by Jack Hoehn

 

The 11th ORIGINS lesson focuses on the 7th day Sabbath and quotes Hebrews 4:3, 4.  The previous chapter of Hebrews quotes Psalm 95 saying that the Jews had not Sabbathed yet, they had not yet entered into God’s creation Rest.  They were still trying to work out their own salvation, when God had already done all the work necessary.
 

We live in the 7th Creation Day, No More Creating.

Hebrews 4:3 is an important creation text, for it says God has finished creating.   This may be why in this present 7th era of creation,  we see no new species arising, and in fact we are losing previously created species and lessening biodiversity.  Things are not evolving before our eyes, and we have to do computer simulations to try to show how evolution might have worked.   Watching over more than 50,000 generations of bacteria reproduce for the last 25 years has shown minor adaptations to artificial changes in their feed broths, but nothing is really evolving.[1]  Sadly no little legs have sprouted, no new flagella have formed, no new organelles have appeared to let the bacteria crawl out of their Petri dishes and stake claim to the lab bench in the name of Darwin.
 

Let God Choose How He Will Create

Understanding that creation days were long ages of time is not the same as agreeing that self-directed evolution is how God created.    It is up to God and not up to us to decide if he should have or did use something like the kind of evolution Darwin theorized.  Or if the progressive creation by many divine interventions through long periods of time suggested by Intelligent Design theory is a better explanation of how and when he created life.  

 It is not up to Moses, it is not up to Paul, it is not up to Ellen White to decide that question.  Jesus, his Father, and the Holy Spirit are the One God who decided when and how God would create life on earth.

God has left evidence of how and when things were created, in the creation.  He has not revealed how and when he created things in the Bible.  The Bible tells us who and what, but not when and how.

Moses was told God made everything in heaven and earth, and placed humanity here in a privileged position as the steward of this creation.  Moses expressed this in the grand and concise Genesis account.  That account is given in language that ancient Egyptians and Babylonians would understand.  And so can we if we read it aright.

Ellen White was shown that it did not happen by unguided evolution, and that atheistic explanations of creation were wrong.  She expressed this in language that Christians in the 19th century could be comfortable with.   Reading her words in the context of modern DNA genetics, careful Christian geology, and careful Christian biology, makes some of her statements appear dated and unreliable.  But if we understand her world, and the underlying truth being given to her generation, we can understand and agree with those truths today.
 

We can’t decide this by vote.

It therefore seems arrogant for any to assume that this matter can be “decided” by a vote!  The General Conference in session will have no authority above Moses, none above Sister White, and none above the scientific data.  The General Conference can affirm that God is the Creator of all, but they have no power to decide how or when he created, or to dictate to church members how they must think about these questions.  Voting will not make the earth one day younger or one day older than it is.   Luke 12:25 bids us not try to add a cubit to our height or a day to our lifetime by anxious thought.  Surely we should not try to take away or add by anxious politicized votes minutes or seconds or eras to the true chronology of the creation of life on earth.
 

The Sabbath is Alive and Well for all Creationists

Early on in these blogs I defended the Sabbath from the accusation that accepting an Old Earth Creationism was harmful to the Sabbath.  That blog had over 200 comments of both appreciation and criticism, showing the topic is pivotal in Adventism.  Please reread that blog if you wish to refresh the reasons why the Sabbath is alive and healthy for all Creationists, no matter what chronology of creation you accept.  https://atoday.org/article/1204/blogs/hoehn-jack/2012/sabbath-and-old-age
 

Dreams and Visions

I awoke from a dream last week where I was struggling to do something I often do as a physician, but in my dream I didn’t have the tools to do it correctly, my scissors were dull, the suture material was thick and knotted, and what should have been simple and straightforward was frustrating and prolonged.  As I awoke I determined to get a set of quality tools available to me at all times, so I would not ever have to struggle as I had been, and then I remembered it was a dream, a vision.  The essentials of the dream were:  Your patients need quick and easy procedures, your tools need to be effective and efficient, and your job is to have them available.

This was not a heaven-sent dream or revelation, but it was true in its message, although the details were fabulous, and compounded by my concerns to be the best possible doctor and appreciated by my patients.

When Ellen White had an inspired dream how much was the essential message from God, and how much of the vision was determined by Ellen’s age, culture, and preexisting concerns?

Dr. David Paulson was an Adventist Physician who had a building on the Los Angeles campus of the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University) named after him.  As a child I attended church services in Paulson Hall, before the White Memorial Church I was later baptized in was built.

Dr. Paulson had some of the same questions I have had, but unlike me he could go to someone who knew the answers, so in 1906 he wrote a letter to Ellen White  who replied as follows:

 “In your letter, you speak of your early training to have implicit faith in the Testimonies, and say, ‘I was led to conclude and most firmly believe that every word you ever spoke in public or private, that every letter you wrote under any and all circumstances, was as inspired as the Ten Commandments.’

“My brother, you have studied my writings diligently, and you have never found that I have made any such claims, neither will you find that the pioneers in our cause have made such claims.

“In my preface to ‘Great Controversy,’ … you have no doubt read my statement regarding the Ten Commandments and the Bible, which should have helped you to a correct understanding of the matter under consideration.”[2]

 What does Ellen White’s Introduction to The Great Controversy say?  

“The Bible…was written by human hands; and in the varied style of its different books it presents the characteristics of the several writers…He has given dreams and visions, symbols and figures; and those to whom the truth was thus revealed have themselves embodied the thought in human language.”[3]

“Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the scenes of the long-continued conflict between good and evil have been opened to the writer of these pages.  From time to time I have been permitted to behold…the great controversy between Christ…and Satan…”[4]

“It is not so much the object of this book to present new truths…as to bring out facts and principles…” [5]
 

Yet Adventists Love “new truths”

It appears to me that Adventists have long enjoyed the “secret knowledge” that we have from Sister White’s dreams and visions. We treasure and value the “new light” or “amazing facts” that she shares from her dreams.  I think it makes us feel special and privileged to have insider information on Biblical and Heavenly worlds not otherwise accessible to us.  I don’t know anyone besides a Seventh-day Adventist who believes all the following extra-Biblical, human-hands-herself-embodied-in human-language-Ellen White dreams and descriptions are established-from-God facts:

  1. Adam was taller than Eve, and about 14 feet tall.
  2. If you pick flowers in Heaven they never fade.
  3. Our Heavenly homes have gold shelves inside the doors upon which we place our gold crowns when coming inside the houses.
  4. The earth as created had no jagged peaks or valleys, everything was smooth and rounded.
  5. There were no swamps or deserts in the created earth.
  6. The trees were more majestic than any which now exist and grew upon the heights.
  7. Fruit in heaven looks like gold mixed with silver.
  8. The entire earth was more beautiful than Buchart or Kew Gardens, Kensington, Versailles or Schonbrunn Palaces.
  9. There is no ground to believe that man developed by slow degrees of development from the lower forms of animal or vegetable life.
  10. The naked original humans were covered with a robe of light and glory that went away after they sinned and God gave them leather garments from sacrificed animals.  

When we awake from our dreams we can dismiss them as fantasy or indigestion.  Or we can look for the facts and principles underlying the dream.  What about Sister White’s dreams—are the details of her dreams more reliable because they were visions?    Most of us agree that when John the Revelator saw visions in the night we can accept them as symbolic and not factual.  Can we not also accept the details of Ellen White’s visions as symbolic and not necessarily factual?

My suspicion is that Ellen White in vision saw Eden, not the whole created earth.  She was still almost a child when first shown a dream of Heaven[6], and her idea that the flowers she picked would never die, are a child’s ideas of Heaven.    Her childish view of the crowns and the gold shelves are true childish interpretations of whatever she saw, but not universal Heaven-sent truths, and may be symbolic of the wealth, abundance, and lack of disease in the world to come.

Likewise her opposition to the ideas of unguided, naturalistic evolution which replaced a Creator with undirected self-creation is obviously the truth behind her statements on evolution.   I don’t think they can be safely used to rule out a longer chronology of creation, nor the possibility that God created by progressive interventions.  They can’t be used to deny that things were also created capable of adaptation and change as part of their Intelligent Design.  Some natural selection and common ancestry are not incompatible with the character of God revealed to Ellen White.
 

How did God create the 2 Adams?

When God sent the 2nd Adam, Jesus was created by a very naturalistic process with divine intervention involving a womb, placenta, vernix caseosus, 9 months gestation, breast feeding, circumcision, weaning, growing and learning, till our Savior was ready to be the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. 

There is nothing forbidding God from creating the 1st Adam from the dust of the earth, from using naturalistic processes to create his first Adam.  This might include the progressive step-wise creation (which Genesis of course supports) of plants, fish, land animals, primates, humanoids,  and the use of some natural womb with divine intervention, and finally a man and a woman who unlike all the created steps before, bore God’s image about 40,000 years ago.   What parts were divine interventions and what parts were naturalistic we may not know, but if the first and second Adams were both divinely created the process may have been similar.

This makes Moses’ Genesis 2 vision of the creation of man and woman full of the symbolism of creation, rather than an exposition of the mechanism of creation.  This permits the 7  Great Days to be seven ages or eras of creation, 7 progressive steps of creation.  It doesn’t have to be this way, but it could be, if the evidence in nature suggests it was.
 

Sabbath, the most enduring thing God created.

The last and most impressive step of the progressive 7 Creation Days is the creation of worship. 

The Sabbath comes again this week as every week.  It is the most durable of God’s creations. Darkness made better by light, still comes back every night.  The firmament of Day 2 has been smogged and can become toxic.  Plants of Day 3 turn into poison ivy and oak, or tobacco.  Roses grow thorns and then die.    The stars burn out and sometimes crash into one another.  Meteorites explode over earth.  Day  5 fish become killer sharks and stinging jelly fish.  Day 6 rodents carry bubonic plague, lions become killer lions, our beloved dogs become rabid and many pets die of cancers.  Most of the things God has created have been subject to decay.

But one thing God made is remarkably enduring and resistant to destruction, as perfect as the day it was created, the Sabbath. 

Have you noticed that you can break the Sabbath one week, but it returns perfectly healthy and holy the very next week?  Worship is the most resilient of God’s creations.  Try it this Sabbath—no matter how badly you broke Sabbath last week or for many weeks, months, or years, Sabbath can be as lovely and refreshing, as awesome and humbling, as healing and restoring  this next week as the first one celebrated at the gates of Eden.  Remember it with me, this Sabbath, won’t you, as we continue to explore the key doctrine of Creation, not as we would have done it, or as we want God to have done it, but as God has decided in fact to do it.  God reveals Creation to us from week to week and from Sabbath to Sabbath.  It may be a bigger, longer, greater Creation story than we have thought about before, but that’s why we have so many Sabbaths to learn it better.

 


[3] Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, Introduction, page v.
[4] Ibid, page x.
[5] Ibid, page xii.
[6] Ellen G. White,  Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, pp. 59-61