The whole point of creation.

by K.W. Leslie, 03 February

One of God’s bigger miracles is of course creation.

Genesis 1.1-3 NRSV
1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
John 1.1-5 NRSV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Despite the claims of young-earth creationists, the scriptures aren’t meant to give a scientific description of how creation happened. The bible’s not made up of science books: It’s theology. It’s about why God created the universe. Genesis 1 may be structured like a timeline of events, but it’s meant to tell ancient middle easterners

  • The universe didn’t exist on its own; God made it.
  • God didn’t war against other gods, or Titans, or Lucifer, so that he could conquer the world; he has no foes of equal might. And the universe is his, for he made it.
  • What God made was good. (He only makes good stuff.)
  • What God made didn’t stay good, but that’s on us, not him.
  • Humans weren’t an afterthought, or created as God’s slaves, but as his kids, meant to rule the world.
  • He did it in seven days and rested the seventh; that’s where Sabbath comes from.

There are various Christians who haven’t actually learned this. I’m mostly thinking about those Christians who insert the massive cosmic battle between Satan and Michael Rv 12.7-8 right before God made Eden. But some Christians claim not everything God made is good, or suggest humanity is still good instead of messed up by sin. Or that humans are God’s slaves, or that Sabbath is no longer relevant in this dispensation.

Lotta times we miss these points because we don’t like these points. And I suspect a lot of the reason Christians hew to young-earth creationism so strongly, is because turning Genesis 1 into a scientific text is the easiest way to avoid anything moral we’re meant to conclude from it. Instead of learning who God is and how we’re respond to him, we can instead pick fights with evolutionists; if you’re the argumentative sort, this sounds way more fun.

But the purpose of looking at creation, as the bible depicts it, is so we can learn more about our Creator.

How God created the cosmos.

If you’re really interested in how God created the cosmos, theology is actually the wrong field. You need to look to science. Theology is the study of God, not nature, and I shouldn’t have to remind you God’s not nature.

Theology and science have different methods of arriving at truth. Theology bases its conclusions on revelation, and confirming these revelations. Science bases its conclusions on proving a hypothesis through observable evidence, math, and logic, and confirming the hypothesis by duplicating the proof over and over again, perfectly. Scientists can deduce the universe began in a horrendous space kablooie by looking at the movement of stars, the background radiation of the cosmos, and noticing how everything expands from a central point. They can do the math and figure out it started with a “big bang,” so to speak. Even how it banged.

So scientists can deduce how God did it. They don’t even need to believe God did it. But they can still deduce how it happened.

Whereas revelation doesn’t tell us how God did it; only that he did. The authors of the bible never went into practical detail. On the contrary: They went into very impractical detail. They used poetry, metaphor, and inexact but memorable language. They spend way too much time about God separating water from water. Or describe a space in the water where God stuck our sun. Or making plants on day 3, and the sun to feed them on day 4. They didn’t really care how God made it; only why.

Although there are three descriptions of how God made stuff, and they’re the only areas most theologians focus on.

MADE FROM NOTHING. Or ex nihílo, as it’s said in Latin. Other religions describe their gods spontaneously arising from the universe, finding their environment full of raw materials, and shaping the rest out of that.

That’s not what Christians believe, ’cause it’s not what we find in Genesis. Yeah, there were raw materials: “the earth was a formless void” Ge 1.2 and all that. But God created these raw materials. He didn’t just stumble across them.

MADE FROM GOD’S WORDS. Y’notice Genesis describes God speaking things into existence. You might also notice other scriptures where God speaks things into existence again. Jesus could cure disease with a word, Lk 7.7 or stop weather with a word, Lk 8.24 or kill a tree with a word. Mk 11.21

Hebrews 11.3 NRSV
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

In God’s mouth, words have profound creative and destructive power. To a much lesser, but still profound degree, our words do too. Pr 18.21 So we’d better watch what we say.

MADE THROUGH JESUS. Jesus is the word of God, and is the means by which God created everything. Jn 1.3 He created life, Jn 1.4, Ac 3.15 as well as new life and eternal life. He can restore life ’cause he created it in the first place.

Beyond those three things, the scriptures get vague. Deliberately so. Partly ’cause God didn’t reveal any details to the authors of the scriptures, so they didn’t know; and partly ’cause the scriptures are about God’s relationship with us, not science. So we leave the studies on how God did it, to the scientists. Wanna become a scientist? God can definitely use more.

Why God created the cosmos.

The short answer to why God created the universe: It’s for us to be his people, and for him to be our God. Ex 6.7 It’s for us to worship and enjoy him forever. It’s for us to take our rest in his presence. It’s to set up God’s kingdom.

In the scriptures we see God setting up his kingdom over and over again:

  • He set up Eden—before the first humans bollixed it.
  • He set up Israel, with Moses and the Hebrews in the desert, for a nation of former slaves whom the LORD had just freed from bondage, by handing down his Law to show ’em how he wanted a free people to live.
  • Jesus taught his students how we Christians oughta behave towards one another.
  • Ultimately there’s New Jerusalem, after Jesus banishes Satan once and for all, and makes heaven and earth new again.

God’s kingdom is gonna have rest and peace at the center of it, and those are major themes when we consider the purpose of God’s creation.

REST. In the 10 commandments, God instructed the Hebrews to work six days, then stop and rest on the seventh. Dt 6.12-14, Our word Sabbath comes from this word for stopping.

On Sabbath we’re meant to stop toiling. Not necessarily working. Sometimes work has to happen, as Jesus demonstrated when he worked on Sabbath. Jn 5.17 Things gotta get done! But toil, the hard, sometimes painful labor which is one of the consequences of sin, was never God’s intent for human life. Often we humans have to tail for our basic needs—for food, clothing, and shelter. Often our toil isn’t enough. And if we ever achieve something that might last, we’ll still eventually die and leave it behind.

God’s original plan was for us to do work we enjoy. The first humans were expected to tend Eden. Ge 2.15 There’s every indication that gardening was meant to be a ridiculously easy, fun job for them. But the consequence of their sin was getting fired from Eden, their easy job taken away, and now they lived on cursed ground—ground which’d produce things humans don’t want, like weeds. Ground which had to be worked, hard, to get it to produce what in Eden had come easy. Ge 3.17-19

In the present day only the rich don’t have to toil; they can hire help. And the lazy don’t toil; they just let their problems pile up. Everyone else toils. And again, it was never God’s original plan. God wants our lives to be easy—with him providing everything we need, rather than our fighting the ground or the system to get our basic necessities. God wants us to rest.

Sabbath is a foretaste of that. It’s one day a week where we’re expected, for once, to stop toiling and enjoy God’s creation. We’re to stop and smell the roses. The only work we’re permitted to do is the stuff we’d do for fun—although in the Law, God had to forbid even that, lest someone try to catch up on the week’s toil, and claim it was all in fun.

That’s kinda the problem we see nowadays. Lots of people can’t bring themselves to rest. Too much work to be done! Too many things left undone. On their days off, they have to catch up on housework, or yard work, or errands. And it’s fine if you have two days off, and use one of them to catch up. But not when you use both days. Then you’re not resting—and you’re gonna burn out. Humans aren’t machines. We need rest.

And rest is what Jesus offers:

Matthew 11.28-30 NRSV
28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Some Christians refer to death as “our eternal rest.” Well, kinda. Toil will be impossible when we’re dead. But death get destroyed when we’re resurrected to eternal life, and that will be rest, forever, in God. Toil will still be over. There will be work; there’s always work, because Jesus still has good deeds for us to do. But it’s an easy yoke; it’s work we’d consider recreation.

PEACE. We humans worry way too much. We worry about food, clothing, shelter, and comfort. We worry about stupid things we can’t control—like our looks, what other people think of us, and what tomorrow might bring. We shorten our lifespans with all the stress. “Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?” Jesus once asked. Mt 6.27 Nope; can’t stress ourselves into growing a foot. Try high heels. Thick soles.

Rather than worry, God offers us freedom from all of it. He offers peace—“peace that passes understanding,” as it’s put. The world is full of worry, but Jesus has conquered the world, Jn 16.33 and when we embrace him and his peace, we have freedom from worry as well.

Matthew 11.28-30 NRSV
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

Rest and peace go together. The Jews nowadays greet one another on Sabbath by wishing one another both these things: “Shabbát shalóm.” In this greeting, they wind up expressing the very two things sin took out of this world, and the two things God wants to put back. The two things God created this world to be: Peaceful, and free from toil.

As his followers, we need to contribute to those things in his kingdom, and spread ’em around wherever we can.