Creation is more than a cute story in the first two chapters of Genesis. I am still formulating thoughts on this, but I figured I’d put them out there — half-baked though they may be — and I’d love to hear you folks chime in. (P.S., No, this is not the “mystery study subject”… I’m getting ready to introduce that soon, but not quite yet.)
Over the 40-day fast, I spent a lot of time reading through Isaiah 40-66. I didn’t do much “studying” in the sense of getting out commentaries and such, just a ton of reading and a fair bit of journaling. As I was reading through, I noticed how much God refers to His acts of creation. For instance:
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? …Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, And are counted as the small dust on the scales; Look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing. …Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:12-15, 26)
Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk on it… (Isaiah 42:5)
Thus says the LORD, The Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: “Ask Me of things to come concerning My sons; And concerning the work of My hands, you command Me. I have made the earth, And created man on it. I–My hands–stretched out the heavens, And all their host I have commanded. (Isaiah 45:11-12)
I haven’t even listed all of the creation references in this section. I haven’t even come close. But I have to point out one of my favorite chapters, Isaiah 44. I won’t post the whole thing here, but I will give a quick summary. In verses 1-8, God promises to pour out His Spirit upon Israel. Interestingly enough, the chapter opens with the Lord saying “Thus says the LORD who made you and formed you from the womb…” (v. 2). This section winds up with God declaring that there is none other but Him.
Verses 9-20 put forth a very ironic picture. In great detail, Isaiah describes the work of some craftsmen, hard at work making their idols. First we see a blacksmith who labors over hot metal, pounding it into shape. He gets dehydrated and weary in the process. Next we see a carpenter carving an idol for himself out of wood. But the idol didn’t just originate with that block of wood. First it was a tree that someone planted and watered. Then it was chopped down. The man cooked a meal over one half of the wood, and then bowed down to the other half as if it were a god. The picture is truly ludicrous. What makes the carved image any more sacred than the firewood? Who would bow down to something that their own hands had made?
The Lord’s response at the end of the chapter is this:
Thus says the LORD, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: I am the LORD, who makes all things, who stretches out the heavens all alone, who spreads abroad the earth by Myself; who frustrates the signs of the babblers, and drives diviners mad; who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness; who confirms the word of His servant, and performs the counsel of His messengers; who says to Jerusalem, ‘You shall be inhabited,’ to the cities of Judah, ‘You shall be built,’ and I will raise up her waste places… (Isaiah 44:24-28 )
Idols are merely things that are made. God is the Maker of all things. Any questions? (For another great passage, you can see a similar contrast drawn in Isaiah 46.) This section continually points to Creation as uncontestable proof that the Lord is the real God. The same is said in Psalm 96:5; “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the LORD made the heavens.” Idols can’t make anything. God made the heavens. And there ends the argument.
Looking at some other places in the Word, we see that God answers Job out of the whirlwind with proclamations of His greatness as Maker and Lord of all creation (Job 38-41). There are too many great verses in this section to post them all here, but I love the way it opens:
“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, ‘This far you may come, but no farther, and here your proud waves must stop!’ Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?…” (Job 38:4-12)
Looking in the New Testament, we see that Creation continues to be a major piece of the revelation of God. When the New Testament writers were proclaiming the deity of Jesus, they often took it straight back to Genesis 1. Jesus was there. He was actively involved. In fact, nothing was made without Him (see John 1:3; 1Cor 8:6; Eph 3:9; Col 1:16-17; Heb 1:2). Therefore, it could be rightly said that “…the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1). In the book of Acts, when the apostles were praying for the Lord to grant them boldness in the face of opposition, they appealed to Him as the one “who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them” (Acts 4:24).
The more I’ve looked at this, the more it seems obvious to me that one of the major revelations of God in Scripture is that of Creator. Compoud that with the fact that the Book ends with the Lord renewing the earth — instituting a new creation, a new heavens and earth — and I think we need to take Genesis 1 and 2 a little more seriously than we generally do.
I can’t help but wonder if that is why there is such a rising animosity against the doctrine of a literal, six-day creation. Secular science becomes nearly rabid when the subject is breached, and many believers bow to the pressure of that and are embarrassed to talk about it. Either we strike some kind of happy medium where we try to reconcile the Genesis account with the secular idea of evolution, we brush aside Genesis 1 and 2 as figurative poetry that was never really intended to reflect the true origins of the universe, or we just kind of leave it be, since it seemingly doesn’t matter as much as other points of doctrine and we’d rather not look like backwards-thinking idiots.
I’m not really trying to make a point about “young earth vs. old earth” or “literal creation week vs. figurative creation week”. I’m just musing that perhaps we have shot ourselves in the foot by distancing ourselves from the creative work of God. If we don’t embrace the story of Creation, how will we encounter God as Creator? Of course it’s true that the creative work of God is couched in poetic language (especially in the Psalms and Prophets), but that doesn’t mean it’s a lightweight idea. The Lord didn’t include poetry in the Bible just because it makes for entertaining reading. There is something huge here that He is saying about Himself. This is something terrifically valuable that we can’t afford to dust under the rug to avoid being laughed at or pegged as a religious kook by our oh-so-enlightened secular society. We need to know the God of Creation.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I haven’t drawn out too much yet in the way of application, but I’m fascinated by how often God appeals to the story of creation in Scripture. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. And that’s something which is very dear to His heart.