plant like ferns, horsetail, or pine trees. The third plant described is the flowering tree bearing fruit whose seed is within itself. These are the plants we eat--the angiosperms--and would include everything from a grain of wheat to an apple.

These three types of plants are given in a sequence in Genesis 1.  It is the same sequence that botanists see in succession.   When a forest fire burns an area down to bedrock, this is the order in which the plants return to rebuild the soil base that allows full recovery.   It is how God built the basis of life in the beginning and it is how recovery occurs today.

Could God have zapped topsoil into existence instantly?   God can do anything.   The point is that this is not how God usually functions.   Man's ability to locate resources and control his environment depends on things having been produced by understandable processes.   Agriculture, horticulture, agronomy, and animal husbandry would not be possible had the creation not been done patiently and in an orderly and rational way.

When man sinned and severed his relationship with God, a plan was put into motion to redeem man.   Many people struggle with why mankind has gone many thousands of years without that relationship being fully restored.   The Bible makes it clear that even those who have obeyed God and have God's Spirit dwelling in them sin.   Why did not God just send Jesus as Adam and Eve were walking out of the garden and be done with it?   Why have Moses and the nation of Israel existed at all?

The Bible tells us clearly that God has a special purpose in mankind.   While we may not understand it all, we know that there is a war going on between good and evil and that mankind has a major role to play in that war.  Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

Ephesians 3:9-11 adds the role of the church to this picture,

And to make all men see what God's way of working out that hidden purpose which from all ages lay concealed in the mind of God, the Creator of all things. In order that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places should be shown the complex wisdom of God's plan being worked out through the church according to the eternal purpose which he centered in Christ Jesus our Lord (Weymouth translation).

Job 1 and 2 gives us a picture of God and Satan challenging each other's system of life, with Job being the major player in the contest. We serve the same purpose as Job in this struggle, and our value to God in the struggle is so enormous ".that God sent His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NASB).

Many of us want to deny this role for ourselves, because it demands we live in a certain way and that we act in a certain way. There are multiple incidences like the one in John 21:21-23 where people jumped to the conclusion that Jesus' statement to John indicated a quick end to man's role in the struggle. That process has gone on and on as people have guessed at a quick return of Jesus for the past 2000 years.

For man to be able to function in a spiritual way, mankind had to mature and grow through alternatives to what Jesus taught. God allowed man to stumble and fall over and over as man inched closer to what God would have man be. When man was given the chance to have a physical kingdom with God as his sole ruler, mankind rebelled and chose to have a human king (Saul) to rule over them. God told them it was a mistake, but He was patient enough to allow Israel to have a series of kings.

God established an ideal relationship between man and woman spelled out in Genesis 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." This ideal relationship was rejected by man and a chauvinistic system with multiple wives and divorce was substituted for it. Marriage became a political tool and any notion of the oneness that God intended for marriage was lost. Jesus explained this fully in Matthew 19:8 when He said, "because of the hardness of your hearts [God] allowed you to divorce but it was not intended that way at the beginning" (NEB).

As man plods along trying every alternative there is to what God has commanded, he reaps the consequences of not following God's way. Alternatives to God's plan for marriage not only leave their participants unfulfilled, but they also bring tragic consequences. The incidence of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases continues to climb. This is not a punishment of God, but is a natural consequence of sexual activity outside of marriage and with multiple partners. The sexual acts of homosexuals make the transmission of STDs a surety.

God's patience with mankind is astounding. He waited 100 years before the flood occurred, begging the people of that day to turn away from their self-destructive choices. In today's world, God continues to allow man to make choices and there is a continual wait for man to see that when one chooses to reject God the result is catastrophic. Any premature act on God's part would allow Satan to claim that his options were never totally explored. The options are all going to have been run when the judgment comes. Peter talks about the patience and slowness and power of God in 2 Peter 3:8-10 when he says,

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise according to some people's conception of slowness. He bears patiently with you because it is not his will for any to be lost, but for all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will vanish with a great noise and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (TCNT).

--John N. Clayton

Back to Contents Does God Exist?, MayJun07.