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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

God is more important than his creation (Genesis 1)

The Book of Genesis begins with the One who is the cause of all else. God has no beginning, but everything else does. Genesis 1 tells us how he brought the universe into existence and gives it one verse before focussing on what he did on the earth during the week of creation.

The writer to the Hebrews tells us in 11:3 that ‘by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible’. This does not mean that we look at evidences for the hand of the Creator and then believe that he was involved. No doubt, there is a place for looking at such evidences, but what the writer means is that we accept as true what God says in his Word about the method of creation. 

God speaks to us in a twofold manner concerning creation. First, he speaks through the creation. Psalm 19:1-2 tells us that ‘the heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.’ Paul, in Romans 1:19-20, writes: ‘For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.’ But this form of divine revelation is limited, because it does not tell us about God’s mercy, about his love for sinners who have rebelled against him.

Second, God speaks about the creation in his Word. This is what he does in Genesis 1 and 2. He tells us how he brought it into existence. We are no longer listening to creation speaking of the Creator, but of the Creator speaking of his creation. By faith, we affirm that what he says is true and rest upon it. This response of faith was expressed well by Robert Candlish: ‘But now, God speaks, and I am dumb. He opens his mouth, and I hold my peace. I bid my busy, speculative soul be quiet. I am still, and know that it is God. I now at once recognise a real and living Person, beyond and above myself. I take my station humbly, submissively at his feet. I learn of him. And what he yells me now, in the way of direct personal communication from himself to me, has a weight and vivid reality infinitely surpassing all that mere deductions from the closest reasoning could ever have.’

When we read the first two chapters in Genesis, we should recognise that we are not reading scientific descriptions of the creation of the universe. This is not to say that God did not take seven days to complete the original work of creation. Moses, in the Decalogue in Exodus 20, makes it clear that the ordinary human cycle of six days for work and one day of rest follows the divine pattern set in Genesis 1 and there is no biblical reason for thinking that the days in Genesis 1 are not literal days. Nevertheless, to treat the chapter as if its main focus was the number of days is to miss the fact that it is a chapter about God. Perhaps you would like to read the chapter and see what it says about God.

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