Teaching

 

Gods Glorious and Wonderful Creation

Psalm 104 dwells on the wonders of the creators work. The Psalm begins with the creation of the world,the stages of its formation of its landscapes and the seas. It goes on to describe the water sources on land which provide for animal and plant life and rearing of wild animals and birds. The psalm then considers the course of night and day which influences mans labor on the land,the earths renewal and mans seafaring endevours on the oceans and the seas.

The psalms description of the stages in the earths formation coincides,broadly speaking, with the creation account in Genesis chapter 1 and is amazingly similar to the findings of geological research. It tells of the stages in the earths formation according to its geological and tectonic order: the raising and lowering of continents,land folding,rifts and faults and volcanic eruptions along the faults.

At the outset we find a description of the solid massifs which are the earths foundation.
“who laid the foundations of the earth,that it should not be removed forever” Ps 104:5In this region the Arabo-Nubian Massif, which includes Sinai,the southern part of the Negev, East Africa and Arabia,contains a landmass of this kind.Ps 104:6 describes the movements in the foundations,their raising,their lowering according to Gods word” thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains”

Thus the waters of the great,ancient Thetis Sea,which flooded southern Europe and Northen Africa, covered the peaks of Israel, thus reducing the area of dry land. Then the pressure of gasses from the depths of the earth caused the massif to rise and forced the waters to retreat to their previous location. As a result of this activity the land area expanded and the continental shelf appeared:…
At thy rebuke they fled; at the voive of thy thunder they hasted away.
…Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass oiver; that they turn not again to cover the earth (Psalm 104:7,9)
And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.( Gen 1:9)
The book of Job also describes the phenomenon of raising and lowering,of the appearance and disappearance of the continental shelf;
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding.
Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it?
Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof;
(Job 38:4-6)
Then came the land folding which produced the anticlines and synclines,the mountains,the hills and the valleys:
Psalm 104:8  They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.

In the last stage,as a result of the folding,the land cracked slowly and ravines cut into the landscape:

He sendeth the springs into the valleys; which run among the hills (Ps 104:10)

Then came the sudden volcanic shocks which caused basalt lava to pour out of the craters and inundate the mountains forming the plateaus:

He looketh on the earth and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke. (Psalm 104:32)

In a similar vein:

Psalm 18:7-8


Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
A fitting description summarizing the wonders of Gods work and his delights in the world is to be found in Proverbs:Proverbs 8:22-31King James Version (KJV)
22 The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
23 I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
24 When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
26 While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
27 When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
28 When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
29 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
30 Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
31 Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.
 Then the earth shook and trembled

The book of psalms,more than any other book of the bible,contains many picturesque descriptions of nature and brims with exotic scenery. The secrets of mans creatiuon and the mysteries of heavenly phenomina are described,as are the phases in the worlds formation,the varied climactic seasonal atmospheric phenomena,the growth of forests,grass and herbs, reptiles and other creatures,mans labor on the land and the ways of sailors and ships on the open seas.

Psalm 18 provides such a  vivd picture of all the stages of volcanic activity froim eruption to abatement, as if the psalmist actually stood on a mountain peek and observed every detail of the eruption.

The first stage of volcanic activity entails a powerful earthquake which sends shudders through its environment:

Psalm 18:7

Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.

A terrifying earthquake such as this may cause cracks in solid rock and a burst of gases and flames to issue from the cracks and the crater:

There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.


Psalm 104:32

32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.

These gases rise high in the sky, and descend the same, thickening when they come into contact with the water vapor in the atmosphere and causing total darkness, smoke storms and the rise of volcanic ash.
Finally these precipitates pour down upon the earth:
Psalm 18:9-11

He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.
10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.

Then molten,searing lava bursts out of the volcanos crater,flowing thunderously wild and flooding everything in its wake:

12 At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire.
Yea, he sent out his arrows, and scattered them; and he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them. (Psalm 18:12,14)

When the volcanic eruption is at sea,the water bolis and spew above the sea,throwing up vapors and flames. A pall of smoke mixed with volcanic ash rises to the sky-then suddenly an island appears. The island diverts the rising stormy waves pushing them to great distances. These powerful waves,known as tsunami,rush on at a speed of more than 60 miles an hour.

Psalm 18:15
15 Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils.

Psalm 46 also describes this activity:-

Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.

After contemplating this vivid and elaborate description of volcanic activitythe question arises: where was the psalmist that he describes all the stages in the volcanic eruption in such a scientifically exact and brilliant manner?
After all,if volcanic eruptions occurred in Israel so long ago, what were the sources upon which the biblical poet based his visions?
After the six-day war,geological surveys  of the basalt deposits on the Golan Heights uncovered a flock of charred goats, which,according to tests, had perished in an eruption of lava which took place a few thousand years ago-in historical time. The psalmist, it seems,was a witness to the eruption and he described its awesome wonders with dramatic and enchanting exactitude.
The Waters roar therof and are troubled
The book of psalms describes Israels lively scenes in poetry and pose. The psalms praise God,the creator of heaven,earth and man. The psalmist stands in awe while beholding a universe created with such wisdom and intelligence.The book of psalms has details descriptions of the climate, the diverse physical landscape,the lovely flora and the variety of exotic animals.One can feel how the land is renewed and provides for all of Gods creatures.
There are descriptions of dry deserts where springs gush forth from the ground and turn the desert into a lake and the dry land into a fountain. There are descriptions of afforested areas where birds nest and streams of pure water satisfy the wild beasts. There are pictures of vast expanses of land where the grassy fields are saturated by dew and the valleys covered with grain, where we can visualize the vines and olive trees. Mountainous areas are depicted where the wild goats roam and where the rocks provide shelter. And where we have the deep waters full of fish and the whale(Leviathon) and merchant ships on the oceans.
On the whole we are presented with tranquil scenes full of love for the natural landscape and mans works and a longing for Gods creation.
Despite these ideal, tranquil scenes the psalms also describe horrible natural disasters which are represented as Gods anger, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes which topples all existing things
19 The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly.
20 The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.(Isaiah 24:19-20)An elaborate description of an earthquake is described in Psalm 18:7-8Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
Psalm 46 describes a shocking natural disaster which occurred when a volcano erupted in the midst of the sea:-
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
Job describes the brief life of man, the plants longer life and the eternalness of the mountain, as dependent on Gods power
Yet man is born to trouble
    as surely as sparks fly upward
Job 5:7
and….

14 “Mortals, born of woman,
    are of few days and full of trouble.
They spring up like flowers and wither away;
    like fleeting shadows, they do not endure.

The tree on the other hand appears to be dead even when it is actually full of life

“At least there is hope for a tree:
    If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
    and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
    and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
    and put forth shoots like a plant.

Stone,rock and flint

The use of stone was manifold in bible times; it was used by shepherds, farmers, miners, builders and craftsman as well as for the manufacture of tools and weapons. Rock and flint symbolized strength and fortitude, synonomous with the Deity, and it provided man with shelter and watch posts.

The strong sharp flint stones were used to make tools such as axes, hammers and chisels, and weapons such as Joshuas flint swords with which he circumcised the Israelites (Josh 5:2-3)

They were also used to make slingshots together with bows and arrows.

They were used also for the early settlers for the construction of houses(Ps 118:22) and for the Temple and other ornamental houses, as we find in II Kings 12:12

And to the masons, and hewers of stone, and to but timber and hewed stone to repair the breaches of the house of the Lord, and for all that was laid out for the house o repair it.

The farmers built their fences with stone constructing agricultural terraces on the mountain slopes. Vineyards were based on these terraces with these stone fences.

Rocks were exploited for their metal ores. The basic rocks were sandstones and from these came the precious stones, and the Israelites embedded the High Priests breastplate with the 12 types of precious stone, one for each of the tribes:

17 Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; 18 the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; 19 the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; 20 the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper.[a] Mount them in gold filigree settings. (Exodus 28:17-20)

Mounds and memorials were built with stones and border marks in the fields and mountains. They symbolized a treaty or a Covenant.

He said to his relatives, “Gather some stones.” So they took stones and piled them in a heap, and they ate there by the heap. 47 Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha, and Jacob called it Galeed.( Genesis 31: 46-47)

God himself is likened to a rock with 8 synonomous names signifying high rising, stable and unmoveable

He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he. Deut 32:4

The rock was also a source of water and honey  the basis for the formation of soil for agricultural usage

 

16 But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
    with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”Ps 81:16