Commentary on "The Wedding Garment"
Day 7: Friday, June 10, 2011 - Further Study
Ellen White (EGW) stated: “But the plan of redemption had a yet broader and deeper purpose than the salvation of man. It was not for this alone that Christ came to the earth; it was not merely that the inhabitants of this little world might regard the law of God as it should be regarded; but it was to vindicate the character of God before the universe” EGW, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 68
On Watching Worlds
Today, we will look more closely at this belief in the “watching worlds.” It is amazing how a central doctrine of the Adventist Church, the great controversy, rests on the assumption that there are untold billions of unfallen beings living out there among the stars. It is assumed that these beings are also created in God’s image, could fall into sin as Adam did, have all been influenced by a powerful and very busy Satan, and all of them are critically watching God’s dealings with us. As the invisible jury in the cosmic court drama, these beings need God to vindicate His good character to them. All of God’s decisions, therefore, are political decisions. Whenever He acts, He must consider, “How will that make me look to them?”
However, without the existence of these beings, this vital SDA doctrine collapses into ruin. We need to ask, where is the evidence for these beings? Let’s look at the biblical passages and phrases that Adventist authors have presented as referring to unfallen, alien beings.
The Sons of God – They are found in Genesis 6, Deuteronomy 32, Psalms 29 and 89, and in Job. This is translated several different ways, depending on the context, as “angels,” “mighty ones,” or “holy ones.” The Job texts, where sons of God are presented before the Lord, are usually cited as describing unfallen beings. However, in no case are they said to be from other worlds. Sons of God are translated as angels for all these various texts to make sense. For example, in Genesis, 6, these beings are definitely fallen, for they “went in to the daughters of men and had children by them.”
Deuteronomy 32:8 says, “he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God,” can only refer to the angels that both Daniel and Paul call “princes” or “principalities and powers.” It would be a stretch to say that alien beings have been placed as princes over the peoples of earth, since angels are said to take such positions of authority. Likewise, the angel Gabriel told Daniel that he had been contending with the prince of Persia, probably an evil angel.
In Job, the sons of God present themselves to the Lord on two occasions, and Satan is among them. There is no reason to assume these are anything besides angels, for Satan is an angel who frequently presents himself along with other angels before the Lord (Zechariah 3:2 and Luke 10:18). Again, in no case are the sons of God said to be inhabitants of other worlds.
In the New Testament, the sons of God plainly refer to human believers in Christ. Adam is called a son of God in Luke, since he was born directly from God, as are all believers since the Resurrection.
Other Worlds – The Bible is clear that God made other worlds (Hebrews 1:2), but nowhere does it describe beings who live on them. The Greek for “worlds” is aion, which can also be a general term for the whole creation, and is nowhere used to indicate specific planets outside ours. If watching worlds are an important part of understanding the gospel, why doesn’t the Bible clearly teach it?
Things in Heaven – A Graham Maxwell, the late Adventist champion of great controversy theology, used Colossians 1:20 to support watching worlds teaching. In this text, Christ reconciles to Himself all things in heaven and earth, making peace through His blood. This refers to all things in heaven and earth, and has nothing to say about unfallen beings. This is consistent with Romans 8:20-22, where the entire creation has been subjected to futility and is in need of reconciliation and renewal. All levels of creation have been disrupted by sin, from inanimate matter to the highest angels. Again, one has to force these texts into teaching unfallen worlds.
Principalities and Powers – As mentioned above, applying unfallen aliens to this phrase simply creates more textual problems. In Romans 8, they are entities who might separate us from the love of Christ, something only fallen beings try to do. In Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1, they are spiritual rulers who Christ publically humiliated, and against whom we struggle. These entities refer only to spiritual or human rulers.
Our Mental Environment – The popular imagination is saturated with images of aliens from the entertainment industry and science programs. This interest began in the 17th century, even before Ellen White’s time. For most people today, their existence is hardly questioned, even though there is no real evidence that any aliens have ever been detected or contacted. The SETI program has spent billions of dollars with no results, and with no end in sight. Much research shows that life is at best rare in the universe, for the conditions for life to thrive and develop are rare. By life, I don’t mean organisms that merely survive, such as the celebrated “extremophiles.” The vast majority of galaxies, stars, and planets are extremely hostile places for water to stay liquid for life to thrive.
Modern Darwinism tells us that the emergence of life is nearly a certainty—that with liquid water simmering for millions of years, life will self-organize somehow. They don’t know how it first originated here, but they’re sure it can easily emerge in many other places. We can speculate what life forms God may have created out there. For living things to develop, however, many sensitive factors must be in place in the same place for long periods of time. Life is a rare and precious thing.
Flesh and Blood – In the incarnation and passion of Jesus Christ, we see the utterly human character of sin and salvation. The problem of sin cannot be blamed on Satan, for sin’s origin is clearly placed on Adam (Romans 5:12). God made man ruler of creation (Heb. 1:7,8), and man was not subject to Satan until he chose to be. Sin is a human problem, and God’s solution had always been for Jesus to become a man. In fact, we know that all things were created for Christ (Col. 1:16). The entire cosmos is a place of suffering, for Christ to suffer and display God’s glory.
“Therefore he had to made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God” (Heb. 2:17).
Jesus has forever cast His lot with us in His human body, to suffer and die as our thoroughly human high priest.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might…deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” Hebrews 2:14,15
He did not come to earth for the sake of any race but the human race. His body was not an alien body, so His life and death would have no saving power for any other creatures (Hebrews 2:10-18). If any alien beings fell, there would be no one to help them, “for surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16).
Therefore, He is not ashamed to call us brothers. What a sacrifice!
Copyright 2011 BibleStudiesForAdventists.com. All rights reserved. Revised June 10, 2011. This website is published by Life Assurance Ministries, Glendale, Arizona, USA, the publisher of Proclamation! Magazine. Contact email: BibleStudiesForAdventists@gmail.com.
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