On Still Seeing God as Maker of Heaven and Earth
The Hebrew Scriptures, also known as the Old or Older Testament, begin with an account of the creation of “the heavens and the earth.” The strong affirmation here is that God spoke the world into existence. Right at the start one learns that God is both mighty and extremely creative. The world is viewed as God’s handiwork and remains evidence of God’s might and creativity. Later in the Hebrew Scriptures God reveals Himself as a mighty deliverer, enabling the Hebrews to escape their bondage in Egypt. Much later in time poets like David arose who sang God’s praises. These poets frequently look back to these two revelations and refer to God as being the One who made the heavens and the earth or brought about Israel’s deliverance.
When one turns to the New Testament God reveals Himself in a most unexpected way. The Gospel of John says “The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (1:14) Through “the word,” or Jesus, the clearest picture of God we have was made manifest. Christians now understand God first and foremost through Jesus. Christ becomes the new deliverer and much is made of his role as such in the pages of the New Testament. God’s role in Creation, however, also continues to be emphasized.
This year I have been teaching a study on the Book of Acts. As we have gone through this book I’ve noticed how God’s role as Creator keeps popping up. For example, in Acts 4:24 you find the disciples praying. They begin their prayer with the words, “Sovereign Lord, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.” Even after the marvelous manifestation of God in Christ God continues to be addressed as the Creator. In chapter 14 of Acts Luke tells the story of Paul and Barnabas being worshiped by the people of Lystra after they heal a crippled man. The two urged the group to stop and directed their attention to “the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them.” (v. 15) In Acts 17 we find Paul’s speech to the “men of Athens.” Here he introduces them to “the God who made the world and everything in it.” (v. 24)
Clearly, even after Christ came the early Christian leaders felt it was necessary to hold on diligently to the idea of God as Creator. I suspect there are a variety of reasons for this. As already noted, in Creation they saw the evidence of God’s power or might. This evidence was something they encountered each and every day in nature. Creation bore testimony to God’s power and was a reminder that this same power was available to believers. I also think they continued to focus on God’s role as Creator because this gave them a point of entry as they sought to spread the gospel. Practically everyone believed that the world was brought into being by divine forces of one kind or another; the early Christians hoped to help people understand that the God they believed in, and who was made fully known in Jesus Christ, was, in fact, “the Maker of heaven and earth.”
I believe that it is important that we continue to hold on to and emphasize God’s role as Creator of the heavens and the earth. Some Christian groups do so each week as they recite the Apostles Creed. Others don’t. Continuing to focus on God’s role as Creator will help us connect better with the world around us and we will daily be reminded of God’s power and creativity. Focusing on God as Creator also is still a good starting point when it comes to sharing our faith with others. Although not everyone today believes the world was actually created, most still feel that the world didn’t just come into existence on its own. As Christians we can help people make the connection between nature and the God revealed to us in Jesus Christ. This connection is vital for understanding the goodness of Creation, its sacredness, and our responsibility to take good care of it.
I hope we’ll never cease affirming God’s role as Maker of heaven and earth. There is no reason not to and plenty of good reasons for doing so.
(I took the top two pictures in western Kentucky and the bottom two in southern Florida.)