God's Revelation of Himself
How Do We Know?
God reveals knowledge of Himself to mankind in primarily three
ways. Any Bible Believer will agree that the Scriptures as found
in the AV are the revelation of God. "All Scripture is given by
inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine..." and much of
that doctrine reveals details about the God of heaven Himself and
His son Jesus Christ.
Another means of revelation is through man's conscience. Unless it
has been seared (1Tim 4:2), man's conscience convicts him when he
does something wrong. The Holy Spirit convicts a person of sin as
well (John 16:8). Thus since the conscience and the work of the
Holy Spirit tell us that some actions and thoughts are wrong, one
can reasonably conclude these behaviors or actions are contrary
and displeasing to God.
However, the third revelation of God is not much emphasized by
believers today, that is the revelation of truth through God's
creation, and that is the main topic of this chapter.
Psalm 19:1 mentions this,
"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the
firmament sheweth his handywork."
As well as Romans 1:19-20,
"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in
them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things
of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being
understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power
and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:"
This passage states emphatically there are certain things that may
be known of God solely through nature. It says these "invisible
things" can be "clearly seen" from the things that are "made" or
visible. Paul mentions a couple of these things in Acts 14:17,
"Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in
that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful
seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness."
Thus, some of the things we learn from nature is that God is good,
powerful, generous, and kind. If people follow their conscience
and seek the "glory and honour and immortality" only God can give
(Rom 2:7), He will reveal more of Himself from the Scriptures. If
they refuse, all they can expect is "tribulation and anguish."
When God reveals his knowledge and truth, whether through nature
or His word, He does not reveal it all at once. Instead He reveals
it progressively. The very fact that the Scriptures were written
over a 1500 year period testifies to this truth. Some have likened
God's progressive revelation to that of educating a child: the
teacher starts with elementary truths and then gradually increases
the content to match the development of the pupil. The later
revelation does not contradict the earlier but compliments it.
The progressive revelation of God’s plan of redemption is a key
revelation in the Scriptures. After man's fall in the garden , the
Lord needed to show man the extent of his fall, the severity
of his sin and state, the great cost it would take to redeem
him, and the nature of Himself in providing that redemption.
This process started with the "coats of skins" the Lord provided
in the garden of Eden and continues through with the great flood,
Abraham's offering of Isaac, the Passover and deliverance of
Israel from Egypt, all the sacrifices and offerings at the
tabernacle and temple, all the way up to Christ dying on the
cross. This process encompassed around 4000 years of time in 1500
years of Scripture.
Concerning the Scriptures, the revelation of them as God's word
was established nearly 2000 years ago. However, that does
not mean the full scope of the content within them has been
revealed. There are still several passages that are unclear as to
where or how they apply or what they refer to, and the Lord will
open people's hearts to receive their truths when He is ready to
reveal them. This is obvious to any knowledgeable Bible Believing
Dispensationalist. He understands God reveals scriptural truths
progressively and usually marks the divisions with covenants and
The Mysterious Afterlife
One of the key areas where the Lord was clearly progressive in His
revelation was in knowledge of the "afterlife." Where one goes
when he dies has been a question man has pondered since creation,
and the Lord revealed very little about it for over 4000 years. If
one studies only the Old Testament for indications of where a
person's soul and/or spirit goes when he dies or what state it is
in at death, he will find practically nothing definitive and very
little by implication. There are indications of a resurrection.
Job said in Job 19:26-27 that he knew he would "in my flesh...see
God," but the state his soul would be in until that day is not
Think about that a minute. In the first five books of the Bible
the Lord reveals many things to Israel. He told them of all kinds
of laws and commandments, how they were expected to behave, and He
told them quite a bit about himself; especially about His love and
care for them. But the Lord told them essentially nothing about
what would happen to them after they die. Fascinating. He told
them many times that if they did wrong they would physically die,
but He never described what that death held for their soul. There
is a lesson in this if someone would study it out.
A few hundred years later, Solomon, with all his God given wisdom,
was not much better informed. He stated, "For the living know that
they shall die: but the dead know not any thing" (Ecc 9:5). His
father, David, said along the same lines, "For in death there is
no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks"
(Psa 6:5). David even said one's "thoughts perish" when he dies
(Psa 146:4). If these are "thoughts of the heart" they are now
considered part of the soul. Because of this saints in the Old
Testament appeared to believe a person was asleep or unconscious
until he is resurrected for judgment. We know now that is far from
the truth, but the Lord revealed the facts in His own time. Those
Old Testament saints didn't seem to have any idea that the dead
were still conscious in either "Abraham's Bosom" (Paradise) or
Hell (Luke 16).
Likewise, the Lord also did not reveal much at all about
everlasting life or punishment after the judgment. Not until
Daniel 12:1-2 is "everlasting life" and "everlasting shame and
contempt" mentioned. Before Daniel there was no firm declaration
in the Scriptures people would be forever conscious anywhere. This
is another very important issue, but the Lord kept it to Himself
for centuries for His own reasons.
Why did the Lord not reveal what seems like such vital
information? Who knows? We can only speculate, but all should be
thankful the Lord has revealed those truths for us today with
Jesus Christ. We know there is a Hell to shun and a Heaven to gain
and at death we will be in one or the other. This is a clear case
of progressive revelation concerning aspects of the spiritual
Progressive Knowledge of Creation
It only stands to reason that if the Lord progressively reveals
His knowledge in the revelation of the Scriptures, He also can
reveal progressively the truths about His creation. This is where
Deut. 29:29 comes in,
"The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but
those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our
children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law."
A similar passage is Daniel 2:47,
"The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth
it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and
a revealer of secrets..."
When God created creation and put man on the earth, He had very
many "secrets" Adam did not know. How God revealed some of these
secrets, both moral and physical, over the millennia is an
When Adam "Woke Up"
Imagine the scene when God created Adam. One can envision a
beautiful garden filled with green plants, playful animals and God
in the midst forming His greatest earthly creation, but the Bible
indicates that Adam was made before the garden of Eden (Gen 2:7-8,
15). How He formed Adam is not revealed, but we can speculate. He
may have formed him with blowing wind, churning water, rumbling
earth, flashing lightening, or even with His own fleshy hands as
the Angel of the Lord. That the Lord did not just speak Adam into
existence in a flash is indicated by the way He created all the
things before him. He spent six days forming the previously
"without form" earth, thus, He likely spent time forming Adam from
the shapeless dust of that earth.
After putting all of Adam's physical components in order: his
cells and DNA, his heart and hair, his brain and toenails; and
having a complete human body; the Lord only needed to do one more
thing—give him life. There laid on the ground a perfect but
lifeless body. If a modern day doctor could have examined it, he
would have not been able to find a "medical reason" why it doesn't
live, but it was lifeless nonetheless. Earlier the body was just a
mound of dust. Now it is a perfectly formed, and soon it will
become and contain a living soul.
From nowhere and everywhere a whistling sound arose. The wind
gathered from the ends of heaven and the four corners of the earth
and blew over the lifeless Adam...and then into his
nostrils...Adam's chest arose with a mighty sigh...he took his
first breath...and opened his brand new eyes. If Adam was on his
back when he awoke, the expanse of heaven was likely his first
sight. He may have seen a wonderful blue sky holding a bright
shining sun with birds dancing in the wind as it fluttered away.
Or maybe his first sight was the face of the God who gave him
life, who was now gazing down upon him with a winning smile.
Regardless what he first saw, how could he appreciate it having
not existed only seconds before? He awoke from a sleep he never
had; from an amnesia he never experienced. Unlike the newborn
infant who first opens its eyes to the world, Adam was fully
mature; a full and complete human being, but he had zero practical
experience of life and living. He had no one to care for him but
the God who made him.
Adam immediately discovered he could move his eyes and head and
looked down and saw his arms, legs, and feet. He soon realized
those appendages could move as he desired and he tried them out;
bending and wiggling them around. He then looked to the side and
saw colorful plants and various animals, with some of the animals
gazing back at the new addition to their garden home. After a few
minutes a lamb walks near to him and Adam has another epiphany,
"If that creature can move around on this ground, maybe I can too"
and Adam sits up, rolls over on his hand and knees and tries to
walk like the lamb...and he soon does. A little while later he
realizes he doesn't need to use his hands at all but unlike the
lamb he can walk with his feet alone. All the while his creator is
sitting on a rock observing him.
How much Adam had to learn and how much the Lord built into him as
instinct is unknown, but likely there was a large measure of both.
Nevertheless, Adam's first days were filled with one epiphany
after another. He likely was "pre-programmed" with a language
(certainly a form of Hebrew) and given other knowledge his
offspring would have to learn, but the new king of the earth was
rapidly learning more about his earth and its inhabitants every
moment. He learned he must eat and that many of the plants he saw
served that purpose well. He also learned some plants weren't so
tasty. He learned about night. When his first night came he
experienced darkness. Imagine the thoughts that ran through his
mind. When he saw the moon and stars they added even more to the
wonder. After a while toward the east Adam saw a glow in the
distance and before long again came the same sun he saw the day
before with all its glory.
Once he was placed in the Garden of Eden Adam was told to "dress
it and to keep it." Thus, even in the garden paradise attention
and work were required to keep it in order. While watching Adam
examine all the various plants and trees of the garden, the Lord
warned him about a particularly nice one in the midst as he walked
by (Gen 2:16-17),
"Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt
not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou
shalt surely die."
All is free but one.
The epiphanies are not over for Adam by any means. The Lord
brought all the animals before him to watch him name them, and
that he did, but while doing so Adam likely realized a profound
thing. With all the animals there were at least two of each kind,
and at least one was male and one was female. Adam wondered, Why
is there two of each kind but only one of me?" The Lord saw
something that was "not good" in his new creation and that was his
"man" was alone (Gen 2:18).
Adam Wakes Up a Second Time
If he had never slept before Adam was about to now,
"And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon
Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up
the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had
taken from man, made2 he a woman, and brought her unto the man."
When Adam wakes he notices his creator walking towards him with
the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. A person who is made
just like him (well, almost like him). Adam feels his side,
notices a missing rib, and puts "two and two together;" he
realizes the woman came from him. The Lord concurs and Adam
"This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:
she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
For the first time Adam speaks to and about another human and his
words are prophetic. She was undoubtedly pre-programmed to know
the same language he spake (and probably used it much more than he
What a ride it has been for Adam, and now also Eve. Imagine all
the experiences they had in such short time. Adam was very likely
created with the appearance of a 30 year old man since Christ was
that age when He started His ministry. Eve would have been the
same mature age. How long things transpired in this pre-fall
paradise is unknown. It may have been three years (to match the
length of Christ's ministry) or three weeks. All we can do is
For our purposes in this chapter the main issue we need to realize
is how the Lord revealed both spiritual and natural things to
Adam. God revealed many elements of His creation and their various
functions to some extent to Adam. He even introduced all the
"beasts" and "fowls" to him. Adam learned about day and night and
their cycles, the moon and stars and how they change throughout
the months and year, how water flows in rivers, how plants grow
bigger and bigger and need "dressed," and all sorts of similar
truths. While walking through his domain Adam would have noticed
how the earth and sky extends on and on into infinity. His world
The Flat Truth
With all the information Adam and gained and knew, there was still
very much he didn't know. Take the endless earth, for instance. A
natural man with an unaided eye gazing out over the vast expanse
of earth would naturally think it is flat. Depending on the
terrain, the earth generally looks like a large, endless flat
plain. There would be no reason to think otherwise. Consider for a
moment, dear reader. What if you were born in an isolated land
where outside, modern information had no access, and all you and
your neighbors had were your senses to guide you? Would there be
any overwhelming reason for you to think the earth was anything
other than flat and the sun and moon moved over it? No at all.
There would not even be an underwhelming reason. You would just
naturally believe the world continued on and on according to how
it appeared to you and all those you know—flat and motionless.
The image above represents the ancient Hebrew concept of the
world. It is flat with a firmament above holding the moving sun
and moon and with pillars beneath. What is enlightening to some
and perplexing to others is that not one word in the Bible
shows this concept to be wrong! Nowhere do the Scriptures
insist that the ancient flat-earth idea of the universe is
anything but accommodated. The Hebrews were not the only
civilization to believe it, essentially all peoples and nations
did. It was the natural conclusion from limited human observation.
Other nations may have not believed in the Hebrew "firmament,"
"pillars," and "sheol," but they believed the earth was flat.
This idea continued for thousands of years and the Lord was
content to let mankind believe it. Man believing in a flat earth
did not hinder God's program in the least. That the earth is
actually a globe was something only God and the heavenly creatures
knew until He was ready to reveal otherwise.
The Fall Changes Things
After his fall in the garden, Adam's epiphanies continued, but
with a much darker tone. When he ate the fruit he probably had the
greatest shock of reality he had experienced since he physically
opened his eyes...his figurative, spiritual eyes (or heart) were
opened to the reality of sin (Gen 3:7). With his "opened" eyes
bringing a "new perspective on life," he suddenly realized he was
naked and thus a sinner! He probably set on a rock and thought
"long and hard" about what just happened to him; about how things
used to be compared to what he "feels" now. He also likely
wondered about what the word "die" meant when the Lord told him if
he ate of the tree he would "surely die." Eventually, he looks at
his naked wife and feels compelled to say, "We need to cover
ourselves up!", and that they try to do. However, the Lord needs
to reveal even more to his sinful creatures. He goes into the
garden, kills two innocent sheep for their "skins," makes coats
out of the skins, and gives them to the blushing pair. They are
overwhelmed. What a day it has been.
Adam gained the knowledge he thought he needed and had his
spiritual eyes opened to sin, but he and his seed will pay the
price of death until the Lord makes a new heaven and earth. The
Lord drove the pair from their beautiful location and banned them
and their descendants from the "tree of life" forever. They will
have to get eternal life another way.
Notice that their eyes being "opened" is not a literal
statement unless one insists Adam and Eve were created
physically blind! Was it impossible for God to create them
blind, of course not, but no one believes they were. As
mentioned in a previous chapter the opened eyes speak of the
revelation of sin to the heart or conscience. Their inner sight
could now "see" sin and evil. Another strike against the
hyper-literal Geocentrists' "impossible" argument.
Revelations to the Seed
Over the coming centuries Adam's seed was revealed more about God
and His creation. Cain learned first hand God will accept people
if they "doest well" (Gen 4:7), but Cain wanted no part of the
Lord. Enoch learned if one walks with God, He may take him away
without dying. Noah learned God's patience has it limits and His
power has no bounds (Gen 6-9). The whole world at Babel learned
they must obey God's command to scatter and populate the whole
earth (Gen 11).
The events at Babel are interesting for the reasons
the Lord gave for confounding the languages. He said they are
"one," have "one language," and "now nothing will be restrained
from them, which they have imagined to do." This is fascinating.
Men were at the point where they became more and more
inquisitive and inventive. They learned how to build a towering
tower and had much greater ambitions. All humanity seemed to be
one in mind and goal, but since "man’s heart is evil from his
youth," their goals were evil. With their combined "unity" and
abilities the Lord said they were capable of doing anything they
imagine! Amazing. Since they wanted to climb higher and higher,
it would not have been long before they imagined ways to fly in
The scattering of the world at Babel greatly slowed down mankind's
natural discoveries. Actually, from a cosmological viewpoint there
was not much of anything discovered, learned, or even proposed for
around 1200 years until the Greek Culture came along. The
divisions at Babel caused men to form cultures and nations that
became competitive with each other and these differences led to
conflict and wars. These occupied their time rather that building
towers to heaven.
Think for a minute, where was the current world's space program
100 years ago? Ah...nowhere except in people like Jules Verne's
imagination. Where was the airline industry 150 years ago? The
answer is the same. Where was mass communication before the
telephone and telegraph which are less than 200 years old? In
people's imagination. Consider all the "advances" and
discoveries man has made in the last 200 years. One could loose
200 years between Genesis chapters 9 and 11 pretty easily. If
left alone the people of Babel could have discovered natural
laws and principles and developed various devices to use them
that the Lord did not yet want discovered or implemented. Think
automobiles, airplanes, telephones, computers, spacecraft, etc.
The Lord had many things yet to show mankind before they reached
that stage of "progress," so He slowed them down in one of the
most effective ways imaginable—he simple confounded their
A key lesson from Babel for our study is man cannot discover
anything until God is ready to let it happen.
Even though new physical truths were slow in coming, the Lord was
revealing moral truths "right and left" to the Israelites. He
proved to Abraham he would make of him a great nation, and
confirmed it with his son Isaac and grandson Jacob. While in Egypt
he showed Abraham's seed great wonders and revealed many aspects
of His desire and nature through the many commandments, statutes,
and laws he laid down. With them the Lord showed the seriousness
and cost of sin and its atonement. As for the natural revelation,
there is no reason to believe the Israelites believed anything
other than that the world is flat and the sun and moon moved above
Maybe Earth's Not Flat After All?
The first record of someone considering the earth to be round is
found among the early Greek philosophers. According to one
historian " "Pythagoras was the first Greek who called the Earth
round." The specific things that led them to think such "heresy"
are not given, but they are likely observances of the stars moving
in relation to the horizon when one travels north or south, ships
at sea gradually going below the horizon (for those with very good
eyesight), and the shadow of Earth on the Moon during a lunar
eclipse is round. Although this was proposed by the 6th century
BC, it was not absolutely proven until 2100 years later when
Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe in the 1520s.
Some may ask, "Why did God allow the Greeks to discover the global
earth and not the Hebrews? That is not revealed, but what is
revealed in the Scriptures is God uses pagan and secular men for
"And now have I given all these lands into the hand of
Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and the beasts
of the field have I given him also to serve him."
The Lord called the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar, "my servant,"
because he is doing the Lord's bidding. The Lord gave the Greeks
the opportunity to discover some other things like mathematics,
geometry, physics, etc., also. It seems the Lord will allow
natural man to discover certain facts that will later be used to
benefit His children as well. Nevertheless, even though a few
Greeks in Athens believed the earth was a sphere, nearly all the
rest of humanity still thought it was flat with the sun and moon
hovering above. Gradually, over the subsequent centuries the round
earth claim gained popularity until around 1400 AD it was pretty
much accepted as truth by the "knowledgeable," and a few years
later Magellan proved it.
The "Eyes" Have It
Another example of the progressive revelation of natural truths
deals with optics. Once man had perfected the process of making
clear glass (1st century BC), curious souls discovered that if a
clear glass bowl was filled with water it had a magnifying effect.
If the bowl was placed in front of some text, the print was easier
to read. The Roman emperor Nero was said to have "read all the
books in Rome through a large glass bowl filled with water." About
1000 years later (yes, that long) someone in Venice replaced the
bowl and water with "a flat-bottom, convex glass sphere that was
laid on top of the reading material, becoming in effect the first
"magnifying glass." These were called "reading stones' and were a
"Godsend" to people over 40 years old. They were basically the
same as the simple hand magnifiers we use today.
Around 300 years later (things moved very, very slow then) another
Italian was playing around with these stones and put two together
in a crude frame and made the first pair of "spectacles." These
were the "smart phones" of the day. Everybody had to have a pair
that could read (not very many could read, though. Maybe as few as
6% of the population in places) and had the money.
14th Century Painting of "Spectacle" Usage
Another 300 years passed (now around 1600 AD) and some Dutch
spectacle makers were messing around with some lenses and happened
upon a huge discovery, one that would change the quest for
"scientific knowledge" forever—the telescope (which led later to
its inverse twin, the microscope)
Geocentrism Begins to Crack
As we mentioned Geocentrism was the dominate cosmology model for
millennia. From Adam to the Middle Ages it was assumed that the
earth was the center of the solar system and/or universe and the
universe rotated around it daily. As far as we know it wasn't
until Claudius Ptolemy and some other Greeks came along in the
first century B.C. that a working model of Geocentrism was
developed. It tried to reconcile all the movements of the sun,
moon, planets, and stars into one consistent model, and for the
most part it worked. However, there were still some matters that
could not be sufficiently explained such as why do the planets
follow their paths. To compensate for this the model claimed the
celestial bodies traveled in their paths because they are attached
to hollow, invisible spheres and are basically rolling around
them. In spite of some of its far-fetched assertions, the Ptolemy
Geocentric model of the universe was the standard for around 1500
Around the year 1530 A.D. Nicolaus Copernicus came up with the
idea that the sun may be the center of the solar system and
universe. Although the Copernican model placed the sun at the
center of the universe, in other respects it was very similar to
Ptolemy’s model. Although Copernicus' sun-centered idea was novel,
it did not gain much popularity until years later.
Around 1587 an astronomer named, Tycho Brahe, "appreciated the
Copernican system, but objected to the idea of a moving Earth on
the basis of physics, astronomy, and religion." He came up with a
compromise model that took what he deemed to be the best of both
the Ptolmey and Copernicus models now known as the "Tychonic
System." This model had all the planets but earth orbiting the sun
and the sun in turn (with its planets) orbiting the earth. (This
hybrid model is also called, "geoheliocentrism," and it is
basically the model used by Geocentrists today.)
Nevertheless, Geocentrism remained the dominate model with most
still clinging to the older Ptolomy system. This all changed in
the early 17th century with the discoveries of two men, Johannes
Kepler and Galileo Galilei who we will examine in the next