In the last theology column post, we set out the whole story of the Bible, the big picture. We did that in six chapters, and now we are going to explore each of those chapters a little more thoroughly. There is still much that we won’t be able to say, but I will point you to some parts of the Bible to dig into a little more if you’d like to go deeper.
So first, chapter 1: Creation.
Who created what?
The first place in the Bible we turn to understand and explain ‘Creation’ is Genesis 1–2. In the first two chapters of the Bible, we are drawn in to a beautiful story of life and light and hope, of chaos being brought into order, and the world we know coming into being. There are lots of questions this throws up, and the Bible seeks to answer some of them.
Who did this? The simple answer here is obvious: God. The Bible begins:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)
Pretty clear. But as we dig deeper, we see the Trinity at work in creation. Throughout the creation story in Genesis 1, God speaks and the world is made. Compare that with John 1:1-3, where Jesus is described as the Word ‘through whom all things were made’ (see also Hebrews 1:1-3). The Son does the work of creation that the Father directs. And in Genesis 1:3, we read this: “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”.
We have a picture here of Father directing Son to do the work of creation, and the Spirit sustaining it all. Already, the Bible is revealing the way God works through creation.
What was created? Again, the easy answer is easy: everything! We see in Genesis 1–2 nothing become everything. And again in John 1:3 “without him nothing was made that has been made.” But we get more than that. He made everything good. Every time in Genesis 1 something is made, God stops at it, looks at it and sees ‘that it is good’. Creation is about goodness. Everything that comes from God (which is everything in the original created order) is good. Pure. Whole. Harmonious. We get to why it no longer is next week, but for now it is all good.
The ‘Who?’ and ‘What?’ questions are important, but there are other questions we might have about creation, too.
This is the one that seems to get discussed the most a lot of the time. How did creation happen? Can we believe in things like the big bang? Or evolution? If we are seeking to be biblical must we adopt a clear position of being ‘Six-day Creationists’, believing the account in Genesis 1 to be a literal historical description of creation?
I want to be clear that what I am saying here is my position, and one which I have come to with prayer and study of God’s word. Not all will share it, and that is fine.
I do not believe the Bible seeks to explain to us the mechanics by which God created everything. Why do I say this? It’s not because of science. I’m not a scientist and I am not in a position to be able to understand completely what the scientific consensus is on this. The reason I say this is because of what I believe the Bible to say (and not say).
What we see in the Bible are accounts (more than one) of this creation that are trying to tell a story and reveal the wonder and brilliance both of God and of His creation. They are not trying to act as scientific textbooks or FAQs for those of us who are inquisitive about such things.
I believe the Bible uses lots of different types of literature to tell its story. Some of it is history, some poetry, law, imagery, letters, speech, prophecy. It’s all different and tries to do different things. Hebrew literature in particular was much more comfortable with letting these different genres sit side-by-side than we would be used to today.
If we just take Genesis 1–2, we see two different accounts of the beginnings of humanity. Different in style, and different in content such that they actually contradict one another if read literally. I don’t believe that’s because the author was stupid, but because he was never trying to tell a historical story. He’s trying to tell a deeper story. He wasn’t so interested in the question of ‘How?’ And if that wasn’t the point of the text, why should we try and find answers to the ‘How?’ question from the text?
Why? Why? Why?
The deeper story, and the question I believe the creation accounts of the Bible are trying to delve into is a question of ‘Why?’. Why did God create everything, however He did it?
The answer to this will come out more next week when we see what it was that went wrong with Creation, but the answer I believe is simply this: relationship. God, the relational God, made a world that was meant to be full of love, community and relationship. Everything in harmony with each other.
That’s why the pinnacle of creation is us, people. When we get made, God doesn’t look at it and say it’s good. He looks and says it’s ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31). We are the reason He made everything else. He wanted us, to know us, to walk with us, to enjoy us, and for us to enjoy Him.
That’ll get developed a bit more next week, but we need to stop here. I’m now going to give a few more passages that speak of creation, because there is so much more that could be said. Why not dig a bit deeper and let us know how these verses (or creation itself!) is speaking to you?
- Genesis 1–2
- Psalm 19:1-6
- Job 38:4-11 (and the rest of chapters 38–39 if you have time!)
- Proverbs 8:22-31
- John 1:1-4
- Hebrews 1:1-3
This post was written by Dave Criddle (@DaveCriddle), the online pastor at Gold Hill. He has his own blog, Limping into Truth, if you want to read more of what he has written. For more in the theology column, head here.
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