"Creation": No. 1 - Introductory

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S. L. Jacob
No. 1. Introductory
God alone is Creator, we are, and shall always be, His creatures; notwithstanding the nearer and more blessed links formed by redemption. Moreover we have special links with the particular creation of which Adam was made head. The Holy Scriptures begin with describing this creation, and in the closing book of Revelation when God takes up His rights, it is as the Creator that He is manifested and worshipped.
The allusions to God as Creator, and to His creatorial works, are very frequent in Scripture, and often most strongly emphasized. For examples of this, read Isaiah 40 and the last five Psalms. These foreshadow the day when every created thing will burst into praise, and not till then will the purpose of this creation be fulfilled.
Seeing that these things cannot be gainsaid, and that even Redemption is based upon God’s right as Creator (for only He who created can have the right to redeem), we do well to consider:
(1) God’s object in this creation;
(2) Our proper attitude towards God as Creator, and towards creation in general; and
(3) How God’s object will be fulfilled.
God’s Object in This Creation
God’s object is very clear: He created all things, and He did this for His own pleasure (Rev. 4:11). To remember this will be a great help.
It is generally assumed that all creation, animate and inanimate, over which man has dominion, was intended for man’s benefit only, but this is a mistake. For man’s benefit indeed all these things were created, but only subordinately to their being for God’s pleasure. God must come first, and be pre-eminent in everything. The olive tree’s fatness is that whereby God and man are honored, and the juice of the vine is that which cheereth God and man” (Judg. 9:9-13).
But how can God have pleasure in creation? God is a Spirit, He dwells in the light which none can approach unto; none hath seen nor can see Him, and to Him belong honor and power everlasting. Matter, as such, cannot please Him. He delighteth not in the strength of the horse, He taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man “(Psa. 147:10). He takes pleasure in spiritual things, or in that which serves spiritual ends. Therefore, if He has pleasure in creation, it is because creation is made subservient to such ends.
Every diligent student of the Scriptures is aware that these writings are full of pictures, that they abound in types and shadows, in parables and allegories, in visions and revelations, in figures and metaphors. “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter” (Prov. 25:2). In very truth there is, comparatively speaking, little else in Scripture. What is Psalm 78? It is history, but that history is a parable (see verse 2) illustrating the administration of the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 13:35). And so also all history divinely recorded is a parable, for “these things happened unto them for types: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world (ages) are come” (1 Cor. 10:11).
What mean the colors, the materials, the arrangements, the measurements of the tabernacle and of the temple? Is the attention to be concentrated on the things themselves and their material beauty, or on the spiritual significance only? Surely the latter.
Every word of God is full of spirit and life, and through these material types He would communicate spiritual things to us.
It is true that, “that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; afterward that which is spiritual;” but it is equally true that God had always the spiritual before Him, and the natural was only the means of reaching the spiritual.
That man’s conception of God must be poor indeed, who thinks that it was when the first Adam fell, that He planned the last Adam. God ever had the last Adam before Him, and though the first Adam preceded the last in order of manifestation, yet the last was ever the first in the mind, and thought, and purpose of God. It will be evident then, that God must have made all things which are visible, for the express purpose of illustrating the invisible and spiritual world.
The heathen have no direct revelation from God, yet it is written, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them for God hath sheaved it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:19, 20).
And if this be true of the heathen in their darkness, how much more is it true of us who have the key of all knowledge in Christ. If the heathen should see the invisible in the visible, and through them learn God’s power and Godhead, what wealth of illustration must there be stored up in creation for those who have the anointed eye to see aright.
To this agrees Psalm 29, where it is written, “In His temple every whit of it uttereth glory” (see margin). For those who are in the sanctuary, the secret of God’s presence, the whole created world speaks of the glory of God, it displays His character, for the subject of the psalm is the majesty of God as seen in nature.
In the case of Job it is remarkable that though Elihu, God’s messenger, spoke to him about the finding of a ransom and of deliverance from the pit, yet God spoke about creation, (this being His special testimony to men in that day), and when He had finished, then Job said, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5-6). What caused this? Evidently the setting forth of the invisible God in that which He created, for there is a spiritual teaching behind the descriptions of created animals or things, skewing that God was above all, and able to bring low and abase even the mighty and the proud (Job 40:12-14).
God often alludes to the animal world as having a voice for man. The ox knoweth its owner, and the ass its master’s crib: “but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider” (Isa. 1:3). See also Jer. 8:7.
How constantly our Lord turned to created things to illustrate spiritual things. The sparrows, the lilies, the corn of the earth, and the fish of the sea were all pressed into His ministry-and never man spoke like this Man. To Him everything spoke of the ways of God, His Father, and He would have us to listen to these myriad voices which minister such comfort to the anointed ear.
Our Proper Attitude Towards God As Creator and Towards Creation
God must have sovereign rights over all creation, and the creature can never be independent of the Creator. In the 104th psalm (the psalm of true science), the Lord is clearly set forth as the Creator and sustainer of all things in life. “The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.” “These all wait upon Thee: that Thou mayest give them their meat in due season. That Thou givest them they gather: Thou openest Thine hand, they are filled with good. Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled: Thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust. Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou renewest the face of the earth.” He who does these things is the living God, the Preserver (N.T.) of all men, and especially of those who believe (1 Tim. 4:10).
Whatever else therefore may come in, we must ever remember that all that man has, is the gift of God, and he is responsible to God, because He is Creator and Preserver. This responsibility can never be set aside; do what man will, it must remain, and woe be to him who refuses it, or allows any man, or anything, to come between God and his soul. On the other hand, no man, be he heathen or otherwise, ever seeks God in vain (Heb. 11:6). Well would it be for men, did they know no more, to take up the cry “But now, O Lord, Thou art our Father; we are the clay, and Thou our potter; and we all are the work of Thy hand” (Isa. 64:8).
But as Christians, we have also other relationships with God. We have been redeemed from our fallen condition, and can enter into the old relationships in a way impossible to those who have not received the full revelation of God in Christ. We do not make light of God as Creator, because we know Him as Redeemer on the contrary, we delightedly own His claims; and if we suffer according to the will of God, we commit the keeping of our souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. (1 Peter 4:19).
But we are part of creation, we are in touch with it all day long, it is in a myriad ways before us every moment. What should be our attitude towards it? In the early centuries of the history of the church on earth, the idea was most prevalent that matter was more or less evil, and the more the Christian could abstract himself from all created things, the better. This was the era of the ascetics. Monasteries and nunneries abounded. Numbers of Christians lived in deserts and in caves; and the greater the austerities that were endured, the greater the supposed sanctity that was imparted. This was, however, but the presentation of flesh to God, and was of no value, but rather very hurtful (Col. 2:20).
Now, the swing of the pendulum has gone far in the other direction. It is a grossly material age, inventions of all sorts minister to the delight of the flesh and of the eye; the mind of man is exalted; his wants and desires are many. There is a constant hustle of work or pleasure seeking, very little time for quiet meditation, and little dwelling in the presence chamber of God, where the voice of Christ can be plainly heard, Now the believer’s true attitude towards creation is very different from either of these ideas. He should be characterized by godliness (or piety), and his attitude should be that set forth in the 1st Epistle to Timothy, where he is exhorted to have love out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfeigned; to continue in prayers, thanksgiving, and intercessions for all men; whilst the woman is to be modestly appareled, and to show good works.
There is nothing ascetic about the real Christian, he is marked by cheerfulness. He accepts God’s mercies without fear, whether His mercies in the marriage state, or in created things. He knows that every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. For the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, and God has given us richly all things to enjoy. If, however, he knows how to abound, he knows also how to be abased; having food and raiment he is content. He does not love money, but is ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up a good foundation against the time to come, in order to lay hold on that which is really life. Therefore he finds his enjoyment in the activities of love rather than in self-indulgence.
There is a wonderful unity, yet marvelous diversity in creation. With men a multitude of things are produced to the same pattern, but all God’s works are diverse. This is true of all created things, from a grain of sand to the mighty orbs that glitter in space; though there may be a family likeness, there are no duplicates. The physical world in this respect is also figurative of the spiritual. There are “diversities of gifts,” there are “differences of administrations,” there are “diversities of operations,” but “the same Spirit,... the same Lord,... the same God which worketh all in all” (1 Cor., 12:4, 5, 6).
It would be well if Christians learned this lesson, for then would cease the effort to force all into the same mold; there would be the glad recognition of the varied workings of God for the good of the “one body;” and that beautiful unity in diversity, which is the product of the eternal wisdom of God, would not be marred by the folly of men.
The great relationships of life which God has ordained in connection with this creation, are full of instruction. These are three in number: Parent and child, husband and wife, brother and brother; typifying for us the divine relationships that exist between (I) God the Father and all those who are His sons by faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26); (2) Christ, the Bridegroom, and the Church which is His body (Eph. 5:32); and (3) “ those whom the Lord is “not ashamed to call brethren” (Heb. 2:11).
It was evidently God’s intention that the spirit of these family relationships should be maintained in the Church; but, alas! how men have failed in this; instead of oneness maintained in the meekness and gentleness of Christ, Christians have become divided into a number of hostile camps; and instead of a family full of love, covering, for the Father’s name sake, the frailties and failures of others, there seems often a positive delight in exposing and exaggerating these, and a desire and determination to be rid of some for whom we should be prepared to lay down our lives (1 John 3:16), simply because they cannot pronounce our shibboleth, or work according to our methods.
Now a Christian must be trained in the family, if he is to be of use in the Church; “for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?” (1 Tim. 3:5). (Note the change to the gentler word when the Church is in question).
The ignoring of this most important principle has wrought much disaster in the Church; men whose houses are disorderly, have brought ruin and trouble into the midst of the Church by attempting, in that more important sphere, a rule for which failure in their own houses had proved their incompetency.
How God’s Object in Creation Will Be Fulfilled
God cannot fail. His purpose to have pleasure in all creation must therefore be fulfilled; all things must accomplish the spiritual ends for which they were created, and these spiritual ends are that they may speak, by way of illustration, of God and His ways in Christ.
The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; but it will be delivered out of the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God; for the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God (Rom. 8:19-22).
The animal creation is in pain and grief by reason of sin, and God sees its suffering and counts, its sighs, as looking forward to the day of redemption and glory that is coming.
But the whole creation is involved in the ruin, inanimate at well as animate, and the whole is to share in the liberty of the glory of the children of God. Liberty is freedom to do the will of God. Glory is the display of God in character and ways; and creation is looked upon by God as longing (though of course not intelligently so), for the time when it will all fulfill God’s pleasure, and delight His heart, by showing forth His ways in a manner that it cannot do now, blotted and marred as it is by sin.
Then will Psalm 148 be literally fulfilled. Sun, moon, stars and waters, fire and hail, snow and vapors, mountains and hills, fruitful trees and all cedars, as well as animate creation, even to the smallest insect, will all tell forth the praises of God in that manner for which they were originally created; and the Creator will then reach for the first time His desired object in every single thing that He has created.
This will all be brought about by and through Christ. He is the Creator for “by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (or subsist)” (Col. 1:16-17).
But sin having marred all creation, He who is the Creator has become the Reconciler (Col. 1:20). By the blood of His cross peace has been made — on this is based the effectuation of reconciliation, now, in respect to Christians (who are already reconciled), and, by and bye, in respect to all things both in earth and heaven.
Then will God find His pleasure in all creation, and all things will fulfill His will. This passage agrees, therefore, with the others we have been considering before. Ephesians 1:9, 10, is also on the same lines. The whole universe is to share in the blessings of reconciliation as typified by the tabernacle, first sprinkled with blood and then anointed with oil.
Then will all that God hath spoken by the mouth of His holy prophets since the world began find fulfillment, and He will have the satisfaction of all His desires in all creation. Israel will be a righteous people keeping the truth, the nations will all be blessed under the gracious sway of Christ carried out through the heavenly city above, and Jerusalem on the earth, and every heart will throb with delight to see Christ exalted and God glorified by everybody and everything which God has made.
Then when this creation has served its purpose it shall be set aside, for it is written, “Thou’ Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine hands: They shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail” (Heb. 1:10-12).
Then will all creation be altered to suit the new condition of the eternal state; for there will then be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness; and for that a new pictorial, which we cannot understand now, will be required. So the present will be burnt up, and all will take new shape for the ages upon ages yet to come. The Church, however, will abide in its glorious connection with Christ; will ever be inexpressibly near and dear to His heart; and will have the first place in all the glories displayed in creation in that day, as well as intimate and secret relations with Christ that no created intelligence will share.
In the meantime may we learn how to pass through this world as sent into it, yet preserved from its evil influences; abiding in Christ, dwelling in the sanctuary, yet able to shed the radiance of Christ in all the paths in which we tread and on all we meet; and, being in Christ’s secret, may everything have a voice to us speaking of God’s glory and of His ways in Christ.