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New Wine for the End Times
Science and the Bible
Dispensationalists separate Israel from the Church. They see two distinct purposes of God in the two groups. The Church, they say, has a heavenly purpose, and Israel has an earthly purpose. However, this earthly purpose seems to be very anticlimactic. The earthly purpose, according to dispensationalists, is to fulfill Old Testament promises that God made to the Old Testament patriarchs, such as Abraham. It’s to fulfill God’s promises to the Jews. Yes, promises are important. But what was the purpose of the promises?
God’s purpose all along has been the redemption of Man. In this purpose, God has a plan. And it’s not a plan in which the first steps were somehow unneeded, and simply remain as promises that have to be fulfilled. Israel is not a carryover from old promises that do not directly bring about God’s purpose of the redemption of Man. The redemption of Man happens only in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, and in our need to overcome sin as a response to God’s love and sacrifice, with the help of the Holy Spirit. God’s purpose is the union between God and all of God’s children, but only those who will have Him.
Unlike the dispensational claim, the separation of people during the millennium is not between the Church and Israel. The separation is between those who will have overcome sin through Christ by the time of the resurrection, and those who haven’t as yet matured in Christ. And of course the resurrected will include those who died having not yet heard about Christ.
Christ left the earth to prepare a place for us, rooms (or dwelling-places) in the Father’s house. These dwelling-places are for His Bride, which is the Church (John 14:2-3). It’s only reasonable to assume these dwelling-places will be ready for us when Christ returns. These rooms are in the Father’s house. How can those living in the Father's house coexist with those living on the earth after the resurrection? The meek will inherit the earth. So heaven must come to the earth. The New Jerusalem will need to be in orbit around the earth during the millennium. However, to be in orbit around the earth is using the terminology of science, not the Bible! Is science the solution for solving a problem of Scripture?
When the New Jerusalem appears in orbit around the earth, two groups of people are going to be very surprised. The scientists will be very surprised to see aliens with very great science and technology aligning themselves with God, Jesus Christ and the overcoming of sin. Theologians will be very surprised to see the New Jerusalem appear as a literal space ship instead of a vague description of eternity. They will also be surprised to see it come before the heavens and the earth are destroyed by fire and before the new heavens and the new earth.
Science and the Bible must come together because both are literally true. However, the Bible is not a book of science. The Bible was written by people who did not understand today’s science. The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. What was written is without doctrinal error from the perspective of their understanding. The Holy Spirit gave these men understandings about God, and they wrote what they understood. Since they did not understand science, they did not write about science. Therefore, the Bible should not be used to argue science. It would be taking the statements out of context.
The one exception to the rule that the Bible must be understood by its authors is in the area of prophetic visions. For example, Daniel said he didn’t understand the visions given to him (Daniel 7:28, 8:27, 12:8). Perhaps one reason for this is that an understanding of science is required before we can understand how God will carry out the latter part of his plans to redeem Man. Even the simple concept of the New Jerusalem being in orbit around the earth would have been difficult for Daniel, Paul, and John to understand.
To bring science and the Bible together, we must explore issues of heaven and the universe. Are they the same or different? Will the entire universe be destroyed when the heavens and the earth is destroyed? Why are the heavens plural? What was the seven days of the Creation? Did God create space and time? Is Christ the firstborn of the Universe?
The word Jerusalem means “Foundation of Peace.” When has Jerusalem ever lived up to its namesake? The reign of Jesus Christ is the only true means to lasting peace. But is that lasting peace realized through the Old Jerusalem, the New Jerusalem, or both? The writer of Hebrews seems to speak of both the city in the land promised to Abraham, and the city in heaven.
Hebrews 11:8-10 ESV By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. (9) By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. (10) For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.
Hebrews 11:16 ESV But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
Hebrews 12:22-23a ESV But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, (23) and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.
Hebrews 13:14 ESV For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.
There are two cities called Jerusalem. One is in heaven; the other is here on earth. Both will be the “Foundation of Peace” through Jesus Christ.
We speak of heaven as being up because that’s the way the Bible speaks of it (Genesis 6:17, 7:19, 15:5, 19:24, 22:11, 22:17, 26:4, 28:12, 49:25, Exodus 9:22-23, 10:21-22, 16:4, 20:4, 32:13, Deuteronomy 1:10, 1:28, 2:25, 4:19, 4:39, 5:8, 7:24, 9:1, 9:14, 10:22, 11:11, 17:3, 25:19, 28:24, 28:62, 29:20, 30:12, 32:40, 33:13). The sun, moon and stars are in heaven (Gen. 15:5, 22:17, 26:4, Exodus 32:13, Deuteronomy 1:10, 3:19, 10:22, 28:62). The Bible also speaks of Sheol (Hades) as being in the down direction (Genesis 37:35, 42:38, 44:29, 44:31, Numbers 16:30, 16:33, Deuteronomy 32:22).
Over time, men like Copernicus (1473-1543), Galileo (1564-1642), Kepler (1572-1630), Newton (1642-1727), Einstein (1879-1955), and Hubble (1889-1953), to name but a few, have profoundly changed our understanding of science and the universe. Today we know and understand the physics and mathematical formulas of how the moon, planets, stars, and galaxies move through the universe. And we routinely send men and women into orbit around the earth. Are these astronauts ascending into heaven? Based on the concept of heaven, as understood by the Bible writers, today’s astronauts do ascend into heaven. We have telescopes in heaven that study the vast reaches of the heavens.
In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, the word for ‘heaven’ and ‘sky’ is the same word. Ancient Bible writers did not distinguish heaven from what they saw when they looked up at the night-time sky, or up at the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 15:5, Deuteronomy 4:15, 17:3, Jeremiah 8:2). For example, the word ‘heaven’ in Genesis 1:1 is the same as the word ‘sky’ in Genesis 1:8. Many translations, including the ESV and the KJV, even use the word 'heaven' in verse 8.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Genesis 1:8 God called the expanse sky. There was evening and there was morning, a second day.
In the Hebrew, these two are the same word. The same is true in New Testament Greek. The word for ‘heaven’ and the word of ‘sky’ is the same word. For example, in Matthew 16:2-3, Jesus talks about the weather. This is in response to the Pharisees and Sadducees wanting Jesus to show them a sign from heaven.
Matthew 16:1-3 NIV The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. (2) He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' (3) and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
The Greek word for “heaven” in verse 1 is the same as the Greek word for “sky” in verses 2 and 3. Why did the NIV translators feel the need to use a different word? The ESV and the KJV translators also used “sky” in verses 2 and 3. Yet Matthew would probably not have made a distinction. Matthew, and the other writers of Scripture, believed heaven is what we see when we look at the sky.
Most theologians today, however, have redefined heaven. Heaven is considered to be a “spiritual realm” outside the visible universe. As astronomers have learned to understand the universe, our understanding of heaven has shifted to be outside the physical universe. But does Scripture support this shift in understanding? Or have theologians consciously or sub-consciously taken steps to avoid overlaps with science? Are the sun, moon, and stars really in heaven, as explicitly stated by Scripture? Or were the authors of the Bible simply too ignorant and mistakenly included the sun, moon, and stars as being in heaven?
Some would point out that the world is not flat, and the earth is not at the center of the universe. Likewise, there are Bible verses that were thought to say the earth does not move, thus it’s at the center of the universe (Psalms 96:10, 104:5, 1 Chronicles 16:30, Ecclesiastics 1:5). And there are verses that were thought to say the earth is flat (Isaiah 11:12, Ezekiel 7:2, Revelation 7:1, 20:8). Of course similar verses could be used to say that heaven is flat (Jeremiah 48:35, Daniel 7:2, 8:8, 11:4, Zechariah 2:6, 6:5, Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:27).
All of these verses can be interpreted in a way that does not make statements about science. Indeed, the Bible should not be used to assert statements about science. But by the same token, theologians should not let science change our understanding about theology. The existence of heaven is a statement of theology. God and the angels are in heaven. And if the Bible states that the stars are also in heaven, then that’s what we should believe. There is no need to assume the existence of a spiritual realm, apart from the universe, of which neither the Bible nor science teaches. It’s better to simply believe what the authors of the Bible believed and wrote about heaven.
Heaven is in the up direction. The earth is round. Therefore up, from everywhere on earth, covers the entire universe. Sheol (Hades) is in the down direction. The earth is round. Therefore down, from everywhere on earth, is the middle of the earth.
Can there literally be a “bottomless pit?” (Revelation 9:1-2, 9:11, 11:7, 17:8, 20:1) If a spirit were to fall, without being stopped by the ground, then he would fall to the center of the earth. At that point momentum would cause the spirit to keep going right on past the center until earth’s gravitation reversed his fall. Then he would return back to the center again, repeating the process over and over. Perhaps some amount of friction might slow the fall down, to eventually stop in the middle. Or perhaps the spirit would continue to fall forever. In either case, there is no bottom. The spirit would just keep falling. This “pit” would not have a bottom to stop the fall. Is the molten lava that’s in the center of the earth in reality the “lake of fire?” (Revelation 18:20, 20:10, 20:14-15, 21:8).
Once we get past our preconception of heaven being a spiritual realm, outside the universe, then the idea of the New Jerusalem being in orbit around the earth begins to make sense. The New Jerusalem is a very large spaceship. Paul visited it (whether in body or in spirit) when he went to the third heaven.
2 Corinthians 12:2-7 ESV I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven --whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. (3) And I know that this man was caught up into paradise--whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows-- (4) and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter. (5) On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. (6) Though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. (7) So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited .
Paul was given a great understanding about heaven. He apparently visited the New Jerusalem while it was in the “third heaven.” Paul apparently knew a lot more about heaven than he was allowed to share.
We should interpret Paul’s reference to the third heaven in light of ancient Jewish literature. In Paula Gooder’s book titled, “Only the Third Heaven?: 2 Corinthians 12:1-10 And Heavenly Ascent,” pages 184-186, Gooder writes:
There is no agreed number of heavens in the extra-biblical Jewish literature. 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch mention only one, the Midrash on Psalm 114 and Babylonian Hagigah 12b seem to refer to two: ‘heaven and the heaven of heavens’. One version of the Testament of Levi 3.1 mentions three, as does the Apocalypse of Moses (known also as the Life of Adam and Eve). 3 Baruch refers to five heavens. Another, later version of the Testament of Levi, Slavonic Enoch 20, The Apocalypse of Abraham, the Ascension of Isaiah 6-9, Babylonian Hagigah 12a and Sepher Hekhalot speak of seven heavens, while Slavonic Enoch 21-2 presents 10 and Sepher Hekhalot 48.1 955. However, a detailed examination of these texts reveals that the situation is not quite as diverse as scholars such as Lincoln have assumed.
Skipping three paragraphs, Gooder continues (underline mine):
The Apocalypse of Moses also refers to ‘the third heaven’. The relationship between this text and the Life of Adam and Eve is odd. They recount essentially different stories but do so within the same framework of the life of Adam and Eve immediately after they had been evicted from paradise. Scholars believe that they are connected and are translations of the same Hebrew text which is no longer extant. The Greek Apocalypse of Moses is important here for it mentions the third heaven in conjunction with paradise. There is no need to assume, however, that this is the highest heaven. God says ‘Take him up into paradise, in the third heaven’ (37.5), this does not necessarily imply that God is also there. Furthermore in 35.2, a reference is made to seven heavens: ‘Look with your eyes and see the seven heavens opened.’ This text, therefore, presents a cosmology closer to Slavonic Enoch, in which paradise is located in three out of seven heavens.
Skipping three paragraphs, Gooder summarizes (underline mine):
The re-examination of the cosmology of numerous texts containing heavens with multiple levels has produced interesting results. By far the most dominant belief appears to be in a seven-heaven cosmology. Systems containing 3, 5, 10 and 955 heavens are all problematic to some extent. The only text which refers with certainty to three heavens may have been condensed from a seven-heaven model. The text which has five heavens contain no throne vision, so there is no certainty that the fifth is the highest heaven. Accounts with ten heavens seem to be an expansion from an original seven-heaven model and 955 heavens appears to be gematria on the word heaven. The presence of seven levels in heaven appears most consistently in these texts. Given this and given that Paul refers to the third heaven alongside paradise, which in Slavonic Enoch and the Apocalypse of Moses is the third out of seven heavens, it is at least possible that Paul here refers not to an ascent to the highest heaven but to the third out of seven heavens.
We should not raise the authority of extra-biblical text to the level of Scripture. However, we should also interpret Paul’s statement in the context of ancient Jewish literature. Paul was a Pharisee. Words such as “third heaven” have meaning in a given culture and religious training. Therefore, we should interpret Paul’s use of “third heaven” in the context of the Jewish beliefs of that time.
It would seem, therefore, that Paul believed in seven levels of heaven. And Paradise (the New Jerusalem) is at the third level. How does this reconcile with what we know of the universe today, thanks to astronomy and science?
We can assume that each level of heaven is further and further out, away from the earth. We can also assume that the seventh level is related to God's location or origin. Of course God, the Holy Spirit, is present everywhere. However, these seven levels would seem to imply a special location for God in the seventh level. And all the Jewish literature about the seventh level would agree.
Astronomers also divide the universe based on the distance from the earth, and based on what is in orbit around larger and larger spaces. Working along the same lines as astronomers, the first level of heaven would be the orbit around the earth. The moon is in the first heaven. The second heaven is the solar system. It’s everything that’s in the orbit around the sun. All the planets are in the second heaven. The third heaven is the neighboring stars that are relatively close to our solar system. The fourth heaven is our entire galaxy. The fifth heaven is all the galaxies that are relatively close. And the sixth heaven is the entire universe.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted that the universe is either expanding or contracting. Hubble proved it is expanding. Einstein’s equations say that originally the universe was a singularity. Space and time did not exist. The universe was “created” at the “Big Bang.” You can’t describe a time before the Big Bang, because time itself didn’t exist. What caused the big-bang? Scientists do not know. But something (or someone) must have created the universe from outside the universe. God is outside space and time. Therefore, God’s existence outside of space and time is the seventh heaven. It’s beyond, or outside, the entire universe.
Therefore, one might argue the seventh heaven is really a spiritual realm, outside the four dimensions of space and time. However, it’s probably not a place where humans or angels can go. We can’t even imagine existence without space and time. And God is outside of space and time. Therefore, God knows the future and the past as one.
The Trinity has been said to be a doctrine that cannot be understood. How can there be three persons who are all God, and yet there is only one God? This science oriented view of the seven levels of heaven might provide some insight.
Think of God as originating outside of space and time; outside the universe. The Father loves us, but does not experience space and time as we do. The Holy Spirit "proceeds" (ESV) from the Father (John 15:26). He "goes out from the Father" (NIV). The Holy Spirit exists throughout the universe. The Holy Spirit can fill us. So the Holy Spirit experiences space and time. The Son has physical form. There is also Scriptural evidence that the Father has physical form inside the universe. We are created in the image of Christ. This makes God be three distinct persons. But at the same time, all three are one God, originating from outside the universe of space and time.
Paul went to Paradise, which is the New Jerusalem, in the third heaven. This would be outside the solar system. It might or might not be near neighboring stars. I believe the New Jerusalem will (or has already) traveled back to the solar system and will appear in earth’s orbit. This is the heavenly “city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14). Jesus will return as that city returns. Those who are in Christ will be given rooms in that city. We will dwell in heaven, in that city, with Christ. And at the same time, we will reign with Christ over the nations here on the earth.
Also, with regard to the seven heavens, we should note that Scripture often refers to the heavens in the plural. “In the beginning, God created the heavens (plural) and the earth.”
Revelation tells us the New Jerusalem will come down from heaven.
Revelation 3:12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name.
Revelation 21:2 I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready like a bride adorned for her husband.
If there is only one heaven, and if heaven is in a “spiritual realm” outside the universe, then one might think the New Jerusalem will come down and sit on the earth. Remember, however, the Jews believed Paradise is at the third heaven. With seven heavens, these verses can simply mean the New Jerusalem comes down from the third heaven to the first heaven.
Also, the New Jerusalem is far too big to practically sit on the earth. It is 1400 miles high. If it were sitting on the earth, it would extend well into space. It would be much more practical for it to stay in space.
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem , and to innumerable multitudes of angels,
Hebrews 13:14 For we don't have here an enduring city, but we seek that which is to come.
Probably the biggest dispute between scientists and some conservative theologians involves the seven days of the Creation in Genesis. Proponents of literal Biblical creationism believe the earth and the rest of the entire universe were created in six 24-hour days, and that it all happened about six thousand years ago. The attempt is to force science into a very specific interpretation of Genesis.
Many conservative theologians, on the other hand, see alternate ways of interpreting Scripture and yet still believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and in literal interpretation for the given context. For example, many see a “gap” between the creation of the heavens and the earth and the first day.
Genesis 1:1-5 ESV In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (2) The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (3) And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. (4) And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. (5) God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Does the first day begin with verse 1 or verse 3? For each of the six days, God gives a command and his Word becomes reality. God’s verbal command for the first day was, “Let there be light.” Before this, “darkness was over the surface of the deep.” This seven-day story of the creation seems to pick up long after the heavens and the earth had already been created.
This reasonable and literal interpretation of Genesis 1 better fits the “Big Bang” theory of science. The universe was “created” at the “Big Bang.” Scientists believe this was about 13.7 billion years ago. The creation of the solar system and the earth was much later.
Man has always tended to interpret Scripture along the lines of the universe being created solely for the purpose of Man. Perhaps this is part of our sinful and arrogant nature. The Bible tells us about angels. So we assume God created the angels for the sole purpose of servicing us. This was not helped by the visual illusion that the earth doesn’t move, and that the sun, planets, and stars appear to move around us.
The Bible was used to support this mistake with verses like, "The world is also established. It can't be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity" (Psalms 96:10, 104:5, 1 Chronicles 16:30, Ecclesiastes 1:5). It’s not too hard to see how people have taken these verses out of context and applied them to science. The Bible is not a book of science, even though it’s doctrinally inerrant. It was written and understood by authors who didn’t understand even the basics of science.
The creation story of Genesis 1 was not written to give us the scientific details about the origin of the universe and the earth. It was written in a way that was understandable by men who looked up and saw the illusion of the planets and stars moving around us. The purpose of Genesis 1 was not to explain the scientific truth, but to show us the importance of understanding that God is the Creator. Therefore, as we learn more about science, it’s reasonable to interpret the seven days of creation based on what we know of science. This is done without alternating the doctrinal truth of what’s being said. We should not force old traditional understandings of Genesis which were based on Man’s arrogant assumption that we are the center of God’s Creation of the universe. But we are the center of God’s creation of our own Solar System.
With a “gap” of billions of years between the creation of the universe and the first day of the seven, then it’s obvious that Man was not the sole purpose of God’s Creation of the heavens. There can be many other species of intelligent life in this vast universe that God created. The universe and the angels existed before the first day of the seven. Forcing the first day to begin with verse 1 is simply the last in a series of misinterpretations that arrogantly assumed Man is at the center of God’s purpose in creating the universe.
The scientist tends to think from a mind’s-eye perspective of outside the system looking in. Early men, however, looked up at the sky and wondered. They would have tended to think about how it all began from the perspective of earth and looking up into the heavens. What would happen if we were to interpret the six days of the creation from this perspective? Let’s look at it from the perspective of the universe already being here at the time of the first day.
Prior to the first day, the solar system was still a lot of gases rotating around the center. In other words, the earth was still “without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” The sun in the middle had not yet reached a high enough density for the hydrogen to begin atomic fusion. The earth had heavier materials down deep and lighter materials higher up. Water was everywhere. The Spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.
1) God said, “Let there be light” (1:3). The density of the sun reached the point where the hydrogen began atomic fusion. The sun began to emit light. However, the earth still had thick clouds. There was light, but you could not see the sun. Remember that the seven days of the creation is not the creation of the universe. It’s the creation of the solar system. It’s from the perspective of what you would see from earth looking up at the heavens.
2) God said, "Let there be an expanse in the middle of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters" (1:6). The atmosphere began to be more separated from the solid earth below it. This atmosphere was up from the earth. So it would became known as heaven. God called the expanse above the earth heaven. Of course the universe had already existed for billions of years. Water is either a vapor, a liquid, or solid (ice). Mostly the water was vapor. Slowly the water vapor began to cool and became the liquid oceans on the surface of the earth. Liquid water covered the entire earth.
3a) God said, "Let the waters under the sky be gathered together to one place, and let the dry land appear" (1:9). The volcanic activity of the earth was tremendous. Off-the-chart earthquakes were constant. Volcanic lava flowed into the oceans, building up in some areas beneath the seas. The plates shifted quickly because of the tremendous volcanic activity. Slowly, the land began to emerge from below the sea level. The plates continued to shift, forming the continents as they quickly separated. The volcanic activity was still intense. The sky was constantly filled with volcanic smoke. The sun could not be seen anywhere on the earth.
3b) God said, "Let the earth put forth grass, herbs yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind, with its seed in it, on the earth" (1:11). Finally, the volcanic activity subsided enough for plant life to grow. This is not evolution. The plants didn’t evolve from sea life. The plants were simply planted on earth when the earth was ready for them. It is possible the original planting was done by the angels in Paradise (the New Jerusalem). Paradise means “enclosed garden.”
4) God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of sky to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of sky to give light on the earth" (1:14-15). With the volcanic activity subsiding, the smoke in the atmosphere finally starts to clear. For the first time, the sun, moon, and stars can be seen from the earth. The sun was not created in the first day. God simply said, “Let there be light.” Likewise, the stars were not created in the fourth day. God simply said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of sky.”
5) God said, "Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of sky" (1:20 ESV). By this point, the seas have cooled down enough to support life. So the angels in Paradise start putting fish in the sea. The air has cleared up enough for birds to fly. So the angels start releasing birds on the earth.
6a) God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, livestock, creeping things, and animals of the earth after their kind" (1:24). As the earth settles down, it can support more and more life. Also, the plants, fish, and birds were given a chance to multiply before other animals were released that would prey on eggs and fish. In other words, the order of plants and animals involves wise choices for building a world-wide balanced systems of nature.
6b) God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the livestock, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (1:26).
The plural use of “our image” and “our likeness” has been attributed to the Trinity. And this could be true. But it could also be interpreted as Christ giving instructions to the angels in Paradise. The plural nature of image and likeness could include the angels. Both Christ, called Yahweh, and two angels appeared to Abraham before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed (Genesis 18:1-2). All three were perceived as men. Therefore, both angels and men have the image of Jesus Christ, called Yahweh. The Father is also Yahweh.
In each of the six days of Creation, God said to let something be done, and it was done. Traditionally this is interpreted as the very words of God causing creation to occur. But it can also be interpreted as the angels being involved in carrying out the commands of God. If the angels in Paradise were involved, technology could have been used to help form the solar system, and to seed the earth with life.
Jesus Christ, as commander of this huge space ship, could have given the command to “let there be light.” This is not creating matter out of nothing. The matter was created when God created the universe at the “Big Bang.” The first day commandment was to speed up the process of gravity to form the sun.
The original Bible authors, and the ancient world as a whole, believed heaven is the sky. It’s the universe that we see. In the 16th century Galileo and Copernicus started to convince us, by the use of science and technology, that the earth is not the center of the universe. The Church began to shift heaven to a spiritual realm in response. This effectively allow the earth to remain as heaven's center of focus. However, I consider this belief to be a non-Biblical 16th century tradition. If I’m right about this, then angels are aliens. And demons would be rebel aliens.
Today, the evidence for UFOs and aliens is so strong that many Christian groups have acknowledged that they exist, but will often associate them with the demonic. Because of the strong tradition that heaven is in a separate spiritual realm, these Christian groups tend to say that UFOs are not from other worlds, but come from another dimension or a parallel universe. But even science is very vague and speculative about the existence of parallel universes. I consider it much more likely that angels and demons are from this universe.
These same Christian groups will say that when the existence of aliens is fully disclosed to the public, that it will be the “great deception” of 2 Thessalonians 2. I partly agree. However, these Christian groups will claim that these aliens are demons from another dimension, and that it’s a lie that they are aliens from another world. But what if the demons (fallen angels) really are from another world? In effect, the fallen angels claim to be “like” God. These fallen angels will claim that they made (seeded) us. This is definitely the same as the original lie from the Garden of Eden. Satan wants us to dismiss God and look to Satan for guidance. The Bible makes it clear that we are not to worship angels. So in principle, I would agree with these Christian groups. But where I would disagree, is that I think the demons really are aliens from another world. But these aliens will be in rebellion against the angels, which are also aliens from another world.
The Bible is not a book of science. It’s all true, but it was written to an audience that has no understanding about science and modern-day astronomy. I’m a computer programmer. When I try to explain how software works to someone who has never programmed, I have to use allegories and metaphors. Even when talking to each other, computer programmers use allegories and metaphors. The same problem would exist in trying to explain the creation to people who had absolutely no knowledge of science and technology.
Since the Bible is not a book of science, there is not going to be a verse that explicitly states angels are aliens. No verse explicitly states the angels seeded the earth. But I do have a few verses below to consider.
I’m a big fan of Intelligent Design. This is a theory held by scientists who see the need for a designer based on science itself. Of course they are also Christians. But they are not trying to force science to fit old traditional interpretations of Scripture that were understood from before we understood science as we do today. Intelligent Design endorses the old-earth view. But it does not endorse evolution.
Another interesting point argued by Intelligent Design is that the earth itself might be very unique in the universe. We are just the right distance from the sun for H2O to be liquid. Water is need for life. The earth has a magnetic field that filters out solar radiation, which would otherwise kill all life on the earth. And the earth is in a position in the galaxy that has a lot less cosmic rays, which would also be very deadly to life. Plus, the huge amount of water on the earth is probably very unusual. Without the vast amount of oceans, we would not have much rain. And rain is needed for life. Also, the atmosphere, with oxygen and carbon dioxide, is necessary for life.
For these reasons, I think the earth itself was designed. I think it was intentionally made by the angels (aliens). And the seven days of the creation is about the formation of the solar system and the earth using technology. The angels didn't create the matter in the solar system. They simply pushed the right gasses and rocks together to form the planets in a way that would support life.
Does that go against Scripture? God created the heavens and the earth. But how often does God do things through His servants? Also, who is the King of the angels? Since Christ is the King of the angels, and since Christ is God, then if it’s true that the angels used technology to form the solar system, it would not be false to say that God did these things. When I get sick and go to the doctor, technology is used to help me get better. But I still give thanks and praise to God for healing me. We do not worship doctors. And we do not worship angels. But even if angels were responsible for the design and formation of our solar system, we give the credit and worship to God.
With our technology today, we could go to a primitive tribe and convince them we are gods - to get them to worship us. But that would be an evil thing to do. Angels direct all worship to Christ. But fallen angels would want to be worshiped because of their abilities. These abilities are at least in part based on technology.
Author C. Clarke’s third law is: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Could this same thinking also be applied to our bodies? Intelligent Design scientists say that DNA is strong evidence that our bodies were designed. As a computer programmer, I can easily imagine a programming language for DNA. The compiler would convert the programs into DNA code. If angels were involved in designing the DNA of our bodies, does that mean God had no part in it? What about our souls? The DNA difference between humans and chimps is only about three percent. And yet our minds make us far superior to the chimps. I don’t think our ability to create comes from our DNA. I think our ability to create comes from our souls. So I have no problem with the idea that angel technology could have been used to design life, including our bodies.
Genesis 2:7 ESV Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.
I think that when God breathed the breath of life into man, that God was putting a soul into the body. I think it’s even possible that men existed prior to Adam, but that they lived like animals because they were animals. They may have even used a few tools. But animals have been shown to use a few tools. The huge difference between man and animal is the soul, breathed into us by God the Father. So it’s possible that the angels were involved in seeding the earth with all kinds of life. But God breathed a soul into Adam.
Genesis 1:26 ESV Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Why is God speaking of himself in the plural? Some say it’s because of the Trinity. I consider that to be a weak argument. Christ, the King of the angels, has an image. But the Holy Spirit and God the Father do not have images. They are Spirit. This verse makes much more sense if Christ is saying this to the angels. And we know the angels look like men. So we have the same image.
Keep in mind that the verse about God making man in “our image” comes from Genesis 1, and the verse about God breathing a soul into Adam is from Genesis 2-3. There is one noteworthy difference between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3. In Genesis 1, the name of God used is Elohim. In Genesis 2, the name most often used is Jehovah God, which is Jehovah Elohim. Elohim is a plural name for God. The Whittaker’s Revised BDB definition for Elohim is:
pl. in number. a. rulers, judges, either as divine representatives at sacred places or as reflecting divine majesty and power. b. divine ones, superhuman beings including God and angels. c. angels;
Elohim is plural. However, singular verbs are used. This definition (above) is for when plural verbs are used. Is there one God, or are there many gods? Obviously there is one God. The singular verbs show us there is one God. However, God may use angels to perform some of his works (verb actions). I believe that’s what is being shown when Elohim (plural) is connected to a singular verb. It’s the singular act of God, carried out by multiple angels.
This is different from pagan gods. The angels are not to be considered as gods and worshiped. And Jesus Christ is their commander. It’s like the actions of an army soldiers being attributed to the general, when all the general did was give the commands. The angels act on behalf of the One God. Therefore, it’s appropriate to attribute their collective actions to the One God. Yet the soldiers are many. The angels, with the help of the advanced technology in Paradise, probably did the work involved in the six days of the Creation.
Thus Genesis 1 simply uses Elohim. Whereas, Genesis 2-3 mostly uses Jehovah Elohim. In Genesis 1, the things that were done could have been done with very advanced technology. But in Genesis 2-3, with the Garden of Eden, Adam was created and given a soul. The soul would only come directly from God. Also, the Genesis 2-3 story tells us about Adam’s personal talks with Jehovah Elohim. This would not have been talks with angels. Adam walked and talked in the Garden with Christ himself.
The exception to the use of Jehovah Elohim in Genesis 2-3 is when the serpent tempted Eve. At this point, Elohim is used four times consecutively in verses 3:1-4. After the temptation, the text goes back to using Jehovah Elohim. Could this be Satan’s deceptive reference to the angels? Satan didn’t say Eve would be God. Satan said Eve would be like God. Satan, as an angel, probably tried to make Eve believe that Satan was speaking on God’s behalf. Perhaps Eve was better tempted if Satan made her believe she could be like the angels and be a part of God’s host of angels in that way. But it was not a temptation to serve God like the angels. It was a temptation to have the power of the angels for self-service. That’s the knowledge of good and evil.
We must overcome self before we can be given the power of God in technology. I believe that God is allowing us to develop some technology today. But that’s because this is the end-time generation. At the start of World War II, we developed the atomic bomb. This end-time generation is the generation that will see the coming of Christ, and the technology of this generation is just the beginning of the technology that will come in the millennium, during the next thousand years. But God cannot allow unlimited technology to remain in the hands of evil people. Technology is the power of the angels. But the angels must live without sin in order to use this technology in accordance to God’s will.
There is one other verse to consider. But in preparation of looking at this verse, consider the pattern of the seven days of the creation. Four days are for creating the heavens and the earth. Two days are for creating abundant life. And one day is for rest. This pattern can also be seen in the seven trumpets and seven bowls in Revelation. But in Revelation it’s about destruction instead of creation. I believe that Paradise is the Father’s house. We are promised “rooms.” In the Father’s house are many “rooms.” More precisely we are promised dwelling places. So Paradise is a place of rest. Also, in Hebrews it talks about God saying, “They will never enter my rest.” And in this context, the seven days of creation is being discussed. So I think that being able to enter into the New Jerusalem is entering God’s rest.
Consider the seven days of creation, and the fact that Paradise is like the Garden of Eden. Could the seven days suggest that there is more than one space vehicle? Was Paradise the only space vehicle that was involved in the formation of the solar system? Or could there have been seven space vehicles? Remember that when Paradise appears, it will make everyone on earth tremble. Here is a verse about four things which will appear and make everyone on earth tremble:
Zechariah 1:16-21 Therefore thus says Yahweh: "I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy. My house shall be built in it," says Yahweh of Armies, "and a line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem." ' (17) "Proclaim further, saying, 'Thus says Yahweh of Armies: "My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and Yahweh will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem." ' " (18) I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold, four horns. (19) I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these?" He answered me, " These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem." (20) Yahweh showed me four craftsmen . (21) Then I asked, "What are these coming to do?" He said, "These are the horns which scattered Judah, so that no man lifted up his head; but these have come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations, which lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it."
The four horns that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem are Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, and Rome. The four craftsmen will terrify specifically these four nations as well as all the others. How do four “craftsmen” terrify the nations? The KJV translates it as “carpenters”. They are builders. Could these four builders be very large space vehicles that have the technology to move gasses and rocks around in the solar system, to form the solar system and the planets? Four men who are carpenters would not make the nations tremble. But four space vehicles designed for building planets would make the nations tremble.
I tend to think there are seven space vehicles associated with the creation. Four are for forming the heavens and the earth (within a solar system.) Two are for growing and seeding life. It would be like two big zoos in space. And one would be for the dwelling places, the home, the resting place, which is Paradise.
In science, theory becomes fact as reproducible tests are developed which convincingly support the theory. This has not been the case with macro evolution. There is no convincing evidence that species evolve from lower forms of life. And there is no reasonable theory as to how the first single-cell life could have spontaneously formed with the complexity that is necessary to reproduce.
Evolution is based upon small incremental improvements through “survival of the fittest.” This requires reproduction. And there is no way for the complexity of the single cell that can reproduce to have come about without the reproduction of less-complex cells. The amount of complexity that is necessary for reproduction is huge. Therefore, it cannot evolve in small steps. In other words, evolution is not a valid science.
Some evolutionists have conceded that perhaps life didn’t evolve on this planet. Earth was seeded by aliens. (With this I agree. Earth was seeded by the angels.) However, this allows evolutionists to again theorize that life evolved on other planets. Thus, evolution is pushed even further into un-provable grounds.
With evolution happening on other planets, evolution becomes a topic of pure conjecture, just like the existence of God as viewed by evolutionists. The Big Bang has strong scientific evidence. But evolution has no scientific evidence.
The universe was created. Whatever or whoever caused the Big Bang is God. And it’s impossible for us to understand who or what God is, because we cannot understand anything outside the context of space and time. We cannot even ask the question of whether God had a beginning, because the question itself is a question about time. Space and time did not exist before the Big Bang.
Without evolution, intelligence is required in order to create life. Life is based on the software of DNA. It required intelligence to write DNA software. Where did the original intelligence come from? It came from God, of course. God came into the universe He had created.
Colossians 1:13-17 ESV He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (16) For by him all things were created , in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. (17) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Does this mean that high-tech computers and DNA software were used to create human beings? I believe technology can make our physical bodies, but not our minds. We have souls that give us creative abilities which cannot be reproduced in high-tech computers or in bodies of flesh. There is a huge difference between the mental abilities of man and that of primate animals. Yet the difference in DNA is less than three percent. This would indicate that our mental superiority does not come from DNA software. I believe that souls come from outside the universe, from God. The origins of souls cannot be understood any more than the origins of God. Our souls continue to exist even if our bodies are destroyed, because our souls come directly from the Father, from outside the universe.
Genesis 2:7 Yahweh God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
Notice that God does two things here. First, God formed man from the dust of the ground. Then, God breathed on him and the man became a living creature. This distinguishes the man from the living creature or creation. The picture of Yahweh God breathing directly on Adam tells us that God the Holy Spirit was much more directly involved in the creation of Adam than in the six days where God simply gives commands that were done.
In the sixth day, man was created male and female. It’s possible that men were created without souls and lived for some time before Adam was created with a soul. They would have been as advanced as animals can be without souls. They may have even used tools in a primitive way. But they would not have had creative abilities and the advanced understanding that is needed for advanced natural language, or for knowing about God.
Genesis 1 and Genesis 2-3 have been criticized as being contradictory. In Genesis 2-3, Adam is created before the animals. Then Eve is created after the animals. In Genesis 1, man is created both male and female on the same day. Also, it’s been said that the time between Adam’s creation and Eve’s creation, in Genesis 2-3, must be more than one day.
Literal Biblical creationists have strongly argued that each of the seven days are 24-hour days. They point out that other uses of the word ‘day’ in Scripture are talking about 24 hours. However, Genesis 2:4 uses the word ‘day’ in a way that clearly indicates an age or time.
Genesis 2:4 This is the history of the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made the earth and the heavens.
Did it take one 24-hour day to create the earth and the heavens? Most literal Biblical creationists say it took six 24-hour days. Is a “history of generations” talking about one 24-hour day? The only way to resolve this discrepancy is to allow for the word “day” to mean a time period. If the word ‘day’ in Genesis 2:4 means a time period, then the same word ‘day’ in Genesis 1 should also mean a time period. These time periods can be long. They do not have to be the same length. They are simply steps of the process.
It’s entirely possible the seven days, including the seventh day of rest, occurred many years before the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2-3 is all about the Garden of Eden. Genesis 2 may have happened six thousand years ago, while the seven days may have occurred billions of years prior.
Genesis 1 is all about the long process that it took to form the earth and the solar system. The sixth day included man, male and female. But these men may not have had souls. They were animals with the same DNA as men. So they had the image of God. Critics have challenged who were the wives of Cane, Able, and Seth. Perhaps they were women from the sixth-day population of men and women.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. In the end, God destroys the heavens and the earth by fire.
2 Peter 3:10-13 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat , and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (11) Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, (12) looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved , and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (13) But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
What are the heavenly bodies that will melt? It’s probably the moon and the planets. Does this verse mean that God will destroy the entire universe? This verse is obviously in the context of, and in reference to, the creation story of Genesis 1. 2 Peter 3:4 makes explicit reference to the “beginning of the creation,” and that “heavens from of old, and an earth formed out of water and amid water, by the word of God” (3:5).
Will God destroy all the billions of stars in this galaxy because of Man’s sins? Will God destroy all the billions of galaxies in the universe because of Man’s sins? This kind of thinking again puts Man in the center of the universe.
As we have seen, the seven days of the creation was about the creation of the solar system. It was about the creation of the first two levels of heaven, which is the moon that orbits around the earth, and the planets that orbit around the sun. It would follow, therefore, that the destruction of the heavens and the earth by fire would be the destruction of the solar system by fire.
Science tells us that someday our sun will explode and will expand into a red giant star. It will engulf all the planets out to earth, destroying the earth and the planets by fire. The Bible seems to indicate this happens soon after the millennium. Scientists do not expect the sun to become a red giant nearly that soon. But perhaps angel technology could accelerate the process. A couple of billion years later, the sun will collapse to about the size of the earth, becoming a white dwarf.
References to the new heavens (plural) and the new earth can be found in Isaiah 65:17, 66:22, and 2 Peter 3:13. A reference to the new heaven (singular) and the new earth is also found in Revelation 21:1. Is there significance to the fact that the word ‘heavens’ is plural in Isaiah and Peter, and it’s singular in Revelation? I believe so.
Isaiah 65:17-20 ESV "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind. (18) But be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy, and her people to be a gladness. (19) I will rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in my people; no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping and the cry of distress. (20) No more shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not fill out his days, for the young man shall die a hundred years old, and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
This passage has confused premillennialists and has been used by amillennialists to argue against premillennialism. How can there be death, even at a hundred years old, in the eternal state? This passage in Isaiah seems to be clearly talking about the millennium. But it’s when God creates the new heavens and the new earth, which is supposed to be the eternal state.
Amillennialists have used this passage to argue against the millennium. However, there has never been a time in redemptive history that even comes close to what is described here. With death involved, this cannot be the eternal state. Thus, if not for the puzzling reference to the new heavens and the new earth, this would be a clear argument in favor of the millennium. Amillennialists must resort to an interpretation of figurative speech to say this passage in Isaiah is about the eternal state. But why would even figurative speech include figurative death? This description of life and death seems to fall short of the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21:1-8. Verse 4 says, “Death shall be no more.”
Isaiah 66:22 also has a reference to the new heavens and the new earth. A few verses prior, in verse 18, we have a gathering of all nations and tongues to come and see the glory of Christ. The gospel of Christ Jesus is spread throughout the nations. And right after the reference to the new heavens and new earth, in verse 24, we find a reference to all the dead bodies of the people who will rebel against God at Armageddon. Thus, this new heavens and new earth is also a reference to the millennium, and not to the eternal state.
The problem is that theologians have tended to interpret Isaiah 65 and 66 in terms of Revelation 21. Revelation has more Old Testament allusions than any other New Testament book. The symbolism of Revelation should be interpreted according to what we find in earlier Scripture, not the other way around. We should be interpreting the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21 according to what was taught in Isaiah, instead of trying to make Isaiah fit Revelation.
Isaiah is a book of poetry. Isaiah 13:10 speaks of the sun and the moon being darkened or not giving light. Isaiah 24:23 applies emotions to the sun and the moon. Isaiah 30:26 speaks of the moon being as bright as the sun, and the sun’s brightness being sevenfold. Isaiah 60:19-20 speaks of the sun and the moon no longer giving light, but that the LORD will instead be the light. This is very similar to Revelation 21:23, where the New Jerusalem does not need the sun or the moon, but the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Again, Isaiah is a book of poetry. In Isaiah, these signs in the heavens are figurative ways of saying times or seasons will change. Likewise, the new heavens (plural) and the new earth, in Isaiah speak of a new age. In 2 Peter 3:13, it’s also a new age, like in Isaiah. Revelation picks up on much of Isaiah, and perhaps uses it in situations that are a bit more literal. The New Jerusalem will literally not need the light of the sun and the moon. But this does not change the fact that in Isaiah, these terms are poetic ways of expressing a new age or a new season.
The new heaven and the new earth in Revelation is not a literal new creation of matter out of nothing. The earth is literally destroyed by fire, as can be clearly seen in 2 Peter 3. It’s destroyed when the sun explodes becoming a white dwarf. But the rest of the universe remains. The new heaven (singular) and new earth of Revelation 21 is simply a new age when the New Jerusalem (Paradise) goes to another star, with another planet that we will call the new earth. The word “heaven” in Revelation 21 is singular because it’s a new place in the heavens.