Almighty God: The Magnificent Science Teacher (Isaiah Sermon 30 of 81)
November 04, 2012 | Andy Davis
Worship, Majesty of God
An expository sermon on Isaiah 28:23-29 explores how God taught science to mankind as a means to worship and how they suppressed the truth and turned against their Creator.
- SERMON TRANSCRIPT -
Right out in front of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History in England, there is a statue of Sir Isaac Newton seated, chin in hand, pondering an apple at his feet. And it's obviously a statue of a famous moment in history of modern science, in which Isaac Newton saw an apple fall, some say it hit him in the head. I don't know, I wasn't there. But in 1666, he considered the journey of this apple, then he began to ask a question, the question was this: "If the force of gravity reaches to the top of the highest tree, why couldn't it reach the moon?"| And so, it was a flash of insight as you watched this apple fall. Throughout the history of science, there have been flashes of insight that have come to scientists that have guided science along throughout human history.
Thomas Edison, the famous inventor, said that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I'm here to say today to God be the glory for both. God gives the inspiration and he gives the perspiration that his guided genius has guided science throughout history, and I wanna take back and give to God the glory for these things that modern atheistic scientists seek to take away and give to man alone. In Isaiah 28, it teaches that God instructs and teaches man the right way concerning science.
Flashes of insight and long careful development, both come from God. So, a summary of my message today is that scripture reveals God as the teacher of humanity. He is the teacher of the lessons of his glorious creation, whether they recognize him or not. That God has guided the development of human science in all areas and to God be the glory for that development. For every truth that science has ever taught comes from God.
"God has guided the development of human science in all areas and to God be the glory for that development. For every truth that science has ever taught comes from God."
However, in the 21st century, especially in the western world, science is seen to be a rival to faith. It's grown to be a rival to God. Even a system by which some people think they can prove that God doesn't exist at all. How ironic. God gives us the wisdom, the weapons of wisdom and technology, and we then turn them on him as if we can destroy him with them. Puritan pastor Cotton Mather, speaking of material prosperity, not of science, but a material prosperity, looking at the Puritan movement, especially the New England Puritans, he said this: "Piety, godliness, gave birth to prosperity and the daughter devoured the mother." So, in other words, as the New England Puritans got wealthy through their godliness, they lost their godliness through their wealth. Well, the same thing has happened, it seems with science. The godliness gave birth to science and science now sees to devour what gave it birth.
The 1978 astrophysicist and hobby historian Michael H. Hart, wrote a provocative book called, ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’. Very provocative, very controversial. His number one most influential person of history was Muhammad. His number two was Isaac Newton, number three was Jesus Christ. Now, I don't know if Isaac Newton had genuine faith in the Triune God and the deity of Christ. Now, there's questions about that. But let's hope for his sake, that he did. Imagine him up in heaven realizing he is in second place and Jesus in third, and how amazing and ironic that would be. It shows how we in the west value science above even Christian faith. But God gives the flashes of insight, and he does it all to bless humanity, and he does it through people, and often, often cases through people who don't even acknowledge him as he's doing it.
Science is a good gift from God. Should never be feared. It is a platform for a deeper worship of God. Think of Psalm 8, what David wrote in verse 3 and 4: "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have made. What is man that you are mindful of him? The son of man, that you care for him?" Careful cosmological observation by David, that science led him to worship, and to be humble. And so it should be. Science is a good gift from God by studying the physical universe, we can use many useful things, helpful for life, things that can enrich our lives: electronics, medicine, aviation. Good science can also point, if you know what to look for, to the existence of God. But science also has its limitations, science can make us proud, science can make us independent of God.
God has willed that is impossible for any of us to find him through science directly. Through man's wisdom alone, no one will be saved. God has willed this. We'll talk about this in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. And it is not by science that our souls will be saved. Faith operates in a higher realm than science. Not contradicting it, not opposing it, just above it. Science cannot falsify faith claims, therefore, it cannot make any statements about the truth of those claims. You can't devise an experiment by which we can prove that God doesn't exist, or that he does.
"Science cannot falsify faith claims, therefore, it cannot make any statements about the truth of those claims."
God creates the laws of science for his own glory, and he is not subject to them, but rules over them for his own glory. That is my purpose today to give God glory for this, for science. So this is a bit different sermon than I usually preach. My purposes today are not apologetic, I'm not here to defend the faith to skeptics and unbelievers. So if this thing gets out on the internet and Richard Dawkins listens to it, he's not going to be persuaded by what I'm saying. I'm not talking to him, I'm talking in-house to believers. I'm talking to brothers and sisters in Christ, and saying that from this text and expanding out from the Scripture to God be the glory for everything that science has ever devised. It's a time of worship for us. So, let's try to be somewhat expositional this morning, amen? Just for a while, anyway, 15 minutes of exposition and then the rest will be topical. Okay, is that alright?
Understanding the Passage in Context
So this morning, we're going to start with just the passage in context and try to understand it, and then I'm gonna go off and discuss science based on it. So let's look at the context of Isaiah 28, I already preached through three-quarters of this chapter in the last sermon I was preaching a few weeks ago. We see in Isaiah 28, a judgment of God on the northern kingdom of Ephraim of Israel for their wickedness and for their sins. Sins of drunkenness and idolatry, of irreligion. And we saw in verses 9 and 10 of this chapter, that Israel's leaders were mocking Isaiah's prophecies in reference to Judah, the southern kingdom, and they were saying, "Do and do, do and do, rule and rule," etcetera. Which in the Hebrew is, “Sav lasav sav lasav, kav lakav, kav lakav”. Just yada, yada, yada, that kind of thing.
And they were mocking God's word, and so God said, very ominously, "Very well then, since you won't listen to the clear prophetic word, I'll speak to you through a foreign language, I'll speak to you through men of another tongue, and they'll come to your hometown and they'll speak that language, right in your streets. And you'll understand what I'm saying to you then, the judgment of God has come at last because of your sins." Ultimately though in this chapter, they reject the rock, the foundation rock, the cornerstone, who is Jesus Christ. In verse 16, it says, this is what the Sovereign Lord says, "Behold, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious corner stone for a sure foundation, and the one who trusts in him will never be dismayed." That stone is Jesus Christ. The New Testament makes it plain, Jesus is the foundation stone for the temple, the spiritual building of God. Jesus is the cornerstone and we can trust in him, the son of God who came, who came to Earth, who was incarnate by the power of the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, who lived a sinless life, who did miracles, who taught mighty words, and who proclaimed the gospel of the coming kingdom of God. And who especially shed his blood on the cross, who died in our place, and who was raised from the dead on the third day. This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and if you believe in the Gospel, you will be saved.
And friend, you may be on the outside looking in, on the outside of Christian faith looking in. You may be interested, your interest may be piqued about the whole science thing. That's not gonna save your soul. This message will. So if you hear nothing else I say, hear this, the Gospel of Jesus Christ alone saves sinners and all you need to do is trust in Jesus. Don't trust in your own works, don't trust in your own righteousness, but trust in Christ and he will give you the gift of righteousness and the gift of eternal life. The gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the gift of adoption as sons and daughters of the living God, he will give you heaven as a gift. All of these things freely as a gift. And then he'll give you a new life. When by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can work out your salvation with fear and trembling, you can put sin to death. You can do good works, as we're talking about, as Adam said that we are prepared to do good works, by involvement in a good church. We can do those good works but none of them make us any more righteous, none of them make us any more acceptable to God, none of them make us any more adopted or any more indwelt by the Holy Spirit or any more certain of going to heaven. Those things are just gifts of God. So believe the Gospel, it's a center piece of every text and of every sermon.
Now, these Jewish people in those days thought, people in the southern kingdom of Judah, that they could make a covenant with death, they could make an arrangement, and that death would circumvent them, and I think they were reaching out to Egypt for military allies and all of this, they make a covenant with death, and they thought they could avoid the coming judgment, but that covenant with death would fail. Verse 18: "Your covenant with death will be annulled, your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it." And the end of the section I preached there in verse 22, he says, "The Lord Almighty has told me of the destruction decreed against this whole land." So this is really, those 22 verses are dreadful and terrifying, a word of woe right at the very beginning, verse 1: "And destruction decreed against the whole land." Verse 22 it's a word of terrible warning.
God Teaches Agriculture to Farmers
And at the end of this chapter comes this little parable, this agricultural parable about a farmer in his land and techniques of agriculture, which you heard Tim read. Listen again to these words: "Listen and hear my voice, pay attention and hear what I say. When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil? When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin, does he not plant wheat in its place, barley in its plot and spelt in its field? His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. Caraway is not threshed with a sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin. Caraway is beaten out with a rod and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread, so one does not go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it." Verse 29: "All of this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel, magnificent in wisdom."
Straightforward lesson, in context. If the farmer knows when to stop plowing, how much more does God know when to stop judging his people? If the farmer knows when to stop threshing and to start making the bread, how much more does God know when enough is enough? And so it's really a word of comfort and consolation to a people about to be judged by God. God will not destroy them, he will not wipe them off the face of the earth, that's the lesson. God knows when to stop crushing his people and to start rebuilding them. So that's the point of the parable, in context. Look at the details, he begins by calling for attention, he asks for them to listen to him, in verse 23, "Listen and hear my voice, pay attention, and hear what I say." This is characteristic of wisdom literature. Where in Proverbs 1, “Wisdom”, personified wisdom, “cries aloud in the streets.” “How long will you simple ones love your foolishness. Come and listen to me and eat what is good and be wise.” It's a calling out to people to listen to wisdom. “Whoever listens to me”, Proverbs 133, "Will live in safety and be at ease without fear of harm." So it's a cry of God really to listen to his words.
The lesson of the farmer's knowledge in verse 24, "When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on plowing? Does he keep on breaking up and harrowing the soil." Obviously, a question, the implied answer is, “No”, he doesn't keep on plowing forever. He knows when the plowing's done. And when all of this plowing is done, it would be a metal pointed stick maybe tipped with bronze. Eventually, they found that bronze was too soft, so then they used iron, a little bit harder, could break up the soil. That's what was happening. And then after that came the harrowing of the soil, which would be heavy logs with spikes coming out of it, chained together, and they would drag it across the plowed earth, leveling it and flattening it and smoothing it out and making it ready for the seeds.
And after all of this work was done, then it was time to plant the seed, verse 25, "When he has leveled the surface, does he not sow caraway and scatter cumin? Does he not plant wheat in its place? Barley in its plot, spelt in its field?" The idea is that each seed is dealt with a different way. The very fine black cumin seeds are scattered indiscriminately over the surface, you don't have to be careful about them, they'll do just fine. So you just scatter those fine little seeds over there and they'll be fine, but larger seeds like the wheat and the barley have to be pushed down into the surface, into the prepared soil, and that's how they're going to thrive. Each seed dealt with a little bit differently. Spelt is planted at the edges of the field, because it grows up really tall and provides a natural boundary for the field, preventing animals from coming in, and other farmers knowing that that's the edge of the field. So, all of this was worked out and God knew all of this before the farmer did. He knew it all, he knew exactly what to do with agriculture. And here's the key statement in verse 26: "His God instructs him and teaches him the right way." So again, in context, the logic of the passage that the farmer knows when to stop plowing and harrowing the soil. How much more does God know when his people have had enough?
He doesn't go on plowing endlessly, he knows how to leave a remnant of the Jews who aren't destroyed and from them to build his future people. He continues in the second half: "Caraway is not threshed with a sledge nor is a cartwheel rolled over cumin. Caraway is beaten out with a rod and cumin with a stick. Grain must be ground to make bread, so one doesn't go on threshing it forever. Though he drives the wheels of his threshing cart over it, his horses do not grind it." So, we move from plowing and planting then to the threshing that happens after the harvest.
The same techniques are not gonna be used on small grains that you use on larger grains. With wheat and barley, you have an animal tethered to a central post, and he's dragging a heavy threshing sled with stones or bits of metal that just break it apart and separate the kernel from the husk. But you can't do that with the smaller harvest, the smaller seeds that are harvested. There you're gonna use a flail, which would be two sticks connected with a leather strap, and they beat it out. I actually, got to do this a year ago in Nepal. I wasn't very good at it. It provided a good chance for them to laugh at me and it was an opening for the Gospel. I didn't know the technique, but watching them, they were just very good at it, and they knew how to use the flail to do the threshing. Separating out the kernel from the husk. And Isaiah's point in the second half is the same as the first, the farmer knows what to do the thresh and he knows when to stop threshing and start to make the bread. He knows when enough is enough. And he ends with the same kind of statement in verse 29: "All of this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel, magnificent in wisdom." God knew the science of agriculture before the farmer did and he's the one that taught it to the farmer.
So how much more does he know how to deal with his people? When his people have had enough, God will stop. And so later in Isaiah in chapter 40:1-2, he'll say, very beautifully, he'll tell his prophet to tell the people: "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. And proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins”. The time has come. It's done now, there's no more judgment now, it's over. The time has come to rebuild now.
So I'm gonna stop right here and just give an application of this to us. Do you realize that tenderness and the gentleness and the wisdom of God in dealing with you? That God does not burden you with more trials than you can handle, he knows when enough is enough, he knows when you can't handle anymore, he knows when to stop the trials. And say that those trials have done their work on your heart, your heart has been plowed enough, the harvest has been trashed enough, he knows when to stop. God is faithful, he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. He knows when to stop. Twice, in Peter's Epistle, 1 Peter, he teaches this same thing, he talks about the joy that believers have in coming to faith in Christ and knowing our inheritance. This great joy that we have, this joy unspeakable and full of glory. He says, "In this salvation, you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief and all kinds of trials." Did you hear that? Now, for a little while, you may have had to suffer grief and all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith of greater worth than gold which perishes, even though refined by fire may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
God brings the trials into your life to purify your faith so that Jesus gets glory when he returns, but notice, he does it for a little while. The trials are necessary, but not too much of them. He knows when to stop, and he teaches the same thing at the end of the book. In 1 Peter 5:8-10, he says, "Be self-controlled and alert your enemy, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of sufferings." And God, after you have suffered for a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. Isn't that marvelous? God measures out how much Satan, the roaring lion can get at you and then he moves them aside and says, "That's enough." God is so wise in dealing with us.
What are you going through right now? What is bringing pain in your life? What is causing you suffering? What are you struggling with? Understand those days, indeed those hours, minutes and seconds have been measured out by God. He is wise. He doesn't go on plowing you forever, he doesn't go on thrashing you forever. And there's gonna come a day when there's no more of any of it, no more death, mourning, crying, pain and he is preparing you for that day. So give him the glory and trust him as you're going through trials. Though you are burdened, though you may be crying, though you may be weak and weary, you should cry out to God but know this, he has measured out the days of your trials and they will not be too many. He knows when to stop.
III. God Teaches All Science to Humanity
Thus ends the exposition. Now we go topical. I think this passage teaches a secondary lesson, now, the thing with expositional preaching, the definition of it is that the point of the text is the point of the sermon. Well, the point of the text has been the point of the sermon up until now. But I want to take a moment and just talk about science. Just because I think it's important in 21st century America, I think it's something we Christians deal with every day. And if you're in certain settings on a college campus or in a laboratory working as a scientist or whatever, you may deal with this topic every day of your life.
Science has come to dominate our culture in ways scarcely imaginable 200 years ago. Science changed everything, the way people lived, all of the externals and the patterns of our lives were changed by scientific insights, people lived about the same way for millennia, you think about the agriculture, the agrarian nature of life, the way that people would be transported from one place to another. I'm not saying there weren't some technological advances along the way but progress was very slow.
Look at the Native Americans who lived in North America for centuries, basically, inheriting a way of life from their forefathers and living that out and passing it on to their children, and very little changed. And the same was true for the most part of many places around the world. But science flourished where Biblical faith grew and developed, especially New Testament faith. It flourished because we saw in the regularity of the creation, a God who created all things to be regular like that. We saw in the words of scripture, for example, right after the flood, God spoke concerning the regularity of nature, said, "As long as earth endures seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." So that regularity has come from the mind of God, from the character of God. Those things will not stop until the Earth ends.
C.S. Lewis said this, "Men became scientific because they expected law in nature." And they expected law in nature because they believed in a law giver. Regions of the world dominated by animism or polytheism, or even some of the major world religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even Islam, did not develop in the same way that places where Christianity had taken root developed. But the west through the industrial revolution as science continued to learn and make valid insights and develop valid products and valid medicines and all that, grew to fall in love with science and forget the one who gave it.
Now, what do we mean by science? Well, the scientific method is well known. You probably studied it when you were in high school, what the scientific method is: you make an observation of the surrounding world, for example, this corn is better than that corn, taller, richer, greener, just better. Then you ask a question, "Gee, I wonder why. Why is that corn better than this corn?" And you notice that some cow manure got dumped at the bottom of that corn and not at the other corn. So then you formulate a hypothesis, "Gee, I wonder if cow manure are might help the corn to grow better?" So then you craft an experiment to find out if this hypothesis could be true or not, "Tell you what I'll plant... Next year, I'll plant one tenth, 'cause I'm not sure about this idea but anyway, one tenth of my corn with cow manure in it and the rest in the regular way." And then you watch and see what happens. You analyze the data. Sure enough, the corn did grow taller and richer and better. So the next year you maybe do half of your field with cow manure and the other half not. Over a period of time, you eventually draw a tested conclusion from these experiments. You settle that conclusion, namely, cow manure helps corn grow well into a larger system of truth about agriculture, things you've already learned. And then you publish your findings to other farmers so that they can grow from it and you can grow from their observations.
There my friends is science, that's what it is. That's what it does, it's been doing it for centuries now, that pattern of eight steps. But now the scientific method is coming back to devour the God who gave it to begin with, especially since Darwin published ‘The Origin of the Species’ in 1859. Scientists have become bolder in saying everything in the universe can be answered by science. Peter Atkins, Professor of Chemistry at Oxford said this, "Science emerged from religion, as science discarded the cocoon, its cocoon to become its present butterfly, it took over the whole garden. There is no reason to suppose that science cannot deal with every aspect of existence."
Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg said this, "The world needs to wake up from the long nightmare of religion, anything we scientists can do to weaken the hold of religion should be done. And may in fact be our greatest contribution to humankind." So in other words, we are at war, science and religion are at war, and good scientists will do everything they can to win that battle. Richard Dawkins wrote a book called ‘The God Delusion’. Any of you folks deluded today? [chuckle] Deluded that there is a God. He says there's bunch of chemical reactions in the brain, he just believes in natural selection, evolution, that whole thing, he says, "Religion itself can be explained by physics." He says, "Everything in the universe can be accounted for by the blind laws of physics, and that religion is not merely a delusion but a dangerous delusion." Dawkins says this, "I'm utterly fed up with the respect we have been brainwashed into giving to religion."
So, if you didn't think we're at war, we're at war, at least in the minds of some, many and this is part of the culture we live in, part of the air that we breathe. Christians can feel backed into a corner when dealing with intelligent scientists, atheistic scientists, back on our heels. Atheistic scientists claim that people resort to gods or a God when they don't understand something. It's called the ‘God of the gaps theory’. So where there's a gap in human knowledge, we stick a god or gods in there, superstitions and myths.
Basically, modern atheistic scientists are saying, "We see where science is going and things we used to say the gods did, we now know why they happen. And so we see where all is is going, there's still many unanswered questions, but some day there won't be any. Some day we'll know everything, and then there'll be no God or gods at all. So why don't we just go there now? Why don't we just say, there is no God now. We see where it's going. So enough of the God of the gaps.” Well, this is sheer arrogance. Do you not see it? This is how it works, if I study some laws of cause and effect, I can say there's no God who made either cause or effect? If some superstitious people have ascribed to thunder and lightning, the activity of Zeus, and then we learn that it's very much like static discharge done by Ben Franklin and other things, we say, "Okay, I guess the clouds are rubbing into each other and creating static electricity, and that's where the thunder and lightning comes from, therefore there's no God?" How do we figure that out? How do we go from one to the next? But that's what scientists are saying.
Now, Isaiah 28, the text we're looking at this morning, suggests that all of the scientific insights have been taught directly by God. That God's the one that instructs the farmer on the science of agriculture, and I'm going beyond that to say, God has taught us everything we've ever learned, everything we know, God has taught it to us. To God be the glory for the physical universe he made and the science that has studied it, and the whispering he's done in the ears of scientists along the way, in which he has instructed and taught them the right way, and that's what the text says. Look at verse 26 again, “His God instructs him and teaches him the right way.” The Hebrew words are very potent actually. The science of agriculture is the subject, God is the teacher, the farmer is the pupil. It literally says, "for" It's omitted in the NIV, but it's, "For his God instructs him and teaches him the right way." The reason he plows this way, the reason he acts way, is that God has taught in what to do. And it says very strongly, God instructs him rightly, literally, justly. So there's a justice to the agricultural science, similar to the moral law of the universe, this is the right way to handle these things. It's a very strong statement his God teaches them the just way or the right way.
And then at the end, look at verse 29, "All this also comes from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in council, magnificent in wisdom.” God teaches everything. Look what it says, "Lets start with magnificent wisdom." God just knows the right way to do things, everything, and then he's wonderful in counsel. He gives advice, "Hey, why don't you try this?" So God's magnificent in these things, he knows what to do, and he tells us what would work best. Now, when did all this start? I tell you, it started back in the garden of Eden. Started right back at the beginning when God made Adam out of the dust of the earth. And it says in Genesis chapter 2, if you look, you don't have to turn there, but in verses 4 and 5, it says, "When the Lord God made the heavens and the earth, and no shrub of the field had yet sprung up. And no plant or herb of the field had yet sprung up, had not appeared on the Earth for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth. [Listen] And there was no man to work the ground." That's fascinating.
Back in Genesis chapter 1 in the third day of creation, God made seed-bearing plants. The genetic code in the seed and they were gonna reproduce according to their kind, according to their seed. So he created these types of plants that could not grow, they could not develop without human cultivation. They're needed human beings, farmers to raise those particular types of plants up. And so agricultural science tells us what they are, for example, you never find corn growing in the wild ever. If you ever walk through the woods and come to a stand of corn, you know there are people nearby, and there are many other such crops. God linked those crops to human involvement. Well, then you think, "Okay, Adam gets born, made, crafted out of the dust of the earth, what does he know?" Friends, nothing. He doesn't know anything. "Well, how is he gonna know what to do with those herbs and plants of the field?" Well, his God will instruct him and teach them the right way. He'll teach him what to do. Just like Jesus said about his relationship with his father, he said, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing on his own. He can only do what his father tells him to do. Because his father shows him everything he's doing." That intimate father-son relationship. And in Jesus's genealogy in Luke 3, it said that Adam was the son of God. And so the Father would teach the son, Adam, what to do with the garden. He would teach him how to make those crops flourish. And He put him in the garden to serve it and protect it, it literally says in Genesis 2:15, that was his job to make those crops come to their full fruition.
But I'm gonna go beyond just agriculture, I think that's where it started. But remember in Genesis 2, there was a river that went through the garden and broke into headwaters, and then it goes out into different lands, and there's onyx out there, and there's aromatic resin, and there's gold, it's like, "What am I gonna do with onyx and aromatic resin and gold?" Well, God will instruct him and teach him the right way. He'll teach him what to do with all those things, what they're good for, what they're not good for. The science of the earth, dear friends, God was gonna teach it to them. And God's was gonna teach science to all humanity because it was gonna be part of our relationship, our love relationship with God, we were going to love the Lord, our God with all our heart, our soul and our mind. The first and greatest commandment.
"The science of the earth, dear friends, God was gonna teach it to them. And God's was gonna teach science to all humanity because it was gonna be part of our relationship, our love relationship with God."
Science is a Basis for Eternal Worship
And God had filled the world with his glory. Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." And it says in Isaiah 6, the seraphim crying out, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty, the whole earth is full of his glory." And it was our job as human beings to learn that glory, to study that glory. Habakkuk 2:14 on this map out here, "The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." We were the scientists, we were the ones who were gonna study and the topic would be God. The topic would be God and his glory woven into every atom, every fiber of the universe. But then sin entered the world. Genesis chapter 3, tragically, they were drawn away, enticed by a different kind of knowledge an arrogant ambition to be like God. To know good and evil to become like God, and they ate from that tree. And God had woven and clear evidence of himself and creation, Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities –his eternal power and his divine nature – are clearly understood from what has been made." But men, now in sin, worshipping themselves really suppress or hold down that truth in unrighteousness, that there is a God, that he made all these things that creation testifies to the greatness and the existence of God. So they suppress it in unrighteousness.
I find that interesting, holding It down. Came across a quote by Francis Crick, Watson and Crick were the ones that came up with the DNA double helix thing, they won the Nobel Prize for it. Guys, an arch-atheist biologist, and he said this, "Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved." What a fascinating quote. You have to work hard when you're in the lab or just constantly keep in mind, it was not designed, but it was evolved. It was not designed, but it was evolved, you have to constantly... You have to work hard at it. Actually Richard Dawkins said this, "Living objects look designed, they look overwhelmingly as though they were designed, but they weren't.” Does that not sound like suppressing the truth and unrighteousness to you? A design means what? A designer, dear friends. And so it got worse. Although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images. They exchange the truth of God for a lie and worshipped and served created things rather than the creator. You wanna know the number one created thing they worship and serve? Their own brains, themselves. That's what they're worshipping, that's what they're serving.
And yet for all of that, God still will to teach the human race science, he still will to do it. And so people discovered scientific truths, but now corrupt, they start to use them for evil purposes. Prime example is the Tower of Babel. Remember how they said in Genesis 11, “‘Come let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ And they covered them with tar for mortar and they said, ‘Come, let's build us a city with a tower that reaches up to the heavens so that we can make a name for ourselves.’” Oh, they're no longer living for the glory of God's name, they're living for their own name. Interestingly, God said some amazing things at that point. He said, if as one people speaking one language that they began to do this, then nothing they proposed to do will be withheld from them. God knew what he put into the mind of man and the greatness of being in the image of God and the danger at that point, so he retarded it all, slowed it down by confusing the languages. It was God that taught them the ceramics. It was God that taught them advanced building techniques. It was God that taught them these things, but they used them for wicked purposes.
Now, some godly people in the Bible are scientists. A good example of this is Solomon. Solomon begged God for wisdom and God gave it to him, and it branched out into science, it branched out into a study of different types of plants and animals. In 1 Kings 4, it says that Solomon describe plant life from the Cedar of Lebanon to the hyacinth that grows out of the walls. He was a botanist, I guess. He was a biologist, he also taught about animals and birds, and reptiles and fish, a zoologist. Men of all nations came to listen to Solomon's wisdom sent by all the kings of the world who had heard of his wisdom. Even the Queen of Sheba came to test him with difficult questions, and he passed all the tests. Oral exam, PhD, oral exam, and he passed. Amazing! A scientist. And he talks about that in Ecclesiastes, he said, "So, I turned my mind," is Ecclesiastes 7:25, "I turned my mind to understand, to investigate, to search out wisdom, the scheme of things, to understand." And then 7:27, listen to this, "Look, said the teacher, this is what I have discovered. Adding one thing to another to discover the scheme of things." Friends, that's science is what that is, was given as a gift of God to Solomon the king.
Jesus did the same thing and his teachings. Remember in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6, he talks to anxious people who are worried about food and clothing and all that sort of stuff. He said, "Why do you worry about food? Study the birds of the air, will you? Study them, watch their habits, watch their techniques. They neither sow, or reap, or store in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? And why do you worry about clothes? Study the lilies of the field. Look at them carefully. Pick one, go ahead, pick it and look at it. I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. Now, if that's how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you? Oh, you of little faith."
So he's using science and goes from it to spiritual principles of God's care for us to destroy it in a very counseling kind of practical sense your anxiety about food and clothing. He does the same thing concerning his own advent, his coming to earth. He says, "You look at the weather, right? You say, look at the sky, it's red in the morning and today it'd be stormy, and then the night. It'd be fair weather for the sky is red. Now, you know how to interpret the appearance of the sky but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." So he's going to meteorology there. Oh, you guys are studying the weather patterns, why don't you study what's happening with me now? And he does that concerning his second coming, "As lightning that flashes in the east is visible in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man." So bottom line, God is the teacher of science, always has been, always will be, and science can be used to the glory of God.
"God is the teacher of science, always has been, always will be, and science can be used to the glory of God."
He also teaches science to atheists who give him no credit at all. Look in your Bible a few pages up to Isaiah 45:3-7…Wow, I have two spiders on my microphone here, that is freaky. So, I study of them? What do you think? I don't know. Look into them, into the science. I think there's only... No, there's two of them. Where did it go? That's creepy. Pray for me. Anyway, he says to Cyrus the Great, an empire builder from Persia. This is Isaiah 45:3-7, he says this to him, "I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel who summons you by name. I summon you by name and I bestow on you a title of honor though you do not acknowledge me. [Do you see that?] I am the Lord and there is no other apart from me, there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged me so that from the rising of the sun to the place of it setting, men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness; I bring prosperity and create disaster. I the Lord, do all these things."
So, God will open the treasures of scientific darkness and give those riches to people who do not acknowledge him. And he does it, I think, in a common grace blessing, like causing the sun to rise on the righteous and the unrighteous, and sending rain on those who acknowledge him and those who don't. And he does this for his own purpose, even to people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Now, later in Isaiah 45, you still there. Look at it in verse 15, it says, "Truly, you are a God who hides himself, oh, God and Savior of Israel." God teaches science to atheists and hides himself so that they do not actually know him. Deeper, God uses science to control human history. He gives scientific insights to some peoples and not to others, and in this way causes some nations to rise up higher than others, for his own sovereign purposes. No one from the East to the West can exalt a man, only God can do that, that's Psalm 75. And the Apostle Paul in Athens on Mars Hill, said to those philosophers, those scientists of Athens, said this, "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth. And he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live."
How does God control these things? Well, without them knowing it, God directs the minds of the rulers or of the scientists, whatever way he chooses, he has that power to do it. So he'll give an insight on steel, or gunpowder, or free market economies, or other things, and causes some nations to rise up higher than others, for his own purposes, for his own glory. And as science advances, it advances by what they call eureka moments, moments flashes of insight, like Isaac Newton's apple. I don't know if it hit him on the head, but it made him think. The word ‘eureka’ is Greek for "I've found it." It comes from Archimedes who figured out how to discover if the king's crown was made of pure gold or not. When he lowered himself into a tub and the water spilled out, and he thought a specific gravity could sink the crown in there and figured out its density that way. Amazing, eureka, I've found it!
Well, what he should have said, Isaiah 28, is, “He taught it to me. Thank you, God.” God showed me what to do with specific gravity, and has happened again and again, 1% inspiration, moments of inspiration, God says, "Try this, try this, try this." Whispering in the ears of the scientist, whether they acknowledge him or not. So, there was a scientist working for 3M and they had developed an adhesive that was very weak, didn't hold very well, they didn't know what to do with it. So he's in church and he's singing, and his bookmark keeps sliding out of hymnal, it just keeps sliding down the page. Eureka! Post-it note. Any of you ever used a post-it note? It was in church while the guy was singing. Or another guy goes walking with his dog through the woods and after the walk, he sees a bunch of birds hitchhikers on his sock, his woolen sock. He looks at it for a while, plucks it off, looks at it under a microscope and discovers velcro. These are true stories.
Science Magazine Top 10 Eureka moments, Aha moments. Of course, number one was Alexander Flemming discovering antibiotics when a bread mold killed a bunch of bacteria. Albert Einstein himself, who went beyond Newtonian physics in about the same way that Newton discovered the first level of physics. He's in a Swiss Patent Office in 1907, and he starts thinking about people falling. And he thought, "If a man falls freely, he would not feel his own weight." And he began thinking about that and started to develop the general theory of relativity. Now took him eight years of mathematics, but God worked it through him and he gave it to him. And to God be the glory for all of us. Now, someday, friends, our minds are gonna be fixed, our hearts are gonna be fixed, we're gonna live in heaven and the world is gonna be filled with the glory of God, and Jesus will be the lamp of the glory of God, and everything we see will radiate with the glory of God, and our minds will see it, and we will study it, and we will give directly God the glory for all of it, for eternity, and the earth will be filled at last with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the earth.
The Limitations of Science
But there are limitations to science. Science cannot produce faith, it cannot save your soul. Luke 17:20, Jesus said, "The Kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation." So you're careful observation will not bring the kingdom of God. And even better, 1 Corinthians 1:21, "For since in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not know God. God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." Alright, just to unravel that, 1 Corinthians 1:21, it was wise for God to set up a world where science couldn't find him. It was wise for God to set up a system where you could only be saved by believing Christ and him crucified. It was wise for God to do that. So no scientists can inch their way toward God by the scientific process, but faith comes by hearing the gospel in that way alone.
Conversely, however, science cannot disprove our faith. It's amazing the arrogant statements made by that. There's no experiment that they can put together to disprove the existence of God. Science is not God's master, God is science's master. God makes laws, but he can break them any time he wants. Amen, Hallelujah. And Jesus broke them a lot: they're called miracles. Alright, he walks on water. What happened to specific gravity there? What happened to gravity itself? Jesus could do anything. Then interestingly, after he walked on water, what did he do? Got in the boat. So both of them are gods, that ordinary technology of flotation and boat development and all that, God's in favor of it. That's our usual way. But he is not behold into it, he can use the boat or not as he chooses. And after his resurrection he flouted the laws of nature again and again, goes right through the walls of the tomb, didn't need the angel to come and move the stone, he was gone already by then. He goes, though the doors are locked for fear of the Jews right through the walls as he chooses. He's eating with the two disciples on the road to a Emmaus, and he break bread and their eyes are opening he disappears. Where did he go? Don't know, next place. And after 40 days of instruction, he's there on the Mount of Olives and he just floats up to heaven until a cloud hides him from their site.
So, he made the laws but he didn't have to follow them. And science can be a basis of worship, it cannot lead us to faith and it can make us arrogant and independent and unthankful. We know 1 Corinthians 8:1, that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something, doesn't yet know as he ought to know. Jeremiah 9, this is what the Lord says, "Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of his strength, or the rich man boast of his wealth. But let him who boast, boast about this, that he understands and knows me." Close with me in prayer.
Father, we thank you for the time we've had to study. I pray that these words, some sense they've been long and some sense too short, but that they would be used by you to give us a sense of the glory of God in creation and in science. And I pray that you'd help us to be courageous when we preach the Gospel to our generation and to give you the glory for everything that you've done, in Jesus name. Amen.