Over our past year of blogging, we’ve covered a litany of areas where there seem to be some pretty heavy walls and divides between Millennials and other generations (Boomers, Generation X, Generation Z, etc.). However, once in awhile, we find a place where the various generations stand pretty united. I believe I’ve uncovered such an area of union: we’ve all been royally screwed.
This could be taken to mean many things, but let me elaborate. In reflection on one of the most important accounts of Scripture, I’ve found this account has for several generations been co-opted by others in American Christianity. In such, it’s been stripped of much of its wonder and relegated to little more than a battleground for endless bickering. The afflicted account I refer to is none other than Creation.
This reality is especially true for those of us living in Bible Belt. Since the early 1900s, many in Fundamentalist and modern Evangelical camps have used the Creation account of Genesis as a springboard into and ammunition for a war on evolution. Somehow, many still believe that even speaking of or reading about Charles Darwin or the Big Bang theory guarantees conscription into the Devil’s army.
The vitriol in defense of a literal understanding of “biblical” creation has been seen often in past and present, from the famous and infamous Scopes Monkey Trial to the continual pressing of Young Earth Creationism by figures like Ken Ham. With all this conflict, the Creation account seems to lose its luster and becomes a “let’s get it over with” passage when it comes up.
Recently, however, something changed for me when I read through Genesis 1 in a bit of morning Scripture reading. Despite being sleepy-eyed and groggy, I saw things I had overlooked, new and exciting things, things giving Creation more meaning than just a battleground piece.
Beyond the bickering of Creationism vs. Evolution, the Creation account has much to show us about God, the world, and our own everyday lives.
The Creation account is a vibrant piece that speaks to much more than understandings of scientific origins. It speaks to our questions about God and life in great relevance. It shows us great truth ranging from the grandiose to the mundane. How so? Glad you asked…
- Creation points to the sovereignty of God
Genesis 1 is kind of a mic drop of sovereignty. It begins with the declaration that the heavens and the earth were created by God. It then states that God spoke the elements of creation in existence.
Sure, we could hem and haw about whether all appeared instantaneously or whether it began with the Big Bang, but it goes back to the reality that an almighty sovereign God put the whole of creation into existence by sheer force of will.
John 1:3 states that “Through him all things were made. Without him nothing was made that has been made.”
In other words, no material of creation came into being outside of the will of God. He is perfect, all powerful, and sovereign. The Creation narrative stands as a testimony to the sovereignty of a God who is still sovereign and present with us.
- Creation shows God’s power over chaos
The debate of creation seems to fixate on Genesis 1:1 and how to interpret “days”, but it seems to skip over Genesis 1:2. “Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
This seems to imply the presence of something in the nothing, something shapeless and void, something dark and terrifying. We have a word to describe such a thing: Chaos.
It’s appropriate that water is mentioned here. Water, particularly the sea, was an often used metaphor for chaos in Hebrew tradition. It depicted something torrential, uncontrollable, unfathomable, and deadly. This is shown frequently in scripture in references to Leviathan, an ancient mythical sea monster which served as an avatar for chaos, and was also a personification for the sea itself.
Chaos seems to have been present from the very beginning, and in a world still stricken by the curse of the Fall, chaos is often front and center in today’s world. However, scripture shows us in Creation and elsewhere God is Lord over chaos as well.
In “How to Survive a Shipwreck”, Jonathan Martin writes “God is at home in the chaos–it is the place from where he started the universe. God is at home with the chaos monster. The monster does not threaten or intimidate God.”
Creation shows God’s supreme power over chaos. Two phases of creation are dedicated to God bossing the watery chaos around: one where God makes the firmament of sky to “separate the waters above from the waters below” and one where God tells where the watery chaos may and may not go, yielding land as a result.
Many passages show God’s mastery over Leviathan the chaotic sea; from songs in Exodus to God’s interrogation of Job, from God’s pursuit of Jonah to Jesus silencing a stormy sea.
Creation and the rest of scripture shows God as sovereign over chaos from the beginning. While chaos is still alive and well, the Creation narrative in itself shows us a God more than able to handle chaos.
- God loves the earth
Whether or not you believe the “days” of Creation are literal days, there’s something we often miss in the argument over them: the “days” themselves.
God is all powerful and created the world out of his sheer will, so why was creation not a one shot deal? Creation was a long drawn out labor of love.
The Creation account is given twice in Genesis on the first two chapters. I would refer to Chapter 1 as the ecological or earth-centered account, as the bulk of it covers the gradual work of God’s creation of earth.
Step by step, God created his world meticulously. After each phase is completed, God steps back and calls it good. He then give mankind the task to care for his creation.
God also seems to take man’s failure in their task to tend creation rather seriously. After the Fall, he holds Adam responsible for the curse that has afflicted the ground because of him. Years later, he also holds Cain responsible for yet another curse that falls upon the unfortunate afflicted earth due to innocent blood spilled on the ground in Cain’s murder of Abel.
In Romans, the earth is shown as pointing man to God’s glory and as desperately yearning for liberation from the pain it suffers under chaos of man’s sin. God himself declares the wonders of his creation in his interrogation of Job. Jesus states that the very stones of the earth would praise him were men to withhold their praise.
God holds a passionate love toward his masterpiece creation and his creation reciprocates that love to Him
- God loves man
In the Creation narrative, it’s made abundantly clear that man is something special. Genesis 1:27 reads “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Side note, if something is seen repetitively as such in scripture, it’s usually something very important and significant.)
God created man in his image and gave them the task of managing his world. However, we are given more detail in Genesis 2, which I would call the human-centered account of Creation.
God is extremely personal in making man, breathing life into his nostrils after forming him from the dust of the ground. He created the paradise of Eden in the midst of the new world and places Adam in it to tend it, giving him free reign aside from the mandate and warning not to eat of one particular tree.
He gives Adam the task of tending to and naming the animals, and then seeing it is not good for man to be alone, he creates woman; not as a gift for man, but for the two to enrich one another.
We see that God gave humanity work and values that work, but he also valued their rest. After all, one of the first days of Adam and Eve’s existence was a day of rest, a day for God to step back and admire creation and for creation to rest and admire with him. He makes time to walk with man in the cool of the evenings.
Even after the Fall, he still cares for them, making them clothes to hide their newfound shame and placing a promise of blessing within a curse. Just as God loved and tended to his first humans even in their sin, so he does with us. God loves his creation and holds a special love for people.
- Final Thoughts
When we are willing to reexamine Creation, to step away from fights over semantics and sciences, we can see a great reminder of the love and nature of God. Past the fights over who is wrong and right, we see our God, the divine sovereign architect, the one who controls the chaos, the one who cherishes his creation. We see a loving God loving the people he created, and providing for them at their best and worst. We see a God who is truly mind-blowing in his supreme power and unfathomable love.
Creation shows us a far bigger picture than we can imagine. The question is whether we will be willing to step back and see it.