The Glory of God in Creation
Dr. K. G. Jose
Glory refers to the reputation of a person. It is that which is intrinsically impressive in the being of God. Glory is the weight and uniqueness of the actions of God. Personality in man is limited, in God it is infinite. In His ordering is a mathematician and artist. God is orderly and full of beauty. The universe was made to fit together and to have meaning. In Ex. 33:18ff Moses expressed his desire to see the glory of God. And God said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you” (Ex. 33:19a). Glory is the goodness of God.
Humans do not have the ability to search and comprehend the glory of God and we depend on the self-revelation of God. There is an aspect of hiddenness in the glory of God. The glory of God is always surrounded by a cloud (Ex. 24:15ff; 40:34ff). The cloud covers the tent and glory of God fills the interior. Glory is a radiant fiery substance. There proceeds from it fire which consumes the awaiting sacrifice. After speaking with God, Moses has a radiance of face which dazzles the Israelites. After each encounter, each worship, we are improved with glory on us. Cloud is a meteorological phenomenon while glory is manifestation of God.
The psalmist in Psalms 63:2 prays for a theophany in sanctuary by which to experience the glory of God. There is a frequent demand to give God glory (Jer. 13:16; Ps. 29:1; 96:7; 115:1) to recognize the import of His deity.
Creation and History
Creation shows no other power in the universe but Yahweh. The foundation of God’s control of history is creation. This is His cosmos. The God who created this world controls the history of the world. The creator God controls the nature. Everything in nature and history depends on God. There is no natural cause and effect worth noting. Unless God helps, nothing can be done. Therefore, there is no difference between natural and supernatural. Nothing on earth without the act of heaven. Our way of looking at natural and those of divine intervention are heretical to Israel. “There could be no such thing as intervening, because to intervene in something it must be to some extend independent of the one intervening”. One cannot speak of a teacher’s intervention into a course that he is teaching.
If God is the creator nothing can veto His purpose. The work of God gave shape to us and His voice to the world around us. God made me and the world around for me. God can work together whatever is best for me. Therefore, as long as we are faithful, we need have no fear of circumstances. God can make conditions work together to finish whatever is the best that He means to create in us. Whatever is waste and void His Spirit moves creatively according to a holy purpose which nothing can be strong enough to turn aside. When life seems empty within, darkness seems to descent, the brooding Spirit has not vanished from us.
The natural order exists only because God is actively upholding it. To say ‘God intervenes in natural order’ is meaningless. The natural laws of the world are order set by God and maintained by Him. Making something is a onetime act. But creation is a perpetual activity. He is the Originator, Preserver, and Provider of creation. Chaos still threatens the world from all sides, natural, social, ethnic, and political. It is God’s move that hinder such forces and restrict.
Jeremiah 27:5 is clear and comprehensive statement of creation, the absolute power of God over history as Creator, “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me”. The shaping of history is also creation. Providence of God is a second creation.
In the beginning is not the beginning of God. It is not the beginning of everything, but the beginning of time and of history. Technology reduced time, travel time, cooking time, cleaning time; still we need time to pray. Time, which our culture keeps trying to save has paradoxically, become a meaningless notion. We have saved so much of it that it has no true definition. Who are we saving time for? It must be for the important things of life. Therefore, control and redeem time.
Creation and Redemption
The doctrine of creation in the Bible is very much connected to redemption. It is the redeemed who proclaim the creed, ‘God the Creator ….” The evil in the world is not fate, but a contradiction of God’s purpose and so can be redeemed. The miserable condition of humanity is not any defect of creative work of God. The Bible concludes with New Creation in Jesus Christ. The whole creation is ever dependent on the Creator. The creator God prepared a path in Red Sea (Ex. 15:21), for the redeemed Israel and preserved in the wilderness by mighty provisions, and gave victory over enemies making stars to fight (Jud. 5:20-21). God’s glory He will not give to another (Isa 42:8). The correlation of Creation and Redemption are well presented in Isa. 40-66. The whole task of Is 40-66 is to prepare the way to reveal God’s glory (Isa. 40:5).
The Redeemed people of God has a redemptive relationship with the creation. Doctrine of creation is a religious affirmation and our residence on this earth is God’s provision (Isa. 45:18). Creation is for a redemption, showing relationship between humanity and God. Here we find the meaning of our existence (Ps. 73:23-26).
Since the universe began in God’s purpose, all existence can be viewed not tragically, but with trust: “This is my Father’s world”. Creation is to let me live and grow. Rest is the main goal of creation (Gen. 2:1-2). God has been working to achieve a rest. It is the seventh day that is blessed and sanctified, which suggests the significance of the creation. World is a temple. Sabbath purpose as rest-worship.
The divine contemplation of His creative work, “God saw that it was good”, everything complete as God intended. Everything in subordination to the Creator. Evil has no natural place in the universe. Rest is needed not because of weariness. The rest should be religious. Why should God take six days to create, God can do it in a moment. To show that work is result of deliberate purpose. Rest is memorial of past labor; remember God the creator.
Paradise with its calm, pure beauty is gone, but Sabbath is not passed away. It has accompanied man in his sorrows, his joys. ‘Holiness to the Lord’, is written upon Sabbath by the finger of the Creator. It is to consider the wondrous work of creation. All my work is part of His creation. Sabbath is my response. Sabbath was made in the paradise. It was revived in the wilderness. The mind and body are invigorated in the presence of God. The curse of work is suspended. Finished redemption is then celebrated. The means of grace enjoyed. The heavenly rest is anticipated. Now we begin the week with Sabbath. No man can for any length of time pursue work without mental and bodily injury or insanity; Sabbath is a blessing. In the silence of the night gets repair. One portion of it cannot be called into incessant activity without the risk of injury. Its different regions, devoted to different functions, must have their separate times of rest. The excitement of one part must be coincident with a pause in the action of another. Mind, worn out with one thing turns to another, and its physical excitement is followed by physical repose.
Creation and Nature
Humans are set in a physical environment far vaster than themselves. The forces and elements of nature are Yahweh’s minions, not His essence. In other religions deity is associated with nature. There is no divine quality in nature. The creature remains basically different from the Creator ever.
He is the Lord of earth (Pss. 24:1). Nothing in creation should be glorified, but points to the glory of the Creator, “Heavens declare the glory of God” (Pss. 19:1). Glory is an element belongs to the higher heavenly regions. The heavenly bodies are not deities that control human destiny but instrument of God to control seasons (Gen. 1:14-19). The Creator God has provided a time for every aspect of human life. There is a season for everything (Eccl. 3:1-8). Creation inspires to worship God (Pss.104:24). Creation has a lot of mystery which God alone knows (Job. 38).
This is not mother earth that give all but God’s command to produce vegetation and animals (Gen. 1:11-12, 24-25). Future messianic salvation will be marked by a flowering of the desert (Isa. 35:1-2). The wilderness awaits blessings of God. This universe is not governed by its own law but a God who created and sustain it for His will (Job. 38:33). God has even a covenant with the day and night that they also change at His interference “Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon” (Joshn 10:12, 13).
Creation by Word
The Hebrew word for Creation, ‘bara’ occurs 48 times and takes only God as its subject; characteristically divine activity. This verb is never used where materials are mentioned for creation. Man was created with materials, from the dust of the earth, but still it was bara, to show that man is not mere dust but a unique creation of God. Though he was created from earth, he was created in His image, and so offspring and kin of God. The creation concerns bringing heaven and earth into existence and focuses on operation through assignment of roles and functions. God brought cosmos into operation with its roles and functions. God guarantees order, nothing left to accident or chance.
Empty, dark, and void situation is awaiting God’s call to light and life. light is God’s first blessing. Earth is a distinct creation of God. God created the earth not as a waste. God said, nine times, and after each saying things happened. Word of God creates. God’s word is not a sound but an act, an event focused on a result, “So shall my word be that goes out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). Word given by God can overthrow and build, “I have set my words in thy mouth …to root out, and to pull down, … to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:9-10).
God commands and in obedience to His command creation takes place (Pss. 33:9). The Word of creation is the command. Word is the expression of one who wills and acts consciously.
The absolute sovereignty of God is evident in creation. Every creation is for a specific task under the Creator. The Creator approves when creation corresponds to His intention, “it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). Creation remind humans on the goodness of God which leads to praise the Creator.
Formless and void is the starting point, void is not made. God created, causing to become, it is energy causes to become. Intelligence of the Almighty God creates, blind force does not create anything. Force needs intelligence to create, and the mastery of volition. Thus, there is energy, intelligence and will behind the creation.
Creation of Humanity
God created man and woman in God’s own image. It refers to the quality of humans; they are the top class in creation as they alone receive God’s image and likeness (Gen. 1:27). Humans are the climax of God’s creation. Man is honored by the breath of God into his nostrils (Gen. 2:7). God came down and stood face to face with man to blow into his nostrils. Man is created to have intimate fellowship with God. God gave authority and glory to man (Gen. 2:20; Ps 8). He is the only creature who can answer God, either in defiance or in trust. Although all God’s creatures are summoned to praise him, man is the only creature in whom praise can become articulate. We articulate praises and hymns to proclaim God’s glory. Human life is made for conversation with God, for a dialogue in I-Thou relationship (Is. 43:21).
Image of God confers us dignity, entrusts with responsibility, implants us with certain potential, to mirror our creator. Our capacity to be godlike impacts our view of self. Our aspiration is to be Godlike, and in that goal, we find our purpose. We live in a goal-oriented society.
Educators talk of measurable outcome, there are many important outcomes that cannot be measured. But if they cannot be measured, they get left off the list of targeted outcomes. ‘Be ye holy as I am holy’ is the measurable outcome (Phil. 2:5; Eph. 5:1).
When God created body from earth, body is far greater than dust. Human work cannot exceed the matter itself. In an over cared body there ever dwells a neglected soul. The life of man consisting in the union of the soul with the body, hath but a very weak foundation. The life of man is only by his soul.
Humbling origin of body-this is most humbling. It was not formed of heavenly matter. When we reach heaven, it is a heavenly body. Body is not formed of the matter or radiant sun, or the sparkling stars, nor the most precious jewels; but of vile dust which is trodden under foot.
Only humans have the life of an intelligent soul. Life is to be measured by action, not time; a man may die old at 30, and young at 80; the one lives after death, the other perished before he died. Man is a link between the material and the spiritual; his is a compound nature.
Creation and Eschatology
The glory of God is also the religious hope of eschatological expectation. The vision of prophet Isaiah is that the “Whole earth is full of the glory of Yahweh” (Isa. 6:3). Life began in goodness, they can go forward into it with courage and expectation. Creation is not a finished story. As there was the beginning in God, there can be new beginnings. Creation also has a hope toward the final end. “In the beginning God” also has “In the end God”. The purpose of history is grounded in the will of the Creator. Creation is fundamentally an eschatological doctrine. In the beginning God expects in the end God. No more sea and night is the culmination (Rev. 21:1 and 22:5). If men can trust that life began in goodness; evil in the world is not fate; it is a contradiction to His purpose. You will not leave us in dust, not made to die.
Birds follow their homing instincts, but man’s instinct is wrong (Jer. 8:7). Satan’s rule lasts only as long as men are deceived by him; and in the last day, when God’s victory is complete, Satan too will be destroyed. The goal of history will be a return to the beginning, not as a historic cycle, but the original intention of the Creator
let me conclude with the poem of Elizabeth Browning:
Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.