Theme: The Abundance of General Revelation
In this week’s lessons we see what the doctrine of general revelation teaches us about the one true God.
Scripture: Psalm 19:1-6
2. It is abundant. The second important characteristic of the general revelation is that it is abundant. In the words of the psalm, “It pours forth speech” (v. 2). This is stronger in the Hebrew text than it appears to be in English, for the image is literally of a gushing spring that copiously pours forth the sweet refreshing waters of revelation.
This is true in two ways, though I am not certain in what sense David meant the statement. First, every individual part of nature testifies to its Creator, so that whatever part you happen to be looking at, it will pour forth knowledge. If you look at the stars, they testify to a God of great power who made them. If you study the human body, you will find that it testifies to an all-wise Creator. The petals of a flower, a snowflake, the intricacies of the atom, the nature of light, physical laws like gravitational attraction, the second law of thermodynamics or relativity—all testify abundantly to a divine mind behind them. Moreover, this is quite plain. We should almost say self-evident. This witness lies on the surface. It does not require extensive technical investigation. As Paul says in the corresponding passage in Romans 1, “what may be known about God is plain to them, because God made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse” (vv. 19, 20).
However, there is a second way in which the heavens pour forth abundant revelation, and that is, whenever we do investigate them by scientific or other means, we find the testimony of nature even stronger than we at first surmised. In other words, the existence of a Creator is not a facile but erroneous judgment naively made by the uneducated, a judgment quickly disproved as soon as one looks into the evidence carefully. On the contrary, the more one looks, the more the heavens gush forth knowledge.
This has been true of the investigations of the heavens in our century by the greatest scientific minds the human race has yet produced. Until well into this century the prevailing scientific cosmology was what is called the “steady state” theory, which holds that the universe had no beginning and is eternal. It satisfied scientists, because it allowed them to focus not on when the universe actually began, but to investigate the various causes for why it exists. Everything has a cause and every cause can be investigated. That view has been entirely overthrown, and the inescapable conviction of today’s scientific community is that the universe did have a beginning about twenty billion years ago. The new view thinks of the origin of the universe as a gigantic fireball explosion known popularly as the “big bang.”
The story of this Copernican revolution in cosmology is interesting. It began in 1913 with astronomer Vesto Melvin Slipher’s discovery that about a dozen galaxies relatively close to the earth were moving away from us at high speeds, up to two million miles per hour. During the next decade a younger astronomer named Edwin Hubble carried Slipher’s observation further, measuring the velocities of scores of galaxies and formulating the laws for an expanding universe. Hubble discovered that the further away a galaxy is, the faster it is moving. By measuring the speed of these retreating galaxies and plotting them against their distance from us, Hubble was able to pinpoint a moment in the past when all the matter of the universe must have been together, in other words, the moment of creation. In 1965 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, two scientists at the Bell Laboratories, discovered the leftover radiation or echo of that “big bang.” Many scientists did not like this discovery because it pointed to God and to a moment of creation beyond which they could not and would never be able to penetrate.
From vv. 2-3, what is the second characteristic of general revelation that is taught? In what two ways is this true?
What is the difference between the “steady state” and “big bang” theories? In earlier decades, why was the “steady state” theory preferred by scientists over that of the “big bang”?
Application: Pray for those you know who are deceived about how the universe came into existence, whether they believe that the universe always was or that everything is owed to a mere explosion. Look for opportunities to talk to them about the biblical doctrine of creation and how it testifies to the existence and power of the Lord.