What can we learn from the Bible about our place on earth?
Nature is a joy and a solace to many of us, especially during a devastating pandemic, but that is only part of the story of God’s creation. There is so much to discover in the Bible about our planet and our place in it.
Bible references from the New International Version
What do we think of when we think of God creating the world?
Genesis 1: God ‘set the stars in the expanse of the sky…’
King David in Psalm 8, the heavens are the ‘work of your fingers’.
The idea of God shaping the universe with his hands, as with anything handmade, is
Gospel of John: ’In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God…’
Some of us may think the idea of God creating the world is a difficult one to swallow,
which indeed it is to our finite human imaginations.
The Bible paints a many-layered picture of the Creation.
Genesis 1 - extracts
1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness…
9And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10… And God saw that it was good.
11Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good…
God goes on to create the sun, moon and stars; the seasons; the fish, birds and animals;
and then the first man and woman.
31God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Common thread - ‘it was good’ - repeated no fewer than six times.
Do we think of the world as ‘good’? Not always.
Some of us have been brought up with the idea that the world is never any good, only God, thus leading to an unhelpful separation of the material and the spiritual.
4“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
25Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm…27to satisfy a desolate wasteland and make it sprout with grass? ...29From whose womb comes the ice? Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens…?
37Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens…?
26Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings toward the south? 27Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high? 28 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night; a rocky crag is its stronghold.
These and the surrounding chapters in Job demonstrate God’s care for creation. We are confronted with the limits of human understanding. We see the power God exercises. It is God’s creation. This is part of what lies behind God’s thundering rhetoric to Job. Too often, we think of creation as ours. We speak of our world instead of God’s world.
2The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent…
5He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
10He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. 11They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. 12The birds of the sky nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.13He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the land is satisfied by the fruit of his work…
24How many are your works, Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures…
30When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground.
Psalm 104 echoes the order of the creation account in Genesis and is often called the
‘Creation Psalm’. It begins and ends with a call to praise God. Reminding us that the purpose of creation is to bring glory and praise to the Creator. Extravagant detail describing this wild and beautiful world - the Psalmist is in awe at ‘how many are your works, oh Lord’. What is most striking is the breadth of God’s concern for and delight in Creation. He is intimately involved in its life day by day.
We see that everything is dependent on him.
Proverbs 3: 19
‘By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations by understanding he set the heavens in place.’
What thoughts have the Bible readings prompted in you?
Do you think Creation is good?
In what ways does the biblical emphasis on the value of all creation to God challenge contemporary approaches to environmental and economic issues?
Our passages today point to one thing very clearly: all of creation is of great value to God,
and he loves the ‘whole cosmos’ as it says in John 3.16 so much that he sends his Son
Jesus to die for it and for us all