God the Economizer

3D Knob - Maximize Efficiency

     The strongest argument in favor of the “young earth” view of the age of the earth is that it is derived from the literal historical grammatical hermeneutic. Regardless of whatever else might be going on, Genesis 1 communicates that God created everything in seven days (with more support from both Ex. 20:11 and Num. 12:6-8). Second to that is the theological implications of accepting any of the “old earth” creation models: if death existed before sin, sin cannot be the cause of death, which means the terrible suffering experienced throughout the created order is an indelible part of it as God made it from the beginning. While those arguments are sufficient in themselves there are other supports, such as this: considering God’s character, particularly His attribute of being an economizer.

An economizer is one who avoids waste. First, such a characteristic is obviously preferable to its antonym: a squanderer, as in the famous prodigal son (Lk. 15). Second this idea is borne out when one considers God’s word. I teach high school students; teenagers who are the least bit oriented to Christianity often agonize over God’s plan for their life. “What is God’s will for my life?” and “How can I know what God wants me to do with my life?” are common questions asked by young people. But God doesn’t tell them His specific plan for them: go to State College instead of Private College, major in Tiddlywinks not Underwater Basket weaving. Instead He issues a long series of various commands, which can be applied in diverse ways to diverse situations. He also provides recovery provisions for believers when we fail to follow His directions. Included in God’s Guide to Life is the guarantee that what He has said is enough to handle all the travails of life (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This is startling to consider: God claims that a book of around one thousand pages contains everything anyone that has taken breath on the planet needs to know to live a life that pleases Him.

Jesus’ earthly ministry reinforces the idea that His word is enough. In His Sermon on the Mount He emphasizes the importance of even the strokes of the letters contained in His word (Matt. 5:18). In other words, God did not fill the Bible with a bunch of extraneous information like some orator hunting around robin’s barn to get to the point. God didn’t waste even a jot or tittle. And, more striking, Jesus insists that belief in God means taking Him at His word, so much so, that even resurrection miracles will not change the hearts of those who reject God’s word (Lk. 16:30-31). God’s succinct word is sufficient.

God’s efficient use of language to communicate all that His creatures need to live a life to His liking demonstrates that God is not a lexical spendthrift. This principle can be applied to His use of time, and the Bible contains examples of how effectively God uses time. In God’s covenant with Abram (Gen. 15), He foretells of Israel’s coming captivity in Egypt and subsequent deliverance. One of the reasons for Israel’s long stay in Egypt is that the time of the conquest of the Promised Land would not begin until God had allowed the Amorites’ sin to run its course (v. 16). The conquest began directly after the completion of “the iniquity of the Amorites.” Added to that, Jesus’ coming into the world occurred “when the set time had fully come” (Gal. 4:4). The current church age with its corresponding “partial hardening” of Israel is running its course “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25). Though it is impossible for us to comprehend, history is running on a strict timetable with events occurring as they should when they should. The available data suggests that God’s schedule is a few thousand years long. God did not give us a book billions of pages long with only a small percentage being of any value to us. Similarly, it seems strange to suggest God spent billions of years with only the last few thousand having any relation to His revealed purposes.

Most old-earth creation models accept the timeline of modern secular science. Perhaps they include some sort of direct and special creation of man relatively recently after so many years of meandering evolutionary processes, but they would be embarrassed to deny science’s guarantee that life began in the neighborhood of 4 billion years ago. All that has transpired in relation to God’s redemptive plan for history has occurred in just the past six thousand years. This means that for billions of years the time was just passing for kicks, then in the last second, an afterthought in relation to all of the meaningless aeons, God started acting. The “fullness of time” includes these 4 billion years (not to mention the additional half-billion years that the earth existed before life began), with the first 3.9999 billion being totally unrelated to God’s plan for history, which is centered on His plan for humans![1]

Everything derived from the text of Scripture points to a very recent creation of the earth, thousands of years ago, not billions. The theological implication of accepting that animals struggled for survival on a planet not primarily created for them for hundreds of millions of years is unsettling. If God has relied on the billions of years discovered by modern science, we wouldn’t know anything about it from what God has told us; in fact, it would contradict what God’s word says and seem to be at odds with God’s economizing ways.

[1] Ultimately the point of history is doxological, but the Son of God became man, not beast.

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