God Reveals Himself In Creation

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard (Ps. 19:1-3).

This is the final of three posts in which I seek provide a biblical foundation for our celebrating the wonder of God’s great creation handiwork.  In the first post I highlighted the fact that “God made it and owns it.” In the second we saw that “God loves it and cares for it.” Finally we understand this from His Word that. . .

God Reveals Himself in It

In Psalm 19, David reminds us that God speaks to us through two books. One book is the written Word of God (vv.7- 11). The other revelation is the masterpiece of creation, which eloquently reveals God to every person every day. All people in all times from the very beginning have been provided by God with such an awareness. Those who do not hear God speaking through the natural world have deceived themselves. The apostle Paul spelled this out clearly in his letter to the Christians in Rome:

The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Rom. 1:18-20).

A fascinating precedent for Paul’s argument that God reveals Himself through the natural world is found in the ancient tragedy and poetry of Job. As the drama of Job unfolds, we find him writhing in pain, misunderstood by his friends, and confused by his own inability to explain his plight. Job was hurt. He felt abandoned and betrayed by the God he had tried to serve. He was angry because he thought God was unfairly tormenting him and allowing his friends to think he was suffering because of some terrible secret sin. Finally, after lengthy, frustrated, and angry conversations between Job and his friends, God Himself spoke. From out of a violent whirlwind the Creator captured Job’s attention and challenged him to take another look at the natural world. The Lord asked Job to consider the cosmos, the wild and untamed animals of the earth, and the patterns of weather and the seasons He had made.

God first humbled and then comforted Job with a series of piercing questions that begin with: Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Now prepare yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer Me. Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding (Job 38:2-4). In the middle of the questioning, God allowed Job to speak, but the devastated patriarch could only mutter, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth” (40:4).

The apparent purpose of the Creator’s interrogation was for Job to understand from the world around Him that a God who is wise and powerful enough to have created the natural world is certainly great enough to know what He is doing in allowing Job’s suffering. Humbled by what God had demonstrated by reference to the natural world, Job confessed, “I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know” (42:3).

Even when God is not speaking verbally, the study of the creation speaks with an eloquence that compels us to stand in silent wonder before the Creator:

Astronomical Arches  NASA

Elements of basic matter that behave in ways unimagined, and clumps of galaxies so vast in number and expanse that even broad human categories like “light years” or “billions and billions” become almost meaningless. As man seeks to measure his cosmic environment, smallness gets ever smaller, and bigness gets ever bigger. The attempt to bring it all into the scope of human understanding has done what it has always done: We either see God and worship Him in great awe and humility, or we “suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18) and wander in self-imposed blindness.

The view that the natural creation is God’s “other book” is supported by classical biblical theology, which includes the creation as the major component of what is called “general revelation.” It is the one unfailing revelation that has been given to all people, in all times, and in all places. This refers to the physical universe and its processes and to natural law—what Paul calls “the law written in their hearts” and revealed by the conscience (Rom. 2:15). It also includes human history—the record of God’s continuous sovereign will demonstrated in the affairs of people. Truth is revealed to us not only in special revelation (the Bible) but also in general revelation (the creation). Christian educator Frank Gaebelein understood this well when in The Pattern of God’s Truth, he said, “All truth is God’s truth.”

How can we celebrate the wonder of God in creation? By observing the creation carefully and reverently to discover the countless ways it reveals God and His attributes to us.

[Right click on the photos to see them larger and hit the back arrow to return to this post. Cosmic photos from NASA and the Job lithograph from the classic Gustave Dore collection]