GOD’S BOOK OF WONDERS
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-30-75 8:15 a.m.
This is the pastor bringing the message entitled: God’s Book of Wonders, the miraculous, glorious signatures of God in the earth. I wish that all of you who listen on radio could be with us this morning. You would be surprised at how many people are here on a holiday weekend and especially the number of youngsters in our Chapel Choir, who fill it from side to side and spill over into the balconies. That means more to us in encouragement, young people, than you could ever know. And we have a great group. I was surprised when these young people stood up from Snyder, members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and I pray God will bless the message to your hearts as you face a world of challenge and unbelief.
Actually, the sermon is an introduction to the second, the last part of the prophecy, the Book of Isaiah. Isaiah falls into two distinct sections, chapters 1-39 and chapters 40-66. And the message today is a pausing as we look at the glorious chapters of the second part of the prophecy. There is no spiritual plateau in the earth that exceeds this great high plain of revelation that we know as the second part of Isaiah. I feel, in looking at it, as Balboa must have felt when he looked at the vast Pacific, the first time the eyes of a white man had ever beheld its glorious reaches. I feel as Edmund Halley must have felt when, with the use of our first telescopes, he scanned the glories and the infinitudes of the heavens. So I stand in awe and in wonder before these glorious chapters into which we shall enter under the guidance and leadership of the Spirit of God.
Now, as I said, the message is introductory. It concerns something in the Book and in the whole volume of revelation that concerns the miraculous signature of God. In the whole liberal theological world, there is not a man, there is not a teacher, there is not a professor, there is not a preacher, there is not a theologian – in the whole liberal theological world, there is not one man who believes that Isaiah wrote these chapters. They say there are two authors of this book. One wrote the first 39 chapters, and somebody else wrote the second, 40 to 66 chapters. Even though in the twelfth chapter of the Book of John, there is a quotation from Isaiah 53:1 in the second part, and a quotation from Isaiah 6:9 in the first part, and they’re brought together in one passage and attributed to Isaiah [John 12:38-40].
Yet, there is not a theologian in the world today who is of a liberal persuasion who believes that the same man, Isaiah the son of Amoz [Isaiah 1:1], who lived in 740 BC, is also the same man who wrote the second part of this book. And not only that, but as you read and study, they have an inclination to believe that there are innumerable men who wrote, who had a part in writing this prophecy of Isaiah. They have sawn him asunder into little pieces until finally you don’t recognize any part of it as being the prophecy of the great man of God, Isaiah the son of Amoz.
Now, why? The reason is very patent; it is very plain – because in the second part of Isaiah, Cyrus is called by name. The last verse of the forty-fourth chapter reads:
Thus saith of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.
And then the forty-fifth chapter:
Thus saith the Lord to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him . . . . I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name – Cyrus – am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel Mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known Me.
Never heard of Jehovah, but Jehovah knows him.
And I have called thee by thy name . . . though thou never heard of Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded thee though thou hast not known Me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside Me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
Now Isaiah lived from 750 BC to 700 BC, and Cyrus came into the world picture in 538 BC, two hundred years later. So the liberal theologian and the liberal professor, reading this in the Bible, says that there is no possibility that the same man wrote both sections of the book because it is impossible that God could have known Cyrus two hundred years hence. And they base their persuasion upon the impossibility of miracle, of miraculous revelation, the impossibility of prediction of prophecy, the impossibility of the supernatural. So they deny the authorship of the book to the great Isaiah whom we know as the son of Amoz [Isaiah 1:1].
Now, that same kind of rejection and unbelief is found throughout the Word of God. In Daniel, Daniel grew up under good King Josiah, and he was taken a captive into Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC [Jeremiah 3:12-44; Daniel 1:1, 3-6]. But these liberal theologians say that the Book of Daniel was a forgery written in 165 BC, almost five hundred years later. And why do they say that? Because there is in the Book of Daniel prophecy, foreknowledge, fore-outlining. The eleventh chapter, for example, of the Book of Daniel is a meticulous outline of the wars between the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucids in Syria [Daniel 11:2-45]. And they say God is incapable, it is impossible to the Almighty that He could know five hundred years hence of the conflicts between Egypt and Syria and Israel caught like a football in between. So they rule it out because to them miracle, supernatural is impossible.
Again, Moses: those same theologians – and they dominate the modern world – those same theologians say, “Moses lived in about 1450 BC, but Deuteronomy is a forgery written under good King Josiah in about 625 BC, oh, seven hundred years later. And Leviticus is a post-exilic priestly production, after the Babylonian captivity, after 598 BC. Moses never saw those books much less did he ever write them, but they were written hundreds and hundreds of years later.”
Now, why do they say that? Why does the modern theologian believe that? “Because,” they say, “it would take centuries for the Book of Leviticus to develop, and there is no such thing as God being able to hand down that priestly legislation from His own heart and mind. Miraculous revelation is impossible.” So they rule it out. And of course, you have prediction, prophecy in the Book of Deuteronomy, which they deny is possible to God and to man.
Now that is the background of the message this morning. In God’s books; miracle, supernatural is His signature. He signs His name: miracle. He signs His name: supernatural. And we live in the world of God’s libraries of books, all of them alike, whether it be this one, whether it be that one, whether it be the other one, they are all alike. We live in a world of miracle and supernatural. Look at the world around you. There is a rule of physics. There is an axiom of physics. There is a law of physics, and it goes like this: heat expands and it expands, and it expands. Heat always expands, it expands, it expands. And cold always contracts; it contracts, it contracts, it contracts. That is an axiom of physics. Heat always expands. Cold always contracts.
You don’t know that, Sheffield, down there where you have the pure ice and cold storage company. You don’t know how to run your business. I know how you run it better than you do because I know that law of physics. Heat expands and cold contracts. That’s a universal law of physics. But, the miraculous intervention of God! Water will contract as it gets colder, and it will contract, and it will contract, and it will contract, and it will contract, and it will contract, down to thirty-two degrees, and then a miraculous intervention! At thirty-two degrees, when water freezes, it expands, it expands, it expands, it expands. Why? That is an intervention of God that the world might exist! For if water contracted and contracted and contracted, as it got colder, then when it became ice, contracting, contracting, getting heavier and heavier, it would fall to the floor of the ocean, and our ocean at both poles would be solid oceans of ice, and the great life-giving currents that make possible life in the planet would be impossible; the intervention, miraculous of Almighty God: we live in a world of the supernatural.
There is a law of genetics. There is a law of biology, and it says every cell of every species has the same number of chromosomes in it, and in the process of mitosis, in the division of a cell, all of those chromosomes split right down the middle. And when the two cells are formed, there is the same number of chromosomes in this one as the same number of chromosomes in that one.
Now, if I say there are forty-eight chromosomes in the human cell, somebody will come up to me and say, “Now, pastor, that’s not true. There are forty-six chromosomes.” And if I say forty-six chromosomes in the human cell, somebody will come up and say, “Now, pastor, that’s not right, there are forty-eight.” So let’s just say there are forty-[six].
Every cell in your body, every one of them – and there are trillions of cells in your body – every one of them has forty-[six] chromosomes in them, and when those cells divide, such as you have a hurt in your hand, you cut your hand, and immediately those cells start building back and every one of them was a split, as the process of mitosis continues, they will have forty-six chromosomes in them.
That is! That is! until the miraculous intervention of God that the human species might continue, and God intervenes. In every female ovum there are twenty-[three] chromosomes – forty-six split in half, and in every male spermatozoon there are twenty-[three] chromosomes, just half of the number. And then when the ovum is fertilized by the spermatozoon, there are forty-[six] again, characteristics from the female mother, characteristics from the male father: the intervention, miraculous, of Almighty God! We live in a world of miracle.
Now, look at the world beneath us. I’ve just spoken of just two little tiny instances out of a billion of those that are around us. Now let’s look at the world beneath us. This is a law of medicine, of virology, of bacteriology – this is a universal law. Those little old tiny things have a tendency to multiply and to spread, and some of them become contagious; tuberculosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, typhoid. Ah, those horrible little things, they multiply, they divide, they’re contagious, and they’re everywhere!
You have them in your throat, and you get to a certain level in your resistance, you’ll have a sore throat and a cold and pneumonia and the Lord knows only what all. They’re always in us. Now, those little old things have a tendency to multiply. All right, let me ask you a question. Let me ask you a question. When an animal dies, it’s full of those things. It’s buried in the earth. And when a human being dies, he’s full of those things; he’s buried in the earth. Why isn’t the soil of the earth teeming with those horrible little germs: spirillum, bacterium, viruses?
For millions of years, the earth has received the dead bodies of the animals and the human beings who have died of those things. Why isn’t the earth full of them? When you walk on the earth, why isn’t it full of scarlet fever germs? And typhoid germs? And diphtheria germs? And poliomyelitis germs? And tuberculosis germs? You walk on them, why not?
Because God saw that if there wasn’t something done to kill those viruses and those germs, life would be impossible upon the earth; so God did something. And did you know, He did it in the beginning? It’s just now we discovered what it was. God put down there in that moist earth a little old thing you call penicillin, penicillin! And when the dead body full of those germs is buried in the soil of the earth, penicillin attacks it, and immediately the germs are destroyed, and the earth is full of virtue, and health, and life, and all of the fertility that gives birth to the plant life and that feeds the animal life. That is God. He is the God of the miracle. And wherever you see His work, that’s His signature, it’s supernatural.
Let us look now at the world within us. We’ve looked at the world around us. We’ve looked at the world beneath us. Let us look now at the world within us. There’s a rule of psychology, especially the behavioral school, behavioristic psychology. And of course, there certainly is the law of the sociologist, that we are the product of our environment. And so these criminologists and these sociologists – Gordon Shanklan – excuse every criminal that lives on the basis of, he is just the product of his environment. He hated his mama, or he hated his dad, or he was born down there in the ghetto, or he lived poor, or whatever it is.
May the Lord help some of us who were born and reared poor – we’re all supposed to be criminals! We all, you know, grew up, you know, without the advantages of life. So you go down to the court, and you go down to the judge, and you go down to the law books, and they are excused on the basis of they are not responsible. They never made any choice. They were brought up in a certain environment, and therefore, they are murderers, and rapists, and thieves, and robbers, and violent men! Well, that is what the psychologist says, and that’s what the sociologist says.
But does God say that? Does God say that? Ah, men are criminals, and rapists, and terrorists, and robbers, and thieves, and dangerous because of their choice on the inside of their hearts! They choose to be that way. It is a choice on their part. And the same man can choose by the miraculous intervention of God to be a regenerated saintly, devout disciple of the Lord Jesus. That’s God.
I baptized into the fellowship of our church a famous criminal. It came about like this: Mrs. Hattie Rankin Moore, listening to the pastor on the radio when she was sick, came to me after she was healed with her sister who took care of her, for Hattie Rankin Moore was well-to-do and has left her estate to our church. Being well-to-do, and her sister being a nurse, the sister took care of Mrs. Moore, and both of them came, and I baptized them into the fellowship of the church, this church.
Mrs. Moore was deeply interested in West Dallas, and over there in West Dallas, in the days of Bonnie Parker and Clyde [Barrow], there was a family associated with them by the name of Hamilton. And Raymond Hamilton, with those two desperados – Raymond Hamilton was captured and convicted and was electrocuted in Huntsville Penitentiary in Texas. Raymond Hamilton had a brother named Floyd Hamilton, and Floyd Hamilton was sentenced to life imprisonment in Alcatraz, the famous federal penitentiary in the Bay of San Francisco.
Hattie Rankin Moore gave her life to a ministry to those people in West Dallas, and she sat all night long by the side of the mother, Mrs. Hamilton, when Raymond, her son, was electrocuted in Huntsville, Texas.
Upon a day, Hattie Rankin Moore came to me and said, “I have been in contact with Floyd Hamilton. I’ve been writing him, and he’s been writing to me. I’ve been in contact, writing to Floyd Hamilton in Alcatraz.”
And she said, “I hear that you’re going to San Francisco to bring the closing message to the Southern Baptist Convention in that Golden Gate city.”
And she said, “For my sake, and for God’s sake, and for Floyd’s sake, would you go see him in Alcatraz?”
I said, “Mrs. Moore, I will.” And when I went out to San Francisco, I called the warden, and he said, “We would be happy to receive you.”
So I made my trip across the bay, across the water, to the Rock. And then after I was thoroughly searched and looked at through an X-ray machine, why, I went in one steel door and another steel door, and another steel door, and another steel door, and finally, I was locked into a little steel cubicle with a man that I saw for the first time, Floyd Hamilton.
I talked to the young fellow over an hour, and when I got through talking with him, we knelt down and prayed together, and giving me his hand he said, “The first thing I shall do if God ever liberates me from this prison, the first thing I shall do is go down the aisle in your church and publicly confess my faith in the Lord Jesus, and I will be baptized upon that confession of faith.”
As the years and years passed, he finally was pardoned, having been saved and an exemplary convict, and when he was pardoned and returned to Dallas, he came down that aisle, and I baptized him here in this baptistry. And from that day until this, Floyd Hamilton has been going from place to place, and town to town, and church to church, testifying to the grace of God, saving, forgiving in his life.
We live in a world of miracle all around us, beneath us, within us, and above us. There is a great Almighty up yonder in the sky on a throne in heaven, and He holds the destiny of the nations in His hand [Acts 17:26].
Look, there is a rule of history, and you’re coming more and more to see it repeated. There is a rule of history. Nations go through a cycle. They start out working, and they’re devout and devoted, and they are committed, and they support themselves, and they labor, and they struggle, and God blesses them. Now this is the great rule of history: then they become affluent and forget the great Creator who blesses them. Then they become pawns of the state, and they become parasites of a welfare program.
Then they disintegrate morally, inwardly, and finally revert back into slavery and dissolution. Now that is the rule of history, and you see it in the story of every nation under the sun, and you’re beginning to see it, the dissolution of America, inwardly corrupt, immoral, turning aside from its great commitment found in the lives of our forefathers, and more and more with our hands out, dependent upon the largesse, the welfare programs of the state.
All right. Finally, the rule of history says, into dissolution, into absolute dissolution, gone the way of the Assyrians, gone the way of the Babylonians, gone the way of the ancient kingdoms of the world. That’s the rule of history.
Then the miraculous intervention of God. In the thirty-seventh chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel stood at the head of a great valley filled with bones, and they were very dry, a valley of dead men’s bones [Ezekiel 37:1-2].
And the Lord God said to him, “Ezekiel, can these bones live?” [Ezekiel 37:3].
And Ezekiel replied, “I can’t conceive of it.”
And the Lord God said to Ezekiel, “Preach to them, preach to them, prophesy to them, preach to them!” [Ezekiel 37:4].
And Ezekiel says, “Preach to a valley of dry bones?”
“Yes!” says God. “Preach to them.”
[Ezekiel] raised his voice and preached.
And then God says, “And command the wind, the ruach, the Spirit of God, to indwell them.”
And they stood up, a great people and a great nation before the prophet Ezekiel.
And God said to him, “Ezekiel, that is My people, Israel” [Ezekiel 37:5-14].
As God said to Jeremiah, “As long as there is a sun to shine in the day and a moon to shine at night, so will Israel continue as a nation before Me” [Jeremiah 31:35-40].
And out of the grave of the nations of the world, Israel still lives, and has for thousands and thousands of years, and will to the great consummation of the age. That is the intervention of Almighty God.
And another one with us, “On this rock, on this rock, I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not katischuō – shall not have power to hold it down” [Matthew 16:18].
Every other relationship we make in life – every one of them – shall dissolve in death except the relationship we have in Jesus Christ. And out of the dust of the ground will He raise us to eternal glory; that is the power of Almighty God [1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].
My time is far spent. I must conclude. We live in a world of miracle. We live in a world of the supernatural, and in God’s library, every book that God has written is signed by that marvelous signature, miracle, supernatural. Whether it be the sun – s-u-n – that shines in the sky, or whether it be the Son – S-o-n – that shines in the Book, the light is the life of our souls and the hope of the world.
So, when I pick up the Bible and read here in Isaiah, where God called his name two hundred years before he was born, why, Lord, that’s just a small thing for You to do. That’s very little – that God should have called his name two hundred years before he was born – for God moves in miraculous grace and marvelous supernatural power among us, in us, around us, above us, every day of our lives. Oh, how precious and how beautiful it is to walk in the light of the Lord! [John 8:12; 1 John 1:7]. God’s blessing, enrichment, endowments upon us every step of the way.
Now we preached so long, on the first note of the first stanza, come. Make the decision now in your heart. In a moment when we stand to sing the appeal, be the first down that stairway or down that aisle, “Pastor, this is my family, and we all are coming today.” Or, “Pastor, this is my wife. The two of us are coming today.” Or just you, one someone you, answering the call of God with your life. To be baptized, to accept the Lord as Savior, to put your life in the fellowship of this dear church, as the Holy Spirit shall press the appeal to your heart, make the decision now. And when you stand up, stand up answering with your life: “Here I am, pastor, I make it now.” Do it, while we stand and while we sing.