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The Big Book and the Little Book: Part 1

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 1, 2021 8:00 am

The Big Book and the Little Book: Part 1

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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October 1, 2021 8:00 am

In Psalm 19 David exclaims, The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands. David can see God’s handiwork in the heavens above, and his poetry in this psalm reveals the splendor of both the creation and the Creator.

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Today on the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce.

David is surveying the sky marveling at our wondrous God's glorious creation revealed in the sun and the heavens above. Join us as we study the first half of Psalm 19 and learn more about God's revelation through his creation to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically the heavens declare his glory in the first half of Psalm 19 God reveals himself to us through his creation. David can see God's handiwork in the heavens above and his poetry. In this song reveals the splendor of both the creation and the creator.

If you have your Bible turn to Psalm 19 verses one through six. When I first began this study of the Psalms) a month ago I thought it would be interesting if possible to end the service which were studying the song each time with the him embodying the words of the song we been studying.

I didn't know that was possible. I had no idea how many hymns in the Bible were based upon the Psalms. But when I began to look for the hymnal to discover whether that could be done. I was surprised how many of our hymns are based upon Psalms are Trinity have 730 g not great number there are hymnals that are bigger, I discovered that several hundred of that 730 hymns were Psalm paraphrase her in some other way rather directly related to the songs and when I began to look through that Psalms themselves to see which ones were treated as hymns. I discovered that 117 of the 150 songs were so treated. In other words, all but 33, most of them had just one him based upon them.

Of course sometimes to but here's the interesting thing when I came to Psalm 19. I discovered that no less than seven hymns in our hymnal based upon spacious firmament on high Joseph Addison grade him heavens declare my glory to him by Thomas Burks let heavens declare thy glory Lord is similar him by Isaac Watts or die word abiding by Henry Baker, Jehovah's perfect wall restores the fold again from the shoulder 1912 along God is good and whines him by Matthias Lloyd and most perfect is the law of God again from 1912. Salter tells us a number of things about this all one thing it tells us that it's that it's great poetry. That's why it is lend itself so easily to hymns.

It's a judgment that is reflected by no less a master of literature than CS Lewis. You know he did a small book of study in the Psalms called reflections on the Psalms in the midst of which he says that Psalm 19 is the greatest poem in the Salter and one of the greatest lyrics in the world.

As we study that we can pretty much concur with this judgment but you know it's not just the fact that Paul on this great poetry that makes it suitable for him. Least of all, not for seven or eight or 10.

However, many hymns based on the Psalm that may actually be what's required is that it contained great doctrinal teaching or something that speaks directly to the heart is what most of the Psalms doing as far as the doctrine goes, that's what this song does to a remarkable degree. This is the great Old Testament statement of the doctrine of divine revelation doctrine that's unfolded in different ways elsewhere. Sometimes merely being assumed yet again in the Old Testament we read the words thus saith the Lord tore Jehovah sense or some such thing. That of course is a statement of the doctrine of revelation, but it's not unfolded doctrinally or theologically here in the Psalm. Surprisingly it is we normally think of the Psalms is poetry and, therefore, having largely an emotional content that this Psalm certainly has that as well. But it's more it really is an unfolding of this doctrine revelation in the Bible the doctrine of revelation has two main parts. General revelation which means a revelation of God in nature.

And then there is special revelation.

Special revelation involves God's revelation of himself in Jesus Christ. Of course, was not fully known, or even fully anticipated in the Old Testament is revelation of God to our hearts by his Holy Spirit, and above all, there's a revelation of God in Scripture to full division between general revelation. On the one hand, and special revelation on the others. What the Psalm is all about. As a matter of fact that's it. Outline Psalm actually has three parts. Verses one through six. Talk about the general revelation revelation of God in nature versus seven through 11 speak of this special revelation. And finally, the end getting with verse 12, you have the response of the psalmist himself to revelation above all revelation of God in Scripture. I called these two parts of Revelation, the revelation of God in his big book in his little book. The big book is the cosmos or universe little books.

The Bible we want to do is restudy the Islamists look at the first six verses this study, which talk about the general revelation and see what it says about that and then in our next study.

Look at verses seven through the end and see what it has to say about the special revelation of the Bible verse verse sets the tone of the song. Speaking of the general revelation of says heavens require the glory of God the skies proclaim the work of his hands way of saying that the stars in the heavens and the sun which is seen by day. Point to the very existence of God and only the existence of God that is playing the one who made them divine being alone capable of creating that starts and so on. All of the other things we say not only not only God's existence, but also the fact that God is glorious. The stars are glorious sun is glorious and so one who made the must obviously be even more glorious is what David is saying now that's a very limited revelation as the general revelation is Alexander McLaren when he writes about. This points out that the glory of God does not contain any moral element as it's used here and saw what he means by that is that the revelation of God in nature which shows his glory does not reveal his moral qualities say what are the moral qualities while they are things like justice, love, compassion and mercy and such things. None of this is revealed in nature.

You might say, well, you obviously see the love of God in nature because it's so beautiful God cares about us and makes it beautiful. Well yes, but the revelation in that respect is ambiguous because we not only have beautiful things in nature.

We have what would seem to be terrible things to do there also earthquakes and hurricanes and other elements of great danger at least to human beings so you don't see the moral qualities of God in nature. Advanced you would say God is indifferent in these areas. You have to learn that in other ways. What you do say is that there is a God in this God is glorious in the sense that he is sovereign and powerful that is able to create the glorious things that we say exactly what got in the New Testament hard to talk about Psalm 19 without talking about Romans one because it's most likely that Paul when he wrote the first chapter of Romans had the Psalm in mind, even though he doesn't quote it directly. The theology is so corresponding what Paul says in the first chapter of Romans is that God has revealed himself in nature and clear ways and that the invisible qualities of God are clearly seen. There he spells out what those invisible qualities are God's eternal power and his God hand that is the fact that he exists in the fact that is all-powerful. I often talked about that because we been studying Romans and I pointed out that there is a philosophical way of expressing exactly what Paul says in Romans one philosophers talk about a supreme being, may not believe in a supreme being.

It may only be what some philosophers call a God hypothesis, but the God of the philosophers apart from revelation is only black supreme being the S of the capital be be meeting corresponds with God and that's what Paul is talking and supreme box and reflexive is holy nature. His powerful nature so you look in nature. That's what you say, a limited revelation, but nevertheless very important one. When Paul says that's what's revealed is reflecting Psalm 19 which says the heavens declare the glory of God in the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19 teaches a great deal about this limited revelation limited yes but nevertheless extremely important in the verses that follow versus two, three and four teaches three things about that is that nature and the scope of this general revelation first thing they teach us is that this revelation of God in nature is continuous is expressed in words.

Day after day and night after night say it's not as if when we are talking about the general revelation God were sending profits. He could send prophet who would appear on earth and one decade teach the will of God and do it articulately and forcefully empowered by God and blessed by him. But then, because he is a man or because she would be a woman would die and then be gone and generations might go by before God would send another prophet we know as we speak of the Old Testament that there were periods in which the voice of God was not hurt in any special way. Between the ending of the Old Testament and the beginning of the new is called by some writers of 400 silent years, God sent no profit during that time, but it's not true that's not the case when were talking about the general revelation what David says about the revelation of God in nature is that it's something that is going on. Day after day and night after night and week after week, year after year the earth and the universe is as old as the scientists are saying it is 20 billion years, then this is a revelation. What is continued for 20 billion years were talking only about the life of man on this earth. It is continued certainly for many thousands of years, if not hundreds of thousands of years are even more result of this, of course, is that any human being that is lived in any period of history in any place has heard and is responsible for a correct response to that general revelation. I suppose this is where Addison's great him has most effect I referred to it earlier. One of the verses, the last of three.

I met him reads this way want slow and solemn silence all move around this dark terrestrial Baltics, talking about the stars. What though no real voice or sound, amidst their radiant orbs be found in reasons. Here they all rejoice honor for the glorious voice forever singing as they shine the hand that made us is divine. That is the general revelation or something else that's on teaches about the general revelation. Not only that it is continuous as it is also that it is abundant is not quite as visible in the English text as it does in the Hebrew but English text contains the words pour forth after day they pour forth speech and then that parallel the ladder on the next line is display knowledge stored there.

Pour forth is actually a word that would be used of a spring where water is gushing up freely and continuously.

So when David says that this revelation of God in nature is pouring forth. He's really saying that it is in the one didn't revelation like a spring general revelation is pouring up abundantly and continuously to feed and bless us all. If we would have it several ways in which the abundance of that revelation can be understood and I don't know what way. In particular, David had in mind but let me suggest a few ways that it could be understood.

First of all, I could be understood in terms of the direction in which we look Paul was certainly thinking along those lines. Romans one. When the says that the revelation of God is made clear in the things that are made that is in all things that are made, meaning that no matter where you look.

You find the hand of God displayed. If you look at a snowflake see the intricacy of the detail in the infinite variety among the snowflakes you say well there is a God of great detail in infinite variety was made you look at a grain of sand and analyze it discovering what it is breaking it down into its chemical compounds.

In analyzing those you say there is an intricate mathematical mind that stands behind that if you look at the fingerprint you have evidence of the grace of God the flower of the paddle stars the laws of gravity or thermodynamics, or the law of relativity or whatever it may be that you're able to discover in the universe wherever you look at whatever direction, whether superficially or deep everything you say testifies, the creator creation literally pillars forth in abundant revelation only in that sense and it doesn't. It also does in this sense, the more you investigate it, the more you find the revelation to be present. What I mean by that is, sometimes you find people in our day saying well you know if you have a rather superficial mind in a rather nave, I suppose it's possible that you could look at creation and say well goodness, it's certainly mysterious. It's beyond me. God must've made it, but as soon as you begin to investigate it. You say to yourself, well, it's not all that mysterious fall simply a question of cause and the fact that when we analyze it we can begin to understand the law came about by mechanical means people think like that, but that actually is not the way it is more you examine it, the more you're forced back if you do so honestly the fact that it could only come into being and come into being in the form and has by a creator is been very interesting development of that particular argument in science in the last generation or so, and the theories that have gone on about the origin of the universe itself. As you may know, undoubtedly you do that until early in this century, the prevailing view of the cosmos was what was called at that time and is still called the steady state theory meant that the universe is eternal and doesn't change maybe changes within it, but it's all change according to certain laws and it's always been there and I will always be there and will continue to exist in exactly the way we find it today, doing exactly the same things began to change as I say early in the century and what has come in the place of that has been the theory that now goes by that the popular name of the big bang began way back in 1913 was an astronomer's name is Vestal Melvin sliver who had been examining some of the relatively close galaxies didn't have very powerful equipment.

In those days and he couldn't study galaxies that were very distant universe but as a starting six or seven of them that were relatively close and drama them so on began to notice something interesting.

He noticed that they apparently were moving away from the earth at relatively fast speeds up to 2 million miles an hour say well oddity determined that way determined it was by what is called a red shift in the light coming on those stars light being generated within galaxies and what that means is that the object creating the light is moving similar to that effect. You have with soundwaves you know if you're standing beside at railroad track train comes to forge new is it approaches the sound would dip and then as it moves off in the distance a sample rise is called the Doppler effect when you're having to do with sound, and the same thing is true with the speed of light and this red shift. What happens is that they can tell the elements of an object that's burning by using the spectrograph.

The spectrograph will produce a band like the little black lines and in the little black lines have a pattern like a fingerprint. That tells you what element is burning and what sliver noted is that when he studied these distance actually near galaxies compared with the others. All of these little lines were there indicating particular element was burning, but it was all shifted toward the red end of the spectrum, and the only possible explanation about us of the objects themselves were rushing away, so the light ways were being stretched out because of the distance he presented that at a gathering of astronomers and sitting in the audience was very young man.

His name was Edwin Hubble.

He was very impressed by that we went to work on it. Hubble had the advantage. At that point of using the great telescope on Mount Palomar out in California and he simply extended slippers findings to great extent. He studied reps 20 3040 of these galaxies studying those that were increasingly far from our was determined by the thickness of the light and he noticed something interesting. Further away.

The object was, the faster it was moving all those that were most nursing to be moving away.

2 million miles an hour so those were further removing away a perhaps 10 million miles an hour and was very easy once he had practice out plotted on a graph to produce what was called the law for an expanding universe. Apparently everything is moving away from everything else that enormous speeds you know it's moving away you know how fast it's moving away. It's not very hard plot that backwards and find out when it got started, and apparently the universe came into existence what must've been a gigantic fireball explosion of about 20 years ago. According to the scientific evidence.

Interestingly enough, some years later in 1965. Two scientists that the Bell laboratories by the name of Arnold Penzias and Robert Wilson were studying radiation coming from space. They were trying to determine radiation coming from stellar bodies and I noticed something interesting. They noticed that no matter what direction in space. They turned their telescope.

The radiation was the same was coming everywhere even from what we would regard as empty space, and what they concluded from matters that they had discovered actually the leftover echo radiation of the Big Bang explosion. All of those things going together to produce a literal revolution in science and the interesting thing about all of that is that the scientists didn't like it. Robert Castro, the director and founder of the Goddard space Institute for NASA, wrote a book some years ago, we have written a number of popular books on science and this one was called God and the astronomers he was amused.

He says as much in his book by the reaction of his fellow scientists to this change in the steady state theory to an idea that had in mind creation whether Eddington was a British astronomer in 1931. All of this was beginning to come into vogue. The notion of the beginning is raped to me of the German chemist water nurse said to deny the infinite duration of time would be to betray the very foundations of science Philip Morrison of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology set of the Big Bang theory, I would like to reject it now just to find that very interesting and analyzes it in the book he says the problem you say is that if there is a moment of creation, then that is the point beyond which science can't go your ability to track things by the law of cause and effect breaks down at the moment of the Big Bang explosion you can't go beyond that you can't explain everything and you have to fall back on something like a creator, and many didn't like that even Albert Einstein whose theory of relativity. Interestingly enough predicted the idea of an expanding universe. So he himself didn't discover it was pointed out by somebody later recognize this. He didn't like it at first. He said the circumstance irritates me to admit such possibility seems senseless after exam of the evidence.

Einstein himself was convinced by his away. Castro sums it up.

It's fascinating, he says for the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream you scale the mountains of ignorance. He is about to conquer the highest peak as he pulls himself over the last rock is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries. Well, he's a scientist I theologian he knows them.

I know the theologians and I know that it has been many many years since all those theologians were on the mountain. One of them started to climb down years ago to join the scientist but nevertheless the as a point to say that is what the Psalm is saying. This revelation is continuous at 700 and the more you investigate it, the more you're pushed back in the direction of the creator scientist don't like that unbelieving scientists unbelieving people of any profession.

Don't like it. We do everything we can to concoct another explanation but no sooner is that invented that it breaks down and there we are back at the beginning again in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth is what the Psalm is saying is one thing it says here about this general revelation is worth pointing it out says that it's universal there in the phrase into all the earth. Some question about how verse three should be interpreted.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard in the Hebrew the word where it is not there. Notice in the footnote to the NIV that the verse can be translated as saying they have no speech there are no words, no sound is heard from limit would be a verse that's talking about the silence of the heavens, which nevertheless in their silence speak and I may be the right way to translate it. The NIV has assumed that means there is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Whether you leave the word out or put it back in. You change the pattern doing it one way or the other but nevertheless, the idea is the same. You don't hear anything coming from the stars and the sun, but what they say without words is universal but goes out into all the earth.

Verse four says that explicitly their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world is what Paul talks about in Romans one. He says all her gilding matter where you come from the matter what your experience is because God is made his existence and power so clear in nature that there is not a corner of the universe and the which you can hide and find yourself able to escape the testimony yet of course we do everything we can to force it down. Psalm 19 doesn't explain in so many words, what Paul says explicitly in Romans one, but I think it is implied what Paul says in Romans one is this been suppressed. The revelation revelation is there. We know it. If we allowed it to speak to us is that audit would lead us to the creator, before whom we know we should bow down and worship and give thanks we don't want to do that. There is a creator is all-powerful. He has claims on us. That means we're only creatures and because we don't want to become preachers we want to be creators ourselves. We do everything we can to suppress the revelation we push it now. Rejecting it even though we know where it ought elitists and that's because of that, Paul says in Romans of the wrath of God comes on us as I say that is not set explicitly here, but I think it's implied. For this reason, verse six, verses talk about this revelation in nature, then it talks about the Scripture and it is at the end of the flap that is after the Scripture the David begins to apply it. Recognizing that the Scriptures box. The general revelation in nature. Point out his errors reveal his hidden faults keep them from willful sins and leave them in God's way, say, the Scriptures are given to do what we desperately need and that is in them. The revelation of the coming of Christ we find salvation. Well, there's a another section to this we've looked at the first verse switches statements of the theory of general revelation, then there is an analysis of the way in which it operates and what we've just studied the fact that it's continuous abundant universal beginning in verse four BN and five and six we have the glory of the son described that a courses element of the heavens that David was most conscious, lovely art as well. The only thing we see in the heavens. By day the light of the sun is so bright it blocks out the stars, which nevertheless are there shining John Stott in his study of the Psalm says that at this point. Verse 4B David brings in a particular example of the general revelation is actually more than that. It's not only particular example from David's point of view and retroviruses. Wealth is the crowning achievement of God in the creation he speaks about in the two images. He says his son is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion like a champion that is in athletic champion rejoicing to run its course. Both of those images speak of youthful vitality bigger and contagious joy son he says is like that. David did not all we know about the sonic didn't know that it is about a million miles across all of hot gas, largely hydrogen is burning nuclear reaction. That's what's producing the light was destined to burn itself out about 6 billion years, probably last as long as you and I are here all those great mysteries concerning the assignment on the today live in a scientific gave the interesting thing is, although we knew less about the sun. He praised God more and more conscious. As he looked up with the blazing sun that was God and stood behind it and we looked up and although we know more about it and not understand the mysteries even beyond David while we take it lightly and yet that's what David says CS Lewis makes a comment about the last line that leads us in the what comes next and can be anticipated here last line of those verses says, speaking of the sun.

Nothing is hidden from its heat. Yes, Lewis says that's the key verse of the song because is what ties part one department to David going to go on at this point and talk about the law of God, the Scriptures. The Bible and that point is that just as the sun penetrates everywhere sustaining life and purifying things burning penetrating way, so also do the Scriptures function Scriptures. Likewise, are life-giving and penetrating and correcting only, of course, you were talking about moral values and spiritual things in the other were talking about spiritual things. This is the point at which we need to put the two together were going to go on as I said in our next study talk about the law of God is enough to be said about that demand an entire study to it. But here you have the two together.

The general revelation. On the one hand, the first six verses, and you have a special revelation following in verses seven to the end. The question is what you think of that to how the holding together in your mind. The first wall we have to acknowledge that there is no conflict between the two we've been told in our day that there is a conflict. Anybody who is really scientific. It knows what's going on out there camp possibly think today about legal cosmology that is God is a creator course, there are very able scientists who do believe in creation and what David is saying here is that, rightly understood. There's no conflict at all. Harry Ironside wrote rightly about that some years ago. There is no conflict whatever between the testimony of nature and the testimony of the word of God. If there is we are either misunderstanding, nature, or we are misunderstanding Scripture or what is probably likely we are misunderstanding both the task of Bible commentator and the task of the scientists. To what extent are the same. That is to get to the God who stands behind both Charles and Spurgeon said something similar. He is wisest to reads both the world and the word book is two volumes of the same work and feels concerning the my father wrote them both. Let's first thing the second thing we have to say about general revelation and the special revelation is this nature points to God, but it is not God CS Lewis in that book I referred to earlier, has a chapter on nature which he spells out some of the implications of that doesn't in the very helpful way. I believe he says when you separate God in nature as the Christian revelation does recognize God as the creator nature you accomplish two things.

First of all you do best nature of divinity. When you look at trees and stones than oceans and rivers, and stars sons you don't say they are God. They are not God. The thing that makes them a thing that is made up to, they can't be the same and so nature is emptied of divinity.

That is why the biblical people look at nature so differently they are not like the pagans around to providing God's and everything. That's the first thing you do. But secondly, says Lois, when you empty nature of divinity. You also raise it to a higher level because you make it the bearer of divine messages see if nature is itself God then that's as far as you go there's the stream. The stream is God.

What else can you say, but if the stream is made by God and because it's made by God is the bearer of messages about God that you can reflect backward from the stream and understand something about the one who created it says you say that's the way Christians look at nature look at it.

They marvel at it.

They rejoice in it, but they say it testifies to God and so we see nature of what we do is rejoice in him.

You see, if you don't have that perspective you do what I'm afraid many of our contemporaries do do that is you fall into one of two errors either you glorify nature itself worshiping nature that was chiefly an error of paganism of the past, but it's cropped up in a new kind of paganism in which we make ourselves God's New Age movement does not.

You either make nature we ourselves being a part of God. That's an error if you don't do that you strip away the deity end if it's not created by God and made as a bearer of his messages and you debase that you take advantage of it and so you find yourself ruining nature, which of course is what our technological society also does Christian view the biblical view of David as well as that of Paul in the New Testament takes us beyond that, there's 1/3 thing in its last do we value nature answer is yes. In many cases we do. Certainly we have people in the world that we have environmentalists in this country and we have the green movement in Europe as it's known wants to preserve nature, purify our air and water preserve our wildlands and such things. All that is good but here's the point. If you value revelation of God in the big book and you value the revelation in the little book. Even more, especially since it tells us so much more about God, every thought you have about nature and thanks to God for it. You should have an even stronger greater thought for what he's given us in the Bible. And if you're concerned with preserving nature. You should be concerned with getting to know the Scriptures and preserving them in your own heart and mind want to do that is being led by God being led by God will find God will find them to be far greater when even the big book enables us to think of him when we look and see God's handiwork from the heavens pray. Father, we thank you for teaching here in Psalm 19 venture creation and how were to regard it. We don't want to do what is so often done either consider it something it is not divine or disregarded, failing to recognize that you've made it to the teachers about you help us to see both see the rightly learned from you but above all to learn from you where you are abundantly revealed that in Scripture. As we come through a continuation of the study. We ask that you bless our hearts as we contemplate that revelation to thank you for listening to this message from the Bible study our the listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance is a coalition of pastors, scholars and churchmen who hold to the historic creeds and confessions of the reformed faith and who proclaimed biblical doctrine in order to foster a reformed awakening in today's church. To learn more about the alliance visit alliance and while you're there, visit our online store reformed resources. You can find messages and books from Dr. Boyce and other outstanding teachers and theologians, or ask for a free reformed resources catalog by calling 1-800-488-1888. Please take the time to write to us and share how the Bible study our has impacted you. We love to hear from you and pray for you.

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