March 8, 2010

Reflecting on the Bible – Part 2 – Genesis 1 and God

Genesis 1 and God

The first and most important thing we can learn about creation from the Bible is what it tells us about God himself. We read in Psalm 19:1-2 that the glory of God is proclaimed in all of creation. What is creation proclaiming about God?

  • He is there, eternal and powerful. It is worth noting that the Bible never attempts to argue for God’s existence. His existence is axiomatic in a very real sense, it is a self-evident truth. Romans 1:19-20 declares that through the things God has made, his eternal power and divine nature are clearly seen – so much so that those who behold this creation and yet refuse to worship him with praise and thanksgiving are said to be without excuse. How can you stand and look out onto the ocean without a sense of awe? Or look over a precipice at the Grand Canyon and not be amazed? Or peer into the expanse of the galaxies, knowing that you can see stars at incomprehensible distances but are only beholding a tiny fraction of the universe, and not be filled with wonder? Likewise, how can you look into an electron microscope and see the incredible complexity and activity of the smallest organisms and not be fascinated? Or consider the findings of quantum physics and not tremble? All of these things trigger in us the built-in and unquenchable desire for worship and should point us to their Creator, bringing us to our knees in humble adoration.
  • He is incomparably wise. The fact that this universe, in all its complexity and intricate detail, was designed and created by God is a testimony to his wisdom. In Proverbs 8:22-30, Wisdom personified proclaims how God possessed her at the beginning of his work of creation and that she was present during the whole process. This should always be in our mind whenever we feel drawn to question the way God has done something, or to doubt whether obedience to his command in a specific matter is really the best way. In the book of Job, the first 35 chapters are a series of dialogues in which Job seeks to bring an indictment against God for the way he has dealt with Job. God’s first response is not to defend himself to Job, but to remind him what he already knows (Job 28:22-28), namely, that true wisdom is found in God alone. He does this by asking Job if he too was around when God laid the foundations of the world (Job 38:4-11). The question itself serves to contrast God’s perfect knowledge with Job’s lack of it, and to point out the ridiculousness of the creature contending with his Creator. A similar tone is struck in Isaiah 40, where God proclaims his incomparable greatness, including his wisdom in creation (Isa 40:13-26).
  • He is distinct from his creation and not dependant on it. God’s existed before creation and is separate from it. Before God created, there was nothing but him, and everything that exists does so because he spoke it into existence. In Acts 17:24-25, Paul declares that the God who made the universe needs nothing from it. He doesn’t depend on his creatures for anything, but we depend on him for everything. Any view of God that leaves him dependant on his creatures for happiness or fulfillment is deficient. Likewise, any view that fails to distinguish God from his creation is deficient. This contradicts several worldviews which are common today, including materialism (the material world is all there is - no God), pantheism (the world is God, in whole or in part), and dualism (the world is distinct from and co-eternal with God).
  • The fact that God is creator of all things makes him worthy of worship. Why should we worship God? When contemplating God’s character and all of his works, there are many things that can and should cause us to worship him. However, the most frequently cited reason why God should be worshipped is the fact that he created all things, including us. This is universally true, and therefore the obligation to worship is universal. The psalmist exhorts all the inhabitants of the world to fear the LORD, and to stand in awe of him. Why? Because he spoke the universe into being by his mighty word (Psa. 33:6-9). In the book of Revelation, the 24 elders worshipping before the throne sing this chorus:

    Worthy are you, our Lord and God,

    To receive glory and honor and power,
    for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.
    (Rev. 4:11)

    God doesn’t need to do anything to become worthy of our worship. His very existence as our creator makes him worthy.
  • Jesus Christ is the Word of God, which brought the universe into being. The mystery of the Trinity is at work in the creation of the universe itself. The eternal Word of God, who is God, and who is the Son of God the Father, prior to becoming flesh and dwelling as the son of a carpenter in Galilee, brought the universe into being (John 1:1-3; Heb. 1:10-12). There is a fellowship and a love within the Godhead that precedes any created thing (John 17:5) and it is out of this love that creation takes place. All things were made by Christ and for Christ (Col. 1:15-16). All of our thoughts about Jesus Christ should be framed by this understanding. All of the things we spoke about the Creator, we speak about Christ, and all of the worship we owe to our Creator, we owe to Christ.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

Excellent article Jacob! I can't wait to read the other parts!