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God or Chaos - Which is Bigger?
F. Earle Fox
St Luke's REC, Santa Ana, CA
Sermons -- Audio Version
Trinity XII - 08/22/10
Deut. 11:8-21; Psalm 139; II Cor. 3:4-9; Mk. 7:31-37
Biblical people tend to think of Satan as the opposite of God. And in a sense, that is true. But for most of the world, Satan has not been the primary situation to be feared, but rather the return of chaos. Satan is often seen as the causer of chaos, but in the end, for the pagan world, Satan himself, such as they thought of him, was himself subject to the return of chaos.
We have been looking at the two worldviews, represented by the Biblical Yahweh, who is the Creator and rational Designer of the cosmos, and on the other hand, the Great Mother, which can be symbolized by mother earth, or seen as some mysterious original substance out of which all things were supposed to have emerged by some process of evolution. They just emerged, that was the tale told in almost all primitive cultures. There was no scientific or philosophical examination of how they might have done so. It was seen generally as a kind of birth, just like human or animal birth, just the way things were. Cultures had not yet gotten to asking "why" in a scientific way.
So, who is bigger, the God we worship, or the chaos we face? Our panic sometimes betrays us.
In the Mesopotamian/Babylonian version of the beginnings of all things, the original mother goddess, the original Great Mother figure, was named Tiamat, which means chaos, unformed substance. But she had a personality. Tiamat was not an "it", Tiamat was a "she", a "her". A Cosmic Female, not a something. She was not an abstract essence, as later, more sophisticated cultures sometimes imagined. That is how probably all primitive tribes saw things. Tiamat had children, like the Great Mother figure did in all cultures. She explained how all things came into being.
Many of these children were male beings, and like boys everywhere, they tended to have a masculine way about them. They created a rumpus often enough so that as they grew older the rumpus got more noisy, and irritated Tiamat considerably. The rising masculine gods were, like boys everywhere, wanting to go adventuring, wanting to do things on their own, and they began to resent their mother Tiamat holding them in check.
So they elected one of their members, named Marduk to fight Tiamat. Marduk used his masculine skills of strategy and cunning to fight against Tiamat who had enormous power and raged fiercely. But Marduk was clever enough to cut Tiamat in half with his sword. With one half he made the earth, and the other half, the sky. That was the Mesopotamian creation story. Only it was not creation out of nothing. Marduk created out of the body parts of Tiamat, stuff that was lying around.
But Tiamat was not quite dead, and had a habit of reasserting her power on occasion. In one instance, one of the gods made the mistake of urging Tiamat back into her former self, perhaps to wreak vengeance on some of his enemies. Tiamat began indeed to come back. For desert people, the sea is one of the most powerful symbols of chaos, strange, chaotic, fierce, untamable. In the story, the sea began to rise, like the flood in Genesis. Fierce waves coming up higher and higher over the land. All the gods and goddesses were frightened for their lives, and found themselves trapped with their backs to a wall as the water surged closer and closer. It was Tiamat threatening to revenge herself on them by dissolving them back into herself.
But whether she listened to their pleas for mercy, or she had other reasons of her own, the waters, lapping almost at their feet, began to retreat, and life returned to normal. But they all knew that the threat of the return of chaos was an eternal part of their lives.
That pattern occurs in pagan cultures all over the world. In the pagan world, the chaos we face is bigger than any god we worship.
The music of Wagner celebrates the Germanic and Nordic stories, in which the gods and goddesses are drawn into a final conflict, called Gotterdammerung, the twilight of the Gods. The known world is consumed in death, and so presumably must begin all over again.
Modern secularism has its own fascination with death and chaos. Much of the revolutionary mindset which emerged out of the French Revolution, displayed a belief that in order to bring about the "New World Order", the old order had to be destroyed, annihilated. Modern political strategy became violently nihilist.
That theme was carried out in Germany by the Nazis, who used violence routinely to intimidate and conquer. It was perfected by Lenin and Stalin, who were quite willing to annihilate their enemies, whole sections of the population, by any means at their disposal. Mao Tse Tung did the same in China, with utter contempt for decency or respect of persons. He wanted to eradicate the old order from the very thinking and mindset of the people. Then Pol Pot in Cambodia, carried the horrendous process of revolution by destruction and chaos to a new level.
The secular and supposedly scientific 20th century became the most brutal century of all history, by only half way through, killing a greater percentage of the world's population than any other century in history. Most of that killing was not in the wars between nations, which was horrific enough, it was in the deliberate annihilation of one's own people who were considered anti-revolutionary.
No religion in world history has behaved so savagely as our secularized governments -- although Islam may be making a bid for the honor.
But chaos-creating has taken a new twist. It has, except where necessary, laid aside military and police action, physical destruction as a means to conquer nations and societies. Following the lead of persons such as the Italian Communist, Antonio Gramsci, and using the newly invented science of psychology, these same people are now capturing whole societies without firing a shot, by psychological warfare, brain-washing and mind-control, largely through control of education, and, I have just discovered in the last few years, through control of the money supply. These people are evil-minded, but they are masters at what they do.
Their aim is to create sufficient chaos in the minds of the people to bring fear, apathy, and confusion, so that the citizens will not be able to respond with strategy and reason against their plot to bring in their "New World Order" -- with them at the top of the pyramid of power.
If you are occasionally wondering how Americans could have fallen for the political nonsense and stupidity in which we are routinely engaged, chaos-creating is a major part of the answer.
So, we have come from a place where chaos was a threat to all and feared by all, and arrived at a place where chaos has become a tool of the tyrant at the top of the pyramid to put the rest of us under his control.
This pursuit of chaos as a tool of choice, which, if not intercepted by Godly folks, must lead, eventually to Gotterdammerung, the Twilight of the Gods, the end of everything. We have at our disposal now the capacity to kill everyone on earth, or at least to reduce all civilization to rubble, a return to the stone age overnight. The whole course is suicidal, but that will not stop those who see their personal interests in that direction.
Physics has an interesting principle, of which you no doubt have heard -- entropy. The principle of entropy says that any concentration of energy tends to run down to zero. And any concentration of order tends to run down to total disorder, that is, total chaos.
The physical world, so far as I know, has no known principle of creating order. That, of course, is a direct contradiction to the theory of evolution, which tells us that things begin in disorder and rise into order and concentration. No one has explained how to put those two contradictions together.
But there is one entity in the world which we commonly experience which does indeed create order out of disorder. Persons. Only persons are capable of taking a disordered situation, a disordered system, and creating order in it. Machines cannot do that. Computers cannot do that, except as programmed by persons. There is no evidence that an original cosmic soup did that to bring about our present state of affairs. You (in your better moments, at least) can create order. You, a person, are unique in all the world in that respect.
If you do not pay attention to your closet, or to your budget, they will indeed descend into disorder. But you have the capacity to bring them back into order. It is difficult sometimes, but it can be done. No amount of evolution will change the disorder of your closet or your budget unless you get busy. Unattended evolution always leads downhill, not up hill, always towards chaos, not toward increased order.
And God, the creator and sovereign over the whole world, is the only being in existence who can give order to the whole of creation, to the whole of existence. God can do that because He, and He alone, is the Creator of all that is. The very meaning of the sovereignty of God is His giving of order. He and He alone can decide the meaning and purpose for the existence of something -- simply because He alone is the giver of its existence. There is not huge mystery to that. It is a very logical and a very practical fact of life.
God tells the Hebrews in Deuteronomy that they are to keep the commandments so that they may be strong and take possession of the land which He is giving to them. If they keep His commandments, they will flourish. They must take heed lest they turn aside and worship the gods of the other nations. The land will be shut up and yield no fruit for them. He is bigger than the chaos they face.
Who we worship is therefore the fundamental issue of all social order, and thus the fundamental issue of all civil government. If we worship the God of the Bible, the Creator of heaven and earth, then we have the foundation for a stable family life, and for a stable political and social order. If we worship the gods of the other nations, just like the Hebrews, our land will turn against us. Our industry will deplete, our politics will centralized into tyranny, our religion will become secular or pagan Chaotic.
The world without God, a world which refuses to obey God, cannot support a stable order. Only the imposition of the strong man, the cabal of tyrants, those who have commandeered the coercive power of civil government, are capable of creating a very temporary order on the fractious nature of things. These power-pyramids come and go. Those who run them are mesmerized into believing that they really can guide the world, even take charge of the direction of evolution, some think, by their scientific prowess.
That which gives order to the world, that alone which rescues the world from chaos, is the law of God, the intelligent design of God. The world without God does not evolve naturally into a more and more organized and life-giving, life-affirming place. It does not even get into existence. And things in existence not under the moral order of God deteriorate, they fall into the power of relationship entropy and disintegrate. They lose their reason for existence, if they ever had one, and chaos takes over. Without the moral authority of God, all things deteriorate, we as persons, and all aspects of our family, social, and political relationships, begin to rot.
On the other hand, a people united under the moral authority of God can withstand and conquer any attempted tyranny. Christians are today doing that in China and other places around the world where Christians have not been secularized or paganized.
Chaos is the natural and inevitable product of having lost, in the Fall, those two great stabilities -- ontological and moral. If our being is not secure in God, we will try to find security in the resources of the world. But the world cannot supply us that stability because it does not itself have it. The world on its own is inherently unstable. The world rests in fact on the Hand of God, but denies that Hand so that it does not have to submit to the Voice, the Moral Order, of God. Out of rebellion comes chaos.
But that Hand comes from a depth, and the Voice comes from a height that no enemy on earth can touch. That is what makes the people of God invulnerable to the machinations of the world. It is not that we cannot be made to feel pain, but we cannot be destroyed.
In Psalm 139, we hear the testimony of someone who understood the nature of God. There is no place one can go either to escape from God, or where God cannot reach out and rescue from danger. "If I take the wings of the morning and remain in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall thy hand lead me, and the right hand shall hold me."
And Paul writes to the Corinthians: "not that we are of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is from God." That is not to put ourselves down, to think of ourselves as "inferior". We are, of course, inferior to God, but not in a pejorative manner. We are creatures, He the Creator. That is a very good inferiority. We rejoice in being His children.
We can be very well behaving creatures if we obey His commandments. He tells us over and over what we can do which will bring approval of our behavior. He is very specific about it. The law is His intelligent design for the cosmos and for ourselves. His creative power guided by His intelligent design are the two great anti-entropic forces in the cosmos - that turn entropy around. We, made in His Image, share those two aspects. We, too, in our limited way, can reverse entropy -- at least clean up our closets! We, too, can be intelligent designers. We can cooperate with God in cleaning up the chaos of our spiritual lives.
There are few things we fear more than chaos - in one of the many forms which can undercut us and our stability. It might be a financial collapse, a relationship collapse - such as marriage, a reputation collapse, failure of a test, failure to gain employment, failure of any sort which could reflect on our social acceptability.
Is your God bigger than the chaos you face?
These fears can be so debilitating because we are resting our dependency in the world, not in God. So the chaos feels like our whole being is at stake. The world does not love us like God does, because it cannot -- though it is good at pretending.
The world has only one hope. There is no other. Only God can supply either our personal, ontological stability or our moral stability. When either of these fail, the forces of chaos begin to set in. And then fears and anxieties begin to dominate and poison our lives. We have probably all felt them.
But God has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to undergird our sense of being and stability, and the very present Word of God to guide and govern our paths. "If I say, Peradventure the darkness shall cover me, then shall my night be turned to day." Psalm 139:10
We have a powerful message to bring to those whose lives are trailing in clouds of chaos and despair.
"Christ for the world we sing! The world to Christ we bring with fervent prayer; the wayward and the lost, by restless passions tossed, redeemed at countless cost From dark despair."
Father, whatever the chaos, You have us right where we need to be, we wait upon You. In Jesus name.
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